America beats Milton Keynes in annual pancake race challenge

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They outran Olney by a split second

The results of the annual pancake race challenge between Olney and a town in the USA have seen America celebrate a split-second victory.

In Olney, Kaisa Larkas triumphed yesterday, Shrove Tuesday, by running the historic 415-yard course in one minute and 3.37 seconds.

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It was a fiercely contested race, with Eloise Krammer coming a very close second, and Rebecca Budd in third.

The runners from Olney Pancake Race 2024The runners from Olney Pancake Race 2024
The runners from Olney Pancake Race 2024

The race is reputed to have taken place since 1445 and has run every year since 1948, except for 2021, during the Covid pandemic.

For the past 75 years, Olney has twinned with Liberal in Kansas, where contestants run an identically-sized race.

The results from Liberal came in yesterday evening via a weblink – and showed their winner Pamela Bolivar won with a time of one minute and 3.03 seconds.

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"It couldn’t have been closer!” said a spokesperson for the Olney race. "This means Olney remains on an overall 32 wins against the 40 of Liberal.”

They added: “This has been a record-breaking year for entries, with 24 individual runners and 10 three- legged teams. Dressed in a skirt and head scarf and clutching their frying pan and pancake, the runners completed the packed course from the Market Place, down the High Street, to the race finish outside St Peter and St Paul’s Church in Olney.

“Visitors to the Race were also treated to children’s races, a demonstration from Ben Francis, Head Chef of The Cherry Tree, music and entertainment, and, of course, lots of pancakes!”

The Shrove Tuesday race is steeped in history and goes back hundreds of years, though nobody is certain how it originated. One story tells of a harassed housewife, hearing the shriving bell, dashing to the church still clutching her frying pan containing a pancake.

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Tradition declares that the race was first run in the year 1445, when pancakes were a popular dish, receiving royal favour. Run the day before Lent, the whole day was given over to a festival of celebration, pranks and pastimes.

The Citizen can bring you a video of the Olney race, taken by the talented Drone Over MK.

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