World Snail Racing Championships

Posted on: 11 July 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Snail Racing’s equivalent to Royal Ascot returns on the 19th July.

For more than 25 years the World Snail Racing Championships have been held at Congham, near King’s Lynn.

Congham is to snail racing what Royal Ascot is to horse racing - the most glamorous snail racing event of the year.

The tiny village in Norfolk doubles in size as race day arrives and the area is particularly suited for the world championships. Snails like damp conditions, and Congham, sitting in a low-lying area surrounded by ponds, offers optimum racing conditions for the waiting racers.

More than 200 snails slug it out over the 13 inch course every year. Races are held on top of a table with a damp cloth spread out.
Heats are held throughout the afternoon with a grand final at the end of the day, with the winner receiving a silver tankard stuffed with lettuce leaves.

The World Snail Racing Championships are part of Congham Fete which is organised to help raise money for the 13th century St Andrew's Church.

The world record of 2 minutes and 20 seconds was set up by a snail called Archie in 1995.

Archie, a snail owned by six-year-old Emma Hartley, set a blistering pace around the track and showed true grit and stamina to cross the line in record time.

The current world champion is a snail called Thiery who slithered over the finishing post in 3 minutes 22 seconds.

Farmer Neil Riseborough keeps order, tests for drugs and watches out for cheating.

Riseborough also starts the races by shouting, “Ready, steady, slow!” as the snails dash off to compete.

Riseborough says, “It’s a great day for families. The children love the snail racing and I think the parents enjoy watching it too.”

Giant foreign snails are strictly forbidden.

“Only garden snails are allowed to race and it can be a tough job to select a field of eligible snails.”

“It’s not your particularly normal day out but we’ve been attracting interest from all over the country so there must be quite a lot of snail racing fans out there.”

This year’s championships will be held at The Cricket Field, Lynn Road, Congham, Norfolk on Saturday, 19th July 2008.

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Have you been to the World Snail Racing Championships? Will you be attending this year?

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