CONGHAM, England (Reuters) – The race starter stood up and shouted: “Ready, steady, slow!” The crowd cheered, but the competitors remained stuck at the start line. Welcome to the world snail racing championship.
More than 150 snails took part in the annual event, held at a summer fete in Norfolk, eastern England on Saturday where a silver tankard stuffed with lettuce leaves was the prize.
The snails are placed on a special damp cloth marked with three concentric circles and the creatures race 13 inches (33 cm) to the outer ring.
“We take this seriously,” snail racer John McClean told Reuters.
“We have got training slopes. We look at diet, we are drug compliant as well. It is the whole thing when you look at elite sports.”
The competition has been held since the 1960s with each race lasting several minutes. Competitors are able to select a snail from the organizers’ stash or bring their own.
Jo Waterfield from the nearby village of Grimston found the eventual winner among her plants.
“I pulled him out this morning and told him if he didn’t win I would squash him,” Waterfield told Reuters.
(Writing by Patrick Johnston; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)