World Snail Racing Championships
More than 200 snails slug it out every year in the World Snail Racing Championships held at Congham, in Norfolk.
Snails competing in heats before the final. Photos: © Scase News Service Ltd
Congham is ideal racing and breeding ground for snails and has been host to the World Championships for more than 25 years
Said organiser, Hilary Scase: "Snails like damp conditions and as Congham is surrounded by ponds and is very low lying it is just right for snails.
“Congham is to snail racing what Newmarket is to horse racing.”
The world record of 2 minutes over the 13 inch course was set up by a snail called Archie in 1995. He went out to stud as is usually the way with world champions.
Current World Champion is a snail called Larry owned by Tara Beasley from Castle Acre near Swaffham. His time was 2 minutes 47 seconds.
Children make better snail owners and trainers than adults. They make pets of their snails and let them crawl all over their arms, legs and faces.
As with all pets, if a good relationship is built up the pet wants to please its owner.
Children stand by the course and shout: "Come on Speedy," and Speedy sticks out his horns and makes for the winning line.
Children take snail racing very seriously. When 9-year-old Thomas Vincent won the championships with his snail Schumacher, he said: "I have achieved my lifetime's ambition."
Farmer, Neil Riseborough, is Snail Trainer to the World Championships. He keeps order, tests for drugs, watches out for cheating and starts the races.
Neil Riseborough. Photo: © Scase News Service Ltd
Neil shouts: "Ready, steady, SLOW!" and off dash the snails He keeps the course well-watered to encourage good speeds.
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. The winner gets a silver tankard stuffed with lettuce leaves.
The World Snail Racing Championships are part of Congham, Fete which is help to raise money for the 13th century St Andrew's Church.
The next championships are being held on Saturday 19th July 2020 on the cricket field at Congham.
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