Pancake races are a Lenten tradition that date as far back as the 15th century. Contestants navigate a course as quickly as they can while holding a frying pan and flipping a delicious pancake a certain number of times.
The races are most popular in Britain. But other countries hold them, too. For over fifty years, the town of Liberal, Kansas has competed against Olney in England by setting up standardized courses in each town and comparing racing times. The Americans, despite being relatively new to the sport, actually have the all-time edge on the Brits, 33-25.
The secret to winning is to cross the finish line before your opponents do. That usually means running. The problem is that sometimes, running violates British health and safety regulations.
An official warned the racers before the St. Albans pancake race:
“Due to the wet weather conditions and health and safety regulations, in this year’s race, there will be no running allowed. Only walking is permitted. Any team that runs will be disqualified.
“It is a genuine health and safety concern. People fall over in the dry, they will certainly fall over in the wet.”
Three teams defied orders and pursued excellence as fast as they could. They were disqualified.
(Hat tip: Jonathan Moore)