The Competitive Event That Involves Running With Pancakes

"Stop playing with your food!" How many times did you hear that as a kid? If you spent more time shifting your food from one side of the plate to the other than actually putting it in your mouth, you likely heard those words often. Every family seemed to have that one child who made mashed potato castles with a moat filled with gravy, apparently unaware that food was for eating. But little did you know that once you grew up, legions of festivals, fairs, and odd culinary competitions would invite you to do the forbidden: play with your food. 

The Pittston Tomato Festival invites you to don a pair of goggles and whip a few juicy red orbs at those around you. The Mexican Festival that pays homage to the radish invites you to carve your food into radish-based works of art (per Atlas Obscura). The fish-centric Tunarama encourages competitors to throw tuna, salmon, and prawns (per the Port Lincoln Times). And the Chinchilla Melon Festival invites you to insert your feet into a pair of watermelon skis. If you'd attempted any of the above in your childhood kitchen, your parents might have blown a gasket. But you're a grownup now and you can toss, carve, and stick your toes into your food as much as you want. 

You can also run with scissors. Or pancakes. Pancakes? That was random. Not really. It turns out that there is a competition that invites you to run with flapjacks. 

This pancake race started in 1445

Rumor has it that the Olney Pancake Race has taken place in this Buckinghamshire, UK town since 1445, although no one is certain of its origin (per BBC). Furthermore, the race's website reports that this long-standing tradition steeped in mystery and supposition occurs on Shrove Tuesday with racers crossing a finish line that is right outside the church door. Why? Eating pancakes on the day before Lent is a well-known Christian tradition, and the "race to the church" is followed by the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul's Shriving Service. Open solely to female Olney residents, racers don an old-school apron, cap or headscarf, and clutch a frying pan containing an actual pancake. For an added show of dexterity, they must toss the flapjack twice, once at the start and, again, at the end of the race (per Olney Online). 

As an added bit of fun, the ladies of Liberal, Kansas can now join in on the action. Since 1950, the American community has competed against their British counterpart to see who comes in first. According to the Olney Pancake Race website, Liberal is ahead with 36 wins to Olney's 26. 

If you don't live in Liberal or Olney and have always dreamt of running with old-fashioned pancakes, why not take your frying pan along for your next jog? Who cares what the neighbors think? You're an adult now, and no one can tell you not to play with your food.