A Year: Day to Day Men: 21st of February, Solar Year 2018

Formation of a Decision

The first International Pancake Race was held on February 21, 1950 in Liberal, Kansas.

A Shrove Tuesday competition began February 21, 1950, between people in Liberal, Kansas, and Olney, Buckinghamshire, England, creating International Pancake Day. Each year the communities hold a 415-yard race to determine the fastest runner who can also flip a pancake.

Commemorated elsewhere as Mardi Gras, Pancake Day, and Carnival, Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, a 40-day fasting period in preparation for Easter. The verb “shrove” is Old English and relates to judgment or penance in preparation of Lent. Observers of Lent traditionally quit eating richer foods with ingredients such as eggs, milk, and sugar.

The Olney, England tradition dates to around 1445. Legend holds that a woman in Olney was making pancakes when the church bells began ringing to announce the service. Carrying her frying pan and wearing an apron, she raced to arrive at church on time. In subsequent years, others in the community joined in the race. The prize was the “Kiss of Peace” from the verger, or bell ringer.

The Liberal/Olney competition began when members of the Liberal Junior Chamber of Commerce learned about the Olney race and proposed a friendly competition with the English community. The contest, which continues today, requires that runners wear a traditional apron and scarf and carry a frying pan in which they toss a pancake at the beginning and ending of the race. The event concludes with presentation of awards and a church service.

A competitor from Liberal, Kansas, has won the 2018 International Pancake Day Race against the top runner from Olney, England. Gaby Covarrubias of Liberal ran the course on Shrove Tuesday with a time of 1:08.85, about 2.5 seconds faster than Olney’s Katie Godof at 1:11.4. It’s Liberal’s first win in the annual contest since 2015; Liberal now leads the all-time series 38-29.

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