All roads lead to Congham this Saturday for anyone who is anyone (and last year that topped 200 entries) in the slow-moving world of the gastropod.
The World Snail Racing Championships have been held at Congham, near King’s Lynn, since the 1960s, after founder Tom Elwes witnessed the event in France.
Organiser, Hilary Scase explained: “Snails like damp conditions and as Congham is surrounded by ponds and is very low lying it is just right for snails.
“Competition is fierce and with ideal conditions this year times are expected to be fast – there are hopes that the record course could be smashed.”
The record of two minutes, over the 13-inch damp cloth covered table top course, was posted by a snail called Archie in 1995.
Last year’s winner Sidney recorded a more sedate winning time of three minutes 41 seconds to pocket winning connections a silver tankard filled with lettuce.
Hilary continued: “Snail trainer Neil Riseborough has been preparing the ground for weeks and has a special secret for encouraging the snails to put out their hones and head at top speed for the finishing line.
“Children from local schools have been training snails for months with ambitions that a special snail “found in granddad’s cabbage patch” could be a winner.
“But there is no knowing. Snails come from all over the country, anybody can take part, a rank outsider might just surprise everybody.
“Congham is to snail racing what Newmarket is to horse racing,” Hilary concluded.
The World Snail Racing Championships are part of Congham Fete, which helps to raise money for St Andrew’s Church and takes place from 2pm on the cricket field on Saturday 16 July.
For more information: www.snailracing.net
by Arthur Furrowfield