For a small market town, Olney has many claims to fame. One of these is the Pancake Race, an event steeped in history and becoming more popular every year. 
 
No one is quite certain how the world famous race originated. The favourite story tells of a harassed housewife, hearing the shriving bell, dashing to the Church still clutching her frying pan containing a pancake. 
 
The first actual race is believed to have run in 1445, on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent, and the whole day was given over to a festival of celebration, pranks and pastimes. 
After a lapse during the Second World War, it was revived again in 1948 by the Vicar of Olney the Reverend Canon Ronald Collins who found some old photographs of women running with frying pans. Filled with enthusiasm to revive the ancient custom, he called for volunteers, and 13 runners appeared on Shrove Tuesday that year. The race immediately caught the popular imagination and people of Olney set out to enjoy this simple and colourful link with their rich past, marking it with a day of festivities. 
 
In 1950 the race became an international event after a challenge was received from the town of Liberal in Kansas, USA. In a spirit of international goodwill and friendship, the two towns now compete annually and prizes are exchanged. 
 
This year’s event takes place on Tuesday 13th February with children’s races, a celebrity pancake breakfast and cooking competitions. The road is closed to traffic as the main women’s race starts outside Gabriella’s Deli at 11.55am. Runners come right past Afterglow before heading to the finish line at the Parish Church. 
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