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International Snail Racing Championships Day

Updated on October 28, 2015

Ready, get set, SLOW!

Every year, for the last 25 years, the summer excitement in the east of England comes to a peak when the International Snail Racing Championships are held.

Snails, up to 200 of them, come from far and wide to the small village of Congham (pop. 227) to take part in this internationally renowned competition.

In 2012 the championship was postponed until 18 August 2012 because of a waterlogged field. And the winner was Racer!

In 2013 the date was 20 July and the winner this time... Racer II (son of Racer?)

The hot weekend meant that no records were broken on 19 July 2014 but the winner was declared as Wells. If you don't believe me, and I suspect there are some doubters out there, you can see all the pictures on the official site

In 2015 the winner was George.

The next race will be 16 July 2016. Why not start training now?

Image source

The course for international snail racing
The course for international snail racing

The Snail Racing rules

The rules are simple:

  • The snails must be land snails (aquatic snails might find the going tough).
  • Giant snails are not allowed.
  • They must start behind the inner circle.
  • The winner is the first to reach the outer circle.
  • The distance from the inner to the outer circle is 13 inches (33 centimetres).
  • The snails may have names.
  • Fancy dress is allowed.
  • Any trainers are allowed to cheer on their snails.
  • The record for getting from the start to the finish is 2 minutes.

Giant Snails Are Not Allowed

Giant snails are not allowed
Giant snails are not allowed

Image source

In fact, the rules actually state "Giant foreign snails" are not allowed (my italics). I have never seen a giant snail in England so I'm not sure whether a British giant snail be permissible? Are small foreign snails are allowed to enter. Are they allowed into the country at all? Do they have to go through quarantine regulations? Would they even survive quarantine?

Snails in Fancy Dress

Snails in fancy dress
Snails in fancy dress

Image source

The person who starts the races is called the Snail Trainer. He too can wear fancy dress. The owners can wear fancy dress. Indeed, anyone and everyone can have any costume that happens to appeal to them. Make it a merry occasion!

I'd guess that having a woolly suit might not be too much of an advantage to a snail but, who knows...?

A non-racing snail taking shelter
A non-racing snail taking shelter

What to Do if the Weather is Bad...

Congham, in common with much of Norfolk, is a damp place. While this is ideally suited to the snails, sometimes it's just too much. In 2007 the whole competition was rained off.

In hot weather the course has to be kept watered to make ideal conditions for the racing. Watering the course wasn't needed in the extra wet summer of 2012.

Picture source

...and if it's a Wash Out, Take your Boat

Snail afloat
Snail afloat

Congham in Norfolk, UK

A markerCongham, PE32 1AH -
Congham, King's Lynn, Norfolk PE32 1AH, UK
get directions

The nearest postcode to the cricket field where the Championships are held.

The first snail race
The first snail race

The Rivals in France

Another small village, this one in the south of France, holds snail racing championships in August. They call it "Championnat du Monde de Vitesse d'Escargot". The winner is set free, but the losers.... Well, who knows in France?

According to the local mayor the championship is, regardless of appearances, a very serious competition. Some people train their snails for several days.

Some say the French competition started over 40 years ago, making it the first of its kind. Some also say that's where the people of Congham had the idea.

The crunchy bit
The crunchy bit

A True Story

One day, many years ago, while we were on holiday in France, we took our sons to a local restaurant for lunch. My husband chose escargots cooked in garlic butter.

"What's escargot, Daddy," asked our eldest, aged about seven at the time.

"Snails," came the reply. "Escargot is the French word for snail".

A few moments of thought. A puzzled look.

"Don't you find them a bit crunchy?"

"No, no, you don't eat the shells."

A few more moments of thought. A look of horror came across our son's face.

"Oh no! You don't eat the slimy bit, do you?!!!!"

My husband has never eaten another snail. Never.

2014 - The Champion

In fact if you do watch the video above, you will find that indeed, foreign snails are allowed. It is truly an international event.

Other Things to Do in the Area

I know, of course, that your prime reason for visiting Norfolk will be for the snail racing, but while you are in the area, consider also seeing the Norfolk Broads (I imagine you could find many potential racing competitors there) or maybe pay a visit to the Queen at Sandringham House which is open to the public. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also have a place in Norfolk, Amner Hall, but this is most definitely not open to the public.

So, whatever the weather, your visit to Norfolk need not be a single destination visit.

Do let me know if you've raced by.

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    • Cari Kay 11 profile image

      Kay 4 years ago

      Just the title of this page made me laugh and I loved your personal story. Blessed and thank you for the smiles :)

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      i think you're the leader of the pack, introducing us to this snail competition.

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Looks like great fun!

    • profile image

      VickiLeesBookshelf 5 years ago

      love the story about your husband & son and escargo.. I think I have to go with your son on this one. :-)

      Vicki

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Now that I know this sport(??) exists I will have to rank it right up there with 'frisbee painting', 'cow tipping' and 'lily-pad hopping'.

    • MrMojo01 profile image

      MrMojo01 5 years ago

      LOL great lens!

    • iamraincrystal profile image

      Rosyel Sawali 5 years ago from Manila Philippines

      I dropped in ^_^

    • Melissa Miotke profile image

      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      This seems like it would be a very slow race:)

    • MizzMary profile image

      MizzMary 5 years ago

      Such odd and interesting information. It would be fun to attend a snail race. I'm glad you wrote this lens, it made me smile.

    • profile image

      ScarlettScarf 5 years ago

      That is really interesting! I never heard about the snail race! And nice story with your son. :)

    • JohnTannahill profile image

      John Tannahill 5 years ago from Somewhere in England

      Well deserving of the Purple Star.

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 5 years ago

      What fun! I love snails, used to keep them as pets in a damp terrarium when I was a kid - named them all after American politicians: Nixon was the slimiest who kept trying to escape ;) - but I've never raced a snail. Yet.

    • chadwik05 profile image

      chadwik05 5 years ago

      Never heard of this, great lens! Makes me want to start training a snail!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Well, I for one am amazed that snails can read the rules for the race...I would guess they are considered to be slow readers, what fun! They are a slimy bunch for sure. My sister used to farm snails over the winter to feed her Red Bellied Snake, the snake always won that race! Can you imagine how the snails would step it up, knowing they were about to become lunch!

    • LotusLandry profile image

      LotusLandry 5 years ago from Southern California

      math-gym has a story problem about colliding snails!

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 5 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      It seems like the trainers need the type of patience required to watch paint dry or grass grow!

    • Steph Tietjen profile image

      Stephanie Tietjen 5 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      I love this lens. Nicely done.

    • PinkCattleya profile image

      Camile 5 years ago from Doha Qatar

      haha.. this is so much fun! I'd love to see whose the winner!

    • profile image

      getmoreinfo 5 years ago

      snail racing championships must be interesting

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 5 years ago from USA

      Would have loved to see a video on this. What fun.

    • Im Horse Crazy profile image

      Im Horse Crazy 5 years ago

      Love the cool great stuff here & never knew about snail racing!

    • ryan2526 profile image

      ryan2526 5 years ago

      I love this! I can't imagine snails in fancy dress though! It must take some serious skill and patience to get them into lycra etc.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Well written and interesting. Snails racing in competition? As a kid, me and my friends would sometimes put them to race. Same idea, draw a circle and see who made it out first. Not official of course.

    • profile image

      debbie-dapson-7 5 years ago

      I grew up in Southern California and we had snails all over the place, they would leave gossamer trails all over the sidewalks and stones. As a child I loved to play with them, let them slither all over my hands. I suspect that it wouldn't be as much fun now, though. Can't say as I've ever tried to race them, however--too bad, that would have been fun.

    • profile image

      NC Shepherd 5 years ago

      Several days' training...that really is serious! Fun lens!

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 5 years ago

      The race must take a while at snail pace. :)

    • profile image

      latestcamera 5 years ago

      Never heard never saw of this before quite hilarious idea of watching snails running on the track.I couldn't resist my laughter awesome have watched some videos on it it was just ;-)

    • LouJon profile image

      LouJon 5 years ago

      Haha, I like the idea that fancy dress is allowed. Where do you go to buy little snail costumes :)

    • Craftypicks profile image

      Lori Green 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      LOL Now this is original.

    • profile image

      fullofshoes 5 years ago

      Wonderful lens, fun, entertaining, original. Well done. ~blessed~

    • Kae Yo profile image

      Kae Yo 5 years ago

      That is truly entertaining. I couldn't keep from smiling while I read. I didn't know there was such a thing. I loved the story about your son and husband. :) Congratulations on making the front page!

    • CanvasArtPrint LM profile image

      CanvasArtPrint LM 5 years ago

      Well I didn't even know there was a snail racing championship, learn so much on Squidoo!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thank you for this lens-it was so amusing! I think I might hold a competition of my own someday :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @aesta1: Me too!

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Love the true restaurant story. Great lens.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      This sounds like a fun race. I might just train a snail.

    • georgeac lm profile image

      georgeac lm 5 years ago

      "Some people train their snails for several days." ha ha ha That was too funny

    • Jemecan profile image

      Jemecan 5 years ago

      Sometimes the horses I bet on think they are snails, by the way they run.

    • kburns421 lm profile image

      kburns421 lm 5 years ago

      This is too funny! I love snails though, so I think it's pretty cool. When I was younger, I once gathered snails from outside and created a playground in a box with things for them to climb on. They loved it so much that I couldn't get them out when I was done with them!

    • gatornic15 profile image

      gatornic15 5 years ago

      What a great lens! I couldn't say I knew there were such a day. Blessed

    • PaigSr profile image

      PaigSr 5 years ago from State of Confussion

      Go Gary! Go Gary!

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      It's taking me hours to type this since I'm going at about two letters per minute, without breaks, which when included add considerably to the time. Nevertheless, I'm forging on, one letter at a time. Tell the snails to wait for me. I'll be home later this evening.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      This is so cute! I'd love to watch a snail race. That's about my speed.

    • YogaAngel profile image

      YogaAngel 5 years ago

      This is cute!