Competitors wilt in heat at World Snail Racing Championships
- Credit: Nick Butcher
It's never the most adrenaline fuelled of sports but as snails slugged it out in the World Snail Racing Championships the heat meant it was a case of on your marks, get set, extra slow.
Wilting slimy competitors proved stubbornly unwilling to crawl off the start line as the famous championships were held at Congham near King's Lynn on Saturday.
The eventually winner was a snail called Hosta owned by Jo Waterfield from Grimston, near King's Lynn, and named after the plant.
Hosta covered the 13 inch course in three minutes 10 seconds.
Ms Waterfield said 'He spent all summer eating my hostas. I told him that if he didn't win I'd squash him!'
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In total 190 snails battled it out in the heats but such were the temperatures that only 11 snails made it through to the final.
Farmer Neil Riseborough, who is snail trainer to the World Championships, keeping order, watching out for cheating and starting the races, said: 'It was very slow even by the standards of snail racing. I think we had one of the slowest heats we've ever had. It was over 10 minutes long.
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'It was so hot, they didn't want to race. I said at the start evaporation, shell-scorch and dehydration — and that was just me!
'The snails just had no oomph in them at all. It was hard work to get everyone going. There is only so much excitement you can generate from snails going nowhere. But it was still a brilliant day.'
The World Snail Racing Championships have been held in Norfolk for more than 25 years and is part of Congham Fete which raises funds for St Andrew's Church.
The snails race from the centre of a 13 inch circle to the outside. Dry weather in the run-up to this event meant the molluscs were scarcer prompting fewer entrants than normal.
Last year's champion, Larry, owned by Tara Beasley from Castle Acre near Swaffham, who triumphed in a time of two minutes and 47 seconds, was back to unsuccessfully defend his title.
The world record stands at two minutes over the 13 inches. It was set in 1995 by a snail called Archie.
'I don't think that record is ever going to be broken,' said Mr Riseborough.