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Liberal wins 60th Int'l Pancake race

Feb. 24, 2009 at 3:24 PM   |   Comments

LIBERAL, Kan., Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Tasha Gallegos covered a 415-yard, S-shaped course in a record 57.5 seconds Tuesday to win the annual pre-Lenten International Pancake Day Race in Liberal, Kan.

"Her time was 57.5 seconds, a record," said Jo Ann Combs, executive secretary for the event. "The course was clear, it was dry and the sun was shining. She's 22 and she was a first-time racer."

Gallegos' time, which was run in front of the visiting mayor of Olney, England, and his wife, John and Peggy Smail, meant an American victory in the Shrove Tuesday rivalry between Liberal and Olney that began in 1950. Jane Hughes won this year's Olney Pancake Race in 62 seconds, a record there.

Liberal leads the international competition with 34 wins to 25 for Olney.

The fierce, but friendly, trans-Atlantic competition has morphed over the past 60 years into a four-day event drawing hundreds to the Kansas town. Organizers estimate up to 1,000 people -- including Billie Warden, 81, winner of the 1950 race in Liberal -- turned out for this year's events, played out under clear skies and temperatures in the upper 50s.

Folkfore says Olney's centuries-old race tradition dates to 1445 when a woman making pancakes in a frying pan with cooking fats forbidden during Lent, heard church bells ring for a shriving service and ran to church -- skillet and pancake -- in hand. Contestants wear a headscarf and apron and must flip their pancake at the start of the race and after crossing the finish line to prove she still has it.

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