OLNEY, England – A frying pan-wielding Web designer won the British leg of an annual pre-Lent pancake race that pits Olney, England, against Liberal, Kansas.
Amanda Brear, 42, covered the 415-yard course between Olney's market square and its church in 1 minute, 9 seconds while carrying a pancake in a pan on Tuesday.
"My little boy won his race this morning, so the pressure was really on for me to win mine," said Brear, who beat a field of 24 racers ranging in age from 19 to 78.
The pancake race is a tradition between the women of Olney, 50 miles northwest of London, and their counterparts in Kansas.
The race is held at 11:55 a.m. on each side of the Atlantic, leaving a gap of six hours until Brear knows if she's the international champion.
Brear predicted her time "won't be as fast as the Americans."
Last year's American winning time was 1 minute, 3.1 seconds.
Shrove Tuesday, widely known in Britain as Pancake Day, was traditionally the last day for merrymaking before the start of Lent. Pancakes were thought to be a good way for the Christian faithful to consume the fat they were supposed to forgo during the 40-day period of self-denial before Easter.
Legend has it that the Olney race started in 1445 when a harassed housewife, rushing to be on time for church, arrived at the service still clutching her frying pan with a pancake in it.
After a lapse during World War II, the race was revived in 1948.
The town of Liberal, in southwest Kansas, challenged Olney to a friendly trans-Atlantic competition in 1950 after seeing a picture of the race in a magazine.
Liberal's celebration has grown to include four days of events and attracts more than 2,000 people to the race.
"Everyone who comes over here from Olney is always amazed that we can turn a 60-second race into a four-day event," said Mark Strange, who has chaired the events in Liberal four times.
"We laugh about it. We've Americanized the 60-second race."