(Transcript from SBS World News Radio)
The world’s fastest snail has been crowned at the 2014 World Snail Racing Championship in eastern England.
The event attracts gastropod fanatics from across Europe, to decide the fastest of one of the globe’s slowest creatures.
Abby Dinham reports.
(Click on the audio tab above to hear the full report)
Never has the saying ‘slow and steady wins the race’ been more true than in this event.
For more than 25 years the World Snail Racing Championships have been held in the sleepy English village of Congham in Norfolk, attracting people from across Europe.
Competitiors – garden snails only – are placed inside a small red circle on a white cloth draped across a table.
On the starting mark, racers move towards an outer ring.
The first to reach the perimeter is crowned the winner.
(Cheering, then…) “That’s a hell of a good looking snail isn’t it!”
150 snails were entered in this year’s championships, each competing in a series of knock-out rounds, before a final selection is chosen for the penultimate race.
Event organiser Neil Riseborough says some previous champions had returned to try and reclaim the title.
“I think people love snail racing because it doesn’t cost a penny. You can race a snail and end up being a world champion at the end of the day and how exciting is that?”
The average garden snail lives between two to three years, allowing competitors only a short career.
The title event takes place on a specially embroidered table cloth, which is regularly doused with water to help facilitate the best racing conditions.
One racing snail owner from Germany says a meticulous pre-race diet is the key to success.
“Well, I think, really, diet is everything, so I raised it on lots of salad. And lots of water, of course. You have to get hydrated for the race. Also, he got a good rest after arriving in England to adjust to the time difference, so I think it’s very fit.”
But it was a local who took out the title.
The winner – called ‘Wells’ – crossed the line in three minutes and 19 seconds, a somewhat slow time for the event.
Judges say the racers were hampered by humid conditions.
The next world championships will be held on July 18, 2015.
It’s not yet clear if Wells will return to defend the title.