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New world record set at historic Olney pancake race

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A teenage running star defended her Olney Pancake Race title in world record time after winning the historic annual event for the second year in a row.

Devon Byrne, aged 19, knocked more than three seconds off her time from 2012 to take the honours in the traditional race, which dates back to 1445.

Miss Byrne ran the 415-yard course in 56 seconds, followed home by Kaisa Larkas-Mossop in second and Emma Attwood in third.

Crowds ignored the chilly conditions to pack the streets along the route, which starts outside The Bull Inn pub in High Street, and finishes at St Peter and St Paul Church.

Speaking after the race, Miss Byrne said: “I am very pleased and relieved. It feels great. I have lived here all my life and have always watched it, so to take part is really good. Next year will be my last, because you are only allowed to do it for three years.”

Friends Lexie Burns, aged 26, and Gina Vanweenen, aged 24, both took part in the race for the first time.

Mrs Burns, who moved to Olney from America, said: “I had no idea it was a 600-year-old tradition. I’ve lived here for nine months - it is very family-friendly here.”

Mrs Vanweenen was running to raise money for the Living with Reflux charity, which supports people with gastro-oesophageal reflux. Her son Jasper was diagnosed at seven days old.

Olney residents Alan and Sue Haughton have been coming to watch the event for 32 years.

Mr Haughton said; “It’s a great local event. The children all get involved. People come here just for the pancake race.”

Mrs Haughton is a former infant school teacher in the village, and used to bring her class to watch and take part.

She said: “It must have been for about 12 years. All the children who want to race, do race. It is really nice.”

Stephanie Stokes travelled from Corby with her two children and her mum to watch the event.

She said: “Because the kids are on half-term we thought we would come and see it. It is really nice.”

The Olney pancake race dates back to 1445 when a harassed housewife is said to have dashed to the church still holding her frying pan containing a pancake.

All competitors must be aged 18 and above and have lived in Olney for three months.

At the finish the winner is required to toss her pancake and is greeted with the words ‘the peace of the Lord be always with you’ spoken by the vicar and then receives a kiss from the verger.

A Shriving Service then takes place in the parish church of St Peter and St Paul.

As well as the adult race, there is also a pancake race for children.

 

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