Olney, England, beats Liberal in Pancake Day race

02/13/2013 12:14 AM

02/13/2013 12:14 AM

Olney won.

According to Heart 103.3 Radio in the United Kingdom, Olney, England’s Devon Bryne is the International Pancake Day winner – again – making the 19-year-old the fastest pancake flipper in the world.

Bryne won Olney’s race last year in such a quick time it bested Liberal and allowed Olney to win for the first time since 2006.

And on Tuesday’s race, Byrne set a new race record with a time of 56 seconds.

Race insiders believe it is in her DNA.

In 1988 and 1989, her mother, Leslie Byrne, won each of those races and also earned the title of fastest international pancake flipper.

On Tuesday, Liberal’s Caitlyn Demarest ran the Kansas version of the course in 64.3 seconds. She came in first ahead of 13 other women in Liberal.

Although Olney won Tuesday’s race, Liberal still leads the event with 37 wins to Olney’s 27. One year, the score didn’t count when a BBC television van blocked the course in England.

Liberal’s runners faced a light snow falling on the 64th annual running of the International Pancake Day Race.

Liberal’s street crews were busy Tuesday morning cranking up blowtorches and using them to dry icy patches along the course.

“It is still snowing,” Jo Ann Combs, executive director of International Pancake Day in Liberal, said at noon. “But it’s not freezing on the streets.”

Fourteen women, ages 18 to 39, competed in Liberal on Tuesday, hoping to beat competitors in Olney, England.

The second- and third-place winners in Liberal’s race were Rene Boaldin and Kaela Krueger.

Because of the time difference, the Olney race is run much earlier than Liberal’s.

The trans-Atlantic winner wasn’t announced until a web chat between the two cities early Tuesday afternoon.

The race pits women, skillets and pancakes from Liberal against women, skillets and pancakes from Olney. The race – a 415-yard, S-shaped course through downtown in Liberal – is always run at 11:55 a.m. on Shrove Tuesday, also known as Fat Tuesday.

According to legend, the Olney Pancake Race began on Shrove Tuesday in 1445, when a housewife was using the last of her family’s cooking fat before Lent, when it was forbidden. She heard the church bells ring for Shrove Tuesday services and ran to the church still wearing her apron, with skillet and pancake in hand.

When Time magazine did a feature on it in 1950, Liberal challenged the town to a friendly trans-Atlantic competition. It has been a rivalry since, and the event has turned into a four-day celebration in Liberal.

It is not unusual, Combs said, for the international winners to win two and sometimes three times in a row.

In 2003 and 2004, Liberal’s Cheri Bevis earned the international title; Liberal’s Lisa Spillman won the title three years – in 1999, 2000 and 2001. Liberal’s Christina Wilbers won the title in 1996 and 1997. And, in 1986 and 1987, Olney’s Elizabeth Bartlett won the title.

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