Runner From Liberal Wins International Pancake Day Race

This year, Olney had faster sneakers, skillets and pancake flippers.

The International Pancake Day Race champion is Lianne Fisher of Olney, England, who ran the race in 55.02 seconds, according to JoAnne Combs, executive secretary of Liberal’s race.

Liberal’s winner is Summer Parsons, who ran the race in 62.6 seconds. Parsons won the Liberal race in 2014 in 63.5 seconds.

The quirky race – the only one of its kind in the world – on Tuesday marked the 67th year for a tradition in which women from Liberal race against the women in Olney to determine who will be the International Pancake Day Race champion.

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The score now stands with Liberal winning 37 times, Olney 29.


Liberal had 11 women signed up to race in the International Pancake Day Race.

Olney had 25 women including an honorary entrant Isobel Ager-Righinioti, who is 84, according to Hayley Taylor, who serves on the Olney Pancake Race Committee. The Olney race also included a man, Barney Harwood, dressed in a wig and an apron and representing BBC’s “Blue Peter,” a children’s show in England.

The race is always run in both towns at 11:55 a.m. on Shrove Tuesday, also known as Fat Tuesday. England’s race was six hours earlier than Liberal’s due to the time difference.

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 is forbidden. She heard the church bells ring for services and ran to the church still wearing her apron, with skillet and pancake in hand.

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

Racers must wear a head scarf, apron and the runner must carry a skillet and flip a pancake at the starting signal and again after crossing the finish line.

Liberal, a four-hour drive west of Wichita, is the home of Dorothy’s House, named for the character in L. Frank Baum’s “Wizard of Oz.”

Community leaders decades ago decided to restore and furnish a 1907 house and claim it was Dorothy Gale’s house. Visitors can tour the house and walk along the Yellow Brick Road.

The town also is known for oil, beef packing and, of course, Pancake Day.

Olney is best known for its Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, which has a spire nearly 200 feet tall. There, ex-slave trader John Newton and William Cowper wrote the “Olney Hymns, “ which includes the hymn most Americans know as “Amazing Grace.”

Olney, situated on the Great Ouse River, has centuries-old historic buildings, architectural sites and a medieval moat. For more than 300 years, it was the heart of England’s bobbin lace industry.

The winner of the Liberal race receives a copy of the Olney Hymnal, as a gift from Olney as well as a tiara, trophy, silver tray, medal and a bouquet of roses. The winner of Olney receives an engraved silver plate from the town of Liberal and a hymn book from the church.

Beccy Tanner: 316-268-6336, @beccytanner

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