The Olney Pancake Race, dating back more than five hundred years, is held on Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gars). The course is 415 yards (380m) long and is run from the Market Place to the Church at 11.55 a.m. Participants, housewives or young ladies of the town, must have lived in Olney for at least 3 months and be at least 18 years old.
Competitors must wear the traditional costume of a housewife, including a skirt, apron and head covering. They must of course carry a frying pan containing a pancake. The winner, on crossing the line, must toss her pancake and she is then greeted by the verger with the traditional kiss of peace.
The race is immediately followed by a Shriving service in the Parish Church when the official Olney and Liberal prizes are presented.[Courtesy of Olney Town Council website]