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The Racing Potatoes!

Flitton Potato Race thrills hundreds  

By Austen Dack (additional words from Chris Lamb)

Once every year hundreds of ‘starch’ raving mad competitors flock to the little village of Flitton in Bedfordshire to attempt to run a mile as fast as possible while carrying a sack of potatoes over their shoulders. The potatoes are kindly provided by Isle of Ely Produce.

The race is run over a mile distance with the men carrying a 20kg sack (it’s 10kg’s for the ladies). There were certainly no couch potatoes here!

One again the the spec’taters’ gathered in their masses. It seems like the whole area comes out to watch along with the families and friends of the participants, who had been starved of the race for a few years because of the pandemic. They certainly were treated to some fine racing across several categories, as runners looked to s-mash the course record.

According to the tradition, it is held at the end of the potato season before the new potatoes were lifted and provided an opportunity for the farmhands to earn some extra cash for a bit of fun. The runners would lift a hundredweight sack off the wall of the churchyard of St John the Baptist, Flitton and run a mile to the farm at the other end of Greenfield, and for the privilege they were allowed to keep the potatoes.

Soon it was then time for the four person relays and the kids spud and spoon races over various distances depending on age. Lots of whom had just watched their parents compete and now it was their turn to show they were chips off the old block! It was so good to see hundreds of children taking part in the potato and spoon race, a real positive story for our humble spud.

Once all the races are done the road reopens and everyone heads into the White Hart pub garden situated right at the finish for BBQ, drinks, live music, an ice cream van, fairground rides, a bouncy castle and a selection of stalls and games as well as the presentation.

Isle of Ely Produce MD John Boutwood said. “It was lovely to see so many competitors enjoying themselves with potatoes. All of them get to keep their crop to boil, mash, chip or roast them at home.”

Photos by Ampthill and District camera club.

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