If you missed watching the Olympics, don’t despair. You can watch the World Championship Hen Racing event on the BBC, Sky Sports television or the internet.
At the Barley Mow Inn in the picturesque village of Bonsall in Derbyshire, England, visitors and fowl alike await the feather-charged race. This official race has been held there for the past 25 years, but hen racing dates back over a century when local villages competed against each other for fun in the summer. These people have got to get a life!
With racegoers held back by plastic orange construction netting, the two-legged runners race on a 15-meter track and are given three minutes in each heat to cross the finish line. Fighting between hens is strictly forbidden and can result in disqualification. Adults could learn from these flighty techniques!
Don’t have your own hen? You can hire a chicken and show up the day of the race.
Some owners are known to train their chickens. It’s not unheard of for owners to cheer their hens on by banging pots and pans or lure them with a can of worms at the finish line. Supposedly these strategies have proved effective of late, because racing times have dropped dramatically in the last few years.
If you can’t attend the annual race, you can get your cackles by Googling the race website and being greeted by a loud personal cackle. Race T-shirts are also available proclaiming “No fowl play.”
Perhaps the event organizers should move the race from August to the holiday season. The losing birds, albeit with a few road miles, could be auctioned off for holiday main courses, sans the worms, and cooked in one of the cheerleading pots.
Hayhurst writes from Terre Haute.