Olney, England narrowly beats Liberal, Kansas in Pancake Day Race

LIBERAL, Kan. -- A "Fat Tuesday" tradition continued with a friendly competition between Liberal, Kansas and Olney, Buckinghamshire, England.

Each year, participants in each community determine who can run a 415-yard race the fastest while also being able to flip a pancake.

The tradition that created International Pancake Day is a centuries-old legend in Olney. The legend has it that it all began one Sunday in 1445 when an Onley woman was making pancakes when she heard the church bells ring. To make sure she wasn't late for service, she ran to the church, donning an apron and holding her frying with a pancake in it.

In 1950, Liberal challenged Olney in the pancake race after seeing the English event in a magazine. The southwest Kansas community held bragging rights in 2018 and 2019 before Olney's win Tuesday by about three seconds.

Individually, Liberal's Whitney Hay won the race locally against 13 other women.

"It's a great feeling to finally be able to run in an international race, let alone win in it," Hay says.

Win or lose, people in Liberal say the Pancake Day Race is a perfect way to bring the community together.