Date: 28th February 2017
Venue: Guildhall Yard
The 13th Annual Inter-Livery Pancake Race
On Tuesday 28th February the team selected (for which you might want to read volunteered or pressed) to represent the Farmers’ Company prepared itself to do battle with 23 other Livery Companies and City institutions for the prestige of winning the 2017 Inter-Livery Pancake Race.
Fine, cold weather greeted the competitors as they gathered in Guildhall Yard in the very heart of the City of London. The Master of course leading from the front, supported by his Senior Warden Julian Sayers, Liveryman Nick Padwick and for the ladies Verity Harvey - who confessed to me that in a moment of weakness she had blurted out the fact that she wouldn’t mind participating – only to find herself on the team moments later! Our esteemed Clerk officiated as team manager and coach and generally kept everyone in line and in the right place at the right time.
With 24 teams entered this year and many more in the wings trying to get a place, the event, now in its thirteenth year, appears in rude health – the same could not be said for all of the ‘athletes’ participating. The format for the day, marshalled and controlled by the Poulterers, is a series of heats for the Masters, followed by the heats for the Liverymen, ladies and then finally the the Novelty event. From each category the 5 fasters competitors advance to the semi final and the winner of each semi final appears in the final run-off for the overall Victor Ludorum prize.
The Master, his face the very picture of concentration and determination, stormed into an early lead in his heat and was never headed, eventually winning by a considerable margin and earning himself the epithet - The Flying Farmer - from a member of the crowd near me! But even this wasn’t enough to get him into the Master’s Final – with only the 5 fastest from the heats in each category making it through the Master was sadly eliminated.
It was sadly a similar story for each of our team. Excellent racing but no prizes! Perhaps the unluckiest of our intrepid band was Verity who like the Master Farmer got off to a flying start in her heat – only to slip at the treacherous pylon turn and come crashing down – ruining her chances of what had seemed an almost certain semi-final appearance.
Our brave Senior Warden was our Novelty Race entrant. Fetchingly attired in musico-medical outfit as required by the rules aligned with one of the Lord Mayors charity music in hospitals. Despite the fact that the costume was rather more practical than Caroline’s Ratcliffe’s wellingtons for the 2015 running Julian couldn’t make it through from his heat. His costume too was pipped – by a Liveryman dressed very convincingly a church organ – perfect for the Novelty prize but it turned out – almost impossible to run in.
No success then again this year but for Julian a learning experience. He now has the bit between his teeth for the 2018 event and is determined to lead a winning team – so prepare yourself for the call to arms once he takes over as Master.