St Albans pancake race defended against health and safety slurs

PUBLISHED: 08:11 18 February 2010 | UPDATED: 14:53 06 May 2010

PANCAKE Day racers have defended accusations that a ban on running ruined the annual Shrove Tuesday race in St Albans. National newspapers including The Daily Mail attacked St Albans District Council yesterday for replacing running with walking at the Pa

PANCAKE Day racers have defended accusations that a ban on running ruined the annual Shrove Tuesday race in St Albans.

National newspapers including The Daily Mail attacked St Albans District Council yesterday for replacing running with walking at the Pancake Day race on Tuesday, which saw dozens of local teams take to the Market Place streets for the relay race.

At about midday just before the first heats of the competition began, the council's tourism manager Charles Baker told the crowd that in light of that morning's rainfall and to comply with health and safety regulations, all competitors had to walk, not run, the slippery course.

Quoting an anonymous spectator, The Daily Mail reported that, "the crowd went crazy and everyone booed" when Charles made the announcement but teams who attended the event denied that the running ban affected the mood of the day.

Louise Miller from Grove House hospice which had a team dressed in pink to promote their Midnight Walk in June, said that she was saddened by the "negative spin" put on the event by some national newspapers.

Louise, who lodged a complaint with The Daily Mail today (17), said that there was a great atmosphere at the race: "There was no booing and there was lots of laughter and cheering. We fully support Charles Baker, who does a great job for a beautiful city and does a huge amount to support the work of our hospice."

Winners of the event Strutt & Parker, whose team was awarded a golden frying pan, were also happy with the new rules and Ros Dimaso, marketing coordinator at the estate agency in St Albans, said that she thought the national newspaper response was "over the top".

She added: "The Pancake Day race is a community event which is supposed to be good fun. We only entered it to have a nice day out and I for one think that ruling running out running did not detract from the mood of the day at all."

St Albans council's head of culture and community development Richard Shwe defended the decision made on Tuesday: "The rules were slightly amended this year to take account of the weather conditions as the ground was wet and slippery. We did not want teams to pull out, so we turned it into a walking and pancake flipping race."

He added: "There was some playful and friendly banter from the crowd when the rule change was announced but everyone seemed to enjoy the race. A number of participants even preferred the revised rules as it made the event even more inclusive.


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