As the first ever North of England Snail Racing Championships draw closer, racing snails across the area are training hard in the hope of winning this prestigious title.
The championships are one of the highlights of the Aughton Pudding Festival, which will be held on August 26,Bank Holiday Monday.
At stake is not only the title but also an impressive trophy full of dandelion leaves.
The snails will race across a circular track, with all competitors starting from the central paddock and racing to the perimeter, a distance of some 13 inches.
There will be heats throughout the day, with the 10 fastest snails going through to battle it out in the final.
The burning question for trainers is whether to go with a large and powerful snail or a small and speedy specimen.
The annual World Snail Racing Championships have been taking place in Congham, Norfolk, for more than 25 years.
The world record was set in 1995 by a young snail named Archie who crossed the finishing line in an exceptional time of just two minutes.
The ‘snail master’ has been known to carry out drug tests as the competitors are just too keen to be crowned champion.
Local trainer Thomas Bowring is hoping to smash the record with one of his hotly tipped molluscs.
“The current heat wave is not great for snail training,” Thomas said. “Conditions are just too dry.”
Friend and fellow trainer Luke Hilton recommends a diet of hostas and dandelions to keep snails in top racing shape.
Snail racing is a great way to keep your snail fit and great fun for all involved.
So find a snail or two, get them into training and bring them along to the championships at the end of August.
As well as snail racing the Aughton Pudding Festival will be hosting sheep and dog shows, duck herding, dog agility demonstrations, tractors, vintage landrovers, poultry classes, crafts and, of course, a giant pudding.
For more information visit www.aughtonpudding.co.uk.