This year’s Snail Racing Championships will be held on the cricket pitch at Congham, Norfolk on July 20th.
But why not hold your own race? It’s a great way to get kids interested in the creatures hiding down the garden and it can stop them being squeamish or scared of our slimy friends.
Select your racers. Look for snails beneath plants and under big stones. (You could have a big snail race and a small snail race to see the difference.) When I was little we used to paint a blob of paint on them – you’d see them again weeks later in the garden – but it’s much kinder to lightly stick a sticker with a number drawn onto it to their shell.
Make a race track by drawing a small starting circle in the middle of a board or slab, then draw a big circle that will make the finish line (about 30 inches across). (The official race distance is 13 inches in a straight line between the start and finish circle.)
Pop your snails inside the inner circle facing outwards and water your track to get them going.
Shout Ready, Steady, Slow… and you’re off…
Be patient, it takes a while to pop back out of their shells after being handled. The winner is the first snail to touch the outside line.
The world record is 2 minutes over 33cm or 13in so good luck.
And after you’ve celebrated your win, be kind to your racers, don’t keep them too long. We used to give our snails a lettuce leaf as a thank you. Then put them back where you found them (unless it was the veg patch).