Olney pancake race enters its 569th year

Pancake toss
The race is based on a legendary mad dash to the local Church in 1445. Photo: PA

The annual pancake race in Olney kicks off today, 569 years after a local woman began the tradition by running to church with her frying pan in 1445.

The race has been an annual tradition in the Buckinghamshire town for the last six centuries, with mothers handing down the tradition to their daughters.

The race commemorates local folklore - a woman panicked when she heard church bells ringing from her kitchen and, fearing she would be late for a Shriving service to confess her sins before Lent, she ran through the town.

After arriving at the Church door in her apron and carrying her frying pan, so began the race local women still take part in today.

The race has become a firm tradition in the town, with generations of the same family taking part.

Daybreak spoke to reigning champion Devon Byrne, whose mother had won when she was pregnant with her.

Devon Byrne
Devon Byrne will be aiming for a third win later today. Credit: Daybreak/ITV

My mum won the race three times in the 1990s - which has just given away her age!

The last time she won she was pregnant with me, so I guess it is in my blood.

– Devon Byrne

Any female Olney residents can take part, so long as they have lived in the town for a minimum of six months.

The race begins at 11:55am when women dressed in aprons, brandishing frying pans filled with a pancake will set off on the route to St. Paul's church.

They must flip their pancakes once at the starting point - The Old Bull Inn - and again at the finishing line.

Prizes are given to the fastest runner, oldest competitor and most money raised for charity.