In Greek mythology Icarus flew to close to the sun and fell foul of it’s hot glare. On 4th June, 1783, the Montgolfier brothers demonstrated their unmanned hot air balloon at Annonay, France. And on December 17, 1903, the Wright brothers flew the first sustained flight with a powered, controlled aircraft at Kitty Hawk in North Carolina, U.S.
But all of these historic events pale, once you’ve witnessed the Annual Bonsall World Championship Hen Races in Matlock, Derbyshire. This event has been running for the last 20 years, organised by the landlord of the Barley Mow pub, David Wragg. The event itself is said to go back well over 100 years when local villages competed against each other in the summer for fun. Rumour has it that David even takes his prize winning sprinting hen ‘Flo Jo’, out running across the Bonsall Moor! But knowing that other competitors often spend months in training, going through rigorous exercises routines to ensure their hen are in tip top shape, this should come as no surprise!
So what happens in this race of kings, I hear you ask? Well, the chickens are raced along a 15 metre track and given 3 minutes in each heat to cross the finish line. If they don’t cross the line, the closest to the line wins. As you can imagine, it’s a fast and furious event with tempers aflutter, although any fighting between hens is strictly forbidden and can result in disqualification. Entries have come from all over the world, including Norway, Belgium, France and Germany.
If you want to enter your own Linford Chicken, or Poulet Radcliffe, the event takes place on the first Saturday in August annually at The Barley Mow Inn, Bonsall, Derbyshire DE4 2AY.