Liberal comes out ahead in annual International Pancake Day Race

LIBERAL, Kan. (KSNW) — An American woman took home the “W” today in an international athletic competition. No…it wasn’t in the Olympics. It was the International Pancake Day race.

There’s plenty to flip out over.

“It’s just a community celebration and I enjoy every single year,” said Liberal resident Enrique Franz. “It’s a family tradition.”

The 69-year-long tradition pits women in Liberal against women in Olney, England.

“It’s lovely to see,” said Jeremy Rawlings, the mayor of Olney, whose deputy is overseeing the race in their town. “We’ve been absolutely overwhelmed by the warmth of the welcome and how community spirited everybody is.”

Nine women in Liberal raced minutes before noon, hours after their English counterparts until a winner crossed the finish line.

“Once I turned that corner I couldn’t feel my legs,” said Gaby Covarrubias, who won the race in Liberal. “The bottoms of my buns were cramping.”

She’s proud to represent Liberal on an international stage.

“Very special,” she said. “I was born and raised here in Liberal, Kansas. Very special event. Something very special we hold here in Liberal, Kansas.”

Last year’s race didn’t have an international winner due to technical difficulties with the timer during Olney’s race. This year, both races were timed correctly. Covarrubias finished her race in one minute, eight seconds.

A video chat with Olney residents determined the overall winner.

Covarrubias beat the Olney victor by three seconds, making her the 2018 international winner.

The tradition of the pancake flipping goes back to 1445 when, as legend has it, a housewife in Olney was making breakfast and didn’t want to be late to church, so she ran to the service carrying a pancake in a skillet.

Her neighbors got into the act, and it soon became a tradition.

The first competition was in 1950.

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