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Wheel meet again: Barrow racers of north Shropshire gear up for return of race

North Shropshire townsfolk are gearing up for the return of their answer to the Formula One championship - the great wheelbarrow race.

Sue Holliday and Jon Edge gearing up for the Wem Wheelbarrow Race
Sue Holliday and Jon Edge gearing up for the Wem Wheelbarrow Race

Competitive juices are stirring in Wem for the the town's fundraising wheelbarrow race - which had to be cancelled last year because of coronavirus.

"It certainly brought out the competitive spirit in people in 2019 and we expect it will do again," said Jon Edge of the town's Wheelbarrow Race Committee.

"This is the sort of thing the people of Wem used to do 40 years ago, so in 2019 we decided to bring it back. It is a great fun event for the community."

In 2019 the race grid had 25 two-person decorated wheelbarrows and the first adult team home was John and Phil Ward, who managed to complete the course of about 1.5 miles in a staggering 22 minutes.

"They took turns to push and ride in the wheelbarrows," explained Jon. There will be prizes up for grabs as well as the prospect of refreshment at the end of the course.

This year's course will take competitors on a similar length route from the town council offices all the way to the White Lion pub.

But to add an extra challenge, the competitors have to make pit stops at pubs en route and get official marshals to mark their cards, a bit like completing a round of golf.

"They have to have a drink but it doesn't have to be alcoholic," said Jon. "Some of the teams try to neck their drinks as fast as possible and continue the race."

Last year's race raised more than £586 for charity and the signs are good for the number of teams eclipsing 2019.

"So far 20 entry forms have gone out, so we are hoping for more than 25," said Jon. This year the local charities set to benefit are Sleapy Cat Rescue, in nearby Sleap, and Grinshill Dog Rescue, in Shrewsbury.

Teams of two have to pay £5 for adults and £3 for children to enter, and there will also be a prize draw to increase the funds. Local businesses have also made donations for prizes.

Forms can be collected from the Fruitful Deli, in High Street, Wem, and Jon's salon, the Cutting Edge, in Maypole Court. They have to be returned by Saturday, December 18, in time for the race the next day (Sunday, December 19).

The fun on the day is due to start at 11.30am, when competitors will be gathering with their decorated wheelbarrows and in costumes for registration in readiness for the off at midday.

And the crowds will have an important part to play, too.

"Last time there was a great atmosphere, with people cheering and giving encouragement," said Jon.

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