The World Hen Racing Championships

Clucking Hell!

If there were any doubts as to the existence of a north/south divide in the UK, then the World Hen Racing Championships in Bonsall Derbyshire should put paid to them pretty swiftly. As London basks in the global attention of the 2012 Olympic Games, as millions of visitors swarm around its purpose built stadia and as sporting history is being made almost daily in the Capital, up north they’ve got the World Hen Racing Championships.

How Does It Work?

This is a brilliantly straightforward discipline that first saw the light of day around 100 years ago as a fun competition between neighbouring villages. The course is a 20metre track and the hens have just 4 minutes to make their way to the finish line in a series of timed heats and there’s strictly no fighting between the hens allowed. One of the great things about Hen Racing is that it’s for everybody, so with no experience at all you can simply turn up on the day, hire a hen and get racing.

Global Coverage

It may be slumbering in the media shadows this year but the Hen Racing World Championships has enjoyed considerable global coverage, with no less than Sky Sports covering it live and BBC’s Countryfile broadcasting from the event. And such is its appeal that competitors have come from all over Europe to take part…well, they were foreign and competed, whether or not they travelled all the way to Bonsall specifically for hen racing isn’t clear, but I’d like to think so.

When Does It Take Place?

The event takes place on the first Saturday in August every year and in a welcome departure from the sanitised arenas of the Olympics it’s based at the Barley Mow pub in Bonsall. And things just get better and better because this year you can also camp at the pub meaning that if you become ‘fully refreshed’ whilst watching the activities, it’s just a couple of steps back to your tent.