Although this unique race is hosted in many countries in the world, the highest number of snail racing events take place in the United Kingdom. Snail races usually take place on a round track, The snails start in the middle of the track and head for the edges. Typically, the track becomes a wet cloth on a table. The radius is set to 15 inches. Race numbers are drawn on the shells or small stickers placed to distinguish a competitor.
The annual “World Snail Racing Championship” began in Norfolk in the 1960s after founder Tom Elwes witnessed the event in France. The 1995 race was set at a two-minute time limit by a snail named Archie. Years later, the 2007 event had to be canceled when the course was flooded with heavy rain.
London’s first live snail race competition, the “Guinness Gastropod Championship,” held in 1999, was marked by horse racing expert John McCririck who started the race with the words “Ready, Steady, Slow” which became a common term for starting a race. In the year 2000, Guinness unveiled the snail race in their Bet on the Black ad as part of their “Good Comes for Those Who Wait” campaign. The ad won a silver medal at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival and made a parody for their “Extra Cold” campaign several years later.
Another popular snail race event is the “Great Snail Race” which was started in Cambridgeshire in the year 1992 in the village of Snailwell as part of the annual summer fund. It regularly attracts up to 400 people and is enjoyed by friends and families.