Today is Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day), which marks a special day with religious roots that takes place 47 days before Easter where flour, milk, sugar, and fatty foods were used up before fasting began. It used to be a day of holiday in England, and many villages held races. Pancake Day is also the day of the annual Great Spitalfields Pancake Race, held on Dray's Walk and located off Brick Lane; it is in its 23rd year this year. I've watched the Great Spitalfields Pancake Race before as it takes place outside the office. I always find it good fun during my lunch hour.
The Great Spitalfields Pancake Race is organised by London Air Ambulance with charity collections taking place during the event. Anyone can sign up to take part in the race or simply turn up on the day with their team and a frying pan. Usually, about ten teams take place in the event, and the first prize is an engraved frying pan. There are also prizes for second and third place and additional prizes for best costume and nicest team.
The crowds gather to watch the start of the race, but I found the crowd dwindled and was not quite as large as in previous years. Many people stayed to watch the first laps but left and did not stay for the semi-finals or finals. This year, all three "clowns" were in attendance in order to gather support, but they did not engage the crowd as much this time as in the past.
The major difference that I noticed this year when compared to previous years was that many people with cameras, video cameras, and mobile phones were attending the event. I found the cameras to be a problem this year as it affected the mood when compared to previous years. They engaged the "clowns" in interviews, which prevented the rapport with the crowd. Also, a couple of the camera men were very rude and kept barging/shoving in front of people (such as myself, who was early to grab a spot and stick to it). They also kept running into the areas where the runners were. Idiots. You'll see one of them who kept popping up in some of the shots and prevented me from getting some of the best shots in the semi-final, when the race was in a serious mode. I've always loved photography, but I don't want to ruin the fun for anyone else, so I stay in one place and make sure that I am early to grab a good spot so I do not cause others to suffer.
And, having a camera does not give you an entitlement to run around and be a jerk, when I alerted to you that you in my way, in the way of the runners, and completley blocking the view of a shorter lady who was standing next to me. Your comment "we're photographers; that is what we do" makes you sound like a wanker.
This year, the costumes included a group dressed up as the Minions (which won 'best costume'), a group dressed up as Pancake-flipping kittens (third place), a group dressed up as animals/birds (best-behaved), additional charities, a group dressed as PacMan, and a group with members dressed up as Darth Vader and Batman. The winning team was "There's No I in Pancake", which had members dressed as Darth Vader and Batman.
Past Spitalfields Great Pancake Day Races are listed: