E is for Egg and Spoon race

6th June 1997 at 01:00
Who can do it?

Just about anyone. For many children, the egg and spoon race is their first experience of a real sporting contest, along with the sack race, the three-legged race and the beanbag race. Derided by some as the harbinger of anti-social competitiveness, the egg and spoon race is none the less part of the fabric of sports days in primary schools all over the country. In the US, it is also the custom for large firms to gather their top staff at a resort hotel and organise egg and spoon races to the beach. The rationale behind this is that it's a great social leveller and the general ridicule and humiliation it inspires will dissolve negative feelings. Probably the same negative feelings of competitiveness that the race engendered in the first place.

Time needed to develop skills

Practice is not a bad idea, especially if your sports day has a tight schedule and you're planning to use real eggs. It's not as easy as many people think.

Extra-curricular time

It's a safe bet that some parents will be drilling their offspring up and down the garden in preparation for sports day.

Physical benefits

It requires great dexterity, balance, co-ordination and concentration.

Physical risks

These are greatest among parents who participate in the adult version and whose notions of sportsmanship do not encompass losing gracefully.

Social benefits

Potentially huge. At this time of year celebrity parents can be found everywhere, egg-and-spoon racing for all they're worth.

Social disadvantages

If your dad loses . . .


Minimal. Using real eggs is to court disaster, unless hard-boiled. Ping pong balls are a common substitute, although a bit of a liability in a strong breeze. Otherwise there are potatoes, beanbags or anything that can sit in a spoon comfortably. The spoons can be made of any material, although silver plate is perhaps a little ostentatious. Any size from dessert spoon up.


School canteen. But don't forget to take everything back afterwards.


Playgrounds, games fields, gyms or sports halls. The area needs to be big enough to contain a deceleration zone after the winning post, to avoid the recent fate of an over-zealous father who ran into a brick wall and broke both his arms. Apart from that there are no limits: Dale Lyons of the West Midlands found a place in the Guinness Book of Records after running the 1990 London marathon while carrying a dessert spoon with a fresh egg on it, in a time of 3 hours, 47 minutes.

They love it because...

If you don't like team games, it's brilliant, and if you don't win you can use your egg as retribution. Accidentally, of course.

They hate it because...

Cool, it isn't.

Investment for schools

Undoubtedly. All great sports personalities start somewhere, and Darren Gough (Yorkshire and England cricketer) is one of many who claim early success in this race. "At St Helen's Junior School in Barnsley I remember winning both the three-legged race and the egg and spoon race," he says. Jo Brand also claims to have done rather well in hers.

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