The World Pie-eating Championship has now been won and the new king of the gravy, meat and crusty pastry is Martin Clare.
He is 34 and a furniture-maker from Wigan, home of the annual extravaganza at Harry’s Bar, which comes as as big relief to the town which has hosted the event for the last 21 years.
Outsiders keep trying to snatch the glory, notably a posse from scorned local rival Adlington, and past winners have come from Bolton, Manchester and even more foreign places such as Australia. Clare is a fine figure of a pie-eater and he demolished the 200gm pie in 23.53 seconds which pips the 23.91 set by Boltonian civil servant Neil Collier two years ago.
Speaking through crumbs, after receiving his gold medal in a ceremony modelled on the Olympics and Paralympics, Clare said: “This is the biggest thing I have ever won.” He was applauded by a large crowd and Harry’s Bar which had been un-nerved earlier when the first tray of pies delivered by the contest’s sponsors Poole’s Pies turned out to be frozen.
Harry’s Bar has insufficient microwave space to deal with such an issue and there was a further delay when organisers checked their insurance and found no reference to cover for mouth roofs scalded by pie. Iain Macauley who is the Lord Coe of the ‘Pielympics’ as this year’s competition was renamed, said:
Parts of the inside of microwaved pies can be as hot as the surface of the sun, so we had to have a delay before we could check with our thermometer – somewhat ominously a cow one borrowed from a vet – that they were safe.
The Pielympics copied the London Games’ successful model of ‘Gamesmakers’, in the shape of two ‘Gamesmakeresses’, one of them the landlady of Harry’s Bar, Susan Farnworth. Macauley said:
She was very good at telling people where to go, although this was mostly with people who annoyed her and didn’t always take the form of advice on how to get best view.