The Totnes Orange Race

Sir Francis Drake is famous for many things. He helped defeat the Spanish Armada, brought the potato to England, and he inadvertently started the Totnes famous orange race. On the third Tuesday of every August, crowds gather in Totnes, England, to watch participants chase their oranges down the street, and it all began when Drake failed to dodge a delivery boy. The story goes that Sir Francis Drake bumped into a delivery boy carrying a basket of oranges at the top of town, sending the citruses tumbling down the hill. Because oranges were an exotic and expensive fruit at the time, all the town’s children decided to chase after them, and a legend was born. However, it wasn’t until the 1970s that the first modern race was held, organized by the Totnes Elizabethan society. Competitors are not permitted carry their orange, but they can kick, throw, or roll it to get ahead. The first person to cross the finish line with an intact orange wins. The course runs for approximately 500 yards from the Market Square and everyone is welcome to participate. Winners receive trophies and the satisfaction of winning, and afterwards, a charity auction is held. Of course, oranges aren’t quite as valuable now, so if you don’t fancy running down the hill, you can always walk into one of the town’s food shops and purchase an orange.