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Ulster oyster eater sesh

By editorial assistant Sandi Toxic

Posted September 06, 2012
sonya the black widow thomas in action
The gurgitator's gurgitator: But can the Black Widow beat local hero Colin Shirlow? (Check bottom for credit)

Sonya 'the Black Widow' Thomas will take on Colin Shirlow at the World Oyster Eating Championship in Hillsborough, Northern Ireland this coming Saturday (8/9/12).

Part of the wider 2012 Hillsborough International Oyster Festival, the annual bivalve chow-down sesh will kick off at 15.00 local time with a warm-up race to see who can slurp down 30 individual ostrea edulis oysters in the least amount of time.

We're not exactly sure when it was set but we know that the record to beat is 22.01 seconds established by a South Korea competitor by the name of Soon-Ok Potter.

Once a winner has been announced, it will then be time for the main event, a three-minute all-you-can-eat gobathon that will see the fan-flippin'-tastic Sonya 'the Black Widow' Thomas and an as yet unnamed gurgitator1 going head-to-head with reigning world champion Colin Shirlow.

Hailing from nearby Dromore, Shirlow last year defended his title by knocking back a total of 201 oysters, giving him a unit consumption rate of 1.12 oysters per second (ops).

Not bad at all, but still not as good as the 1.29 ops he achieved in 2005 when he set his still-unbeaten Guinness world record of 233 oysters in three minutes.

"The oyster has to be lifted by the shell and scooped into the mouth, usually by a sucking motion, but you can only put one shell to your mouth at a time," a festival press release quotes him as saying.

Amazingly, Shirlow smashed the existing record just days after trying his first ever oyster at a friend's barbecue.

From that point on he was hooked.

Or maybe not.

"I don't eat oysters at any other time of the year," he says.

One thing that is certain is that the upcoming oyster eat-off will not be the first time Shirlow and the Black Widow have locked horns in gurgitational combat, having crossed oesophageal swords at the 2008 World Oyster Eating Championship.

Back then Shirlow came out triumphant with a gullet tally of 230 oysters to the Black Widow's 191.

So how does the woman who last month ate 16 quarter pounders in 10 minutes to win the Seventh Annual National Hamburger Festival in Akron, Ohio feel about her chances in the rematch?

"Colin is an amazing oyster eater and I have a lot of respect for his talent," she tells the press.

"Breaking his record of 233 oysters in three minutes will be extremely challenging."

"I have the Major League Eating record of eating 47 dozen Acme (Oyster House) Louisiana oysters in eight minutes, which I set in April of this year."

"In that contest you have to use a cocktail fork, stabbing the oysters individually from each half shell."

"This contest has different rules in that each shell has to be lifted to the mouth and the oyster sucked out."

"It usually takes me a minute or two to get my rhythm and three minutes is such a short time."

"However, I am very confident in my ability."

And given that this is the woman who ate 45 hot dogs in 10 minutes to set a new women's world record at the 2012 Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest, not mention numerous other superhuman feats of digestional derring-do, can you really blame her?

But the question remains: is oyster slurping a discipline too far, even for the Rake & Herald's favourite competitive eater?

Who knows?

But providing our intrepid reporter manages to sober up in time to somehow catch the right train, plane and bus, we will hopefully be able to bring you the answer shortly.

Just don't hold your breathe because he's been on the cooking sherry with Miltov Lamprey for the past three days and the last I heard he was lying in a puddle of his own piddle round the back of Tesco's.

Shit, that's him now.

Right, gotta go.

Picture credits

Top and thumb: Sonya Thomas in action courtesy of Love PR.


1) The third contestant will be whoever wins a qualifier competition to be held later today.

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