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Ulster oyster eating update

By chief hack Ignatius Rake

Posted September 09, 2012
colin shirlow oyster king
Thumbs up: Colin Shirlow equalled his 2005 record to retain his oyster crown. © Ignatius Rake

All eyes were on Ulster yesterday when Colin Shirlow took on Sonya Thomas at the World Oyster Eating Championship in Hillsborough.

As he prepared to defend his title, Colin 'the Dromore Destroyer' Shirlow told the Rake and Herald that he was looking to slurp down 234 oysters in three minutes in order to set a new Guinness world record.

However, despite putting in a sterling performance throughout the entire three-minute all-you-can-eat gobathon, he ultimately fell one short of his target, equalling the record he set on his remarkable début back in 2005.

"I'm very pleased I got 233 but one more, just one more, would have meant I would have set a new world record," a post-match Colin reported to us and not the BBC or the bloody Guardian.

"I did my best today because Sonya was there."

"Sonya made me up my ante."

But the presence of the Rake & Herald's favourite gurgitator wasn't the only factor spurring Colin on.

An optician also played their part.

"When I first [set the record] I was in my 40s," he explains.

"I'm in my 50s now."

"One of the things is I'm wearing glasses now and it helped because the last thing you want is to have to eat an oyster that you've discarded because that's time."

Sensibly, Colin chose not to wear contact lenses.

After all, if one had fallen out the chances are it would have quickly gone the way of Jonah.

sonya thomas the black widow
Sonya Thomas: She reads the Rake & Herald, you know. © Ignatius Rake

Meanwhile, making her much welcomed return to Hillsborough, Sonya 'the Black Widow' Thomas upped her 2008 showing of 191 oysters gulletised with a new bivalve count of 208.

However, the woman who this past April set a new Major League Eating (MLE) record when she downed 47 dozen (564) oysters in eight minutes, is convinced she could have eaten more and is keen for a rematch next year.

"The first minute I dropped a lot of oysters," she exclusively told the Rake & Herald, a publication we are proud to report she reads.

"The first tray, second tray, that's what happened."

"The swallowing was not difficult because I can eat fast and it doesn't make me really full."

"But the technique didn't work, so next time..."

Not that the Black Widow appeared crestfallen at being deprived of Colin's crown a second time.

"I lost but that's OK."

"I have to give it to Colin – he did a good job."

It is understood that attempts to lengthen the competition have been stymied by a reluctance on the part of the Guinness Book of Records to recognise an oyster eating event lasting more than three minutes, apparently on grounds of public health.

Which is a bit of bummer really as Colin reports that he would be well up for taking part in a longer slurp-off.

A longer competition would also allow Sonya to find her rhythm and pace, enabling her to fully make use of her superhuman hand-speed abilities.

However, if the event were to be lengthened to eight or 10 minutes, the organisers would probably need to ship in a heck of a lot more oysters.

When the Black Widow set her aforementioned MLE record of 47 dozen in eight minutes, she had to eat each individual oyster with a fork.

At Hillsborough, the rules require competitors to suck the meat from the shell, something the Black Widow describes as "easier... than stabbing with a fork".

Having watched her eat like a human machine gun yesterday, I reckon they'd need to order in a couple of tonnes at least.

Possibly three just to be on the safe side.

The three-minute slurping fest followed a 30-oyster race that saw numerous international and local competitors trying to better Soon-Ok Potter's record of 22.01 seconds.

While Soon-Ok put in a brave effort of Titanic proportions, she was sadly unable to pip her own best time.

Belfast man Richard Gamble, on the other hand, fared much better, scoffing the lot in just 21.93 seconds.

Nice one, Richard, and hats off to all who took part in and organised both competitions.

All in all, things could only have been better had the Black Widow had time to take part in a Guinness downing contest with yours truly.

Still, I did get to share a can of the black stuff with her husband, who, I can report, seems like a damn fine chap.

Here's to next year's rematch!

Video footage of the the World Oyster Eating Championship will appear here shortly. Well, that's the plan anyway.

See also Shirlow keeps Black Widow at bay, posted 8/9/12, and Ulster oyster eater sesh, posted 6/9/12.

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