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French Snail Racing Championship: Ready, Set, Slow! (VIDEO)

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As usual, the annual snail racing championship in France got off to a slow start this year.

Now in its 43rd installment, the march of the mollusks pits these slimy creatures against one another in an actual run for their lives. Those snails that don't make it to the outer ring of the race track could find themselves in a big pot of escargot.

"It's great, it's a lot of fun," one guest told Reuters in the video below. "It's all about nature and it's something different than we usually see."

Snail racing also has a following in the United Kingdom.

Not all events end with a festive meal, however. In 2007, the BBC reported on a race organizer who painted racing stripes on the shells of the snails to keep them away from thrushes, ultimately "saving the snails."

As for the winners in France, they'll be able to defend their title when next year's contest rolls around.

Although they're not exactly cute and furry creatures, the use of snails for sport could be compared to the use of any other animal for sport. While in the U.S., dog fighting is illegal and socially frowned upon, and various other countries are currently debating the ethics of bullfighting. The jury seems to still be out of racing snails and eating the losers.

WATCH:

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Snail racing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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