Clear your calendars for 11am every Saturday. You’ve got somewhere to be.
This past weekend I was blessed with the opportunity to stumble across a peculiar event listing amidst the billions of yard sales, slingo tournaments and club parties. “Snail training,” it said. “Learn how to race in the Giant Snail Races.” Seriously.
Now, if you are anything like me, there are moments on the Grid where you are bored as sin, the search feature is working like trash, and you cannot find anything particularly fun and unique to do. Do snail races = boredom solved? Well, it sure sounds completely ridiculous, and I love a twisted mind…naturally, I went to find out.
Arriving at Montmartre (http://slurl.com/secondlife/Montmartre/24/146/27), the sim housing the event, one finds oneself on a rather dull ground platform, amidst an enormous slideshow screen with excellent captures of previous snail races (available free for purchase) and one of the immense snail suits standing by its lonesome. “Giant” snail races are no understatement – created for a giant avatar contest, these snails stand taller than most people’s homes. RacerX Gullwing, the creator of the snail races, greets people wishing to race as they enter the sim and shows them the ropes of how the races are conducted. Curiosity and excitement begin to peak further. Myxophobics run away.
After the new racers are gathered on ground level, a trip up to the sky via a green Cinderella-esque carriage brings everyone to the actual racetrack. Looking at the track, it is completely bonkers to try and understand, but RacerX quickly gives a guided tour. And now, I can finally answer the question likely lingering in your mind: What the fudge is a snail race?
Well, it doesn’t take place inside a shoebox in the back yard of a pre-school.
Here is the premise: Four brightly-colored rainbow-shelled mollusks, complete with slithering bums, wiggling tentacles and shaking shells, traveling the length of an obstacle course that continually blasts them back and forth through the clouds and across the platform. There are twenty checkpoints in all that each snail must mucus their way through in order to constitute a lap, each race consisting of three laps. A real-time scoreboard monitors the progress of the racers and the four audience grandstands move along with each racing snail so the action is always right in view. The first snail to complete three laps wins, and goes on to the next race, trying their best to win that day’s title and a little stuffing for their coffers. Each snail driver’s name is visible on the side of the snail shell. To really sport it up, cheering fans root for their snail (projecting chants of “go go l’escargots! or “run snail run!”), and listen to live music. Fireworks explode at the end of the race to ice the already bizarre cake. It is exceptionally chaotic to watch, and half the time nobody has any idea what the hell is going on, but it sure is hilarious.
There is one other thing that I was surprised to find out. Going on every Saturday for nearly three years, the races are one of Linden’s longest-running traditions. There is no cost to watch or to race, and no hibernation for these big boys. You really have to see it to fully grasp what I am saying… it’s not justified by words.
Snail training is at 9:30 every Saturday morning, with the races officially kicking off at 11am. It definitely provides an entertaining escape from the frequently mundane and commonplace day-to-day events.