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London, UK: Dessert first

The Great Christmas Pudding Race

This Saturday in London, teams of six will brave chill-to-the-bone temperatures to participate in a time-honored tradition outside Covent Garden Market.

Okay, the tradition isn't exactly old by English standards (it's been going on since 1980). And it does involve conquering an obstacle course in costume without dropping a plate of Christmas pudding, that delicious, sticky seasonal delight that's essentially fruitcake with a way better name. But do you know how damp and cold it is on a December morning in England, when you're dressed like a slice of pizza in foam and tights?

The best part of the Great Christmas Pudding Race—dubbed "a challenge of dexterity, balance, speed and general silliness" by its organizers—is that thus far, it's raised nearly $1.5 million towards equipment and facilities for its charity, Cancer Research UK. The second best part: Watching grown men and women running around in crazy outfits trying not to drop their fruitcake.

This year's race starts at 11:15AM, but get there a bit early to watch the flurry of activity at the prep station, where hundreds of puddings—courtesy of Britain's oldest Christmas pudding purveyor, Matthew Walker—are loaded onto plates and topped with a sprig of holly (you can't serve a pudding without holly).

Photo: xmaspuddingrace.org.uk

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