She might be pint-sized, but Michelle Lesco is preparing to give local man Colin Shirlow, the reigning World Oyster Eating Champion, a run for his money.

The 31 year-old teacher from Arizona hopes to finally wrestle Colin’s title from him this week as they square-up in competition at the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival on Saturday (September 5).

Colin Shirlow has famously defended the Guinness World Record he set in 2005 by eating 233 oysters in three minutes. He even managed to equal the record again in 2013. Many have tried but no one has ever come close to beating Colin, never mind his record, for the last 10 years, with professional eaters coming from all over the world to compete against the eating legend.

Having studied Colin’s technique on YouTube, many competitive eaters now incorporate his method for speed-eating oysters into their own competition strategies.

Michelle hopes to be a real contender this year and like many others has been studying Colin’s technique. “He’s so mechanical, it’s like watching a robot,” she said of her anticipated competition. “I don’t know how those three minutes are going to go at Hillsborough but I’m practising,” she said.

At 5’ 4” tall and weighing in at just over eight stone, a person with Michelle’s stature isn’t the first to come to mind when imagining Colin’s most formidable opponent, but she has certainly earned her chops, currently ranking eighth in the Major League of Eaters in the US. Most notably, Michelle has won a hot-dog competition in Illinois by eating 26 hot dogs in 10 minutes, beating her nearest rival who was four times her size.

Oysters shouldn’t be a problem for Colin’s newest challenger who earlier this year won an oyster eating competition in New Orleans by putting away 432 oysters in just six minutes.

The big eat kicks off at 3pm on stage in The Fort, Hillsborough.

The World Oyster Eating Championship is just one highlight of the Hillsborough Oyster Festival, currently celebrating its 23rd year. The Festival ends on Sunday and features a timetable packed full of entertainment and opportunities to enjoy locally produced foods.

For further information or to purchase tickets visit hillsboroughoysterfestival.com

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