Coleraine man wins Cockroach race

Mark Alcorn celebrates win in the 35th annual Australia Day cockroach race.
Mark Alcorn celebrates win in the 35th annual Australia Day cockroach race.

The north coast has another sporting hero to be proud of.

It may not be as glamorous as Royal Ascot but the Story Bridge Hotel cockroach races are big news down under.

As soon as I heard about it I said, ‘I’m gonna go and I’m gonna win’

Mark Alcorn

Hundreds flocked to an inner Brisbane hotel for the 35th annual Australia Day cockroach race on Tuesday.

And it was a man from Coleraine who picked up the win in one of the races on the day!

Mark Alcorn’s roach won the first of the day’s 13 races.

The Irish citizen has been living in Australia and is now a permanent resident. It was his first roach race.

“As soon as I heard about it I said, ‘I’m gonna go and I’m gonna win’,” Mr Alcorn told ABC News.

“It’s possibly the best day of my life.”

The tradition began after a bet between two friends at the Story Bridge Hotel. It now raises money for charity.

Story Bridge Hotel owner Richard Deery said the event was typically Australian.

“It lets everyone become an owner, from the youngest to the oldest. They can all be an owner of a thoroughbred,” Mr Deery said.

Punters can bring their own roach from home, or purchase one for $5.

Mark revealed he had warned his cockroach ‘Don’t Blush Baby’ to be wary of the girls.

“I said, look you know, don’t be distracted with all the bar girls, all the draught ... it’s a big occasion for you but you just stay focused, stick to the plan, you got this,” he said.

At the start of each race, a container full of marked cockroaches are spilled onto a mat with the first to crawl out of the circle declared the winner.

Patrons can buy a cocky to enter into the races, with some 560 of the crawlies kept in containers at the back of the stewards’ tent.

They are sourced from a university laboratory, and while some are recaptured, where the rest end up is anyone’s guess.

But it’s all for a good cause.

“As the years have gone by we’ve raised over $500,000 for charities,” Mr Burke said.