Sack race

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A group of children in Fallujah, Iraq participating in a sack race

The sack race or gunny sack race is a competitive game in which participants place both of their legs inside a sack or pillow case that reaches their waist or neck and hop forward from a starting point toward a finish line. The first person to cross the finish line is the winner of the race. In some cases the winner of these races is rewarded with a prize of some sort.

The race has in recent years been brought into disrepute by competitors (in places as far flung as Arkansas, USA and Dungog, Australia) that have taken to using extra large sacks and running inside the bag. The international sack racing federation frowns upon such activities.

An unsavoury "running in the bag" incident in 1974 in New South Wales Australia led to the disqualification of Giovanni Cirillo, which to this date is still considered to be a landmark decision in sack race folk lore.


Sack racing is traditionally seen as an activity for children, but people of any age can play in this challenging game. In schools, the sack race often takes place on Sports Day, alongside numerous other events such as the egg and spoon race. It is also a frequent pastime at fairs, and birthday parties. Sack races are also commonly seen at picnics.


  1. ^ Wise, Debra; Forrest, Sandra (2003). Great Big Book of Children's Games. New York: McGraw-Hill Professional. p. 172. ISBN 978-0-07-142246-8. Retrieved 2011-02-02.