"I can eat a lot, but I can't compete in one of these," Freedman said.

Promptly at 7 a.m., Castle called out, "Ready, set, go."

Eating strategies were varied. Bozman gobbled her pancakes in huge chunks and gulped water, but also dipped pieces in water. Collamer, the male 2011 champ, rolled and squeezed his pancakes, then dipped them in coffee.

Julie Mazer's approach was unique. The Stevenson College student, 21, of Owings Mills, ate casually, pouring goodly amounts of syrup on her pancakes, and brazenly told those around her, "I'm expecting some of you to fall out eventually, so I'm still going to chill."

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"I like your strategy," said Allen, 27, of Waverly.

"I like your glasses," said Mazer.

As it happened, Mazer was among the first to fall out, after eating three pancakes and a bite of a fourth.

But most stayed in until it was clear that Bozman would repeat as women's champion, eating 10 pancakes. That left the men's race, a close contest between 2011 champ Collamer and upstart Ronald.

But that battle ended abruptly when Collamer got sick and Ronald, who ate 15 pancakes, was declared the men's winner.

"I gave it my best shot," Collamer said. "This guy's a stud."

Neither Bozman nor Ronald ate enough pancakes to break the records.

Victory couldn't come soon enough for Ronald and Bozman.

"The fullness is not the issue," Ronald said. "It's the sight of pancakes that's making me sick."

"I feel the worst I've ever felt," Bozman said. "But I got $500."