A MEGA eating challenge has got punters at a Chelmsford city centre pub chomping at the bit to squeeze it in their belly.

Staff at the Golden Fleece in Duke Street have been serving up the Megaburger, weighing in at a whopping 3lbs, for a couple of months, setting diners the task of eating it all inside 30 minutes.

The dish consists of a 24oz beefburger, made from four normal burgers, in a large focaccia bun with cheese, bacon, six onion rings, lettuce, tomato, red onion and mayonnaise plus half a kilo of chips.

Since the challenge was first plated up in February, 82 people have tried munching through it but just eight have finished the meal within the time limit.

Brett Sanders, the venue’s manager, said the idea has been bandying around for about a year and now they are looking at doing different ones in the future.

Brett said: “We wanted to do it with the launch of our new menu and we thought it would be a good selling point.

“It is all a bit of fun and a real laugh to see people trying to do it and just the vision of the burger when it comes out.

“It gets people talking and interested in what is going on and with the popularity of Man v Food on TV these type of challenges are becoming more popular.

“We are going to launch two other challenges soon, a breakfast bun one and a nachos and chilli, which will be a vegetarian option as we’ll do a vegetarian chilli if requested.”

Anyone who completes the challenge inside ten minutes gets the meal for free, while those who finish in 30 minutes receive a bottle of champagne, golden sheep and their name on the wall of fame.

Brett, who thinks the focaccia bread is the most difficult part of the challenge, said some diners have come into try the burger not as part of the challenge and split the meal up between them.

He also said he thinks more pubs and restaurants should offer these sort of Man v Food challenges, but only if it suits their business.

Brett said: “I’m not sure these challenges are right for every restaurant but for pubs it is about getting people through the door and here we are about having fun.”

***** Here is how our reporter George Thorpe got on when taking on the challenge: AS a big fan of the TV show Man V Food I was really looking forward to tackling a giant portion of burgers and chips at the Golden Fleece.

I was joined by five other men, Mark Springett, Scott Thompson, Tom Smith, Dan Smith and Brian Smith, who were keen to chow down on the Megaburger.

When we sat down at about 8pm we looked up at the wall of fame to see the eight names who have completed the challenge, being particularly impressed by Steve Thomas who finished it in 18 minutes.

Then the burgers came out. My word they were huge. And we had to try and eat all of it.

The timer was started by barmaid Jessie and we were off. A number of different styles on show with some trying to wolf down the burger without the bread, while some went for a chip butty first.

My tactic was to dump the salad and onion rings and then plough through the burger with the bread and then move onto the chips.

At the ten minute mark it was safe to say none of us had finished and a couple were beginning to hit the wall.

A few minutes later I had finished the burger and was just trying to get through as many chips as I could, while around the table it was a mix of burgers gone but not much else.

The final ten minutes were agonising with the realisation among us the collective goose was cooked.

With about three minutes to go I was down to just the salad, onion rings and a bit of the bun, but I was unable to fit anything else in my enlarged stomach, despite many of my team-mates egging me on.

The time elapsed and alas no one had managed the feat. Exhausted, we all saluted the mighty power of the Megaburger as it made it’s tally 74 - 8.

(Ps, for those who want to know, I would do it again as the burger tasted delicious).