Record entries for 53rd World Coal Carrying Championships

6 April 2015....World Coal Carrying Championship in Gawthorpe. Picture Scott Merrylees SM1007/95f

6 April 2015....World Coal Carrying Championship in Gawthorpe. Picture Scott Merrylees SM1007/95f

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The World Coal Carrying Championships are back and organisers say this year is set to the biggest in the event’s 53 year history.

A record number of men and women have signed up to take part in the race, which has attracted people from as far away as New Zeland.

Competitors will run carrying sacks of coal on their backs through Gawthorpe for almost a mile.

And hundreds of people are expected to line the streets on Easter Monday to watch them.

Susan Walshaw of the Gawthorpe Maypole Committee which organises the event said: “I have waited 32 years for this day to be able to say every place is taken for all the races.

“It’s going to be wonderful for the community and the best year we have ever had.”

There will be two main men’s races, a veterans’ race for previous winners and a women’s race on the day as well as children’s fun runs beginning at 10.30am.

The first race kicks off at noon outside the Royal oak pub in Ossett. And competitors will cross the finish line when they drop their sacks on the village green.

Duncan Smith, secretary of the committee, said: “More than 100 men and 40 women have registered to compete this year. The race has really captured people’s imaginations.

“Why so many people want to run up a West Yorkshire hillside with a huge sack of coal on their back I don’t know, but we are delighted that so many people have got on board.”

The first coal carrying championships took place in 1963 after a challenge between a group of local men drinking in the Beehive Inn. The races, recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records are timed using a racing pigeon clock.

For more visit www.gawthorpemaypole.org.uk