MORE than 200 competitors took part in the annual World Coal Carrying Championships in Gawthorpe on Monday.
The Easter event, which was run for the 54th time, saw men lugging 50kg sacks of coal, with women carrying 20kg up the traditional 1,012m course from the Royal Oak pub to the Maypole on the village green.
Thousands of people gathered to watch Andrew Corrigan, Jenni Mustan and Damian Cameron claim victory in the men’s, women’s and veterans’ races respectively.
Andrew completed the course in four minutes 31 seconds; Jenni won in four minutes 30 seconds and Damian came in at five minutes 14 seconds.
Contestants from as far away as the USA, New Zealand and Norway took part, with one competitor running after having a kidney transplant just nine years ago.
Nineteen-year-old Gabrielle Oldroyd said: “I’m shattered. It’s huge. To say I had a kidney transplant in 2008, to come and do this is probably the craziest thing I’ve ever done. But I’m so glad I’ve done it. To anyone out there with any health issues or anything, it just proves it can be done if you put your mind to it.”
The popular event is organised by the Gawthorpe Maypole committee group. It is believed to have started from an argument in the Beehive Inn between coal merchant Reggie Sedgewick and Maypole Committee president Amos Clapham over who was the fittest.
Organiser Duncan Smith, of the committee, said: “It’s been a brilliant day, a wonderful community day.”
Some 210 people took part in the races, with 90 in the main men’s race, 60 women and 60 veterans.
But nobody managed to beat the world records. The current male record stands at four minutes and six seconds, set by David Jones of Meltham. The female record holder is Catherine Fenton, with a time of four minutes and 25 seconds.
Photos: MIKE CLARK