Gawthorpe coal runners celebrate 50 years

Old hands of Gawthorpe’s famous coal race put in a special shift to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the village tradition.

Thousands braved the cold to cheer on the runners on their gruelling route from the Royal Oak, on Owl Lane, to the maypole on the village green.

Gawthorpe Coal Race - John Hunter, Catherine Fenton & Matthew Wainwright with their awards

Gawthorpe Coal Race - John Hunter, Catherine Fenton & Matthew Wainwright with their awards

And a special veterans race hosted as part of the celebrations was won by John Hunter, who has now run a record 24 times.

Matthew Wainwright defended his mens title and Catherine Fenton, the current womens world record holder, won in the women’s race.

Gawthorpe Maypole Committee president Don Hitchen said there had been a good turnout.

He said: “It was a really good day, despite being a bit cold. We tried to be a bit more professional about it this year, and made sure all competitors could be given their time after the race.

“There were races for the children too and everyone seemed to have a good time.”

Men carry 50kg sacks of coal on their backs, and women carry 20kg.

The event takes place on Easter Monday every year.