Records broken in coal race

Mens winner Matthew Wainwright and three times womens winner Catherine Foley.
Mens winner Matthew Wainwright and three times womens winner Catherine Foley.

WORLD records were smashed by coal-carrying champions at Gawthorpe’s biggest ever race.

Hundreds of people turned out to see Catherine Foley set a new women’s record for the third year running at Monday’s 48th World Coal Carrying Championship.

The village crowd then watched Matthew Wainwright take the men’s crown with a time of four minutes 28 seconds.

Mr Wainwright, 33, of Cleckheaton, said: “I was surprised to win as I didn’t think I was in this kind of form.

“But I felt good on race day and I’m really pleased.”

Ms Foley, 29, of Batley, believes her performance on the uphill stretch was key to her win, in a time of four minutes 25 seconds.

She said: “I’m delighted. I really pushed it at the climb and that’s where I pulled away from the lady in second place.”

This year’s event featured two 50kg male races for the first time, to cater for a record 52 entrants.

The ladies carried bags weighing 20kg along the mile-long route from the Royal Oak, on Owl Lane, to the maypole on the village green.

Children’s races for four different age groups also proved popular.

A performance from Gawthorpe Brass 85 and refreshments provided by the Maypole Children’s Centre were well received by the crowds.

Susan Walshaw, president of the Gawthorpe Maypole Committee, said: “It was an absolutely brilliant day and it’s great to see the race going from strength to strength.

“The weather was great and the village was absolutely heaving.”