World famous Gawthorpe Carrying Championships celebrates 50th anniversary

Date:9th April 2012.'The World Coal Carrying Championships held at Gawthorpe, near Wakefield. Pictured Third time mens winner Matthew Wainwright, aged 34, from Cleckheaton, (time-4m 34secs) with ladies winner for the first time Anita Faherty, aged 40, from Huddersfield (time-5m 8secs).

Date:9th April 2012.'The World Coal Carrying Championships held at Gawthorpe, near Wakefield. Pictured Third time mens winner Matthew Wainwright, aged 34, from Cleckheaton, (time-4m 34secs) with ladies winner for the first time Anita Faherty, aged 40, from Huddersfield (time-5m 8secs).

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Old hands of Gawthorpe’s world famous coal race will battle it out in a nostalgic veterans race to mark 50 years of the world-famous competition.

The World Coal Carrying Championships take place every Easter Monday, meaning this year’s e race is just more than two weeks away.

And about 15 people have already put their names down for the veterans race, which is open to competitors aged 40 or older.

Gawthorpe Maypole Committee treasurer Susan Walshaw said it was shaping up to be a great contest.

She said: “We wanted to do something special for the 50th anniversary and thought with all of the history of the tradition that a veterans’ race would be a great idea.

“We’ve already had a lot of entries and we always get more in the run up to the race.

“We can have up to 60 in the men’s and 30 in the ladies’ races this year, so there are still spaces for people who would like to enter.”

Athletes of all ages and abilities will run the gruelling course for just under a mile, from the Royal Oak pub on Owl Lane, to the village maypole, with sacks of coal on their backs.

Male racers carry sacks of 50kg, while women carry 20kg sacks, and winners get a cash prize and their names in the event’s history books.

The family event also features 100m children’s races with small sacks of sand.

Last year’s event was the biggest so far.

Matthew Wainwright, 34, kept his grip on the men’s title by winning his second consecutive title last year, crossing the line in 4 minutes 34 seconds.

Anita Faherty, 40, of Huddersfield, took the women’s crown at her third time of asking, finishing in 5 minutes 8 seconds.

The championships were born in 1963 after regulars at the Beehive Inn, Reggie Sedgewick and Lewis Hartley challenged each other. Fred Hirst, who was secretary of the Maypole committee, suggested it become an annual event.

In 2008, television presenter Ben Fogle took part in the race.

People wanting to take part in the race must register on the day from 10.15am.

The veterans’ race will be the first of the day, at noon, followed by the ladies race at 12.30pm.

The men’s races will begin at 1pm and 1.30pm.

Children wanting to take place at the fun runs must register on the day, and should do so at 9am.

To register for the adult races, visit www.gawthorpe
maypole.org.uk for more details, email Mrs Walshaw on 
susanwalshaw2@aol.com