Organisers of famous coal race 'champing at the bit' after Easter event is scrapped for a second time

Organisers of the World Coal Carrying Championships says they are still "champing at the bit" to organise the event, despite having to shelve it for a second year.

Monday, 29th March 2021, 4:35 pm
The course is a gruelling 1.1km with 50kgs on your back.

The famous race, which sees runners lug sacks of coal along a gruelling 1.1m route through Gawthorpe, has become as synonymous with Easter in West Yorkshire as chocolate eggs, but it was halted last year due to the pandemic.

The agonising decision was then taken in January to scrap it for a second year, along with the village's maypole celebrations.

But race director Duncan Smith says the appetite for the event, which attracts hopefuls from across the globe, has far from diminished.

The race could attract record entries next year.

He said: "Events like these bring communities together and that's something we're all missing at the moment. There's a lot of pent-up demand.

"Everybody is still here and just as keen, if not keener.

"We're really champing at the bit to get going and we're thinking what we can do to make it extra special next year.

"We're all looking forward to coming back bigger and better next year.

The race attracts competitors from around the world.

"We are really disappointed but we had to take the decision early because people start to train early and we didn't want them to go through all those preparations only to be disappointed.

"With the restrictions, it was the right decision."

He says that all of the runners who had signed up for this year's event have taken the decision to have their entry fee roll over until next year, so a bumper number of runners are certain to take part next year.

Last year's race was scrapped for the first time since it was established in 1964 as the nation went into lockdown.

The annual event has attracted competitors from around the world. Male runners carry coal sacks weighing 50k. Female runners' sacks weigh 20k.

The idea for the race came 57 years ago during an argument between two men in a pub in the village over who was the fittest.

The coal carrying challenge was laid down and has become an annual Easter tradition, and attracts huge crowds of spectators.