TV sports presenter Mike Bushell hopes to boost numbers at Gawthorpe’s World Coal Carrying Championship

TV's Mike Bushell with Duncan Smith (photo supplied by Andy Steer)
TV's Mike Bushell with Duncan Smith (photo supplied by Andy Steer)

A major event with a miners’ link will return for its 56th annual event, and a TV sports presenter is helping to boost numbers.

The World Coal Carrying Championship will once again grace Gawthorpe and see competitors race through the streets each lugging a bag of the black stuff.

Runners have to run 1.1km carrying a bag of coal.

Runners have to run 1.1km carrying a bag of coal.

The event, planned for Easter Monday, will see hopefuls race the 1,110 metre route through the village starting at the Royal Oak pub.

And there has been no shortage of interest again this year with many of the allocated places snapped up already.

The men’s race is full and there are limited places in the women’s and veterans’ event. There are also children’s races.

Organisers say extra publicity from Mike Bushell from BBC Sport has helped boost numbers. He was in the village recently to film a piece about the event that will be screened on the Saturday, two days before the race.

Duncan Smith, who helps organise the race said: “It has helped generate a lot of interest, more than we’ve ever had at this stage before the day.

“We have people come back year after year, some doing it for fun, or others who want to beat their own time. There’s a lot of camaraderie.”

The winners of the men’s race will receive £750 with the women taking home £500.

The prize will be more than doubled if either can break the existing world record, which has been verified by the Guinness Book of World Records.

The first coal race was thought up in the Beehive Inn in Gawthorpe in 1963, where a flippant comment about fitness between drinkers sparked the challenge.

It has become a permanent Easter fixture and now attracts competitors from as far as the USA, New Zealand and Norway to compete.

To check on available places or download an entry form, log onto www.gawthorpemaypole.org.uk