By Mike Jones
A village tradition of racing with a sack of coal in hand attracted competitors from around the globe on Easter Monday.
The 54th Gawthorpe Maypole coal race in Yorkshire has evolved from a bet between two punters in 1963 to see who was the fittest, into a bizarre world famous sporting event.
Challengers from New Zealand, America, Norway and Dublin represented their corners of the globe as they ran through an English village with a sack of coal on their shoulders.
Event volunteer and Duncan Smith of the Gawthorpe Maypole committee, said: “It’s been another great community event which has grown and grown year on year.
“I think its dramatic rise in popularity is due to the event being shared around on social media and a desire which has emerged over recent years to get involved in weird and unique sports.
“We get hundreds of competitors each year which is amazing considering it’s run by the community for the community but even as volunteers we like to run it as professionally as possible.”
The Gawthorpe Maypole Coal Race is open to men, women, veterans and children, each with their own category with men heaving 50kg of coal on the move and women, 20kg.
Adult races start from the Royal Oak public house, Owl Lane, Ossett and continue for a distance of 1012 metres to the finish line at the Maypole Green in Gawthorpe village.
Retired Duncan, 58 said: “It’s quite a physical challenge so to do it at speed over that distance can leave you in a lot of pain.
“It’s been amazing to have people come from New Zealand, Boston, California, Norway and Dublin to our village to take part in our tradition.”