Coal Race Event

The World Coal Carrying Championships.

Adult Races…

Each year men and women race the streets of Gawthorpe carrying huge sacks of Coal.
There is a Men’s Veterans Race race which takes place first, followed by a women’s race and two men’s main races, with the best time being taken across the three men’s races. This was newly introduced in 2013 due to the events popularity and was a great success.

The event consists of Men’s, Women’s and Children’s races that take place on Easter Monday. Men carry 50kg of coal and women 20kg in weight.

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.

(Please note your time will be recorded when your sack of coal hits the green).

Children’s Fun Run races start from the Darby and Joan, High Street, Gawthorpe and run a short distance of 150 meters.

Race coaches are accepted for adult races but must retire their help at the Boot and Shoe public house in Gawthorpe. Only runners should pass this point.

This is to minimise the amount of people in the finish area and for the safety of contestants and spectators. Failure to do so will result in disqualification of the runner in question.

Race Programme Order

Registration Boot and Shoe Pub, Gawthorpe – 10.15am Ladies and Veterans – 10:30am Men’s main races

All Adults Races Start from the Royal Oak Pub, Owl Lane, Ossett

Men’s Veterans Race starts at 12.00 noon

Men’s Veterans Race (40 years and over) – £10 Entry Fee per person

Trophies for 1st, 2nd and 3rd Places (Prize Money dependent on number of entries)

Women’s Race starts at 12.30pm

Women’s Race Entry Fee £10 per Person

Prizes 1st £500 2nd £250 3rd £125

Men’s Main Races – First Race 1:00pm and Second Race 1:30pm

Men’s Main Races (18 years and over) – Entry fee £15 per person

Prizes 1st £750 2nd £500 3rd £250 4th £125


Children’s Races…

For many years there has been a race for the children, where they can have fun and take part in the light hearted fun run.

The children’s races follow the same principal as the adults, but they run a short 100 yards from the Darby and Joan club in Gawthorpe to the Village Green. There are various age categories available making it a safe and enjoyable day.

Entry on the day only (entries open at 9:00am and close at 10:00am)

Children’s Fun Run – Race categories and times:

Boys 5 – 7 at 10:30am

Girls 5 – 7 at 10:40 am

Boys 8 – 10 at 10:50am

Girls 8 – 10 at 11:00am

Boys 11 – 14 at 11:10am

Girls 11 – 14 at 11:20am

Youth Boys 15 – 17 at 11:30am

Youth Girls 15 – 17 at 11:40am

Youth Races run from Salvation Army Hall to Maypole Green (10kg Coal)

£1 Entry Fee for Children’s Races 5 to 14 years

£2 entry age 15 to 17 (£20 First Prize)

Goody bags and t-shirt given to every child entrant. Commemorative medals for all children who run.

Entries limited to 30 children per race.



The event starts from Owl Lane, outside the Royal Oak where both men and women race with a sack of coal,  approx one mile, 1108. 25 yards to be precise, to secure the best time. To qualify for completion of the race, the sack must be dropped on the Village Green where the traditional Maypole is situated in the heart of the Gawthorpe.

The current male WORLD RECORD is 4mins. 6secs held by one DAVID JONES of Meltham.

The current female RECORD HOLDER for the women’s race is Catherine Foley with a time of 4.25 secs.


At the century-old Beehive Inn situated in Gawthorpe the following incident took place one day in 1963. Reggie Sedgewick and one Amos Clapham, a local coal merchant and current president of the Maypole Committee were enjoying some well-earned liquid refreshment whilst stood at the bar lost in their own thoughts. When in bursts one Lewis Hartley in a somewhat exuberant mood. On seeing the other two he said to Reggie, ” Ba gum lad tha’ looks buggered !” slapping Reggie heartily on the back. Whether because of the force of the blow or because of the words that accompanied it, Reggie was just a little put out.‘’ Ah’m as fit as thee’’ he told Lewis, ‘’an’ if tha’ dun’t believe me gerra a bagga coil on thi back an ‘ah’ll get one on mine an ‘ah’ll race thee to t’ top o’ t’ wood !’’ ( Coil, let me explain is Yorkshire speak for coal ). While Lewis digested the implications of this challenge a Mr. Fred Hirst, Secretary of the Gawthorpe Maypole Committee ( and not a man to let a good idea go to waste) raised a cautioning hand. ” ‘Owd on a minute,’’ said Fred and there was something in his voice that made them all listen. ‘Aven’t we been looking fer some’at to do on Easter Monday? If we’re gonna ‘ave a race let’s ‘ave it then. Let’s ‘ave a coil race from Barracks t’ Maypole.’’( The Barracks being the more common name given by the locals to The Royal Oak Public House )

Thus was born The World Coal Carrying Championships!