Records smashed at World Coal Carrying Championship

RECORDS were smashed by coal-lugging champions at Gawthorpe’s biggest ever race.

Hundreds gathered in the sun to see Catherine Foley, from Batley, set a new women’s record for the third year running at Monday’s 48th World Coal Carrying Championship.

The village crowd then watched Cleckheaton’s Matthew Wainwright take the men’s crown in a time of 4 minutes 28 seconds.

Mr Wainwright, 33, said: “I was surprised to win as I didn’t think I was in this kind of form.

“But I felt good on race day and I’m really pleased.”

Ms Foley, 29, a police training instructor, said her performance on the uphill stretch was key to her win, in a time of 4 minutes 25 seconds.

She said: “I’m delighted. I really pushed it at the climb and that’s where I pulled away from the lady in second place.”

This year’s event featured two 50kg male races for the first time, to cater for a record 52 entrants.

The ladies carried bags weighing 20kg.

Contestants ran a mile from the Royal Oak, in Owl Lane, to the maypole on the village green.

Split-gender children’s races for four different age groups also proved popular.

A performance from Gawthorpe Brass 85 and refreshments provided by the Maypole Children’s Centre were well received by the crowds.

Susan Walshaw, president of the Gawthorpe Maypole Committee, said: “It was an absolutely brilliant day and it’s great to see the race going from strength to strength.

“The weather was great and the village was absolutely heaving.”