Annual Coal Carrying Race

I heard recently that the Olympic stadium in London has already cost over £300 million, and look at how much it costs to go to a football match these days. But sport needn’t be big business, you can enjoy participating in some very challenging sports for almost nothing if you are prepared to travel. I recently mentioned the cheddar cheese rolling event that was cancelled due to safety concerns (that is crowd safety – not the competitors!). I am delighted to see that another regional event went ahead as usual, I am talking about the annual Gawthorpe World Coal Carrying Championships.

The competitors run just under a mile from the Royal Oak pub in Gawthorp to the maypole on the village green, carrying a 50kg bag of coal on their shoulders. This year (and last year) the winner was Chris Birkin with a time of 4min 29sec while in the ladies race (using a 20kg bag of coal) a new world record of 4min 39sec was achieved. Watch the race here

The favourite technique seems to be the shoulder carry. I saw one or two competitors use a low back carry but this means you are running doubled over which would slow you down. The chest or abdominal carry is the least efficient as it makes breathing difficult due to tension in the arm and chest muscles. From a professional point of view I would expect some of the competitors to suffer neck pain and probably some headaches after the race from the carrying position, and maybe the odd sprained ankle or wrist.