Gawthorpe World Coal Carrying Championships cancelled for a second year due to coronavirus

The Gawthorpe World Coal Carrying Championships have been cancelled for a second year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sunday, 10th January 2021, 4:45 pm

Organisers of the world-famous competition, which sees runners carry coal sacks along a 1.1km course through the village near Wakefield each Easter Monday, have made the early decision to cancel this year's event.

Last year's race was scrapped first time since it was established in 1964 as the nation went into lockdown.

Race director Duncan Smith said organisers have reluctantly made the decision to call the event off for a second year.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The Gawthorpe World Coal Carrying Championships have been cancelled for a second year due to the coronavirus.

In an announcement on social media, Mr Smith said: "The Gawthorpe Maypole Committee, organisers of the Gawthorpe World Coal Carrying Championships has, as a result of the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, had to take the decision to cancel the 2021 World Coal Carrying Championships, which were due to take place on Easter Monday, 5th April 2021.

"We do not underestimate the disappointment that this decision will cause to everyone who supports the event locally, nationally and abroad.

"However, we are making an early, logical decision to provide certainty and clarity to coal race entrants, volunteers, supporters and everyone else involved in the event.

"The Gawthorpe World Coal Carrying Championship relies on many volunteers across a wide range of local organisations and we could not move responsibly towards a positive decision to proceed in planning for 2021, which would involve committing to welcoming hundreds of people to the area in early April, when severe lockdown restrictions are in place and despite the progress towards a vaccination programme nationally."

The annual event has attracted competitors from around the world.Male runners carry coal sacks weighing 50k. Female runners' sacks weigh 20k.

Runners who booked a place in the 2020 race can carry forward their entry into the 2022 event.

Mr Smith added: "We evaluated all possible options including moving the event to a date later in the year but there are complexities, risks and uncertainties around this as well.

"This decision has not been taken lightly but has been taken in the interests of the health and wellbeing of residents and visitors.

"To our coal race supporters at home and abroad, I would like to say, on behalf of the Gawthorpe Maypole Committee, that we are really sorry to have to make this decision, but that we sincerely hope that we will still see you in 2022 when things are hopefully much improved and we can all make a triumphant return."

The idea for the race came 57 years ago during an argument between two men in a pub in the village over who was the fittest.

The coal carrying challenge was laid down and has become an annual Easter tradition ever since.