The silly season well and truly begins at Easter. Today, on Easter Monday, the choice is either to go bottle kicking at Hallaton village in Leicestershire, or to a coal race in Gawthorpe, West Yorkshire.
The World Coal Carrying Championships is a true test of stamina and muscle. Held every Easter Monday it lifts the village of Gawthorpe out of obscurity and into the headlines. The race involves men carrying 50kg (one hundred weight) of coal over an uphill course one kilometer long, starting at the Royal Oak on Owl Lane and finishing at the Maypole on the village green. The ladies follow the same route as the men, only they carry smaller 20 kg sacks of coal.
This years champion, Matthew Wainwright, can be seen here during the race, finishing with a time of 4 mins 32 secs, a good time with a clear lead, though not enough to beat the current world record holder, David Jones of Meltham, with a time of 4 mins 6 secs.
It’s said that the contest dates from an incident at the Beehive Inn in 1963, when Lewis Hartley said to Reggie Sedgewick: “Ba gum, lad, tha’ looks buggered!” to which an affronted Mr Sedgewick riposted: “Let’s ‘ave a coil race from Barracks t’ Maypole.” And they did.