A Sport Where The Winner Gets The Sack The World Coal Carrying Championships

People of all shapes and sizes gathered outside the Royal Oak pub in Gawthorpe, near Wakefield, England on Monday, April 17th to carry 50 kilograms of coal 1.1 kilometers uphill for the right to claim the World Coal Carrying Championship title.

Like so many of Britain's quirky contests, this one was forged in the pub as a test of fitness and manliness.

The championship was dreamt up over a pint in 1963 when one man walked into his local pub and remarked to another customer that he looked a little unfit. Somewhat offended, he challenged him to a race carrying a sack of coal and the World Coal Carrying Championships was born.

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Competitors take part in the Men's Race at the annual World Coal Carrying Championships in the village of Gawthorpe, near Wakefield, northern England on April 17, 2017. The World Coal Carrying Championships, which began in 1963, takes place on Easter Monday and challenges participants to race with a sack of coal for just over one kilometre to secure the best time. The event features Men's, Women's and Children's races with Men carrying 50kg of coal and women 20kg in weight. To finish the sack of coal must be dropped on the Village Green where the traditional Maypole is situated in the heart of Gawthorpe. / AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images) A competitor takes part in the Men's Race at the annual World Coal Carrying Championships in the village of Gawthorpe, near Wakefield, northern England on April 17, 2017. The World Coal Carrying Championships, which began in 1963, takes place on Easter Monday and challenges participants to race with a sack of coal for just over one kilometre to secure the best time. The event features Men's, Women's and Children's races with Men carrying 50kg of coal and women 20kg in weight. To finish the sack of coal must be dropped on the Village Green where the traditional Maypole is situated in the heart of Gawthorpe. / AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images) Competitors take part in the Men's Race at the annual World Coal Carrying Championships in the village of Gawthorpe, near Wakefield, northern England on April 17, 2017. The World Coal Carrying Championships, which began in 1963, takes place on Easter Monday and challenges participants to race with a sack of coal for just over one kilometre to secure the best time. The event features Men's, Women's and Children's races with Men carrying 50kg of coal and women 20kg in weight. To finish the sack of coal must be dropped on the Village Green where the traditional Maypole is situated in the heart of Gawthorpe. / AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images) Competitors take part in the Men's Race at the annual World Coal Carrying Championships in the village of Gawthorpe, near Wakefield, northern England on April 17, 2017. The World Coal Carrying Championships, which began in 1963, takes place on Easter Monday and challenges participants to race with a sack of coal for just over one kilometre to secure the best time. The event features Men's, Women's and Children's races with Men carrying 50kg of coal and women 20kg in weight. To finish the sack of coal must be dropped on the Village Green where the traditional Maypole is situated in the heart of Gawthorpe. / AFP PHOTO / Oli SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images) A competitor takes part in the Women's Race at the annual World Coal Carrying Championships in the village of Gawthorpe, near Wakefield, northern England on April 17, 2017. The World Coal Carrying Championships, which began in 1963, takes place on Easter Monday and challenges participants to race with a sack of coal for just over one kilometre to secure the best time. The event features Men's, Women's and Children's races with Men carrying 50kg of coal and women 20kg in weight. To finish the sack of coal must be dropped on the Village Green where the traditional Maypole is situated in the heart of Gawthorpe. / AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images) Competitors recover after taking part in the Women's Race at the annual World Coal Carrying Championships in the village of Gawthorpe, near Wakefield, northern England on April 17, 2017. The World Coal Carrying Championships, which began in 1963, takes place on Easter Monday and challenges participants to race with a sack of coal for just over one kilometre to secure the best time. The event features Men's, Women's and Children's races with Men carrying 50kg of coal and women 20kg in weight. To finish the sack of coal must be dropped on the Village Green where the traditional Maypole is situated in the heart of Gawthorpe. / AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images) Competitors take part in the Women's Race at the annual World Coal Carrying Championships in the village of Gawthorpe, near Wakefield, northern England on April 17, 2017. The World Coal Carrying Championships, which began in 1963, takes place on Easter Monday and challenges participants to race with a sack of coal for just over one kilometre to secure the best time. The event features Men's, Women's and Children's races with Men carrying 50kg of coal and women 20kg in weight. To finish the sack of coal must be dropped on the Village Green where the traditional Maypole is situated in the heart of Gawthorpe. / AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images) A competitor takes part in the Men's Veteran's Race at the annual World Coal Carrying Championships in the village of Gawthorpe, near Wakefield, northern England on April 17, 2017. The World Coal Carrying Championships, which began in 1963, takes place on Easter Monday and challenges participants to race with a sack of coal for just over one kilometre to secure the best time. The event features Men's, Women's and Children's races with Men carrying 50kg of coal and women 20kg in weight. To finish the sack of coal must be dropped on the Village Green where the traditional Maypole is situated in the heart of Gawthorpe. / AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images) Competitors take part in the Women's Race at the annual World Coal Carrying Championships in the village of Gawthorpe, near Wakefield, northern England on April 17, 2017. The World Coal Carrying Championships, which began in 1963, takes place on Easter Monday and challenges participants to race with a sack of coal for just over one kilometre to secure the best time. The event features Men's, Women's and Children's races with Men carrying 50kg of coal and women 20kg in weight. To finish the sack of coal must be dropped on the Village Green where the traditional Maypole is situated in the heart of Gawthorpe. / AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images) Competitors dump their coal sacks at the finish of the Men's Veteran's Race at the annual World Coal Carrying Championships in the village of Gawthorpe, near Wakefield, northern England on April 17, 2017. The World Coal Carrying Championships, which began in 1963, takes place on Easter Monday and challenges participants to race with a sack of coal for just over one kilometre to secure the best time. The event features Men's, Women's and Children's races with Men carrying 50kg of coal and women 20kg in weight. To finish the sack of coal must be dropped on the Village Green where the traditional Maypole is situated in the heart of Gawthorpe. / AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images) Competitors dump their coal sacks at the finish of the Men's Veteran's Race at the annual World Coal Carrying Championships in the village of Gawthorpe, near Wakefield, northern England on April 17, 2017. The World Coal Carrying Championships, which began in 1963, takes place on Easter Monday and challenges participants to race with a sack of coal for just over one kilometre to secure the best time. The event features Men's, Women's and Children's races with Men carrying 50kg of coal and women 20kg in weight. To finish the sack of coal must be dropped on the Village Green where the traditional Maypole is situated in the heart of Gawthorpe. / AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images) Competitors recover after finishing the Men's Veteran's Race at the annual World Coal Carrying Championships in the village of Gawthorpe, near Wakefield, northern England on April 17, 2017. The World Coal Carrying Championships, which began in 1963, takes place on Easter Monday and challenges participants to race with a sack of coal for just over one kilometre to secure the best time. The event features Men's, Women's and Children's races with Men carrying 50kg of coal and women 20kg in weight. To finish the sack of coal must be dropped on the Village Green where the traditional Maypole is situated in the heart of Gawthorpe. / AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images) Competitors take part in the Men's Veteran's Race at the annual World Coal Carrying Championships in the village of Gawthorpe, near Wakefield, northern England on April 17, 2017. The World Coal Carrying Championships, which began in 1963, takes place on Easter Monday and challenges participants to race with a sack of coal for just over one kilometre to secure the best time. The event features Men's, Women's and Children's races with Men carrying 50kg of coal and women 20kg in weight. To finish the sack of coal must be dropped on the Village Green where the traditional Maypole is situated in the heart of Gawthorpe. / AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images) Competitors prepare to take part in the Men's Veteran's Race at the annual World Coal Carrying Championships in the village of Gawthorpe, near Wakefield, northern England on April 17, 2017. The World Coal Carrying Championships, which began in 1963, takes place on Easter Monday and challenges participants to race with a sack of coal for just over one kilometre to secure the best time. The event features Men's, Women's and Children's races with Men carrying 50kg of coal and women 20kg in weight. To finish the sack of coal must be dropped on the Village Green where the traditional Maypole is situated in the heart of Gawthorpe. / AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images) A competitor takes part in the Men's Veteran's Race at the annual World Coal Carrying Championships in the village of Gawthorpe, near Wakefield, northern England on April 17, 2017. The World Coal Carrying Championships, which began in 1963, takes place on Easter Monday and challenges participants to race with a sack of coal for just over one kilometre to secure the best time. The event features Men's, Women's and Children's races with Men carrying 50kg of coal and women 20kg in weight. To finish the sack of coal must be dropped on the Village Green where the traditional Maypole is situated in the heart of Gawthorpe. / AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images) Competitor Joel Hicks reacts after completing the Men's Veteran's Race at the annual World Coal Carrying Championships in the village of Gawthorpe, near Wakefield, northern England on April 17, 2017. The World Coal Carrying Championships, which began in 1963, takes place on Easter Monday and challenges participants to race with a sack of coal for just over one kilometre to secure the best time. The event features Men's, Women's and Children's races with Men carrying 50kg of coal and women 20kg in weight. To finish the sack of coal must be dropped on the Village Green where the traditional Maypole is situated in the heart of Gawthorpe. / AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images) Competitors take part in the Women's Race at the annual World Coal Carrying Championships in the village of Gawthorpe, near Wakefield, northern England on April 17, 2017. The World Coal Carrying Championships, which began in 1963, takes place on Easter Monday and challenges participants to race with a sack of coal for just over one kilometre to secure the best time. The event features Men's, Women's and Children's races with Men carrying 50kg of coal and women 20kg in weight. To finish the sack of coal must be dropped on the Village Green where the traditional Maypole is situated in the heart of Gawthorpe. / AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images) Competitors take part in the Women's Race at the annual World Coal Carrying Championships in the village of Gawthorpe, near Wakefield, northern England on April 17, 2017. The World Coal Carrying Championships, which began in 1963, takes place on Easter Monday and challenges participants to race with a sack of coal for just over one kilometre to secure the best time. The event features Men's, Women's and Children's races with Men carrying 50kg of coal and women 20kg in weight. To finish the sack of coal must be dropped on the Village Green where the traditional Maypole is situated in the heart of Gawthorpe. / AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images) Competitor Joel Hicks reacts after completing the Men's Veteran's Race at the annual World Coal Carrying Championships in the village of Gawthorpe, near Wakefield, northern England on April 17, 2017. The World Coal Carrying Championships, which began in 1963, takes place on Easter Monday and challenges participants to race with a sack of coal for just over one kilometre to secure the best time. The event features Men's, Women's and Children's races with Men carrying 50kg of coal and women 20kg in weight. To finish the sack of coal must be dropped on the Village Green where the traditional Maypole is situated in the heart of Gawthorpe. / AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images) Competitors prepare to take part in the Men's Race at the annual World Coal Carrying Championships in the village of Gawthorpe, near Wakefield, northern England on April 17, 2017. The World Coal Carrying Championships, which began in 1963, takes place on Easter Monday and challenges participants to race with a sack of coal for just over one kilometre to secure the best time. The event features Men's, Women's and Children's races with Men carrying 50kg of coal and women 20kg in weight. To finish the sack of coal must be dropped on the Village Green where the traditional Maypole is situated in the heart of Gawthorpe. / AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images) Competitors prepare to take part in the Men's Race at the annual World Coal Carrying Championships in the village of Gawthorpe, near Wakefield, northern England on April 17, 2017. The World Coal Carrying Championships, which began in 1963, takes place on Easter Monday and challenges participants to race with a sack of coal for just over one kilometre to secure the best time. The event features Men's, Women's and Children's races with Men carrying 50kg of coal and women 20kg in weight. To finish the sack of coal must be dropped on the Village Green where the traditional Maypole is situated in the heart of Gawthorpe. / AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images) Competitors prepare to take part in the Men's Race at the annual World Coal Carrying Championships in the village of Gawthorpe, near Wakefield, northern England on April 17, 2017. The World Coal Carrying Championships, which began in 1963, takes place on Easter Monday and challenges participants to race with a sack of coal for just over one kilometre to secure the best time. The event features Men's, Women's and Children's races with Men carrying 50kg of coal and women 20kg in weight. To finish the sack of coal must be dropped on the Village Green where the traditional Maypole is situated in the heart of Gawthorpe. / AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images) Competitors take part in the Men's Race at the annual World Coal Carrying Championships in the village of Gawthorpe, near Wakefield, northern England on April 17, 2017. The World Coal Carrying Championships, which began in 1963, takes place on Easter Monday and challenges participants to race with a sack of coal for just over one kilometre to secure the best time. The event features Men's, Women's and Children's races with Men carrying 50kg of coal and women 20kg in weight. To finish the sack of coal must be dropped on the Village Green where the traditional Maypole is situated in the heart of Gawthorpe. / AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images) A competitor recovers after taking part in the Men's Race at the annual World Coal Carrying Championships in the village of Gawthorpe, near Wakefield, northern England on April 17, 2017. The World Coal Carrying Championships, which began in 1963, takes place on Easter Monday and challenges participants to race with a sack of coal for just over one kilometre to secure the best time. The event features Men's, Women's and Children's races with Men carrying 50kg of coal and women 20kg in weight. To finish the sack of coal must be dropped on the Village Green where the traditional Maypole is situated in the heart of Gawthorpe. / AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
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Even though the nearest coal mine closed a long time ago, the opportunity to carry 50kg of coal around Gawthorpe's streets still proves irresistible for many, not least because it provides such a demonstration of physical strength, agility and stamina.

The men's race was won by Andrew Corrigan in a time of four minutes, 31 seconds. It was the first time the farmer from Durham in the far north of England had entered the championships.

​​​​​"A few months ago, I was in the pub and a couple of the guys that I was with were talking about manly challenge events, and they said they've heard of this coal carrying race, south of Leeds. So I said, that sounds fantastic, I'd love to get involved in something like that and then they all turned to me and said: 'No, it's not for the likes of you, it's for like big, strong rugby-playing type guys', so I thought, right, I'm entering, I'm going to prove them wrong, so this is for all the skinny guys out there!," said Corrigan.

The women's race, in which competitors each carried 20kg, was won by Jenny Mostram in a time of four minutes, 30 seconds.


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