Well, after coming 18th in the world last year, I couldn’t let such a title go without a challenge. So, with a little persuasion, I recruited Kelly Burgess, Horizon’s Hire Desk Coordinator in the women’s event. I was extremely pleased because I now had a reliable training partner for the few practices prior to the race.
For those who don’t know, the coal race is an annual event held in Gawthorpe since 1963. It consists of carrying a sack of coal (50Kg for men 20Kg for women) up a hill for over 1 km. The current male world record time is 4mins 6secs and the current female record time is just 4.25 secs. So Kelly and I knew we had some way to go.
With little training, Kelly was first to race, although she was used to carrying the sack, she struggled to position it right on the day and battled with the bag all the way to the finish. But what a finish, with great strength and speed she powered the last 200 meters passing at least 6 people finishing a respectable 8th.
Then it was my turn. As the gun sounded, I ran the first 200 meters nice and steady thinking I might be fitter than I thought. From that point forward, it went downhill. My lungs started to explode, my legs were like Jelly and I was struggling to walk, never mind run up the hill. It was a sharp reminder of why you should train for the event. With fantastic support from the busy crowd, I finished the race in 7.56 (nearly 2 minutes worse than last year).
It was a great day, with many from Horizon Platforms coming to watch the unusual race. There was also talk of a few more of the Horizon team entering next year.