Feel the burn: Coal carrying championship returns to village

Scotland’s coal carrying championship has been held after a five-year hiatus, with former prime minister Gordon Brown on hand to present the prizes.

Men, women and children competed in a series of races to carry coal sacks for a kilometre through the Fife village of Kelty.

Scottish Coal Carrying Championships
Competitors in the women’s race (Jane Barlow/PA)
Scottish Coal Carrying Championships
Competitors after finishing in the men’s race (Jane Barlow/PA)
Scottish Coal Carrying Championships
Even children had a go (Jane Barlow/PA)

Founded in 1995 by organiser Michael Boyle to honour Kelty’s coal-mining heritage, the annual event has attracted thousands of spectators.

However, a lack of sponsorship in past years and then the coronavirus pandemic meant this is the first championship to be held since 2016.

Scottish Coal Carrying Championships
Fancy dress was on show for the mascot race (Jane Barlow/PA)
Scottish Coal Carrying Championships
Former prime minister Gordon Brown speaks to the crowd in Kelty (Jane Barlow/PA)
Scottish Coal Carrying Championships
Crowds cheered on the sack-bearers (Jane Barlow/PA)

The races began at the RBS building on the main street, with men carrying 50kg bags of coal, women 25kg bags and children 15kg bags to the finish line at Kelty primary school.

Prizes were awarded by Mr Brown, the former Fife MP, and a director of this year’s sponsor National Pride UK, who have recently bought the former St Ninians and Loch Fitty coal mine with the intention of building a leisure and wellness park on the site.