AS a vicar, the Rev Paul Maybury is used to bearing burdens on his shoulders.
But next month, the Vicar of Ossett and Gawthorpe, near Wakefield, faces a new challenge - lifting coal.
Paul, 47, is competing in Gawthorpe's 43rd world-famous coal-carrying race on Easter Monday to raise cash for his community.
As president of the village maypole committee, he has commentated on the race and presented the prizes for the last five years.
This year he wants in on the action, as a contender.
He faces the challenge of running just under a mile (1012.5 metres) with a 50-kilogram sack of coal on his back.
This will be no easy feat as the course is uphill all the way. it starts at noon at The Royal Oak pub in Owl Lane and finishes at the maypole on Gawthorpe village green.
Paul, who admits he is not normally a sporty person, said: "I'm running to raise money for the maypole celebrations and local community and church projects.
"I'm also running because for the six years I've been in this area I've always been known in my church leadership role. Now it's time to do something as me."
Paul, who has been in training for six weeks for the race, says he has been working hard so that he may be spared the embarrassment of finishing last.
He has two secret weapons in his fight for fitness.
Michelle Graham, a London Marathon runner and niece of coal-race founder Amos Clapham, is a member of Ossett's Trinity Church and is helping Paul's training.
Local firemen have also offered Paul that use of their gym for the weight-training he will need to prepare to carry the sack of coal, which weighs as much as a small person.
Paul has even run up and down the 200 steps of his own church spire.
He said: "This is probably the maddest thing I have done. I don't go round jumping out of planes or anything, but the idea has raised a few smiles with my congregation.
"The race is a great profile-raiser for our town and it is a nice tradition to keep up for the community as many older residents remember the original race.
"It is very much a community event. It has a great spirit and is enjoyed by people who come from all over the country, and indeed the world, to take part."
To sponsor Paul, phone 01924 217379.
* Gawthorpe's World Coal Carrying Championships takes place on the same day every year in the small village.
* The current world records are 4mins 6secs for the men, held by David Jones, of Meltham, and 5mins 5secs for the women, held by Julia Knight, of Meltham.
* The race dates back to 1963, when local coal merchant Reggie Sedgewick and president of the Maypole Committee, Amos Clapham, were challenged to a race by a local man, Lewis Hartley, who wanted to prove he was fitter than them.
* The race started on Easter Monday because committee secretary Fred Hirst said they were stuck for something to do that day.
* A children's event was added two years ago, with three age categories.
* Prizes for the winners have previously included a barrel of beer and free coal vouchers - but nothing can compare to the ultimate prize of a chance to be entered in the Guinness Book of Records.
* Kirklees Clr Terry Lyons was a record holder and veteran of the race for many years.