A record number of people have entered the 2017 World Coal Carrying Competition - and there are still some places left to fill!

Organisers say 178 runners have put their names down so far - and people are even flying in from the USA and Norway to take part!

The race takes place in Gawthorpe near Dewsbury on Easter Monday and has done every year since 1963, when insulted by comments from a friend about his sickly appearance, coal merchant Reggie Sedgewick offered to race his pal with a bag of coal on his back and still beat him!

Now competitors must run 1012 metres uphill from the Royal Oak pub to the village maypole, men lugging a 50kg (7st 12lb) bag of coal and women 20kg (3 st 1lb).

Organiser Duncan Smith said: “It is quite a sight seeing all those competitors charging up Gawthorpe High Street in their gold and green t-shirts with 8st of coal on their backs, for all the world resembling a swarm of bees!

“This has become a great community event and the whole community is really behind it, with many volunteers from the locality getting on board to help run the event on the day.

“Only a few years ago we used to attract around 25 to 30 men to enter and we got down to very small fields for the women’s race with just four to six competitors, but with the advent of social media, word has spread far and wide and with interest in quirky events and physical challenges being very popular, this has resulted in a massive growth in interest and entries.”

This year additional heats have been put on - and now there are 150 men’s places; 60 women’s places and 60 places in the men’s veterans races - as well as 100 children and young people taking part in fun runs.

Duncan said: “As well as local and regional competition, we have attracted competitors for Scotland and Ireland and from around the world again this year, with two competitors from the USA and one from Norway, it is the World Coal Carrying Championships after all and it has really put Gawthorpe on the map!

A few places are still available - if you think you can do it, click here to contact the organisers and download an application form.