Around 5000 people gathered in the streets to watch the gruelling event on a hot, sunny day which saw Wallace Nelson from Kinross winning the men’s race in 4:56 and Caroline Lech, from Carnock, the ladies in 5:02. While Rebeca Prowse from Broxburn won the girls race and Cohan Hunter from Kelty the boys.
Launched in 1995, the annual event was created by Michael Boyle and is one of only two coal races in the world. His aim was to create an enduring link between the modern-day village and its’ rich coal mining heritage.
It hasn’t taken place for five years as lack of sponsorship saw it shelved between 2016 and 2019 while the impact of COVID-19 forced its cancellation in 2020.
This year, however, saw the full restoration of the event, thanks to sponsorship from National Pride UK Community Interest Company (CIC).
Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister and former Labour MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, together with National Pride UK directors presented prizes to the winning participants.
The men’s race requires participants to carry a 50-kilo bag of coal and the ladies’ race requires a 25-kilo bag of coal to be carried over 1000 metres through the village of Kelty. Children carry a 15-kilo bag of coal.
There’s also a mascots’ race, which this year saw Fife Flyers mascot Geordie Munro beat off competition from popular characters Spider-Man, Buzz Lightyear and Scooby Doo.
National Pride UK are specialists in re-purposing and rejuvenating redundant land and buildings, to support local health and social benefit through focused environmentally sustainable economic regeneration projects.
With its investor partner, National Pride UK recently purchased the 976-acre former coal mine of St Ninians and Loch Fitty, which is located near Dunfermline. The site is to be developed into an eco-therapy, leisure and wellness park to promote healthy activity, rejuvenation and mental resilience.
Development plans include retaining the Charles Jencks landforms known locally as the ‘walnut whips’.
Michael Boyle, founder and race organiser, said: “A big congratulations to not just the winners, who certainly hit a rich seam of form on the day, but to all those who took part in making this such a marvellous event. As one of only two Coal Races in the world none of this could have taken place without the generous sponsorship of National Pride UK, National Lottery Awards for All Scotland, Fife Council and the Scotland’s Events Recovery Fund, as well as other sponsors.”
Irene Bisset, chairman of National Pride UK, said: “It was remarkable to see all those taking part in what has been an incredible test of strength and endurance. We were truly privileged to have had the opportunity to sponsor such a marvellous event, investing back into the local community.”
A message from the Editor:
Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.
If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.