Sack of Potatoes Race

The sack of potatoes race was an annual event with the traders of Smithfield Market and I’m in the process of unravelling the story behind it but if you have any memories of this please get in touch!

Update: Kaylee, volunteer at MCDC has done a little research here:

The MEN published a story in 2009 of Jeff Winters, whose great-uncle Jake Winters took part in the first sack race in 1929. Eddie Cartwright’s research folder includes the above picture of “Jackie” Winters in 1970.


Taken from the MEN article:

EIGHTY years ago, Jake Winters became a local legend after winning a race through Manchester with an eight stone sack of potatoes on his shoulder.  In 1929 Jake, a porter at Smithfield market, won £5 after he challenged a rival to walk the four-and-a-half miles to Chester Road carrying 112 pounds – a hundredweight – of King Edwards without stopping.

Now, eight decades later his great nephew, is taking part in a five-mile charity run with a sack of potatoes on his back.  Jeff Winters, 54, is training to carry 56 pounds of spuds when he does the Greggs Children’s Cancer Run next month. 

Dad-of-one, Jeff, from Crumpsall, said: “I always knew my uncle’s story and I knew he’d become a local celebrity.  “I’ve done a few charity things before but this year is the 80th anniversary of his race so it seemed a perfect opportunity to do something different and remember his success at the same time.”

The story goes that Jake, from Harpurhey and backed by Smithfield’s fruit sellers, challenged a porter from the Cheshire side of the market to the race. The pair put a £5 wager on who would reach the Old Cock pub, on Chester Road, first. 

The rules were that they had to carry the sack on one shoulder without stopping, lowering it or changing shoulders and it was covered by the Evening Chronicle, later the Manchester Evening News.

Cheered along the route by market traders and locals, Jake won with a late dash.  He went on to serve in the forces in the Second World War and was injured at Dunkirk.  He died 15 years ago, aged 86.

Jeff, who has been practising the Heaton Park route using a rucksack filled with two litre bottles of water, said: “He carried a hundredweight, mine’s less and I’m carrying it over two shoulders, but I’m double his age so you have to take that into account.  “I’ve been training hard, doing the course with my rucksack and building up the weights bit by bit.
“My family think I’m mad for doing it but the fact that I am going to be carrying almost four stone of potatoes will help to raise even more money for such a deserving cause.”

Read the full article here on MEN online.


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