Sunday, 24 October 2021

No decision yet taken on future of triathlon

THE organisers of Challenge Henley say they have not yet decided whether to stick with the town.

THE organisers of Challenge Henley say they have not yet decided whether to stick with the town.

Last week, the Henley Standard revealed that they had received offers to move the annual triathlon elsewhere following criticism of the disruption caused by the 12-hour road closures in and around Henley.

Race director Alan Rose, of Just Racing UK, said he felt “not welcome”.

Now he says the company is considering what is “the best way forward” but insists no definite decision had been made.

Mr Rose said: “Our vision has not wavered. Back in 2009, when I first presented to the people of Henley, I said we were looking for a prime location and we wanted to get partners on board.

“We do feel that Henley ticks many of the boxes and it’s a good place to hold large-scale events. It’s always seemed the ideal location and that has not changed.

“The feedback from the athletes this year has been phenomenal and we’re very pleased.

“However, the talk from Henley always seems to be about road closures. We have to think very carefully about what is the best way forward and we want the next stage to be a good one.

“There has been lots of speculation but we need to be careful because we want to make the right decision for Challenge, not a knee-jerk reaction.”

The race, which has been held in Henley for three years and this year had 1,400 entrants, has been criticised by town and parish councillors and residents from across the area.

This year’s road closures caused some businesses to close, including the Golden Ball in Assendon, while church services at Nuffield, Pishill and Rotherfield Greys were cancelled.

Last week, Mr Rose told the Henley Standard: “It is no secret that the MP, Mayor and various councillors in Henley and the surrounding parishes have made it extremely clear that we are not welcome in Henley.

“We organise a lot of events all over the country and we have not experienced such hostility from the leaders of an area. It has been a very, very difficult year.

“A lot of people tried very hard to make it not happen and to make it go ahead we had to fight really hard.”

Civic officials insist that they are not opposed to the event itself but how it is organised and the consideration given to residents.

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