NO road closures will be needed during a new triathlon event to be held in Henley in June, according to
NO road closures will be needed during a new triathlon event to be held in Henley in June, according to the organiser.
Jeremy Laming, founder of the Henley Highwayman, promised to give the town “one hell of a show” when he spoke at the event’s launch party at the Old Fire Station Gallery in Market Place on Thursday last week.
In October 2013, the organisers of the Challenge Henley triathlon announced the event was leaving the town after three years following controversy over the need for 12-hour road closures on a Sunday and rows with councillors over the resulting disruption.
Just Racing UK moved the event to Weymouth, where there were reports of similar problems after last year’s inaugural race.
Mr Laming, who is running the Highwayman with his friend Phil Harrison, said the Highwayman wouldn’t cause disruption as it would be taking place over three days and it had the full backing of Henley Town Council.
“We are not closing the roads,” he said. “We will be using the sportive format invented by Phil, which will be setting off from Market Place.
“The town council has been fundamental in getting this off the ground and helping us. They’ve been fantastic and actually insisted the race began in Market Place. It was clear indication that they want this to be ‘by Henley, for Henley’.”
The Henley Highwayman will be held from Friday to Sunday, June 5 to 7, with the competitors taking part in a swim, cycle and run on consecutive days.
The athletes will be able to choose how far they go in each discipline, with a points system ranking them on both the distance completed and their time.
The swim will be contested over a 1km loop in the River Thames off Mill Meadows and competitors will be able to choose to complete one, two or four laps.
The cycle route, which will pass through the town centre before going into the Chilterns as far as Lewknor and Wallingford, will be available as a 62km, 120km or 182km course.
The running leg of the triathlon will take place on the Fawley estate, with competitors able to complete either 6km, 18km or 27km. Mr Laming, a former competitive rower, who runs Henley Swim, a group of four annual open water swimming events, said he came up with the idea for the Highwayman about 18 months ago while out running.
He said he was encouraged by Mr Harrison and Ali Bird, a keen athlete and senior lettings negotiator at estate agents Savills, adding: “I wouldn’t have been able to get to this stage without their help.”
Mr Laming said they did not want to make the event “exclusive” to elite athletes but open to all competitors.
“Our commitment is that we will put on one hell of a show,” he said. “We firmly believe this can grow year on year and become something special.” He decided on the name of the event after reading about the highwaymen who used to target traders on the roads outside Henley in the 18th century.
“You just have to look at place names like Gallowstree Common and Dead Man’s Lane,” said Mr Laming. “This area was rife with robberies as it was the last navigable point of the Thames.
“Goods would come up the river then be taken on by horse and carriage. Pack and Prime Lane in Henley was where the people in the carriage were told to ‘pack and prime’ their guns.”
More than 100 people attended the launch party, including town councillors Will Hamilton, who has signed up to compete, and Lorraine Hillier, and representatives of Savills, which is sponsoring the triathlon.
A specially commissioned painting of Henley featuring cyclists and a highwayman on horseback lurking in the fields was unveiled by artist Carolyn Tyrer.
Mrs Bird said: “My involvement was from a selfish point of view — I want to do the event.
“I used to be in the GB elite triathlon squad but I’ve had lots of injuries and I want something like this to train for.
“When you can’t race something like this is brilliant because you can pick and choose the distances you feel comfortable with.
“At Savills we have a lot of clients who are coming out of London and want to join in with their new communities. Highwayman is a great fit for them.”
Entries for the race opened on Friday. For more information, visit www.henleyhighwayman.co.uk