Friday, 23 April 2021

Highwayman helps show off sporting background

MORE than 300 people took part in second annual Henley Highwayman at the weekend

MORE than 300 people took part in second annual Henley Highwayman at the weekend.

The duathlon involved a cycle race on Saturday and a run on Sunday in which competitors could choose the distance they wanted to complete.

The routes for both events took them into the Chilterns, starting and ending in Henley market place.

The event was won by Matt Chipping, who finished 11th in the 182km cycle race in six hours, 35 minutes and 34 seconds before topping the leaderboard in the 25km run with a time of one hour, 41 minutes and 43 seconds.

His brother James was fifth overall, beating Matt by just 13 seconds in the cycle race but coming more than 20 minutes behind him in the run. The highest-placed woman was Belinda Tull, who came sixth in the full-distance standings and ninth overall.

More than 300 people took part in this year’s event, which is named after the robbers who targeted stagecoaches and wagons travelling in and out of Henley in the 18th century.

It began as a triathlon last year but the swimming element has been dropped.

The cyclists set off at about 8am on Saturday and rode either 62km, 120km or 182km, depending on their ability. They left in waves throughout the morning to prevent pile-ups.

Many of the riders had to make their way through crowds when they returned to the town centre during the Heroes’ Parade to celebrate Henley’s Rio Olympians.

On Sunday, more than 70 runners were started by Mayor Julian Brookes.

They had a choice of four routes, with the Henley Standard 5km “sprint” being added to the usual 9km, 17km and 25km distances.

Several roads in the town centre were closed for the start of the run, which ended at Swiss Farm, off Marlow Road.

Andrew Paddon and Lisa McGinty, who have recently moved to Sonning Common from Twickenham, took part on both days.

Mr Paddon, who was competing just a week after completing an ironman triathlon in Weymouth, said: “I enjoyed the course but it was very stony. My tyre exploded, which cost me a lot of time.

“It’s lovely countryside and you end up in the back lanes with no one about. I’ll absolutely do it again.”

Richard McCabe, from Caversham Heights, took part in the run with Hazel Lambert, choosing the 17km route.

He said: “It was a nice run in pleasant conditions and was nicely organised.

“This is the first year we’ve done it and we liked the jelly babies they were handing out. We’d have to say yes to doing it again next year.”

Tom Hyde and Adrian Moody, who work for Henley estate agents Savills, who sponsor the event, took part.

Mr Hyde, from Benson, said: “I did the middle distance ride and the 17km run. It was really tough but the run is so picturesque.

“This is my first year but I’ll definitely come back next time. I’ll need a proper bike though as my mountain bike didn’t quite cut it.”

Highwayman organiser Phil Harrison said: “Obviously we changed the format this year so it was like launching it new but we achieved what we wanted to.

“The feedback has been very good and people loved both the cycle and the run. A lot of people hadn’t been on the hills in the Henley area before and were asking if they could do it again, especially for the runners.

“The event really fits with Henley and we love the atmosphere.

“The Olympic parade made the cycling a bit difficult but we did our best to accommodate it.

“Having the two events together was a great way to show off Henley’s sporting background.

“Things are looking very positive for next year and we are confident this can be established as a big event in Henley.

“We are aiming for 500 to 600 people next year and are planning to keep it exactly the same.”

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