Friday, 26 April 2019

Ex-rower steals Highwayman title

A FORMER Olympic rower from Henley won the town’s newest triathlon event at the weekend.

A FORMER Olympic rower from Henley won the town’s newest triathlon event at the weekend.

Toby Garbett, a former Leander oarsman, came first in the main event of the Henley Highwayman, which consisted of a 4km swim, 182km bicycle ride and 25km run.

The three events were held on Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday respectively and involved about 300 competitors.

Mr Garbett, 38, who lives in Park Road and has represented Great Britain in triathlon, said: “Being a local boy and with my background in the town, I thought it would be good to do a local event.

“I have been dealing with an achilles injury so I didn’t know how it was going to go and I wasn’t expecting to win.”

He said he liked the format of the event because it would appeal to more people than just experienced athletes.

Mr Garbett, a personal trianer, said: “It was well signposted and well organised. I hope the Henley Highwayman will go from strength to strength.”

Competitors could take part in all or some of the three sections of the event and could choose to complete whatever distance they wanted. Everyone was chip-timed.

The swim began at the moorings in Mill Meadows and the partipants wore different coloured caps depending on their choice of  distance. They were cheered on by about 100 family and friends on the bank as they swam downstream towards Henley and then round Rod Eyot in 1km laps.

The cycling event took place on Saturday as participants left Market Place to ride distances of either 182km, 120km or 62km. The riders started in a sportive format where riders are released separately rather than all at once.

Sunday’s running race was started by Mayor Lorraine Hillier in Market Place and meant that a number of roads in the town centre were closed for 20 minutes.

Town councillor Will Hamilton, who took part on all three days, said: “It’s a great event and really well organised. Hopefully we can make it a fixture for years to come. The swim was brutal and the river current was quite strong. I did the 120km bike ride and the 17km run and really enjoyed it. Just to complete it is quite something.”

Peter Stoneham, 52, from Emmer Green, said: “I really enjoyed the event. I have a sporty background but I haven’t done anything official for a long time so I’m pleased I finished.”

He raised almost £800 for the Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice. Malcolm Burfitt, 46, from Hurley, did a 4km swim, 120km bike and 25km run.

He said: “I was a very good event. The only thing that was a little bit annoying was the buoys on the swim moving, which made it about 800m longer but it was the same for  everyone.

“I really enjoyed the bike and run parts, though both were hilly. I think we went up and down every single hill in South Oxfordshire!

“I would definitely take part next year if it happens again but I would like the county council to fill some of the potholes in the roads!”

Organiser Jeremy Laming said the event had worked well.

“We split it across the three days because we wanted something that worked for Henley and a range of participants,” he said.

“Triathlon usually only appeals to a small minority of people who are very fit. We wanted to appeal to those people who can do the full distance on all three disciplines and to create something where people choose to do as little or as much as they want either by only doing certain events or doing the shorter distances but doing all three events.

“I hope people want it back. The feedback we have had is that people really enjoyed it.”

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