Banbury 15 Miles Report by Jane Garton

It’s March, there’s an icy wind blowing and I’m jumping up and down in Spiceball Country Park wearing shorts – this could only mean one thing… it’s time for the Banbury 15!

With a few of the regulars injured and a few more put off by the funny distance (or just the distance), 12 Eynsham Roadrunners gather at the start and go through the motions of wondering what possessed us to enter, are our laces too tight, do we need an extra layer, is there time for another trip to the portaloos, should we play our jokers and so on. Such a relief to finally get going, and thank you Stan Johnston for coming to cheer us on.

Once the first couple of miles through Spiceball and the industrial zone are out of the way it’s a surprisingly rural and scenic course taking in the villages of Cropredy, Appletree and the Bourtons, the canal and the marina, with the worst of the hills rewarded by sweeping views of North Oxfordshire. It’s my sixth time running the Banbury 15 so it holds many memories, not least of the weirdness of imminent lockdown in March 2020 when I almost didn’t want the race and that last slice of normality to end. So today I try to remain thankful for the scenery, the company and the freedom, not necessarily in that order.

In 2024 the hills are every bit as tough, the potholes are worse than ever and the wind is fierce throughout, but the rain stays off for once and the miles go by without too much discomfort or internal wrangling… until mile 14 of course. It’s shockingly flat after a long downhill, it’s not so pretty, and with only around 180 participants this year it’s a bit lonely too. My spirits sink, my pace plummets and I haven’t got (printable) words for the final stretch, which is on grass – unacceptable – but at last I’m over the line. What with the congrats, the camaraderie and the coffee the pain is soon forgotten, at least until I had to write this report!

And so to the results. All 12 ERRs finished the 15 miles in one piece, a fine achievement in itself. Robert Storey was 2nd MV50, Ros Hall was 3rd LV55 and got a PB, as did Tom Baker and Alison Craggs – apologies if I missed any others. A special mention for Rhea Douglas who made a fantastic debut in an ERR vest, having only run this far once before. The women’s team (Chantelle, Ros and Alison) came second in the Oxfordshire AA grand prix series and the men’s team (Tom, Robert and Richard Hume) were third, boosting our overall standings. As for me, I was pleased that I got around without incident and could still walk afterwards, even if I did need some assistance getting out of the car later. And then I won the wine – happy days!

The Banbury 15 is the longest race in the club championships calendar but there are plenty of 5ks and 10ks too if you prefer a shorter run. Taking part is a great way to get to know other ERRs, and everyone is very friendly and encouraging. You can do as many or as few events as you like, and don’t be put off by the word race or championships – you definitely don’t have to be fast, and the later you finish the more people you have cheering for you. So please do come along, the more the merrier and we’d love to see you there.