Hornton 6 Report, by Graham Bridges
Hornton 6 Miles, July 21st
Checking my previous Strava entries for the Hornton 6, they all seemed to feature the words ‘hot and hilly’ in the title. This tells you 3 things: that I have very little imagination, that the race takes place at the height of summer, and that it’s about as hilly a race as you’ll find in Oxfordshire. This year’s event, the 30th anniversary, was no exception, and the Strava history had the added bonus of indicating how much slower I was than in previous years, but that’s another story.
ERR were well represented on the start line, with a selection of known speedsters, as well as random (and welcome) appearances from the likes of Ant and Marina. By all accounts Mark Baker led for much of the first half of the race, but he overcooked it a bit and finished 6th, with the top 10 also featuring Mark Tyrrell (7th), Robert Storey (8th) and Ben Pollard (10th). The men’s team prize was looking a safe bet.
Elsewhere, Chris was having his own private battle with the race’s star guest, former Olympian and Britain’s 2nd fastest ever woman marathon runner, Mara Yamauchi. Clearly taking such a famous scalp motivated him, as he finished about 20 seconds ahead. A little further back, Richard and Tom were putting in strong performances and bolstering their already healthy Grand Prix standings. Behind them, Mark Schofield and I had our private duel, if you can call a battle for survival that. Having been overtaken early on, I managed to return the compliment up one of the last climbs at about 5 miles and thought, ok hoped, that would be that. That was not to be, though, as he ‘used his weight’ (his words) to outsprint me down the final hill to the finish.
While we recovered and compared notes about how knackered we all were, we watched Katherine and Kate finish. It looked as if they had both won their categories, but you never can tell with these races near the county line, as some ‘foreigners’ tend to turn up and steal prizes from the Oxfordshire faithful.
Then to the presentation ceremony. Hornton is very much an old school event – no chip timing here. Apparently, our host for the proceedings, ‘Puffing Pete’, didn’t bother giving out numbers in the early days, on the basis that he knew everyone anyway. This general philosophy still seemed to apply in 2018, as he struggled to read what results there were from a scrap of paper. Having announced the winner as Matthew Lock in a Farah-esque time of 25 minutes (make that 35), he then informed us that the men’s vet 40 winner was ‘Bob Storey of Evesham’. If we were confused at this point (especially ‘Bob’), it only got worse when he then announced that the vet 50 winner was also Bob Storey, and appeared to be the only one there unaware that he had announced the same winner twice in about 10 seconds. This was eventually sorted out with Mara adding her organisational/reading skills, so that James Bolton won the vet 40 prize and Bob kept his vet 50 award. Mara won the overall ladies’ prize, and Katherine did indeed take the V55 award before Pete announced that they didn’t know who won the V65 category. Everyone else did, so Kate took the Kate award. Another prolonged pause followed before the men’s team winners were finally announced as… Eynsham – well done chaps. By this time, everyone’s patience was wearing thin, comedy gold or otherwise, so when a further delay was announced before the ladies team prize could be awarded, the last stragglers called it a day, or rather a night.