Radley walkers step up to keep a village tradition alive

Competitors at the start line

Sea Cadets fundraisers Keith Long and his daughters who all took part, back, from left, Sophie, Jessica and Amy, front, Catherine and Isabelle

Tracie Guntert starting the event

Charlie McCarthy, Denis Standen and Philip Jeacock

First published in News by

IN true Good Friday tradition walkers took to the streets of Radley yesterday for the annual trek.

The 50-year-old Radley Walk, which began as a bet between villagers Jack Parsons and George Steptoe, almost didn’t go ahead. But after an article in the Oxford Mail about the possibility the 12.5 mile event may be cancelled due to lack of volunteers, friends Tracie Guntert and Carina Coppock stepped in to save it.

Mother-of-two Mrs Coppock, who grew up in the village, said: “Most of the event was organised in three days. It was a rush.”

Jodie Steptoe, grandaughter of one of the walk’s founders George Steptoe, has pledged to take over next year.

Lower Radley resident Denis Shane, 80, has done the walk “most years” and first took part in 1986.

The retired engineer said: “It is quite nice to take part in one of Radley’s traditions.”

A total of 29 adults and about 40 children took part in the walk from the Bowyer Arms to Carfax in Oxford, and back. Marc West finished first at the pub in Foxborough Road in one hour, 59 minutes and 40 seconds, beating last year’s winner Philip Jeacock.

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Abingdon’s Mr Jeacock, 34, was first to sign up yesterday and finished in two hours, four minutes and 54 seconds.

He said: “I’m competitive and Ienjoy taking part. My best time is just over two hours.”

Abingdon resident Keith Long, 56, remembers the first walk. He said: “My grandfather was the landlord at Bowyer Arms pub back then, and it is fantastic.”

His daughters Amy, 17, Jessica, 15, Sophie, 13, Isabelle, nine, and Catherine, seven, all joined him as part of a 19 strong-team from the Oxford Sea Cadets.

The TS Euryales group from Donnington Bridge volunteered to run water stations along the route. The teenagers were sponsored for the walk as part of their bid to raise £7,000 for new band equipment.

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