A FIFTH win at the annual Wanborough Beer Race has put the pressure on Rob Hunt as he eyes up long-time rival Mike Kent’s record of 14 wins.
The village’s ale run was held for its 58th consecutive year yesterday, with Rob crossing the finish line at The Brewers Arms just before the rain hit, with 29 others trailing in behind him.
The 26-year-old Rotten Row resident, who works for First Great Western in Swindon, had few challengers to deal with, with Mike, last year’s winner, opting to wear fancy dress on the village route.
“That was my fifth win. I have lived here all my life,” he said. “My dad was the reason I first did it. He came second five times in a row in the 90s.
“When I turned 18 I did it the first time just to beat him, and I did.
“Mike beat me last year and I really, really wanted to get one back on him, but he’s doing it in fancy dress.
“My parents have lived here a long time and I’m a village person. Mike’s a good friend of mine, but I will have to keep winning it until I’m 36 to beat his record.
“If I’m here every year, then maybe, but he’s a really good guy, which makes it hard to beat him and his record.”
Ale-thirsty runners lined up at the Brewers for a 12.30pm start, when they saw off their first half-pint, before tearing off down High Street towards The Cross Keys.
Boozy pit-stops at the New Calley Inn, the Plough Inn and The Harrow Inn proceeded before a final sprint finish back to the Brewers.
At the finish line, a queue of finishers on all-fours scattered themselves across the roadside, trying to keep the beer in its right place.
Paula Harris, of Hinton Parva, had no such struggles and stayed on her feet at the finish, after crossing the line as first woman.
After growing up in Wanborough, Paula had regularly dabbled with the beer race, using juice as a child and taking up the ale option in more recent years. Not that she enjoys it.
“It was horrible,” she said. “This is my third one. There were only four ladies running, so I’m not going to shout about winning too much.
“I hate ale, but I’m quite good at the drinking part.”
Third across the line and a future contender for the title, according to race organiser June Law, was 18-year-old Harry Cheesley, who made his debut.
One of those brought to his knees at the finish, Harry, of Chapel Lane, said: “I only entered on Saturday and never expected to be near the front.
“Every year I have grown up watching it and wanting to do it. I will do it again, no matter how bad I felt at the end.
“I just wanted to beat my dad’s best-ever finish of fourth.”