By Kate Fleming
It takes more than Storm Katie to scare the walkers of Cuckfield, so despite delyed flights at Gawick, trees down at Ansty, trains ‘up the creek’ at Haywards Heath and challenging weather conditions around twenty brave hearts set off fom the Recreation Ground for the Independent State of Cuckfield’s aster Monday Walking Race. This annual event, which goes back to the 1920s, requires the participants to circumnavigate the five mile of road which enclose a section of the village. Not exactly ‘beating the bounds’ but reminiscent of that tradition. Running is forbidden and marshals line the route to report those who break this rule. The route this year, however, was muddy, cluttered with twigs and branches from the previous night’s storm and had plenty of puddles lying in wait for the unsuspecting walker; indeed more of an obstacle than a walking race. In spite of all these setbacks, originality and determination prevailed.
Gareth Knapman walked with his dog Gizzy and his six year old nephew Zack, both crossing the finishin line in fist position. Rob Helliwell, landlord of The Wheatsheaf and previous Mayor of Cuckfield, alked with his four month old baby Alfred strapped to his chest, who managed to drop off o sleep in Deakes Lane only to wake up with triumphant smiles on their return. Jennie Meadows walked to victory in a Hawiian grass skirt complete with hula lei, followed by Jane Swain as the appropriate Easter bunny. Peter Chandler, however, decided to participate in his motorised wheelchair and although a ‘malfunction’ occurred in Deakes Lane, which required community rescue, he did manage to complete the circuit in just over an hour, which in the circumstances can be considered a respectable time.
Meanwhile ‘back at the Rec’ the children searched for Easter eggs, played football and enjoyed the freedom of simply running around. For every silver token found hidden in the grass, under bushes and among the greenery, they were rewarded with an Easter egg wrapped in glittering gold, silver, pink or blue foil. So much pleasure from so little; rare moments!Contrary to expectations, the sun broke through and shone for the presentation of the Walking Race trophies and medals by the Mayor of Cuckfield, en Gregory. Gareth Knapman and Jennie Meadows won the Mens and Ladies Challenge Cups awarded for the fist to finish i this handicap race. James Mark, having completed the walk in 56:55 won the Swain Cup for the Fastest Man and Sarah Fry, not far behind him, the Bowring Cup for the Fastest Lady. The Frank Woods trophy, known as the Veteran’s Cup as the walkers have to be 60 years old, was won by Charles Dunnett. The White Harte managed to ‘walk away ‘with both team cups, which must stir cup competition from our other local hostelries for next year’s race.