2013 : Lucky for some...
I was delighted that this years Hunt was up to full capacity, with 12 Teams taking part in an interesting mix of vehicles: two 2-seater sports cars (Élan and MR2), two big 4x4's, two Ford Focus's, two Ford Escorts, a Sierra, and three modern hatchbacks.
This years Challenges included having your photo taken with Winston Churchill, with a scarecrow, while paddling, outside a house numbered 13, obtaining a till receipt for £13.13, a 13th Birthday Card, a Friday The 13th DVD, and collecting 13 coins of the same value. Have you spotted the theme yet? All we needed was one extra team...
At the finish we usually park the cars exhibition-style on the lawn at the rear of the White Rock, but this year I decided against it at the last minute. With the truly torrential rain the Defender and Pajero 4x4's would have turned the lawn into a ploughed field.
9th: Team Boyd. After making it to the half-way meeting point in her Nissan Micra, Frances decided her son David should go to bed early. It's not just married couples who can find the Hunt stressful. A shame they didn't finish as they did well in the first half.
8th: Team Rolling Stoners, otherwise known as Gary and Matthew Watts in their gold 1976 Mk2 Ford Escort. They made it to the finish but left me wondering why and how. Having lost their map somewhere along the route, they too then disappeared. One point for arriving at the finish.
7th: Team Chocs Away! Chay McMahon and Andy Daly resplendent once again in their RAF uniforms and matching moustaches, piloting a Mk1 Toyota MR2 (A Triumph Spitfire would have been perfect).
= 6th: Team Triple X. First-timers in a mint Ford Sierra, they were the team I thought least likely to finish. I didn't think they had much of a chance as owner/driver Ian was accompanied only by his two very young and small grandchildren. I've no idea how good the youngsters map reading and clue-spotting skills were, but not being big enough to see out of the car can't have helped. Not only did they complete the Hunt, they enjoyed it too. A very impressive result!
= 6th: Team Ring Racing in a white Rally-ready Ford Escort Mk2. Owner Darren is a real Ford enthusiast and has several nice examples. Wonder which one he will come in next year? Navigator Steve didn't look too scared.
5th: Team Ashwood. Anthony and Tony decided to work together for the first time (in the Hunt...) rather than compete against each other (just as well the Clan McMahon haven't thought of this...). Tony brought along his recently acquired Mitsubishi Pajero. They both brought their sons, but decided to share a grandfather. There were two points to be had for the "taking a paddle" Challenge. Tony got one point as he kept his shoes on and barely got the soles moist.
= 4th: Last minute entrants (they emailed on Saturday to ask if we had a space) and first-timers, Barry and Jane Ashdown in their Lotus Élan DHC. Exactly the type of car I created the Hunt to attract, and possibly the worst one to be in at the end due to the torrential downpour that greeted this hardy couple at The White Rock. Barry will be back.
= 4th: Team Pikie Panthers in a Ford Focus, John, Steve and Kate were, and hopefully still are, friends of Anthony Howard. First timers again doing well.
= 4th: Team Old Codgers consisted of the not-so-old Lisa Samwell and friends in a Renault Megane.
3rd: Team Big Nose in their Land-Rover Defender, back for their third crack at the Hunt were Tracey and Hayley McMahon with Rachel, Josh and Jack Stone, who once again paid us the greatest compliment by saying the Hunt was the highlight of their year.
2nd: Taking part as Team Godfathers in his Ford Focus ST170 was the ever-enthusiastic and hell-bent on winning Mike McMahon, ably assisted by friends Eddie Kinsey, Marc Dudney and Pete Hart. After a previous Hunt Mike decided he would never again have a husband/wife boyfriend/girlfriend pair in the same team/car. This may seriously affect his chances, as for the second time in a row his team was beaten by...
The Winners: Mike's wife Stacey, Dawn Samwell and Lauren Stevens (Team Godmothers) in their very sensible VW Golf.
You may notice the absence of the customary "handing over the trophy" photo. This is for two reasons:
First: It's tricky to hand it to yourself.
Second: It's even trickier when you forget to bring the trophy with you...
We ditched awarding points for the order in which teams arrived at the finish (intended to encourage stragglers not to, but felt by all to make getting back too "competitive"). For 2014 I am considering introducing a new category under the heading "Arrived" for what each team has arrived in: a vote by teams for the "most desirable car" taking part, to encourage and increase the quota of "interesting" cars (and improve Mike's chances against Stacey...)
We really can't thank you all enough for taking part and making the Hunt worth doing. See you next year!
John, Andrea, Tom and Ben.
Harpers Hunt 2013