Paul Freary re­ports from the var­ied events seen on this Easter en­durance fes­ti­val


IN WHAT was the big­gest year in terms of en­tries in the event’s his­tory, it was Manx ath­letes Ol­lie Lock­ley and Rachael Franklin that took the over­all hon­ours to make his­tory as the first time lo­cal ath­letes had won both the men’s and women’s ti­tle in the same year.

The three-race week­end got un­der­way on a cool but pleas­ant Good Fri­day in the is­land sea­side town of Port Erin with the 10km road race.

Lock­ley, now back re­sid­ing on the is­land af­ter a cou­ple of years at uni­ver­sity in the

US, soon broke away from the chas­ing pack and was never chal­lenged. He looked com­fort­able and re­laxed through­out the un­du­lat­ing course to take what would be his first of a clean sweep of vic­to­ries over the week­end in 31:05. He also led his

Manx Har­ri­ers team-mates to vic­tory in the team event, with Cam­bridge Uni­ver­sity sec­ond and Leeds Uni­ver­sity in third. Last year’s over­all week­end win­ner, Michael Christo­forou, was the next across the line in 31:40. In third, James Hoad and Dave Nor­man sprinted for the line with Hoad get­ting the bet­ter of the event reg­u­lar, whose brother Andy was over­all cham­pion in 2004.

The women’s race was a lit­tle closer con­tested with the lead chang­ing on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions along the course. Beth Gar­land man­aged to take the lead in the clos­ing stages to seal the win over lo­cal ath­lete Franklin, but it was Franklin’s Manx Har­ri­ers that bet­tered Gar­land’s Leeds Uni­ver­sity out­fit for the win with Manch­ester A and B teams tak­ing third and fourth spots.

Satur­day’s Peel Hill race was a chill­ier af­fair with a cold wind pick­ing up and the knit­ted hats given to all en­trants by the race spon­sors prov­ing to be very pop­u­lar at­tire.

The rolling course rises some 700ft from the port town, climb­ing up and away from

Peel Cas­tle and it was Lock­ley again that was un­chal­lenged, this time prov­ing to­tally adept on the chal­leng­ing four-mile course. An­drew O’Don­ng­haile of Gal­way Har­ri­ers took sec­ond, im­prov­ing from his sev­enth place last year, with Alan

Cor­lett in third to seal an­other team win for the Manx men, with Cam­bridge once again in sec­ond and the Uni­ver­sity of Sh­effield third.

In the women’s event,

Franklin, who would con­sider her­self more of a track spe­cial­ist, took a very com­fort­able win from the Leeds Uni duo of Gar­land in sec­ond and last year’s hill race win­ner, Bron­wen Jenk­in­son in third. These plac­ings helped Leeds take the team win over the Manx women.

The weather for Easter Sun­day’s 5km road race was the best of the week­end, with sun­shine greet­ing the run­ners on Dou­glas prom­e­nade. The wind had dropped some­what but was still blus­tery enough to make both the men’s and women’s races close and cagey af­fairs.

The women’s event was first off and it wasn’t un­til af­ter the turn-around of the outand-back course that Franklin forged ahead to take her sec­ond con­sec­u­tive win and third all-time in this event. This was enough to seal her over­all vic­tory in the week­end’s fes­ti­val, four years af­ter her last over­all win in 2014.

Gar­land re­peated her sec­ond place of the pre­vi­ous day and that would be suf­fi­cient for sec­ond over­all for the week­end and help her Leeds Uni­ver­sity team take the spoils in both the 5km and the over­all week­end stand­ings.

Lo­cal run­ner Gail Grif­fiths fin­ished in a PB of 18:23 at age 53 to fin­ish sixth over­all.

The men set about pro­ceed­ings in a rel­a­tively se­date man­ner, with a bunch of around a dozen ath­letes all closely packed un­til af­ter the turn around. With the pace in­creas­ing it was the lo­cal man Lock­ley, who looked in con­trol through­out, that would stride to a close, but com­fort­able win in 15:09, just ahead of Philip Robert­son of Lan­caster Uni. with Christo­forou in third.

For Lock­ley it was a clean sweep of wins to make him the first lo­cal win­ner of the event since Gra­ham Clark, 30 years ago in 1988. In the over­all week­end stand­ings Manx Har­ri­ers took the win from Cam­bridge Uni­ver­sity and Sh­effield in third.

Vet­eran Phil Scared fin­ished 91st over­all for his Cam­bridge Uni­ver­sity side, mark­ing a re­mark­able re­turn to the sport just a few months af­ter ma­jor surgery for a brain tu­mour.

The women’s hill race gets un­der way in Peel on the the Isle of Man

5km start: Rachael Franklin (584) is to the fore in the early stages

Rachael Franklin: 5km win­ner

Start of the men’s 5km race in Dou­glas: win­ner Ol­lie Lock­ley (184) strides out along­side his ri­vals

Men’s 10km race in Port Erin with Ol­lie Lock­ley (right) prom­i­nent

Andy Nor­man (143): sec­ond over­all on the week­end’s races

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