ISLE OF MAN WEEKEND
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