Isle of Man Athletics Cross Country League – Round 1 – Results & Report

Here are the results from round 1 of the Isle of Man Cross Country League sponsored by Law Trust held at Castle Rushen High School on Sunday 13 October 2019.

On a weekend when the international athletics headlines were dominated by two extraordinary and somewhat controversial Marathon world records, the local Law Trust-sponsored cross country season got underway on a day of continuous heavy rain at Castle Rushen High School in Castletown. This first event of the season was organised by Manx Harriers.

The Isle of Man’s best-ever cross country runner Keith Gerrard summed up cross country perfectly last week when he wrote that it “brings together endurance runners from all distances and tests them over natural and unpredictable terrain. First person from point A to point B on two legs wins – sport doesn’t get much purer or demanding than that! Time is irrelevant – it’s all about beating as many people as you can whilst learning about yourself in the process. I always prefer a muddy course, where no kind of ‘special shoes’ can help as you sink in to the quagmire.”

Those words were certainly apt on Sunday as the heavy rain left lots of standing water and several muddy sections on the south side course which followed the perimeters of four agricultural fields close to the school. Despite the dreadful weather there was a superb turnout of 243 athletes across all categories, a tribute to their dedication and that of all the officials.

It was a delight to see new winners of the two senior races. Orran Smith (Western AC) and Carly Craig (Manx Harriers) deservedly took the honours, having both achieved many high placings over the years but never top spot. Smith was in a class of his own in the three-lap Senior Men’s race, winning by two-and-a-half minutes and proving what a fine all-round distance runner he is. Great credit goes to U17 athletes Ieuan Owen and Corrin Leeming who ran in close company with the senior winner and pushed him hard throughout their shorter two-lap race.

Behind this leading trio there was an epic contest for second place in the senior race amongst a group which initially comprised ten athletes before fragmenting in the latter stages as they splashed round the sodden fields. The value of good pace judgement in the tricky conditions proved crucial with Sam Looker, Matt Callister and leading junior Luke Phair breaking away from the pack to take second, third and fourth places respectively. Cross country newcomer Phil Knox was impressive in fifth place.

Carly Craig led throughout the two-lap senior women’s race but was pressed hard by junior Phoebe Coates for much of the race. An Island Games track medallist back in 2001, the Manx Harriers athlete is a fine distance runner and proved it again with a strong and controlled performance. Middle-distance specialist Coates took the runners-up spot and the ever-consistent Laura Dickinson got the better of a race-long tussle with Eleanor Gawne to take third.

There was equally impressive racing throughout the younger age groups, and with many of the age categories out on the course at the same time there was plenty of action during another cloudburst. The U13 boys and girls and U15 girls raced together over one full lap of the course, and the fastest of these athletes was Macy Hillier who took victory in the U15 race. She had to give everything she had to stay ahead of the ever-competitive Ella Crowe, and the battle between these two fine young athletes will be a feature of the season.

Charlie Teare took the honours in the U13 boys’ race with an 18-second winning margin over Jake Crowe, with Samuel Corkill narrowly beating Oliver Condon to third place. In the girls’ race it was Lola Bass to the fore, with Mikhaella Harris and Belinda Dennett completing the top three.

The U15 Boys and Short Course competitors also raced together over one short lap and one full lap, and the leading athlete here was Ryan Corrin, an athlete with plenty of cross country ability. He took victory in the U15 race by a 32-second margin from Gethin Owen.

28 athletes took advantage of the Short Course race option, including no fewer than 20 women. Fastest of all was Island Games 400 metres champion Ashleigh Lachenicht who is also a quality cross country runner. She finished seven seconds clear of the first male finisher Saul Bradley.

The youngest competitors had begun the afternoon’s action, with the under-nine and U11 races proving as fast and exciting as always. The U9s raced over one lap of the main field, with Timothy Perry and Issy Kennaugh, both of Northern AC, taking the first two victories of the day.

In the U11 races two Manx Harriers athletes took the spoils, with Charlie Arculus and Abi Clayton first home in their races after two laps of the main field. There was an exciting finish to the girls’ race with Summer Craig just a couple of strides behind the winner. In the boys’ race only two seconds spanned second to fifth places.

Distances were:

Under 9 Boys, 800 metres (1 short lap)
Under 9 Girls, 800 metres (1 short lap)
Under 11 Boys, 1,550 metres (2 short laps)
Under 11 Girls, 1,550 metres (2 short laps)
Under 13 Boys & Girls, Under 15 Girls, 2,780 metres (1 full lap)
Under 15 Boys, Under 17 Girls, Short Course, 3,580 metres (1 short lap, 1 full lap)
Junior, Senior, Veteran Women, Under 17 Men, 5,710 metres (2 full laps)
Junior, Senior, Veteran Men, 8,440 metres (3 full laps)

  • Many thanks go to organiser Andy Fox and his team of helpers for putting in a real shift on such an unpleasant day, and also to Castle Rushen HS and the landowner.
  • Video footage of all the races has been posted on the manxathletics.com Facebook page.
  • Round Two of the series takes place on Sunday 3 November and will be hosted by Northern AC at Crossags Farm in Ramsey.

David Griffiths
15 October 2019

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