The weather gods have truly smiled on cross-country racing over the past week. Between all the storms, Thursday’s Inter-Schools event and the third round of the Law Trust series on Sunday 5th December 2021 were both held in wonderful sunny and calm conditions which were appreciated by competitors and officials alike.
Both events were held at Port-e-Chee Meadow in Douglas, with the course being extended to include extra loops for Sunday’s Manx Harriers organised league event to make the full lap three kilometres in length. The course is largely flat but rough in places with a testing hill near the end of each lap.
Ieuan Owen and Elissa Morris were the victors in the junior/senior/veteran races, each taking their first win of the season. Still a junior, the Western AC athlete looked in really fine form, taking the men’s race of just under 10 kilometres by the scruff of the neck from the start and dominating with a controlled display of front running. He can look forward with confidence to next month’s Lancashire Championships in Blackburn.
Mark Burman held second place throughout and had a lonely race but he too looked to be running well as he has done consistently in recent times. Matt Callister produced one of the runs of the day to take third place, pushing hard all the way and having enough left in the tank to fend off a late challenge from Nhlanhla Nzama who took fourth ahead of Sam Looker. Alex Bell just held off Chris Killey for sixth place.
Elissa Morris of Manx Harriers followed her impressive Syd Quirk Half Marathon victory with a fine run over just under seven kilometres on the softer terrain of the country. She won the women’s contest by a clear margin in her final race as a Morris before her wedding later this month. Jess Bryan followed her win in the previous round with a solid second place and improves all the time.
There is no more consistent cross-country runner than Laura Dickinson and she showed her quality again with a good third place. Gail Sheeley produced her best race of the season for fourth place ahead of Dawn Atherton and Caroline Caren.
Becky Watterson (women’s Short Course), Harry Stennett (U13 Boys), Olivia Martin (U11 Girls) and Megan Williamson (U9 Girls) all completed a hat-trick of victories for the season and clinched league titles with a race to spare. Becky’s performances have been remarkable as she is five months into pregnancy!
The quality in the U17 races was outstanding, all seven runners contesting this age group being high-class athletes. Ryan Corrin and Madison Mcmullan were the winners on this occasion with strong and classy runs. The league contest in the men’s category is very close.
The friendly rivalry between Sam Perry and Lucas Stennett continued in the U15 boys’ race. Not for the first time it was Sam’s greater finishing speed that saw him to the line first but his margin was only two seconds this time. The multi-talented Lola Bass was the girls’ winner ahead of Penny Webster.
The U13s had the short course competitors for company – all of them except Ryan Fairclough that is. The 2013 Island Games 1500 metres silver medallist continued a strong comeback to running, and he was away and clear right from the off to win the race by 39 seconds.
The second short course athlete Ste Quayle found himself acting as the hare for u13 boys winner Harry Stennett to chase, which shows just how good the young Northern AC athlete is. It was good to see Charlie Arculus back in cross-country action and he took a good second place. In the U13 girls race Abi Clayton pulled away from Kayleigh-Dee Corrin and Neve Madden towards the end of the race to take an excellent win.
There is a terrific contest going on in the U11 boys’ league, and we saw a great race between Seamus Hall and Tim Perry. It was Seamus, having discarded the face mask he began the race with, who just got the better of a thrilling sprint finish to take the win after two laps of the main field. Gabe Campbell ran well again for third, and a very strong finish by the rapidly-improving Bernat Munoz-Fite placed him fourth.
Olivia Martin was again successful in the U11 girls’ race, having to work extremely hard to shake off the highly competitive Poppy Clayton who has been second in all three races. The margin was just two seconds. Tara Nelson was third.
The under-nine boys’ race over one lap of the main field saw the third winner in three races, with Leighton Curphey claiming his first win with a brilliant run. He finished four seconds clear of Rory Teare in second, and Carter Whitehead produced a remarkable comeback after falling at the start and finding himself at the back of the field. He recovered so strongly that he finished third.
Megan Williamson continued her dominance in the under-nine girls’ race with an excellent winning run ahead of her Western AC teammate Bella Quaye who finished only two seconds down with a quality run. Sienna Curphey was third.
Here are the full results.
- Many thanks go to the team of helpers who set the course up and marshalled on the day, to the admin team and to all at Douglas Rugby Club. Thanks also to the farmer for use of the meadow.
- After a Christmas break, the final round which incorporates the IOM Cross-Country Championships takes place at Crossags Farm in Ramsey on Sunday 16 January. All welcome.
7 December 2021