January Round Up

January is often considered a month of doom and gloom in many circles yet in the world of Athletics, our season really starts to wind up.  With a New Year comes new Fell and Indoor Season’s along with the build-up of the Cross-Country calendar and it’s safe to say that our Island Athletes have really kicked 2020 off with a bang!

In his first year as an Under 17 (and his first ever competitive 400m), Ben Sinclair left spectators gob smacked with an eye wateringly fast 50.64 to cruise past his competition and claim the Scottish Indoor Title and obliterate the existing IOM Under 17 record in the process. Very excited as we look forward to Ben’s progression in to the 2020 Season.

January also seen record numbers of competitors at IOM Cross Country Champs in what was the first season to see over 200 competitors at each event. Senior titles went to Alan Corlett and Carly Craig with some fine competition in the lower ages, the ongoing inch by inch battle between Corrin Leeming and Ieuan Owen is one contest that I will be sure to keep an eye one with often a matter of seconds splitting the duo.

Our strength and increasing competition on island appear to be paying dividends as we continue to punch above our weight on the other side of the water. Manx Harriers Ladies secured their 7th successive Lancs Cross-Country Title with a number of impressive runs whilst the Manx Fell Runners also made a rare outing away from the Moors, backed up with a team victory in the Island Champs, could this be the emergence of a new force in the world of “running up and around challenging muddy places fast?”

Talking of “running up and around challenging muddy places fast” London based Manxie, Sarah Astin, has been rewarded for a string of excellent National Cross-Country performances with her second England representation Vest at this weekend’s Belgium Cross Cup, we will keep you posted on how the pocket rocket goes!

And finally, in this supposedly dull month, we tip our (Fireman’s) hat to Rachael Franklin and Ollie Lockley who both smashed their own Fireman’s Run records to open their accounts for 2020. Having been in that race and getting lapped by both Rachael and Ollie and I can confirm that yes, they were both moving really, really fast!

If you want to take them on, then February’s Fireman’s is this Thursday at 7pm with sign on from 6:15. Plus there is complimentary, delicious cake and tea afterwards.

n.b. I have no idea if Rach and Ollie are actually running this week but give it a try anyway.

This is merely a monthly highlight reel of events with lots going unsaid (for now) but credit must go to each and every organiser, volunteer, time keeper and tea maker that allows these events to go ahead, without you our sport simply would not exist, so THANK YOU. If you would like to volunteer some time or want to give back in to our awesome community then drop me an email: athleticsdevelopmentiom@gmail.com No prerequisite skills required, just a willing attitude and smile is all we ask for!

Mikey Haslett
Athletics Development Officer

Isle of Man Cross Country League – Round 4 & Isle of Man Cross Country Championships – Results & Report

The 2020 Isle of Man Cross Country Championships, sponsored by Law Trust, took place on a beautifully sunny afternoon at QE2 School in Peel on Sunday 19 January. The Western AC hosted event also formed the fourth and final round of the Isle of Man Cross Country League and attracted a record turnout for the Championships of 230.

The latest senior athletes to add their names to the prestigious list of island cross country champions were Alan Corlett and Carly Craig, both of Manx Harriers. Corlett’s fifth title in the past six years saw him draw level in second place on the all-time list of men’s champions with Andy Fox and Kevin Loundes, with only former Commonwealth Games Marathon runner Dave Newton ahead of him with seven. For 2001 Island Games 5,000 metres medallist Carly Craig it was a first women’s cross country title.

A real feature of the day, and indeed of the season, was the number of families taking part in the various age groups, proving that cross country is a welcoming and encouraging sport for runners of all abilities.

Alan Corlett once again proved himself a worthy champion, settling into a relaxed rhythm from the start and gradually extending his lead throughout six circuits of the undulating farmland close to the school which was dry underfoot everywhere. Currently in high-mileage training as he prepares for his Marathon debut in London this spring, Corlett had warmed up for the race by running ten miles into Peel.

In second place less than a minute in arrears was Orran Smith who is such a wonderfully consistent performer on all types of terrain. There was a race-long battle for third place between Dave Bignell and Mark Burman, with Western AC man Bignell pulling clear on the final circuit. Christian Varley and Mike Garrett rounded out the top six and Luke Phair was the leading junior.

There was an exciting battle for team honours, with Manx Fell Runners taking the honours by just five points from Manx Harriers, with an aggregate score from their six scoring runners of 49 points to 54.

The battle for the women’s title over four laps was won by Carly Craig, better known as a long-distance road runner but who has made an effective transition to cross country in recent years. On the first three laps the race was led by 2009 champion Gail Griffiths, making her first appearance over the full distance course this season after illness last year. On the final lap Craig came through strongly to bag her maiden cross country title.

In third place was the leading junior Phoebe Coates, who had to work hard to fend off a strong challenge from Sian Coleman, and she was followed by junior Laura Dickinson and Alison King. The team title went to Manx Harriers.

Some of the racing in the younger age groups was breathtaking, not least the five-lap U17 men’s race in which QE2 School students Ieuan Owen and Corrin Leeming ran toe to toe for virtually the whole race before the former opened up a five-second winning margin in the final run to the line.

The feature of the U15 girls’ category has been the battle between Ella Crowe and Macy Hillier, who have been swapping places all through the season. This time it was Northern AC athlete Ella who came from behind to take victory by 11 seconds, successfully defending her title. Both girls have won two races each during the league season.

Ryan Corrin (Manx Harriers) looked in fine form as he took the U15 boys’ title in some style, with Gethin Owen resisting a determined effort from Western AC clubmate Corbyn Schade for the silver medal.

Just four seconds separated the three medallists in the U13 boys’ race with Cian Howard winning back-to-back titles. Sam Perry and Lucas Stennett were the other medallists, and the silver medal winning Northern AC team at the Lancashire championships filled the first four places.

The U13 girls champion Lola Bass (Northern AC) was one of four athletes to complete a clean sweep of four league victories for the season, and she ran as well as ever. There was an exciting contest for the silver medal with Florence Griffin edging out Penny Webster by three seconds.

The two youngest age groups raced on the school field, with the under-nines completing one lap and the U11s two. All four races produced some memorable competition.

Harry Stennett (Northern AC) timed his effort well to take victory in the U11 boys’ race over Freddie Crowe by two seconds with Liam Blake in third a further three seconds behind. It was equally tight in the U11 girl’s race, where victory went to Summer Craig (Manx Harriers), whose mum Carly later won the senior women’s title. Holly Salter and Abi Clayton finished close behind to claim the other medals.

Timothy Perry (Northern AC) has been the dominant figure in the under-nine boys’ category this season and he won the title by three seconds from Henry Allen who was one second ahead of Rory Condon in third. A very exciting girls’ race was won by just one second by Issy Kennaugh (Northern AC) from Poppy Clayton, and Sophie Kaighin narrowly claimed third place from Tara Nelson.

The non-championship short course races formed round four of the league and these were won by Dave Cain and Mairi Harrison.

Here are the full results.

  • Many thanks go to Western AC, QE2 School, the landowner and all the officials involved with putting on another top-class afternoon of competition.
  • Video footage of all the races has been posted on the manxathletics.com Facebook page.
  • The Prize Presentation for both the League and Championships will take place at the Claremont Hotel, Douglas on Saturday 21 March.  Further details will be announced nearer the time.

David Griffiths
21 January 2020

Lancashire Cross Country Championships 2020

The annual Lancashire Cross Country Championships has been an event keenly anticipated every year by local athletes since the mid-1990s. This season’s meeting was no exception, and 34 competitors took part from four Isle of Man clubs with age groups ranging from under 11s to veterans.

The success of the day at the event’s traditional venue of Witton Park in Blackburn was reflected in eight medals being brought home to the island, including two golds. Teamwork plays a huge part in cross country championship events, and the fact that four of the medals were won by teams of different age groups proved the commitment, pride and willingness to fight for the team cause that has always been a hallmark of athletes from the island.

Pride of place must go to the Manx Harriers senior women’s team, who won the team title for the seventh year in a row and the eighth time in nine years. This really is a magnificent achievement, and this year’s victory was as hard-earned as any especially as the team were without some of the regulars of recent years.

The margin of victory of only two points from Blackburn Harriers, with a combined finishing score by the four scoring runners of 49 points to Blackburn Harriers’ 51, demonstrated clearly the value of each athlete taking responsibility for gaining every possible place.

Rachael Franklin produced another high-class run to take the individual silver medal in a 91-strong field. Although she was billed as the pre-race favourite, a late entry on the day came from Eleanor Bolton (Ribble Valley Harriers) who last month ran for Great Britain in the U23 women’s race at the European Cross Country Championships in Lisbon. Rachael pushed her very hard all the way, but after her record-breaking 10-kilometre run the previous Sunday it was understandable that she tired a little in the closing stages. She continues to compete on equal terms with international athletes.

Elissa Morris proved her ability again with a seventh place finish, crucially making up places on the third and final lap. Carly Craig’s sprint finish took another place for the team and she finished in an excellent 15th place, taking the silver medal in the 40 age category. Under-20 athlete Laura Dickinson ran perhaps her best-ever race to finish 25th overall as the fourth counter for the team, a really impressive run. Ciara Hardisty, in her first cross country appearance for many a year, battled hard for 37th place despite having to stop to retrieve one of her shoes on the first lap!

The first medal of the day had come in the u11 girls’ race, and it went to the Manx Harriers team who won the bronze medal in the team contest. It was a great achievement by four young athletes who were all competing at this level for the first time.

Abi Clayton ran superbly to finish fourth and was in a medal position for much of the race. Summer Craig was eighth, Kayleigh-Dee Corrin 16th and Abi Sinclair 25th. All four needed to finish in good positions for the team to have a chance of a medal and they did just that.

Five local runners featured in the u11 boys’ race, with Harry Stennett (Northern AC) finishing in an excellent eighth place. Freddie Crowe (Western AC) was 16th, Liam Blake (Manx Harriers) 22nd, Timothy Perry (Northern AC) 23rd and Corrie Brogan (Manx Harriers) 47th.

The u13 boys’ race produced the next highlight, with the Northern AC team repeating their 2019 team silver medal. This was the first age group to go onto the full lap which includes the famous curving hill known as the ‘saucer’ and the long descent with a very muddy patch at the bottom.

Cian Howard finished sixth with a terrific run to earn automatic selection for Lancashire at the Inter-Counties Championship in March. Lucas Stennett was tenth, Sam Perry 13th and Charlie Teare 18th, all running with absolute commitment for the team cause. It was a close contest with Preston Harriers for the silver medal, and all four of the Northern runners narrowly beat their Preston counterpart, another great example of teamwork.

In the u13 girls’ race Northern AC athletes Penny Webster and Lucy Ormsby both ran splendidly to finish eighth and 16th respectively, with Penny having a reasonable chance of a Lancashire selection for the Inter-Counties.

There were more fine performances from the Isle of Man contingent in the u15 races, with Ryan Corrin (Manx Harriers) finishing in an excellent 10th place in the boys race, improving from 29th in the same race last year.

In the girls race Ella Crowe (Northern AC) clinched another Lancashire selection with a very determined run to finish sixth in a high-quality field. Macy Hillier (Manx Harriers) finished 11th in her first year in the age group, and her teammate Mairi Harrison was 30th. Madison McMullan (Northern AC) was 34th in her first year in the U15s.

The final event of the day was the men’s race which attracted a field of 150. Manx Harriers had seven competitors with six counting for the team score, with three of them also forming a team in the junior (u20) category. It was good to see representation from Manx Fell Runners for the first time at the event, Neil Brogan and Nigel Maddocks making a late decision to travel.

David Mullarkey produced a fine run to finish in fifth place which earned him the silver medal in the u20 category. He is one of only six local athletes to achieve a top five finish in the senior men’s race over the years. One of those is Alan Corlett who was sixth this year and was closing in on David at the finish, a fine effort after illness a week ago.

Alex Bell produced one of his best performances to place 25th overall, having been 45th and 58th in the past two years. He placed seventh in the junior category. Gianni Epifani finished 50th in his 21st appearance at the event since 1995.

Cross country stalwart Andy Fox was delighted to win the gold medal in the 60 age category having targeted the race for several months. His overall 81st place was his highest finish since 2013 and this was his 23rd appearance in all.

Andrew Falconer battled away despite feeling under the weather and finished in 82nd for the final counting position, and George Dickinson completed the Manx Harriers contingent with 88th place and was 16th junior.

The senior team finished fifth, while the junior team of David, Alex and George clinched the team bronze medal.

The two Manx Fell Runners competitors enjoyed their outing and found themselves in close battles with some of the Manx Harriers runners during the race. Neil Brogan was 65th despite doing a hilly Parkrun just a few hours earlier, and Nigel Maddocks was 75th.

David Griffiths
7 January 2020

Isle of Man Athletics Cross Country League – Round 3 – Results & Report

The last cross country event to be held at the stunning Nunnery Estate on the outskirts of Douglas was blessed with gloriously sunny and crisp winter weather on Sunday 1 December for the third round of the Law Trust sponsored Isle of Man league. The event attracted 221 competitors.

Organising club Manx Harriers have used the venue for the past four seasons, and in the opinion of many the course devised by Andy Fox has been one of the best to be used for local cross country over the years. The performances of some of the island’s best cross country runners gave the course a fitting send-off at the weekend before the land is used for other purposes.

The senior race winners Ollie Lockley and Rachael Franklin, both members of the host club, have been in magnificent form on the roads recently, and both transitioned smoothly to the different demands of cross country.

Lockley, who recently beat Keith Gerrard’s Isle of Man Half Marathon record, had his first cross country outing of the winter and produced a masterclass as he dominated the 9.8-kilometre Senior Men’s race over four laps of the course. Initially shadowed by Alan Corlett, he soon pulled clear and stretched away to claim victory by more than two minutes with a superb exhibition of controlled running over the undulating estate grounds which include several sharp hills.

Corlett settled into a good rhythm in second place as he consolidated his progress back to top form after an injury layoff, and Orran Smith continued his outstanding year with yet another notable performance to take third place.

Dave Bignell has been impressive this winter and ran extremely well to take his second successive fourth place after a close contest with Sam Looker and Mike Garrett. Luke Phair was the first junior in ninth place, and the race attracted a bumper field of 51.

The women’s race was run over three laps, and Rachael Franklin was the victor with a quality run during which only the first three men were ahead of her. It was a surprise to see this summer’s triple Island Games gold medallist competing, as she had contested a 5k road race at Barrowford in Lancashire at 7pm on Saturday before travelling home on the overnight ferry. Frustrated at the icy roads which forced her to back off in that race, she was fresh enough to produce a typically strong performance on Sunday afternoon.

Eleanor Miklos is another athlete who has been in great form in several disciplines recently, and she took a fine second place finish ahead of Island Games distance runner Elissa Morris. Laura Dickinson produced a typically gritty run to take fourth ahead of Helen Taylor.

There were big competitor numbers for the Short Course races and these were convincingly won by David Cain and former Island Games distance runner Gail Griffiths.

The closest race of the day came in the u17 men’s category between Ieuan Owen and Corrin Leeming. There was rarely more than a stride or two between these two highly competitive athletes, and the battle went right to the line with both being given the same time but Ieuan just getting the verdict.

Ieuan was one of five athletes to complete a hat-trick of victories for the series, the others being Ryan Corrin (u15 boys), Lola Bass (u13 girls), Abi Clayton (u11 girls) and Timothy Perry (u9 boys). These five have all clinched victory in the league with a round to spare, but will be keen to double up with IOM Championship titles at the final event in January.

Battle resumed in the u15 girls race between Macy Hillier and Ella Crowe who have been matching strides all season, but this time Macy was the clear winner. Their friendly rivalry will resume at the Lancashire Championships in early January.

Lucas Stennett took his first win of the season in the u13 boys’ race, and he is one of many local athletes who should go well in Blackburn next month. Another is Freddie Crowe who won the u11 boys’ race to follow his excellent run in the Liverpool Cross Challenge at Sefton Park the previous week.

The under-nine girls’ race was dominated by Issy Kennaugh of Northern AC who beat all bar three of the boys with a top run.

A little further down the fields in the junior races, it is always good to see athletes progressing well during the season. Several achieved big improvements on their placings in previous rounds, including Alessio Costello and Piper Withington in the u11 girls and Gabe Campbell and Theo Quayle in the u9 boys.

Here are the full results.

• Grateful thanks go to all involved with putting on a superb afternoon of cross country action at this historic venue.
• Video footage of all the races has been posted on the manxathletics.com Facebook page.
• The Isle of Man Cross Country Championships, which also form the fourth and final round of the league, takes place on Sunday 19 January and will be hosted by Western AC at QE2 School in Peel. Full details will be available nearer the time.

David Griffiths
3 December 2019

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