Parish WalkIoM VeteransFell RunningCross Country






Andy Cannell tracks Peter Kaneen on his way to 7th in the opening round of the Manx Gas League in October. By February, he was Manx champion. (Picture by Paul Jackson (I think!)

Just over three months ago the first Middle Distance squad meeting took place. One of the attendees was a triathlete looking to gain a few tips to improve his running. Just 14 weeks later that man is IOM cross country champion. It is safe to say that our initiative can claim its first tangible success. Hopefully the first of many!!

Aged just 22, Andy Cannell will hopefully form a part of a squad of up and coming middle distance runners over the next few years. With guidance and support, it is hoped that this group will go on to achieve success at Island Games and elsewhere too.

Andy approached me after the first squad day and feeling suitably inspired asked what he needed to do to reach Island Games level. I was impressed with his ambition and agreed to help him. We agreed to also approach Colin Moore to give additional guidance. When I spoke to Andy about his training it was clear that the was plenty of scope to develop - his longest run was about 3 or 4 miles and this was mixed in with cycling and swimming. Some of this mix has been retained and his training built up slowly - he is only running about 30 miles per week at the moment. What impresses me most is his willingness to listen and learn.  One of the aspects that Andy attributed to his success on Sunday was the nutritional advice given at the recent middle distance day. He applied the ideas given that day.

One swallow doesn't make a summer and there is still a long way to go - both for Andy and the squad - to develop fully but hopefully this success proves that the talent is out there - we just need to find it and nurture it. This is what developing the sport is all about. I am sure there are many more potential Andy's out there achieving moderate success at other sports.

A great run too by Darren Gray - also aged 22. His development over the past 12-18  months has been impressive and reward for the hard work he puts into his sport and also a tribute to the support of his coach Andy Fox. Many felt disappointed for Darren having started as favourite on Sunday but I am sure his hard work will yield some big PBs in the summer.

During his debut in the Northern 10 last May - Andy Cannell is chased down by Ramsey Commissioner Richard Radcliffe. (ML)

Even then I made positive noises about his performance - see Northern 10 coverage




The XC Champs

I feel the same as many people about the race: I’m stunned. I was well prepared, feeling strong and thought about a top three but didn’t think I’d win it. I can only give thanks to those who have showed their support (not least my Mum for feeding me and my Dad for encouraging me and driving me all over the Island) and of course to Chris and Colin for their continual help with my training. 

I can’t get away without acknowledging Darren Gray either. It was he who dictated the early part of the race, he who set such a tremendous opening pace and he who had to bear the brunt of the wind in the first two laps. I hold a lot of respect for Darren and the work he puts into his running; it was uplifting for me just to be able to keep up with him on Sunday.  

In the end though, the race was won in the mud on the 3rd lap when I was able to inch away from him. Afterward we both agreed it must have been a good race to watch, and as Andy Fox says, we’re likely to have many more tremendous battles in the future. I look forward to them greatly.

Andy Cannell, certainly not out of his depth!

The Middle Distance Squad 

I came to the first MD meeting on the back of five months training for the Ramsey Sprint Triathlon where I finished a disappointing 11th with the 20th fastest run time. I attended the meeting to improve my training quality and hopefully my running ability. 

I was inspired by the prospect of getting to the Island Games and the squad culture that Chris and Gianni envisaged. Within three weeks of the first meeting I had decided to put triathlon to one side and strive to represent my country at the Island Games as a middle distance runner. 

Since getting involved with the squad I’ve learnt a great deal to improve my training and racing. Chris and Colin have provided me with a progressive training program emphasizing the importance of building slowly with placing steady runs at the core of my training. 

I’ve learnt also to listen to my body when training. Overtraining only leads to long-term injury (not to mention unbearable frustration) that ultimately reduces your ability to train further and perform well. They’ve showed me that maintaining a high training quality is much better than doing “too much, too fast, too soon”. 

What impresses me the most is the ambition of the squad to approach training in an integrated way. To become a good runner doesn’t just involve running a ridiculous number of miles a week. It is about finding a balance in many things such as training intensity, volume and frequency; using varying terrain and sensible recovery periods; eating and drinking the right food and fluids at the right time; and setting achievable short- and long-term goals. 

These are just a few of the areas the squad is trying to develop, and whilst still in its infancy, who knows what training and support the squad may have to offer by the 2007 Island Games?  

I’m sure that if I can progress the way I have, there is no reason as to why anyone else can’t.  I’m just a 22 year-old who got disillusioned with football and decided to do something about it. You only have to look to Keith Gerrard to see what an ambitious youth can achieve. It’s a very exciting time to be involved in middle distance running on the Island and with the squad in place I’m sure the Isle of Man will recapture and surpass the glory days of the late 1980s and early 1990s. 

I hope to continually improve and to get to the Island Games in Rhodes in 2007, but I don’t want it to be an easy ride. I want to be pushed all the way by the people now with all the potential to be great. It’s cliched and self-explanatory, but the youngsters are the potential stars of tomorrow, and it is to them that the middle distance squad will prove most valuable. 

Though athletics is an individual sport, a strong support team backs up the finest runners, and I hope the MD squad can provide this backdrop in the future. Returning to Chris’ swallow analogy: you rarely see a swallow make the huge endurance test that is migration alone, they migrate together and through working together they achieve great things.



The Isle of Man Middle Distance squad will be meeting for a training session this Saturday, 14th February at 10.30 at the NSC track. Runners should bring their spikes as it is intended to train on the grass at the Spring Valley/Pulrose playing fields. We should be finished around 11.45 to 12 pm.

Remember these sessions are open to all from under 15s upwards.

We are trying to add in more weekend sessions as well now as the track season approaches both through the squad gatherings and by encouraging athletes to attend other organised sessions such as that organised by Andy Fox at the sand dunes recently.  If the results at last weekend's cross country championships are anything to go by, then these sessions are really helping the runners to improve.

There will be a longer session in mid March. This include a further fitness test to measure progress since last November - further details shortly.

Anyone with questions should contact Chris Quine on 670521 or e-mail
[email protected].


copyright (c) 2004 Murray Lambden. All rights reserved.
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