It was uphill all the way for organisers, competitors and officials on Sunday when the Mountain Road was closed due to snow and the M & P Legal Millennium Way Relay, organised jointly by Manx Harriers and Manx Fell Runners, was reduced from four legs to two. The photo is near the start as the runners climb out of Crosby before the rain came down! My photos were restricted
as the rain made it impossible to use both still and video cameras but thanks to Brian Osbourne for holding the umbrella! Murray
Steve Kelly (37) is one of the greats of Manx road running and was at his peak during the early years of the Millennium Way Relay. He was the first Manx runner ever to finish the London Marathon when he ran 2.27.24 in 1981. Amazingly, 28 and half years later nobody from the Isle of Man has run that event faster since. Best known now as one of the faces of Northern AC he still makes occasional appearances in local events and is one of the most sporting characters around, always finding time to encourage all the other athletes. In this 2007 Millennium Way Relay shot at the start of the Crosby climb he has just given such encouragement to Alan Gault, another man admired by all in the sport for the way he has returned to competition after serious illnesses. (photo ML)
For more than 20 years the event has been handicapped which means that the teams containing the slower runners start before the faster teams. This gives everyone an equal chance of winning and ensures that there remains a fun element – Lesley Christian certainly looked happy at the top of the Crosby Hill last year. But it is the handicapping that also creates unreasonable demands for the organisers. A great deal of time is spent trying to ensure fairness but then teams request replacement runners because of illness and injury. This task is bad enough but if they are entering the Christmas holiday period without certainty about the number of marshals then their task becomes impossible. There will be an outcry if the 30 year old tradition of racing on or close to Boxing Day comes to an end. There will be shouts of joy if the uncertainty of whether the event can proceed this year is removed much earlier with volunteers confirming their support very early. (photo ML)
As a further promotion for the M & P Legal Millennium Way Relay, this picture of Gianni Epifani running through the flood at Poulson Park in 2003 is quite timely given the prevailing weather in some parts of the UK at the moment. Photo by John Maddrell of Isle of Man Newspapers.