Manx Harriers 
Fell Running 
IOM Veterans 
Photos by Anthony Brand 




The Millennium Way Relay was first held on Boxing Day 1979, millennium year in the Isle of Man.  Up to that time, the only athletics event to be held over the Christmas and New Year period was the New Year’s Day handicap cross country at Nobles Park.  That event gradually became less and less serious.  Firstly, it became a fancy dress run and then, eventually, it turned into a pub crawl around Douglas.

The relay, in contrast, went the other way. What started out as a challenge between a few teams of runners to race the cyclists over the newly designated route, with a few drinks in the George Hotel afterwards, grew into a quite a serious and well organised event.  Within a few years there were over 30 teams, although contrary to many people’s memories, it was not always held on Boxing Day, there were several years when it was held on the weekday Bank Holiday when Christmas Day or Boxing Day fell on a weekend.

As the event grew, with prize presentations at Ronaldsway Aircraft Company, Castletown Football Club, The Academy Nightclub and then back to Ronaldsway, so did the workload.  The decision (I think) in around 1987 to make the event a handicap added to the workload and the idea of having a buffet at the presentation placed great demands on people like Gladys and Allan Callow who worked on Christmas Day to prepare the food.

After a few years, the enthusiasm of some of the helpers was eroded, unsurprisingly given the demands placed on them at the holiday time.  Chris Quine agreed to organise the event on behalf of Manx Harriers in 1996 and he asked me to assist him. As I agreed that the event had declined, and had confidence that Chris could reverse the decline, I agreed to help.  Amongst other ideas we had were to speed up the presentation, re-introduce a buffet, get the results out a lot quicker and provide a video of the race. Chris marketed the event well with press releases every week from October onwards.  We had belief that the event was of value to a sponsor and during my time as practice manager at Mann & Partners, I introduced the firm as sponsors in 1997, a valuable support that continues to this day.  Recognising that even the shortest leg of the relay was still pretty tough for a novice, we introduced a shorter fun relay over the second half of the course.

Alas, after seven years of organising the event, our enthusiasm waned as well and we both, independently decided to stand down although Chris is assisting with the handover to a new team and I shall still be providing the results service.  You wouldn’t believe the number of meetings and phone calls that go on behind the scenes and frankly some people are unreasonable trying to change their teams on Christmas Day. The weather at the time of the year places a big responsibility on the organisers also.

So this year a new team have stepped in to organise the event on Boxing Day on behalf of Manx Harriers.  Andy Fox, Keiron Murray and Paul Jackson have taken the responsibility for one year but the future is a little bit cloudy.

And here is the radical bit. I think we are trying to organise the event at the wrong time of the year.

We now have a perfectly good event over the festive period – the Supercards St Johns Fell race on New Year’s Day.  Just as many people feel that running over the Millennium Way on Boxing Day is a great tradition, mainly those people who think that paying three quid a head entitles them to so much work by others at Christmas, there are far more who will either never leave their families on that day or who have had enough of doing so. The weather is also a major handicap to the event.

During the past few years we have lost three events in the autumn season, a time when traditionally athletes take a less serious attitude to the sport or even a break. First the Three Peaks Challenge, a race between cyclists and runners, fell by the wayside, then the End to End relay run and finally the TT Relay Walk.

I believe that the end of September or early October would be an ideal time to organise an event such as the Millennium Way Relay.  The weather problems would be much reduced,  the demands on the officials would be more reasonable and it would be a great time for the serious runners at the end of the track, fell and road running seasons to join together for some fun.  If the serious  runners revert to the idea of attracting their friends and families into the event, then many of the recruits can be retained to take part in the Walker Brothers Hill League and the Manx Gas Cross Country throughout the winter.  

If you are a traditionalist and don’t agree then you have a chance to step forward to help out next year!

Needless to say, the above is a purely personal view and does not reflect the views of any club or official.


Search WWW Search manxathletics.info Search murrayandmarie.com Search woodheights.freeserve.co.uk Search uk.geocities.com

For the best results on where you find details of an event or person within Manx athletics try each of the locations listed above where files maybe stored.


copyright (c) 2003 Murray Lambden. All rights reserved.
[email protected]