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 All "reporting" by Murray Lambden unless otherwise stated.

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Cross Country on Sunday

 

Don't forget - Round 5 of the Manx Gas Country League at Crossags Farm on Sunday.

 

FELL RUNNERS MEET by Richie Stevenson

 

We have organised a meeting next Friday 16th January at Manx Harriers Club House for anybody interested in competing off-island this coming season. There are some very interesting developments this year with the acceptance of Team Isle of Man in the British Championships as well as the usual International races to plan for. The British Champs. rules say that the counters in the team will be the first three from any club to finish and they do not have to be the same three in each race. This means that runners of any standard can compete in the race and enjoy the trip but obviously only the faster runners will qualify for the team.

 We would also love to send a females team to either a British Champs. or one of the two Internationals we attend each year. Any females who are interested are invited to attend the meeting. The same goes for any juniors. We would have no problem in getting an invitation to the British Junior Home Internationals in October if enough interest was shown and we could quite easily organise appropriate training under the guidance of Margaret Lockley. The meeting will commence at 7.00pm.

It must be stressed that runners of ALL standards from any Island club are welcome to attend.


LATEST LONDON MARATHON CONFIRMATIONS

 

Jane Mooney has confirmed that the three Manx Harriers entries have been allocated to:

Ian Callister;

Sally-Anne Salt; and

Andrew Cubbon

 

VERNON THOMAS DOWN UNDER   (08-01-04)

 

Vernon Thomas, who ran the very first Millennium Way Relay in 1979 and is married to Manx lady Jean (nee Caley) from Peel, is back in the UK after spending Christmas in New Zealand, competing for Great Britain veterans in the world triathlon championships. He was 5th for GB and 37th in world for his group. He has already been selected for this years worlds in Maderia in May.

Vernon, who lives in Blackheath and is usually seen cheering the Manx runners at the Flora London marathon, will be visiting the Island this summer, the year he celebrates his 60th birthday. Jean, who is a first cousin of my wife Marie, and Vernon have both run a number of marathons.

 

Greeba Fell Race Training by Paul Jackson     (07-01-04)

 

Anyone who fancies a run out over the fells in preparation for the Greeba Fell Race on 31st January is welcome to join a group 'reccie' this Sunday starting at 8.15am from below Cronk Breck. To get there follow the A23 from the Strang Roundabout for about a mile and a half heading west as far as the Crosby junction (on your left). Turn up the track opposite on your right (with the 'unsuitable for motors' sign) for about a mile until you meet the Millennium Way where there is a triangular car parking area marked on the OS map as Cronk ny Moghlane. 

The run will be a nice steady 2 hours with plenty of time afterwards to get showered and shaved etc and up to Ramsey in time for the Cross Country in the afternoon!. More details from Paul on 611179 or 487873.

 

FELL RUNNING UPDATE  by Richie Stevenson     (06-01-04)

 

The date of the Ken Watterson sponsored Greeba Fell Race is January 31st not February 7th as advertised in the Examiner. The race was provisionally pencilled in for the later date but was changed at the fixtures meeting. 

Ken Watterson has kindly stepped in to provide sponsorship for Julys Ellan Vannin Fell Race as well as the Greeba which now means all the races organised by the Manx Mountain Marathon Organisation have sponsors.

 

Fell runners training takes place every Tuesday evening from the TT Grandstand. Please be warmed-up and ready to start the session, which will be based at the Avenues, by 6.30pm. All abilities will be catered for and are run under the expert guidance of Margaret Lockley.

 

MILLENNIUM WAY RELAY NUMBERS ONLY 40% of 1992 LEVELS     (05-01-04)

 

I'm part way through an exercise I started last week to emphasise why I think the Millennium Way Relay is in need of face lift. During a time when entries in road races such as the Syd Quirk Half Marathon have reached record levels, the Peel to Douglas run has been revived, and the Cross Country League has enjoyed its best entry for more than 20 years, the entries for the relay have nose-dived to only 40% of the levels of the early 1990s. Team number refer to the numbers completing the course not the entries and "double" is way of avoiding double counting people who run the first leg for a team and all cycle.  Whereas at one time this was a very rare event now half the teams rely on a cyclist to run the first leg for them.

  Teams Runners Cyclists Double Net Fun Fun Total  
            teams runners    
1992 29 116 13 4 125   0 125  
1993 29 116 11 3 124   0 124 First leg extended
1994 27 108 16 4 120   0 120  
1995   0     0   0 0 Postponed then cancelled
1996 27 108 7 2 113   0 113  
1997 19 76 7 2 81   0 81  
1998 18 72 4 3 73 3 12 85  
1999 21 84 8 4 88 4 16 104  
2000 21 84 7 2 89 1 4 93 Foot & mouth threat
2001 15 60 0 0 60   0 60 11 cyclists entered
2002 14 56 10 3 63   0 63  
2003 12 48 10 6 52   0 52  

 

MANX GAS CROSS COUNTRY RESUMES ON SUNDAY     (05-01-04)

 

Round five of the Manx Gas Cross Country is scheduled for Ramsey on Sunday and will be organised on the well tried and tested Crossags Farm course and organised by Northern AC.  The final round is then on the 15 February.  Organised by Manx Harriers this will be just one week after Manx Harriers organise the Manx Championships.  Both venues to be confirmed.

 

MANX HARRIERS JUNIORS A CREDIT       (03-01-04)

 

Their performances in the mud of Blackburn will be documented elsewhere, but what a credit the youngsters in the squad were to themselves, their parents, their club and the island.

It was Mike Garrett who pointed out on the way home tonight from the Lancashire Cross Country Championships, that not one of them caused any problems throughout a 15 hour day.

 

MIDDLE DISTANCE TRAINING  by Chris Quine    (03-01-04)

 

After lots of turkey and over-indulgence over the festive period, it will soon to be time to start thinking about returnin to a regular training routine. The Thursday night Middle Distance Training at the NSC will re-start on 8th January. The sessions cater for a range of standards but in the main are for under 15s upwards - males and females, senior women, vets, anyone returning to fitness. There were about 8 per session prior to Christmas.

 The session starts just after 6 pm for warm up with a view to starting the main part of the session at about 6.40 pm. The session finishes at about 7.30 pm.

 Normal NSC rates apply.

 

The sessions planned for January are:

8th January - 400m efforts - short recoveries

15th January - speed session - longer recoveries

22nd January - 200m efforts - reducing recoveries

29th January - 800m efforts - short recoveries

 These can be modified to suit individual requirements.

 If anyone has any questions please contact Chris Quine on 670521 or e-mail [email protected]

 Look out too for detals of the next Middle Distance squad meeting on Saturday 24th January.

  

ATHLETICS WEEKLY SELL OUT IN THE ISLE OF MAN?    (02-01-04)

 

Although the Royal Mail have not yet delivered my copy, I am told by Andy Fox that this week's edition of Athletics Weekly features an extensive feature on Keith Gerrard on page 10.

It details his breakthrough and talks about his ambition to race in the World Cross Country Championships, although Keith reports that this has been blown out of proportion.

Rush and get your copy of Athletics Weekly before it sells out!

 

FELL RUNNERS CONGRATULATE STUART LAMBIE   (02-01-04)

 

Congratulations to Stuart Lambie on his MBE.from all the fell runners. I`ve known Stuart for a long time and he is a top man and deserves his award for all the hard work he has done over the years. Sports wise he was not only heavily involved in athletics but he was also a very good soccer player who played for the Island several times and he had a long and successful career at St Johns, our hosts on New Years Day.

Richie Stevenson

 

EVEN THE BEST BREAK THE RULES   (02-01-04)

 

As with all events organised by Richie Stevenson and his team from the Manx Fell Runners, yesterday's St Johns Fell Race was superbly organised.

To cope with a relatively large field they use a fairly standard finishing system of issuing numbered cards with the runners numbers printed on them and the runner is then responsible for handing the number into the recorders where their finishing position is matched against the times and names.

All but one of the runners complied with the system yesterday but the recorders were left with one runner unaccounted for.  After their enquiries failed to reveal the missing number an announcement was made for this person to report to the recorders. Guess who it was? Richie Stevenson!

 

LAMBDEN CELEBRATIONS MUTED     (02-01-04)

 

My mother, Gwelda Lambden, is 85 years old today and 2 January has always been a day of celebration for our family.  Unfortunately her health is such that her enjoyment of the day will be pretty limited today as she has been in hospital for several weeks and will almost certainly spend the rest of her days in a nursing home at best.

After several periods of hospitalisation for a number of reasons this year she moved from Kirk Michael to the Ellan Vannin home at the end of August although it was a couple of months later before this move was deemed to be permanent, but she reached the point where that home could no longer cope with her.

I always had great support from my family in my race walking days and my mum continued to attend the big events such as the Manx Airlines meeting and often the Boundary Harriers dinner after I stopped competing.  Many of the guests who took part in the Manx Airlines meeting in the 80s used to visit her house at Kirk Michael on the Sunday after the event and in true Manx style were well fed with cakes etc.  When 1984 Olympic walker Phil Vesty joined five times Olympic walker Chris Maddocks and I for lunch there one year it was the only time I ever remember her whole selection of sweets and puddings being demolished!

The last event she attended was a quick trip around the north of the Island with me during the 2003 Parish Walk.

 

IMAGINE HOW HARD IT WAS TO TRAIN IN THE OLD DAYS     (01-01-04)

 

.I've been catching up with some reading during the Christmas period.  I subscribe to a number of athletics magazines (among many others) and they are often barely touched during the busy weeks.

I loved the article in the July edition of British Runner when they featured Arthur Keily, the marathon runner who was in the lead throughout the first 15 miles of the 1960 Olympic marathon in Rome.  He eventually finished way down the field in 2.27 but this was still the fastest British performance in the Olympics at the time.

He worked for British Railways and then as a blacksmith for Rolls Royce in Derby.  "I used to get up at 5 am, run 11 miles to work, do a whole day's work, then run 11-15 miles at night. And people today complain when they say it is tough."

"We had no money from the sport and if I wanted to take time off, I was not paid for it.  When I went to the Empire Games, my fellow workers arranged a collection for me to make up the money I would lose by not being at work. But I could not take it, because it might have been seen as breaking the rules of athletics amateurism."

In the same batch of reading, I read how John Mayock has decided to move back down to 1,500 metres because when he focused on 5,000 metres last year he could not race enough to earn his keep.  No comment.

Going back to Arthur Keiley, he obviously loved the sport as he only retired two years ago at the age of 80, in a season that he won a 400 metres and 3,000 metres walk in the same veterans event.

Circumstances are certainly different now to 50 years ago, some better, some worse.  But the one thing that the above proves (to me anyway) is that you have to believe in what you are doing and commit yourself totally.  If you consider yourself to be a serious athlete, its better to have a few years when you live for your dream and make some sacrifices, that you couldn't possibly maintain throughout your whole life, than always believe that next year will be easier and spend your whole career talking about what you will do in a few years time.

 

NEW PUBLISHER FOR BRITISH RUNNER    (01-01-04)

 

The above magazine has been sold by the publishers of Athletics Weekly and is now re-branded by the new owners, the publishers of the www.realrunner.com website.

It probably has a more realistic market by dropping the stats and aiming for the new runner looking to run a marathon for charity but I'm afraid it now has little interest to me.  Maybe we do have to be told the obvious sometimes but the suggestion in one article that if you are short of time to run you could try getting up earlier or running instead of watching a soap, well, perhaps there is someone who cannot work this out for themselves!

 

HAROLD WHITLOCK     (01-01-04)

 

Colin Young wrote a great feature on his favourite all time British race walker, Harold Whitlock, which was published a few months ago in Race Walking Record.  His build up to winning the 1936 Olympics not only included walking in the London to Brighton and Manchester to Blackpool walks, which were still around in my day, but also the Liverpool to Manchester and the Sunderland to Darlington (I may have got the directions the wrong way around). Can you imagine walking events on such courses nowadays. What is more, most of these events were sponsored by national newspapers, the Manchester to Blackpool by the News of the world no less, as the readers of the day were fascinated by the achievements of these hardy souls.

The interest in these events and the awareness that people had that athletes were taking part in such events surely had a big impact on motivating the next batch of walkers to take up the sport.

The Clerical Medical Parish Walk in the Isle of Man, whilst not attracting the standard of walker of Harold Whitlock, Don Thompson et al, is one of the last great road walking events and it has grown throughout the years the others has fallen by the wayside. We are lucky and we must all work together to ensure that the Parish Walk is allowed to survive in the years ahead.

 

GREAT NORTH RUN   (01-01-04)

 

The last thing I am suggesting is that the sport should only be open to the serious athlete.  I'm only suggesting that people like Seb Coe, Paula Radcliffe or even the man who couldn't win his school cross country race but goes on to beat 2.20 for the marathon, achieve something in their lives that, despite Paula's apparent wealth, just cannot be bought at any cost.

I'm equally keen to see people who have never participated in sport take up athletics at the age of 15, 35 or 50 and the great thing about the sport is that there is room for everyone. This website will continue to encourage and give credit to people running their first 10km, the joy of running 5km in the Race for Life and of helping others in the process, or someone running their second marathon an hour faster than the first one.  I love to see the happy, smiling faces.

The Flora London Marathon and the BUPA Great North Run are the two most visible national events where we all have a chance to be seen on TV even if we are new to the sport.  Unlike the old time walking races that I refer to above which featured stockbrokers from one part of the country racing miners from other parts, the TV coverage (Paula apart) tends to either feature the top runners from around the world or the runners who are overcoming adversity to take part.  All marvelous stuff but I still feel the sport would be a better one if we had a pool of young people in their prime from all over the country training to target major events such as these, in the belief that they would be well placed. Call me a dreamer, but I believe that the country would be better for it if more of our youth could have outlets such as these.

And this is where I turn to the Great North Run. This used to be one of the most competitive events in the country. To make the top 200 a few years ago required something close to 1 hour and 15 minutes for the half marathon. As recently as 1998 when I took part I ran just over 1.15 into a strong headwind (I would say that wouldn't I?) I was only in the 120s.

In 2002 Peter Elliott enthused so much about Kosgei breaking the one hour barrier for the first time, he failed to notice (or comment) that a 1.15 time would now get you into the top 60. 125th position could be achieved with 1.19.27.

The favourable wind conditions in 2003 saw a slight improvement but nevertheless 1.15.19 was good enough for 72nd position, 50 places higher than 5 years earlier when there had been a headwind.

Whilst our new crop of middle distance athletes will not be heading for the Great North Run just yet, if every club had young runners of the calibre of, and with the coaching skills received by, Keith Gerrard, Darren Gray, Andy Cannell and others, the UK would not be suffering such a decline in standards. Statistically the Isle of Man should only produce about 1 in 1000 of the UK's athletes,

 

WAS 2003 A GOOD ONE AND WILL 2004 BE BETTER?    (01-01-04)

 

For all excitement of the big field in the Parish Walk, and bigger fields in many of the road runs than for some time, its the achievements of our youngsters that have given me most pleasure during the year. I'm not talking about the hundreds of youngsters who enjoy a brilliant introduction to our sport during the summer at the track leagues, but the ones who avoid the temptation to drop out in the teens and come through and head towards their peaks.

The pleasure we derive from seeing Keith Gerrard racing around the continent on the cross country circuit - "I'll just try and stay with the England team" was his recent genuinely modest aim.  Being able to attend the AAA championships and watch Martin Aram high jump with the best in the country.  Watching Jess Draskau-Petersson finish 19th in the Flora London Marathon and defying people like me who thought a 2.36 prediction was heaping too much pressure on her young shoulders.  Following the progress of walker Neil Bates who has definitely set his stall on reaching the top.  Seeing the delight of someone like Sarah Dowling winning gold in the Island Games and the reward that this brings not only to the athlete but to the coach, in this case to Di Shimell.  And a strange one, finishing lower down the field in cross country races because at last the veterans are being squeezed out!

Of course some of the older guys also achieved great things.  Ian Gale's unpredicted success in the Manx Mountain Marathon and Peter Kaneen's second fastest ever Parish Walk time are right up there among them. There are a number of other athletes who we almost take for granted who among  our best.  Its little more than a year ago since Steve Partington was the top British walker in the World Walking Cup and he hopes to back in 2004.  

Many of the successful Manx athletes like Chris Quine and Andy Fox are working behind the scenes to ensure that 2004 and beyond will be successful and lets hope that everyone can work with Graham Davies and Anthony Brand in 2004 to see the delivery of the Development Plan.

Officials, like athletes, have to move heaven and high water to turn their dreams into reality. When Chris Brasher dreamt about a marathon around the streets of London most people would probably have said it was impossible. If our officials are as good as the athletes they represent, then they must unite the sport and change. I have confidence that they will.

Tell the rest of us what you think were highlights of 2003 and make your predictions for 2004 by using the forum.

 

FOX PARTY TONIGHT   (31-12-03)

 

Andy and Jan Fox extend a welcome to everyone involved with Manx athletics to join them at their house at 61 Brunswick Road, Douglas tonight either to see in the new year or merely to have a drink and a chat on the way into town.

You are invited to call anytime after 8 pm.

Telephone 626415.

 

MANX EXILE VISITS   (31-12-03)

 

We enjoyed the company of former Manx race walker Tim Baker, his wife Viv and their children, Voirrey & Kerenza, yesterday afternoon.

They are visiting Tim's mother and family in Ballasalla for the Christmas period. They have lived in Glossop in Derbyshire for several years, a convenient location for me when I visited the Commonwealth Games last year.

I had forgotten that Tim once ran in the Tour of Tameside stage race which is close to their home.  Martin Caley ran in this at least once. Has anyone other than Martin completed it as a Manx resident? I suspect that Alan Bagley and Tony Okell have before they moved to the Isle of Man.

 

ISLE OF MAN ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION WEBSITE DUE TO LAUNCH SOON    (30-12-03)

 

 

Graham Davies, secretary of the IOMAA , is hoping to launch a website in the next few days.  I registered the www.iomaa.co.uk website on his behalf over a year ago but have not had the opportunity to assist him (or several other people with their projects) as hoped.

At the moment the domain is redirected to this site, but subject to a couple of technical hitches, the site should be online this week.

One of the advantages to me (and therefore to all visitors to the site) is that I will no longer publish fixtures on this site but rather re-direct to the IOMAA site where Graham will keep the fixture list "live" with regular updates.

I shall continue to publicise as many individual events as possible however.

 

3 YEARS ON   (30-12-03)

 

Its now three years since this site was launched and I'm fairly pleased at the moment that the objectives that I set out all that time ago (and are re-published below) remain very much the same.

Although it would always be nice if we could all agree on every single issue, one of the things I felt there was a need for, and others asked for, was a forum for people to express their views. An online forum can and should not replace the formal channels of organisation but it does provide those people who are good enough to give up their time to organise the sport additional access to grass roots views.

The www.manxathletics.com objectives in December 2000 were and still are: 

  • To provide a forum for the views of athletes in the Isle of Man
  • To inform and communicate with athletes and anyone with an interest in athletics in the Isle of Man
  • To extend the enjoyment derived from athletics in the Isle of Man by sharing the fun and pleasure of the sport
  • To provide a history of the sport by the provision of on-line databases of major events.

Although I try to keep the site as friendly and informative as possible, and hope that people recognise faces at events from the pictures on the site, I've tried to keep the style fairly formal most of the time, with the use of full names etc, so that new people wishing to join the sport don't feel the it is a closed shop.

 

STEVE PARTINGTON BACK IN TRAINING  (29-12-03)

 

Steve Partington managed his first training session yesterday morning since he pulled up injured in the Empire Garage Peel to Douglas Walk four weeks earlier.

"I must be getting more sensible in my old age" he said yesterday as he pointed out how patient he had been to allow his hamstring injury time to respond to physiotherapy and recover generally.

The 38 year old multi British international race walker and five times Commonwealth Games athlete, has a busy year planned after a period of active rest in 2003. More details to follow.

 

 ANDY WATSON MAINTAINS THE SPIRIT   (29-12-03)

 

During my conversation with Steve Partington yesterday it was he who pointed out the following.

Andy Watson was one of the few runners to enter a team in the Millennium Way Relay who do not compete regularly.  This is something that the organisers have always encouraged over the years to attract newcomers to the sport and there is no disadvantage as all teams are handicapped.  So well done to the 2 Fast and 2 Furious team of Andy, Nevina Black, Tanya Sanderson and Laurie Sanderson.

Meanwhile Andy makes his debut in the Lancashire Cross Country at Blackburn on Saturday.

 

PARISH WALK DATE CONFIRMED    (29-12-03)

 

The 2004 Clerical Medical Parish Walk has been confirmed for Saturday/Sunday 19 & 20 June. Its hard to believe that we are already closer to the next one than the 2003 event.

Entry forms will be available in the new year.

As the event relies heavily on the goodwill of a number of volunteers, it is worth considering, if you are not taking part yourself, whether you can spare an hour or two to help during that busy June weekend.

 

 Andy Cannell targets the National Cross Country    (28-12-03)

 

Andy Cannell, who has been such an impressive newcomer to the athletics scene this year, is planning to run in this winter's National Cross Country Championships. The Northern AC runner who finished second in the fourth round of the Manx Gas Cross Country Challenge put some of the improvement in form in that event down to the use of spikes for the first time.

As middle distance co-ordinator Chris Quine pointed out on the forum recently, its great to see 22 years olds (Andy & Darren Gray) finishing first and second in the cross country league.  Andy has added his views on why we don't see more of his age group pushing themselves hard in sport on the Island with a contribution to the forum. His own enthusiasm can be shown by the fact that he wrote it on Christmas Day!

 

Female race walkers carry competition to relay   (28-12-03)

 

Marie Latham, Sue Biggart and Bridget Kaneen are all well known as fiercely competitive race walkers and they all raced ran over the third leg of the Millennium Way Relay. They were separated on time by just eight seconds in the order that I have listed them above.

 

and you thought the weather couldn't get any worse!    (28-12-03)

 

The weather was bad enough for runners and cyclists on Boxing Day but the weather overnight has possibly been even worse. I always say that luck evens itself out and that we all get good luck and bad luck.  Well, I've trained in some awful weather before now but I seem to have been really lucky this week as I didn't plan to train on Boxing Day or today when things have been dire but I did train yesterday (very long run with Paul Curphey & Mike Garrett) and the weather was perfect. 

 

Andy Fox provided further details of Keith's great run via telephone last night, after speaking with Keith.

 

There were 66 runners in the race in which Keith finished 3rd among a British contingent who claimed the top six places.  The majority of the runners came from Belgium, France, Holland and Germany.

He set of at a sensible pace among the top thirty and then eased his way to the front of the field, sitting in behind the eventual winner Sam Jacobs.  He felt comfortable in this position through two of the three 2km laps, the undulating course very much suiting Keith's style.

The gap between the leading two, including Keith, grew to 25 metres but on the final lap Jacobs, who is two years older than Keith,  was able to ease ahead. In the final sixty metres Keith also lost second spot to 3.43 1500 metres lad Anthony Moran, who is the same age as Keith.

Among the many scalps for Keith was Matthew Barnes-Smith who finished 14th.  A week earlier he had represented Great Britain in the European Championships.

Keith has been rewarded for his efforts with an England call up on 18 January 2004 at the Spanish Cross Challenge.

After that, well let's wait and see.  He is due to review his racing plans with andy on his return.

 

CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPS      (24-12-03)

 

Whilst we wait patiently for hard working IOMAA secretary Graham Davies to confirm the 2004 fixtures (I've seen a draft but they are still embargoed at this stage as far as I am aware), it seems that the new date for the championships in Sunday 8 February.

 

WALKERS KEEP PHYSIOS EMPLOYED     (24-12-03)

 

 One little snippet I forgot to use a couple of weeks ago followed Steve Partington's nasty injury in the Empire Garage Peel to Douglas Walk.  Whilst exiting his physiotherapist's treatment room, the 10 times winner of the walk met second placed man Kevin Walmsley on the way in. I am told that this year's winner, Peter Kaneen also had treatment.  All roads lead to the physiotherapist?

 

 WEBSITE PLANS   (23-12-03)

 

I'm currently enjoying a two week break from work at the end of what, for many reasons, has been a hectic year.

Although I have many other things to do, including finding some time to relax, I am hoping to make some changes to the website during this time. Some of the work will be behind the scenes to allow me to publish quickly after events in the months ahead; other things will be much more visible as I update databases, publish more old pictures and re-design as well as publishing full coverage of the Mann & Partners Millennium Way Relay, the Supercards St Johns Fell Race and the Lancashire Cross Country on 3 January.

So don't go away and remember to share your thoughts with others over the forum.

 

 GATE REVENGE   (23-12-03)

 

51 weeks after a stupid training accident where I slipped whilst climbing over a gate in the lane from Cornaa to Ballaglass, I returned to take my revenge yesterday.  The accident cost me more than three months of running of any sort and it was nearly six months before I dared run than four miles on my dodgy knee.

Since then things have improved considerably and I broke all my promises by climbing (very carefully) over the gate in both directions again rather than opening it!  The distance I ran in my 30 minutes and return course to Maughold didn't back up my recent positive "best form for a couple of years" claims but I guess Saturday's 22 mile session was still in my legs!

 

 WENDY ROSS LOOKS FOR A MARATHON WHERE SHE CAN RUN (23-12-03)

 

I was chatting to Wendy Ross at a party on Saturday evening and laughing at how I had bumped into her and her family at last year's Flora London Marathon.

Wendy has completed the London Marathon on two occasions although on both times she has had distractions in the form of family illnesses and injuries. The biggest problem she has encountered however has been a lack of space to run in and so and intends to find a quieter course, perhaps Dublin, for her third marathon

 

ANDY GARRETT MARRIED TODAY  (21-12-03)

 

One of my best friends of many years, runner, walker and triathlete Andy Garrett from Willaston, married Karen Wells in New Zealand earlier today.

 

 WALKING AT AN ALL TIME LOW IN BRITAIN  (21-12-03)

 

Pleasing as it is to see Manxman Peter Kaneen ranked as the 7th best 20km walker in Peter Matthews' 36th UK merit rankings, it was very sad to see that he was the last of the race walkers to even be deemed worthy of a ranking. The 50km standards are much, much worse with only one person, former Manx Airlines 20km winner Andy Penn who also topped the 20km rankings, being ranked at all.

Peter Matthews commented on a decline in standards that is close to terminal as follows: Until Penn's mark, on his debut at the distance, no British athlete broke the NUTS standard for rankings of 5 hours that has been in place since 1958. For all but one year from 1978 to 1877 the tenth best in Britain was under 4.30. Over the years I have occasionally ranked an athlete in this event with a season's best of over 4.40 but rarely. This year the event barely existed apart from Mike Smith winning the RWA title in 5:00:41 from Chris Berwick in 5:05:46, demonstrating the tragic collapse of walking and of endurance events in general."

With locals Steve Partington and Peter Kaneen both aiming for 50km this season then some improvement in the UK rankings for 2004 is virtually guaranteed but the event nationally is not going to revive merely by a few people from within the sport moving up to in distance.

The women's rankings take into account all walking distances and as a result Bridget Kaneen and Marie Latham, who were sixth and seventh best at 20km on time, are not ranked among the top 12 overall. Marie was 4th best at 10km on the track and 10th (Bridget 9th) on the road at 10km.  It has to be said that, despite a noticeable decline in standards in our winter league races in recent years, if there were a few more clubs like Manx Harriers around the country , with walkers such as Steve, Peter, Marie and Bridget, and coaches like Allan Callow, there would not be such a problem.

 

 AND MIDDLE DISTANCE RUNNING HAS A SIMILAR PROBLEM   (21-12-03)

 

Peter Matthews comments as follows on his 5,000 metres ranking: "...a couple of men ranked despite not breaking 14 minutes; that has never happened before since I started these UK rankings in 1968.....the tenth best mark of 14:02:57 represents an appalling decline, the previous worst since we went metric was 13:52.6 in 1970 and one has to go back to 1960 for a lower level taking 3 miles into account."

So there is a fairly empty stage for talent such as our own 17 year old Keith Gerrard to perform on in future years. The downside for the likes of Keith however is that there are fewer top class middle distance runners around to pitch his skills against.

 

 WHY?     (21-12-03)

 

I spent some time debating with Allan Callow last night about the reasons for the decline in national standard and indeed the importance or otherwise of the decline. I have to say neither of us had entirely convincing arguments probably because there is no one simple reason.

Allan was the closer of the two of us to suggesting there was. He believes that there is as much talent in the sport in the UK at the moment but that people are not being encouraged to excel.  He thinks that a belief that you can beat everyone else is the key to being successful and points to the turnaround in British swimming in recent years which he attributes largely to attitude.

Although I share Allan's desire to see an improvement in standard and agree that this will only happen if more people have a desire to be successful, I take a much broader view of the importance of athletics in people's lives. Years ago we had a system whereby just about every school took part in the sport and clubs around the country coached athletes through a structure that encouraged elitism via county, national and international progression including the elite universities. Challenging oneself in a sporting way was considered to be part of one's education for many.  But attitudes have changed.  Fewer people feel the need to challenge themselves in such a way and society doesn't support them to do so. I think that is a shame but I don't think we'll change a society that encourages people to plan multiple holidays and cars regardless of how positive our attitudes are.

Almost as an aside, how many people noticed that the French team at last week's European cross country championships were all born in Morocco?  Where were all the French born runners? I suggest that Britiain is not alone to a cultural change where personal achievement outside of material matters is less important to most people.

 

 IMAGINE THIS    (21-12-03)

 

You imagine you can beat the best in the world, you train like crazy and you race sensibly. You improve your time for the half marathon in 61:49. If you were British you would be the fastest runner in 2003 by more than one minute. But if you were from Kenya you would only be ranked equal 31st!

If you think you have the answers to reverse British standards then comment on the forum or email [email protected]

 

Northern AC Cross Country on Sunday

 

According to the Manx Independent, Northern AC are holding a round of their Ramsey Bakery sponsored cross country league on Sunday.

 

Richie Stevenson looks forward to the 2004 season and a record breaking sponsorship

 

The St Johns fell race on New Years Day, sponsored by Supercards,  is the opening round of the 2004 Fell League which yet again will be sponsored by Managrakem of Spring Valley and we must say another big thank you to the Jones Brothers  for their continued support. There are some changes to the leagues format for 2004, the most important being that runners are now required to complete six races as opposed to this years five. This six must include one race from each category, short, medium and long, plus any three other. There will be an extra race run in conjunction with Easters Mountain Marathon next year. The race will run over the second half of the MMM course on Easter Saturday starting from St Johns at 12.30pm. This will be about 14 miles in length and so will qualify as a long race in the league. Anyone who completes the full 31 miles race will not be disadvantaged as this will earn them double league points.

 

 

 

SUE FURNER LONDON BOUND

 

John O'Groats to Lands End walker, Sue Furner, is the latest walker to confirm an entry in the Flora London Marathon on 18 April 2004.

 

PAUL CLARKE ON HIS WAY BACK?

 

Paul Clarke, who this time last year was the man to beat, was about to embark on his first training session for several months when I spoke to him on Saturday. He has been keeping fit on his bike but, with the aid of orthotics in his shoes, he was hoping to go for a short steady run. He is still not too confident about when he will be able to return to competition but he won't be rushing it. If all goes well however we might be lucky enough to see him in action before the end of the cross country season.

 

FORUM

 

I think the forum is working again now after a few days of problems. I simply deleted some of the old entries. If you missed it when it was away, make sure its there in the future by using it!

 

Mann & Partners Millennium Way Relay - Paul Jackson reports

 

The closing date for entries for the Mann & Partners Millennium Way Relay is this Thursday 18th December. Entry forms must be through Andy Fox's letterbox at 61 Brunswick Road by MIDDAY. No late entries will be accepted.

Anyone without a team who would like to take part should contact me ASAP on 611179/497048. I have an incomplete team looking for someone to do 1st or 4th leg.

 

One team sure to attract alot of interest this year is the team that won the first ever Millennium Way Relay in 1979. Reuniting for the 25th Anniversary of the event will be Keith Callister, Phil Cain, Dave Newton & Steve Kelly. Does anyone know how fast they all ran in 1979?.

  

BATES AT THE DOUBLE IN GUERNSEY

 

Walkers are sent off at two minute intervals in this traditional end of year walk up the Val des Terres hill, with first man up the hill Terry Bates only just getting his breath back after his short but hard effort to see Jason Le Noury, whom he coaches, race up a second faster.

The happy youngster with another personal best time, then saw defending Champion Rob Elliott go even quicker to take the overall win, but the gap is closing fast and is surely only a matter of time before all three will be shoulder to shoulder in sprint walks.

Close behind also in a PB was Stuart Le Noury. Ladies winner Rose Drückes beat Carol Bates, who was walking the hill for the first time, by only seconds.

Age best times were set by Terry Bates and Jayne Le Noury.

 

Sunday December 14th

Sarnia Walking Club Le Val des Terres 815 metres Hill Climb Walk

 

1 Rob Elliott (M/40) 5.03

2 Jason le Noury (U/17) 5.14

3 Terry Bates (M/50) 5.15

4 Stuart le Noury (U/20) 5.26

5 Kevin le Noury (M/45) 5.34

6 John Dedman (M) 6.10

7 Dave Dorey (M/55) 6.20

8 Rose Drückes (W/55) 6.34

9 Carol Bates (W/50) 6.41

10 Mick Le Sauvage (M/60) 6.43

11 Jayne Le Noury (W/40) 7.45

 

Rob Elliott for Sarnia WC  

 

 Judith Harrison is the latest Flora London Marathon entry confirmed

 

Judith has a confirmed place in next years London Marathon. It is a golden bond entry raising funds for Action for M.E. & the Isle of Man M.E. Supporters Group.

I'll try and update the list of Manx entries in the next couple of days.

 

 CARRIED FORWARD

 

I've got lots of pictures from Sunday's winter league walk thanks to Steve Partington and Bridget Kaneen, a cross country results update from Graham Davies and a revised Manx Harriers entry form from Amada McNair all carried forward until Tuesday evening, 

 

 TONY OKELL "ticking over with 5.30 am running"

 

Tony Okell's running has been given a lower priority since he was promoted in his job at Smiths Aerospace but during the past couple of months he has been doing 90 minutes of running each morning at 5.30 am.

After a fairly quiet spell of late, its easy to forget what Tony has done since he came to the Island less than five years ago. Despite some great performances by other runners, he has probably won more fell races than all the other runners put together (I'm sure Ian Callister will confirm), he qualified for Lancashire in the inter counties cross country and he beat the Manx 20 mile record with a 1.46 clocking. Let's hope he gets back to his best soon.

 

STEVE TAYLOR STIRS!

 

Local athletics has certainly had a very strong connection with alcohol over the years as recently mentioned on manxathletics.com. The Easter Beer Drinking competition and the legendary Boxing Day Coach Trip were just two occasions mentioned.

However maybe the time has come for local athletes to cut down on the alcohol intake as only yesterday university scientists released the results of a recent analysis that revealed the presence of female hormones in beer.

Men should take a concerned look at their beer consumption. The theory is that beer contains female hormones (hops contain phytoestrogens) and that by drinking enough beer, men turn into women. To test the theory, 100 men were fed 8 pints of beer each within a 1 hour period. It was then observed that 100% of the test subjects:

1) Gained weight.

2) Talked excessively without making sense.

3) Became overly emotional.

4) Couldn't drive.

5) Failed to think rationally.

6) Argued over nothing.

7) Had to sit down while urinating.

8) Refused to apologize when obviously wrong.

 

No further testing was considered necessary

 

Murray's note: in the interests of equality I won't publish anymore jokes of this nature until I've used a female against men type!

 

 

PAUL JACKSON REPORTS ON A GREAT SPRINT FINISH

 

Ian Gale’s debut win in the final round of the Walker Brothers Winter Hill League was enough to secure overall victory in the three race series which concluded over the testing 3 mile course at Glen Maye on Saturday in perfect weather conditions.

 

A field of 38 runners headed by Ian Gale bombed down the Glen Rushen Mines road along the initial ¾ mile gradual descent before clambering up into the plantation for the first of  the two tough climbs. It was ‘hands on knees’ through the trees before the leaders Ian Gale, ‘Ozzie’ Osbourne and Simon Skillicorn emerged from the plantation into the sunshine and out along the track before the second lung buster up to the top. Ian was soon forced to concede the lead to Ozzie on the final climb with Si

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