There was a small but select field in the Manx 20km Race Walking Championships, which were held on the
NSC perimeter roadway in perfect racing conditions on Sunday 4 September 2016.
In the supporting events Alex Nicoll was the sole competitor in the 1km walk and walked well, finishing in 7 minutes 16 seconds.
In the 5km both Stephen Waddington and Alice Bellando were going over-distance in preparation upcoming big events. They are both competing at English Schools in a couple of weeks time and have been selected to represent the England R.W.A. in a match against Ireland in early October. They both turned in solid performances ahead of newcomer Sarah Nash who also walked well.
In the 10km support race, Tom Partington who this week is bound for Leeds to start College and to join the coaching group at the National Centre for race walking, led to over halfway, but perhaps after pushing rather hard on his first couple of laps, he fainted and was unable to finish the race. This left Gianni Epifani ahead and he pushed very hard in the second half to record a negative split and a fine 50 minute performance. Rebecca Greatbatch put in a solid performance for second place ahead of Sharon Cain who ‘fresh’ competing a day earlier in the throws at the Southport and Waterloo open meeting and a bumpy boat ride home. Honourable mention must go to the ever present Octogenarian Norbert Will who is a fantastic example for keeping fit in your later years and with solid technique also.
The main event of the day was given a higher profile by two G.B. walkers who had come over to race. Junior International Guy Thomas from Tonbridge A.C. has had a good year and placed 19th in the World Cup 10km junior race in May and was using the event to try the senior distance of 20km for the first time. He led the race from gun to tape in an exhibition of well paced walking with a great set of even splits, which were only upset on the final lap when sickness cost him a sub 90 minute time. His time was the second fasted 20km by a UK athlete this season and is also the 4th best ever set by a UK junior, quite an achievement for a debut performance.
Heather Lewis from Pembrokeshire has had a fairly quiet year so far but was using the event as a springboard towards bigger goals over the next couple of seasons, with the World Championships in London on the horizon as well as the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games the year after where she would hope to be selected for Wales. She looked strong throughout and recorded her second best time for the distance with a 99 minute clocking and considering both athletes had to race as a time trial, there should be a lot more to come in a competitive international race for both of them. Third overall, second female and first local finisher was Erika Kelly who is also still learning the event and while her training latterly has been more geared towards the shorter faster track races, she paced herself well and dipped under the magic 2 hour mark for the first time. Her speed over the ground on the shorter distances says that she is sure to improve further as she gets to grips with the training for the longer event over the winter months. In fourth was another guest walker in Paul de Meester who had travelled all the way from San Francisco to race in the event. He was delighted with a personal best and picking up 2nd male finisher. Tony Edwards walked a very well paced effort for third and first local man to finish. Jayne Farquhar keeps on improving and took 3rd woman and both she and Louise Hollings set big personal bests for the distance and both looked good throughout. Ian Callister was a further 4 minutes back but admitted he had not done any race walking since the Parish walk in June! Rebecca Collins from North Down called it a day at halfway, just not having the energy on the day and David Walker was disqualified just before 15km.
All in all a very good day for local walking, with a mix of high quality performances from visiting athletes which should inspire local walking and friendly support from all who came along to watch.
Many thanks to all the race officials and everyone who turned out to help and support the walkers on Sunday including all the bakers who put out a great selection of cakes for re-fueling after the race.
Here are the full results.