Manx Harriers hosted the British Athletics/Race Walking Association 50km Championships on Sunday 3rd September 2017 at the National Sports Centre. The event was held in conjunction with the Manx 20km Championships around a new 1km out and back course on the perimeter roadway, so that it complied with IAAF criteria for qualification purposes.
The 50km started early at 8 am after a brief visit from the Queens Baton which has been on the Island over the weekend for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games to be held in April next year.
The 50km entry had been mostly made up of local participants, with just two athletes making the trip from England to take part and actually outnumbered by the three walks judges that came over to officiate of which three including local judge Steve Taylor were on the International panel judging at the World Championships in London last month.
It was not long into the race when the red disqualification cards started to appear on the judges warning board and with this race being strictly judged on A category rules, Richard Gerrard suffered disqualification just an hour in to the race. The wet and windy weather conditions made it difficult for both athletes and officials alike and a number of athletes were unable to finish with perhaps the cold and unpleasant conditions having a part to play. David Walker walked a patient race and was delighted to take the title on the day from fellow Manx Harrier James Quirk, who walked a really consistent race eight minutes adrift. Adrian Edwards of Lancashire also showing a safe technique was 3rd, a further 5 minutes adrift of James. Stewart Jones should also be happy to have finished in 6th overall, after suffering with serious illness earlier in the summer.
Jayne Farquhar, looked strong throughout the race and was 4th finisher overall winning the women’s title in a time just over the 6 hour mark. Louise Hollings picked up a red card for bent knee early on but concentrated hard from thereon in and never looked back, she was delighted to take the silver medal. Rebecca Greatbatch at only just 20 was only old enough to do the race by one month, she walked a mature effort beyond her years and took bronze. In the team standings, Manx Harriers took the team medals in both men and women with David, James and Dale Farquhar winning the men’s award and Jayne and Rebecca the women team prize. Honourable mention to Sharon Cain of Western who was clearly in trouble with a sore hip in the latter stages of the race, but as always, she showed true grit and determination to persevere and finish the race as 4th lady home.
The 20km was a truly international affair with a number of UK and International walkers taking part. Tonbridge A.C.’s Guy Thomas made his intentions clear at the start and got a gap between himself and the King brothers in the early stages. Again the red cards started to mount up and it lead to the disqualifications of both Daniel King and Guy at around the 14km mark, leaving Dominic King in a clear lead to win the race overall. Polish international Damian Blocki was matching strides with Alana Barber who was seeking a Commonwealth Games A standard to make the New Zealand team. She has already got a B standard, but unfortunately the weather conditions made an A time extremely unlikely. Nevertheless she and Damian finished together in a solid 95 minute time with Alana taking the 1st position in the female race. Tom Partington was tackling his first ever 20km race and he raced sensibly, finishing as first Manx athlete home in a very respectable 101 minute time. He will have learnt greatly from this first attempt at the distance and will no doubt his times will improve rapidly once he gets a good feeding strategy in place to fuel his race, this becoming much more crucial as the distances and time spent racing increases. Erika Kelly was hoping to get inside the magic 100 minute barrier for the 20km but with the poor weather conditions this was not going to happen on the day, she did record another performance well inside the Manx Commonwealth consideration standard of 104 minutes and only 25 seconds down on time she recorded in much better conditions in Leeds at the British championships, adding further weight to the impressive C.V. she has built up this season.
Portuguese veteran athlete Francisco Reis was next to finish in an impressive 105 minute time and Gianni Epifani was second local male to finish and also making his debut at the distance. Natalie Myers of Sheffield was 3rd female to finish in just over 2 hours and locals Bernie Johnson and Nicola Raven were 2nd and 3rd local female finishers in the Manx Championships both performing well. Maura Kelly of Northern was also clearly delighted to finish her first ever 20km.
There were also supporting events – Influential American lawyer, Paul de Meester from San Francisco raced over 5km, he was highly influential recently at the IAAF meetings which ensured the arrival of the womens 50km event in London World Championships last month.
Local juniors Alice Bellando and Abbie Edwards both raced over 3km, walking with great technique and using the race as a practice ahead of English Schools events in Boston, Lincolnshire in a fortnights time. Sisters Grayse and Lilee Fletcher, delighted the onlookers with practically faultless technique, particularly for ones so young, over their 1 kilometre race.
Manx Harriers would wish to thank the huge legion of officials who helped to make it such a special event for local athletes and visitors alike. The Island can feel proud that once again, the local athletics community came together and worked hard through the day to stage another well run international event with great hospitality. Thanks must also go to the off Island officials who travelled over at their own expense to ensure that the competition was judged at the correct level.
50km British Championships results
Bib No. Name Club Age Cat Race Time;
110, David Walker Manx Harriers M45 05:29:12; 109, James Quirk Manx Harriers M45 05:37:20; 105, Adrian Edwards Lancashire W.C. M55 05:42:45; 48, Jayne Farquhar Manx Harriers W45 06:01:31; 49, Dale Farquhar Manx Harriers M35 06:04:58; 106, Stewart Jones Manx Harriers M45 06:05:50; 10, Louise Hollings Isle of Man Veterans W35 06:08:21; 20, Rebecca Greatbatch Manx Harriers SW 06:24:55; 7, Sharon Cain Western A.C. W45 06:32:39; 108, Richard Gerrard Manx Harriers M45 DQ; 70, Mark Byrne Redcar R.W.C M55 DNF; 111, Matthew Haddock Manx Harriers M35 DNF; 107, Adam Cowin Manx Harriers SM DNF; 104, Roy Gunnett Lancashire W.C. M70 DNS;
20km Manx Championships results
Bib No. Name Club Cat Race Time;
87, Dominic King Colchester Harriers SM 01:29:36; 91, Damian Blocki MKL Szczecin – Poland SM 01:35:50; 90, Alana Barber Race Walking Aukland – New Zealand SW 01:35:50; 86, Tom Partington Manx Harriers JM 01:41:27; 99, Erika Kelly Northern A.C. SW 01:41:52; 93, Francisco Reis Thames Valley Harriers M55 01:45:42; 89, Gianni Epifani Manx Harriers M45 01:47:48; 96, Natalie Myers City of Sheffield and Dearne A.C. SW 02:01:37; 94, Malcolm Martin Surrey Walking Club M60 02:03:06; 98, Bernie Johnson Isle of Man Vets W35 02:16:27; 97, Nicola Raven Manx Harriers W55 02:17:58; 100, Maura Kelly Northern A.C. W50 02:26:48; 95, Angela Martin Surrey Walking Club W50 02:31:25; 88, Daniel King Colchester Harriers SM DQ; 84, Guy Thomas Tonbridge AC SM DQ;
85, Paul DeMeester San Francisco, USA 0:33:17;
1, Alice Bellando Manx Harriers u17w 00:17:18;
20, Abbie Edwards Manx Harriers u15g 00:20:30;
4, Grayse Fletcher u/a u9g 07:55;
18, Lillie Fletcher u/a u7g 10:55;
Thanks to Bridget for the report.