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3 days ago

David Griffiths

9 weeks to go!

As the weekly countdown reaches single figures, a reminder about an extra incentive for the top runners this year. In addition to the regular prize fund, an extra £100 per race is available to any athlete who breaks (not equals) a course record.

The current records (which are taken to be performances recorded from 2006 onwards) are:

Men's 10k - 30.16 (Jonny Mellor, 2007)
Men's Peel Hill - 20.10 (James Walsh, 2007)
Men's 5k - 14.36 (Jonny Mellor, 2007)
Women's 10k - 34.18 (Rosie Smith, 2012)
Women's Peel Hill - 16.49 (Olivia Walwyn/Bush, 2012)
Women's 5k - 17.13 (Rosie Smith, 2012)

Will any of the records go this year? The challenge is on!

The sixth athlete to feature in the Top 10 Appearances 2006 to 2018 series is the fourth of five Cambridge Greyhounds to make the list, James Chettle.

Like his fellow Greyhound Will Bowers, James has a 100% appearance record since making his debut, but James first competed in the Festival in 2010 - a year earlier than Will. He has completed all 27 races since, which is the longest unbroken run of appearances of any athlete at the Festival in recent years.

James' highest finish at the Festival so far came in 2012 when he was the fifth fastest competitor in the men's 5k relay, while his highest 10k finish also came in 2012 when he was tenth. 2014 saw his best placing in the Peel Hill race when he finished in seventh place.

James' fastest times however all came in the 2014 event, when he recorded 32.44 in the 10k, 21.31 on Peel Hill and 15.48 in the 5k relay. His appearance record and his performances are highly impressive, and it's good to see that this great supporter of our event is already entered for all three races this year. Hopefully James' run of consecutive race finishes will shortly stretch to 30 - a full decade of Festivals!

Back to orange next week...

Photos by Murray Lambden and Bill Dale

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1 week ago

David Griffiths

10 weeks to go!

As the countdown continues, hopefully many of our visitors will have made travel arrangements. If not, a reminder that there are still flights available through Liverpool on Easyjet for around £55 return if you are flexible when you travel. Flights from Belfast are available for around £65 return. Prices are likely to increase, so book now if you haven't already done so!

For those who prefer to sail, crossings from Liverpool and Heysham can be booked through the Steam Packet website

A reminder also that a link to entries, and all other information about the Festival, is on the event website

The fifth athlete to feature in the Top 10 Appearances 2006-2018 list is the first of three representatives from Manchester Alehouse's orange army, Gareth Turner.

Gareth first competed in the Festival in 2007, and since then has only missed the 2016 event. He has completed a total of 26 races - ten 10ks, ten 5ks and six Peel Hill races.

Gareth's best result at the Festival came in 2013 when he finished in 14th place in the 10k race in a speedy time of 33.17. His best result on Peel Hill was a 15th place finish in his debut year of 2007, while his highest 5k placing was 17th in 2011.

In recent years Gareth's racing has been done at a more sedate pace, and mainly confined to Easter on the Isle of Man where he will always be a welcome visitor. Thank you Gareth for your great support for our event!

The next 'victim' in this series will be the fourth of five Cambridge Greyhounds.

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2 weeks ago

David Griffiths

11 weeks to go!

Not too far away from single-figures now in the weekly countdown - I hope everyone's preparations are going well. I was at the Northern Cross Country Championships at Pontefract last Saturday, and it was good to see several Peel Hill hats being worn around the course! Entries continue to trickle in, and links to entry details can be found on the official event website

The Festival is not the only athletics event happening on the island over Easter weekend, as the Manx Mountain Marathon takes place on Easter Saturday. This is a fell race of around 50 kilometres over many of the Manx hills between Ramsey in the north and Port Erin in the south. There is also a shorter race of 22k between St John's and Port Erin. Information on this event is at

The third of five Cambridge Greyhounds to make the Top 10 appearance list from 2006 to 2018 is well-known physics teacher Will Bowers. Will has a 100% appearance record at the Festival, as since his debut in 2011 he has completed all 24 races - even the 10k in 2015 which many visitors missed because of ferry problems. Will presumably flew to the island that day! He is already entered for 2019 - welcome back Will!

Will shot to national fame a few months ago when, along with fellow Greyhound Polly Keen, he appeared on the BBC game show Letterbox. They won, proving that Cambridge University graduates really do have brains! Will is also famous for his dress sense whilst competing at the Festival, and is sometimes to be seen sporting a very fetching and figure-hugging ladies' swimsuit in traditional Cambridge Greyhound pink!

His best year at the Festival was 2013, when he achieved his highest placings in all three races - 27th in the 10k, 21st in the Peel Hill race and 49th in the 5k. There is a distinct pattern to Will's results at the Festival - his position in the Sunday 5k race is always much lower than in the two earlier races!

Next week this series turns orange, with the next athlete to be featured being the first of three Manchester Alehousers to make the top 10 list.

Photos - Ian Astin, Murray Lambden,

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4 weeks ago

David Griffiths

12 weeks to go!

As Easter looms ever closer, we on the organising team are definitely starting to feel the excitement of the build-up to the big weekend. Competitor numbers in recent years have been brilliant, but we never take your participation for granted - so it was great to hear that a big entry has been received from Durham University this week.

It would be good to know which of the University teams in particular are planning to take part this year – perhaps you could let us know either by replying to this post or by private message. Will Glasgow return this year after circumstances beyond their control forced their withdrawal in 2018?

All the information on the Festival is on the official website

The third of the ‘Top 10 Appearances 2006 to 2018’ athletes to be featured is Cambridge Greyhound Jonathan Undy. Jonathan first took part in the Festival in 2009 and completed every race from 2009 to 2014. He missed the 10k race in 2015 (probably due to the ferry problems that day) and did not take part in 2016, but returned for his most recent Festival in 2017. In all he has completed 23 races putting him alongside Will Mackay and Sophie Martin.

Jonathan’s highest place in an Easter Festival race was his 27th place finish in a time of 35.15 in the 10k race in 2010 when he was still an under-20. That same year he also achieved his best finish in the Peel Hill race when he was 28th, while 28th was also his best 5k finish which came in 2012.

The next athlete to be featured is another pink-clad (sometimes very fetchingly so) Cambridge Greyhound!

All photos by Murray Lambden.

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1 month ago

David Griffiths

13 weeks to go!

As the clock continues to tick down towards Easter, entries are starting to trickle in. The majority tend to arrive nearer to Easter when the big visiting teams put in their entries en bloc. Links to all the information on the Festival, including entries, accommodation, travel etc, are on the official website

The second athlete to be featured in the 'Top 10 Appearances' list from 2006 to 2018 is Sophie Martin, formerly Sophie Lovell, who is a Leeds University Dosser. She has completed 23 races at the Festival from 2006 up to her most recent Festival in 2017. In fact she made her debut in 2005.

Sophie's best year at the Festival result-wise was 2011 when she achieved her highest places in all three races - eighth in the 10k road race, eighth on Peel Hill and ninth in the 5k road race. She was seventh overall that year.

After competing in the Festival every year from her debut up to 2012 Sophie took a break, during which time she married fellow Dosser Nathan Martin. They are not the first Doss couple to tie the knot!

Sophie returned to the Festival in 2016, and again in 2017 when she recorded her fastest times in all three races. It's an indication of improved standards at the Festival recently that she finished tenth overall in 2017 despite running faster than when she was seventh in 2011.

After missing last year's Festival it would be great to see Sophie and her trademark yellow headband return to the island again - maybe this year?

The next athlete to be featured is the second of five Cambridge Greyhounds to make the top 10 list.

Photos by Murray Lambden and Ian Astin.

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10k Road Race

Good Friday sees the start of the festival with a 10km road race starting at 6.30pm. Men and women run together although there are, of course, separate prizes for the women. There are also team prizes to be won and awards for the leading veterans and juniors.

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Peel Hill Race

On Saturday afternoon, action moves to Peel a fishing village on the west of the island, about 11 miles from Douglas.The race starts and finishes near the quayside at the House of Manannan with start times of 14.15hrs(men) and 15.05hrs (women).

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5km Races

Sunday morning concludes the running with a 5km road race on an out and back course along Douglas Promenade.

Ladies race starts at 10.30hrs and the Men’s at 11.15am.

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