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2 days ago

David Griffiths

5 weeks to go!

It was great to see a big group entry coming in from Edinburgh University this week, with 34 'Haries' confirmed for the Festival. The entry figure is currently up to 178, with many of the big groups still to register. Among this week's entrants is 2013 women's champion Polly Keen of Cambridge Greyhounds, who was featured on this page two weeks ago.

We also hope to see lots of local athletes taking the opportunity to race in a big field in the sort of event you would normally have to pay a lot of money to travel away for. Entries are available through the official event website www.easterfestival.info

The final athlete to be featured in the ‘Top 10 Appearances 2006 to 2018’ series - which I hope you have enjoyed as much as I enjoyed compiling it - is Laurie Luscombe of Manchester Alehouse. Laurie famously earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records for his performance in the 2012 10k race along with teammate Rob Szczepaniak-Sloane.

Laurie and Rob became the fastest pair ever to complete a 10k race wearing a two-person pantomime costume - in this case a camel! Laurie, as the front half of this magnificent, fast-moving four-legged creature, recorded a time of 40 minutes and one second, while Rob as the back half recorded 40 minutes two seconds – the latter being the camel’s official time for record purposes!

Laurie first competed in the Festival in 2007 when he was still in the under-17 age group, at that time representing his home club Liverpool Harriers. He returned in 2009 as a first-year Manchester University student and has completed every race from then to date except the Peel Hill and 5k races in 2017. In total Laurie has completed 31 races at the Festival, putting him jointly at the top of the appearance list with Gail Griffiths of Manx Harriers.

Laurie’s best finish in a Festival race was his 11th place in the 2013 Peel Hill race, and 2013 also saw his best finish in the 10k race with 18th when, freed from the encumbrance of the previous year’s camel outfit, he recorded an impressive time of 33 minutes 37 seconds. Laurie has truly earned his place in Easter Festival legend and we hope to welcome him back to the island again next month!

Photo by Murray Lambden
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The safety of competitors and race officials/marshals safety is our main concern, especially as the 10k is being held on open roads in the early evening. As part of this, we want to ensure that no-one is too far behind the rest of the field and that everyone finishes in the daylight.

Last year we introduced a 5k time limit that gave us the right to withdraw someone who was a long way behind everyone else although we did not need to use this option.

We are planning to do the same this year and the time limit will be 40 minutes. If someone is outside of this time when they reach 5k, then we make a decision based on a number of factors including the weather/daylight, proximity of other runners and the physical condition of any runners involved. If we consider that they represent a risk to themselves and/or others we will retain the right to ask them to remove their race number. They may, if they wish, continue but will no longer be part of the race and covered by the event insurance.
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2 weeks ago

David Griffiths

6 weeks to go!

Things are really getting busy now for the organisers with a lot going on behind the scenes, and no doubt things are also hotting up for those who are organising trips for the visiting teams. It's only six weeks now until Port Erin Promenade comes alive with noise and colour before the 10k race on Good Friday evening!

Among the latest entrants is defending women's champion Rachael Franklin of Manx Harriers who has been in excellent form recently - can anyone challenge her this year? Entries can be accessed through the official website www.easterfestival.info

The leading two athletes on the Top 10 appearances list from 2006 to 2018 have both completed 31 races during that time. This week the spotlight falls on the only local athlete to make the list, Gail Griffiths of Manx Harriers.

Gail actually first competed in the Festival in 2005 when she ran her first-ever 10k race on the old Douglas course shortly after her 40th birthday. Since the Festival was established in its current format in 2006, Gail has completed ten 10k races, nine Peel Hill races and twelve 5ks. She has competed in every Festival from 2005 to date except 2015 when she was away warm-weather training.

Gail is one of the best veteran distance runners in the world in her age group, which she underlined by winning the silver medal in the women's 50 age group 5,000 metres race at last September's World Masters Championships in Malaga.

In last year's Festival at the age of 53, Gail ran a time of 37.40 in the 10k race, her fastest yet at the Festival and her second fastest 10k road time anywhere. Her best Festival in terms of results came in 2013 when she finished third in both road races and eighth on Peel Hill, giving her an overall third place finish.

Gail has always relished competing in the Festival and she plans to do so again this year.

Next week's final feature in this series focuses on an athlete who earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records for one of his performances at the Festival!

Photos by Ian Astin, Murray Lambden and manxathletics.com
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3 weeks ago

Isle of Man Easter Festival of Running
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3 weeks ago

David Griffiths

7 weeks to go!

The clock is ticking down, and we can now talk about next month's Easter Festival! Entries are now up to 114 (as at Thursday lunchtime), but as the deadline of 7th April approaches we look forward to the entry page becoming very busy - especially with group entries. A link to the entry page is on the official website www.easterfestival.info

The Festival has enjoyed excellent coverage in the athletics media over the years and we are delighted that Athletics Weekly will once again be covering the event, helping to give it a high profile in the athletics world.

Returning to the weekly feature on this page, in third place on the list of appearances from 2006 to 2018 is Cambridge Greyhound and re-inventor of sandpaper Polly Keen who has completed 28 races between 2008 and 2018. Polly holds a unique place on this list as the only one of the Top 10 to have won races at the Festival, and also to have won an overall Festival title.

Polly was part of the first Cambridge University team to compete at the Festival in 2008 and has never missed one since, although she was unable to run in 2015 due to injury. That year she still got involved by helping with marshaling duties.

The big year for Polly was 2013, when she won the 10k and 5k races and was second in the Peel Hill race to take the overall women's title by a convincing margin. In all, she has had nine top-three finishes in Festival racing and performs consistently well each year.

Polly's fastest 10k time at the Festival came last year when she clocked an impressive 36.35. Her fastest 5k came in her champion year of 2013 with 18.56, while on Peel Hill her best time was set in 2012 when she ran a very rapid 17.29 - the sixth fastest woman on the hill since 2006.

Polly's commitment to the Festival over the past decade, together with her successes in the races, definitely marks her down as one of the legends of the event in recent years. This status was enhanced by her TV appearance alongside club-mate Will Bowers in the BBC game show Letterbox a few months ago - which they won!

We now reach the top two athletes to be featured in this series, both of whom have completed 31 races since 2006. Next week's spotlight will fall on the only local to make the Top 10 list.

Photos by Murray Lambden and Bill Dale.
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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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