One of the major parts of the Easter Sports Festival, the Easter Athletics Festival, starts this Friday. Nearly 300 competitors, including another record number of female competitors, from all parts of the British Isles and as far a field as Belgium will be competing for honours in the three day event which is supported by the Department of Tourism and Leisure and promoted by Manx Harriers. After high winds disrupted travel arrangements in 2008, the organisers are hoping for better luck this year.
Now in its 47th year, the Festival will burst into life on Good Friday evening with the Blue Riband of the Festival – the 10 kilometre Road Race – held on a scenic route in the Port Erin and Port St Mary area. After last year’s early start the race reverts to its usual stat time of 19.00. There is also a slight change to the finishing point with this being moved to the area outside the former Marine Biological Station.
On Saturday afternoon the action moves to Peel for the Peel Hill Race with its lung bursting climbs and concludes on Sunday morning with a 4 x 5k relay race and women’s 5k road race on Douglas Promenade, which this year are supported for the first time by The Outback Sports Bar and Nightclub.
It is great to see a good number of university Past and Present teams competing including Aberdeen, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds and Manchester and a number of club teams as well.
It is good to see an increase in the number of locals taking part and the Manx Harriers men’s and women’s teams in particular will be hoping to challenge for a place on the podium in at least one of the races.
Entries are still being taken but incur a £5 per race surcharge. Locals taking part on Good Friday are reminded that race registration takes place at Rushen FC clubhouse (Croit Lowey) and are asked to park in the upper part of the village rather than on the Promenade.
There are also junior events for the Under 13 and Under 15 age groups on Easter Sunday over 3K– sign-on before 09.30 for a 09.45 start on Douglas Promenade (Sea Terminal end) – entry is just £1.
Motorists in the south of the island, in particular, are asked to take extra care on Friday evening, from around 18.30 to 20.00. For more information contact Chris Quine on 670521 or 432546 (8th April)
Gerrard set to run 10k:
Although not yet entered, local World Cross County runner, Keith Gerrard has declared that he will be entering the Bushy’s 10k. (8th April)
Prize Fund of £4000 agreed:
With an increase in sponsorship and entries the Organising Team are delighted to announce a prize fund for 2009 of £4000 – a record! The men’s and women’s winners of the Bushy’s 10k on Good Friday will collect £180 each for their efforts. (8th April)
Changes to finish areas:
There will be changes to the finishing areas at both Port Erin and Peel. The Bushy’s 10k will finish outside the old Marine Biological Station beyond the Lifeboat Station – approximately 600m from the previous finish area. The start will be modified so that the loop previously run at the end of the race is run at the start.
Meanwhile at Peel, works to the East Quay prevent the normal finishing straight being used so the races will finish in the Fish Yard close of the bridge – everyone is advised to check this before the start of the race. (8th April)
Entries still coming in:
Entries are still being received on a daily basis. There is an additional charge of £5 per race but entries will be taken up to 30 minutes before the start of each race. (7th April)
Start/finish change at Port Erin:
To help with event safety some changes have been made to the start/finish at Port Erin on Good Friday. In summary the race will start in all most exactly the same spot as previous years but head in the opposite direction so that the loop around the Marine Biological Station is completed at the start of the race. For the finish, runners will run along the promenade at Port Erin as usual past the Bay Pub (& old finish line) then finish by the grass area directly outside of the Marine Biological Station. The new course start/finish was used in 2008 for the local Bushy’s Great South Run series. (31st March)
Bushy’s on board:
Local brewery Bushy’s have confirmed their ongoing support for the Good Friday 10K. The Bay Hotel near to the start finish is, of course owned by Bushy’s. (31st March)
Old and new teams:
Great to see Aberdeen University returning for their third year in the Festival whilst Hercules Wimbledon will make their first appearance for over 25 years and will make an interesting addition to the field. This type of geographical spread is part of what makes the event so much different from your normal local event. (23rd March)
Massive DOSS entry:
Long time Festival supporters Leeds University/DOSS AC have so far entered 38 athletes for this year’s event and there could be more on the way! No doubt the squad includes the usual mix of top quality runners, fun runners, serious drinkers and a few other supporters too! (16th March)
Outback support Sunday races:
The Outback Sports Bar and Nightclub, venue for the prize presentation and party, will for the first time sponsor the Sunday morning races. They will also provide some refreshments on Sunday lunchtime after the races on the promenade. (16th March)
Junior Race Changes to Sunday:
The junior races will this year move to Douglas Promenade on Easter Sunday. The traffic-free out and back 3000m route will be a much safer option than at Port Erin. Also, the races for under 13 and under 15, will start at 10.00 prior to the Women’s race so will give the youngters the opportunity to run in front of the seniors as they prepare for their events. There will not be an under 17 race as they are eligible to compete in either the Women’s 5k race or the Men’s relay. (3rd March)
Massage on the Beach!
Port St Mary Sports and Rehabilitation Clinic will again be offering pre and post race massage at the Friday night 10k – weather permitting (3rd March)
First overseas entry:
As entries start to come in, the Festival has recived its first overseas entry. Sebastien Barr from Belgium is believed to be the first ever entrant from Belgium to enter the Festival. (11th February)
Flights from London City:
Travel for those living in London is now much easier after Aer Arann started a three times a day service from London City Airport – see www.aerarann.com VLM also provide flights from London City – seewww.flyvlm.com For those in the London area there are also flights from Gatwick and London Luton – seewww.flybe.com (27th January)
Long timne festival supporters Leeds University/DOSS AC are planning to bring a party of around 40 to this year’s festival. The group will include a “Hag party” – that is a cross between a hen and stag party! (27th January)
Dept of Tourism support continues:
The Isle of Man Department of Tourism and Leisure has again agreed to continue to support the Festival. Without this support it would not be possible to provide the generous prize fund available over the three days. In 2008, nearly £4000 was awarded in prizes. (22nd January)
Easter Festival Facebook Group
If you are a registered user of Facebook, why not join the Isle of Man Easter Athletics Festival appreciation society. www.facebook.com The group currently has 90 members (22nd January)