Easter Festival Preview
One of the major parts of the Easter Sports Festival, the Easter Athletics Festival, starts this Friday(writes Chris Quine) This year the event is celebrating its 50th anniversary and this has attracted the largest entry since the events heyday in the 1980’s.
Around 400 competitors, from all parts of the British Isles will be competing for honours in the three day event which is supported by the Department of Economic Development and promoted by Manx Harriers.
The Festival will burst into life on Good Friday evening with the Blue Riband of the Festival – the 10 kilometre Road Race – supported by Bushy’s and held on a scenic route in the Port Erin and Port St Mary area. The race starts at 19.00 close to Port Erin Breakwater and usually attracts a large crowd of spectators. The route finishes outside the former Marine Biological Station.
On Saturday afternoon the action moves to Peel for the famous 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 are supported by The Outback Sports Bar and Nightclub.
The 50th anniversary has brought back a number of “Old Faces” and the growth in the entry to the women’s numbers in particular continues with a number of former winners making the journey over. 2010 winner Sarah Inglis returns but has little recent form, as does 2009 and 2011 champion Emma Raven. However, she has been injured and not expected to challenge for honours. This might leave the way clear for Olivia Walwyn-Bush, a winner back in 2006, to take the honours.
One former winner not expected to challenge is Barbara Murray, winner of the hill race and road race in 1980 and 1981, who is now competing alongside her son Declan, who runs for Cambridge University.
The men’s races look wide open with no obvious candidates sitting head and shoulders above everyone else. This should mean close, exciting racing throughout the weekend.
Guest of Honour marathon legend Ron Hill has the greatest pedigree of all those entered but at 73 he will just be aiming to complete the course. Look out for Ron, he will be wearing race number 1.
Of the local favourites, Keith Gerrard is currently training in the USA and neither Kevin Loundes or last year’s Hill Race winner Lloyd Taggart are entered at the time of writing. However, the Manx Harriers women’s team will fancy their chances of being in the prizes.
Entries are still being taken for all three events but incur a £2 per race surcharge. Locals taking part on Good Friday are reminded that race registration takes place at Rushen FC clubhouse (Croit Lowey) between 17.30 and 18.30 and they are asked to park in the upper part of the village rather than on the Promenade. There are usually a large number of entries on the night so the organisers are hopefully of a field approaching 400 which will make a spectacular sight. 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.
Former Ladies winner returns
Thanks to Barbara Murray (nee Harvie) for supplying copies of the Easter Festival Results from ’79, ’80 & ’81 (see below). Barbara and her future husband, Raph Murray took part as either Glasgow University students or as Aberdeen University students over a number of years. In 1980 Raph was a member of the winning team in the men’s road relay race (Glasgow Uni). see photo here Barbara won the Ladies Peel Hill race and the Ladies Road Race in 1980 (as Barbara Harvie) and 1981 (as Barbara Murray). Raph is no longer running, but Barbara will be on IOM over Easter weekend with their son Declan Murray (former Cambridge Uni) who is also competing.
Prize Presentation and Prize Fund for 2012
This year’s overall prize fund confirmed is now confirmed as £5000 – a record! The top prizes will be increased but we will also extend the number of prizes too so the money is spread round. Because of increased numbers of athletes we won’t ask all prizewinners to come on stage at the presentation so it is not too drawn out – and we need to allow time for the party – but everyone will receive their cheques on the night. Remember the prize presentation and party is being held at a nightclub and admission is strictly by ticket only and for over 18’s only (so remember to bring ID if you think you will need it!!). Details and map of the location of the presentation venue is on the events information page
Doors open at the Outback at 7pm with the prize presentation taking place from 7.30pm till 8.20pm. This will be followed by cheque signing and collection with the Men’s and Women’s beer drinking competition taking place between 9pm and 11pm (including music/dancing interludes). Following the beer drinking prize presentation the party will continue until 2am.
Please note that in a change to past Easter Festivals, this year you must wear your festival number (as worn in Fri/Sat race) on your back as well as your allocated relay number on your front which will be allocated to you when you declare your relay team on Sunday morning at Race Registration. You must also ensure that you run in the order declared on your team declaration sheet and no runner is allowed to run more than one leg for a team
Ron Hill visit featured
Ron Hill’s visit to the 2012 Festival as guest of honour is featured on the BBC website….
No Junior Races
The organising committee regret that due to lack of support for the event in recent years there will be no Junior 3Km run on Sunday as originally advertised.
Slight change to Men’s Relay start time
The scheduled start time for the men’s 5Km relay on Sunday has been put back 5 minutes from 10.45am to 10.50am. This is to allow our timekeeping team from Manx Timing Solutions a few extra minutes to reset their electronic equipment following the ladies 5Km race.
Ron Hill Guest of Honour at 50th Easter Festival
The Easter Festival organising team are delighted to announce that as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations, Dr Ron Hill, MBE, will be the Guest of Honour at this year’s festival. Ron is arguably the best-known and accomplished athlete to compete in the history of the Festival when he took part in the 1972 event in the lead up to the Munich Olympics. His visit is mentioned in his classic book, The Long Hard Road.
As well as establshing the well-known sportswear company, he competing in three Olympics, was European Marathon Champion in 1969, Commonwealth Marathon Champion in 1970 (second runner ever under 2 hours 10 mins), won the Boston Marathon and twice winner of the English National Cross Country Championships. He was also famed for developing the carbo loading “marathon diet”. Despite all his success he was also renowned as a great clubman taking part in local events. Towards the end of his competitive career, he set a still British M40 record for the marathon of 2.15.
Now 73 years old, still runs every day and is famous for not missing a days running since 1964!! As well as being Guest of Honour he is planning to compete in all the races!!