We recently spoke to Jethro McGraw, a member of the University of Birmingham Alumni team in 2022, about his Isle of Man Easter Festival experience!
Here is what he said about his first visit to the Festival….
Planning the weekend logistics
Assembling our team was a very easy sell – as a group of former housemates who once lived the ‘student-running’ lifestyle at the University of Birmingham, the Festival appealed as an alternative target to reminisce and motivate us all, now working full time, to get back into shape & be fit enough to be vaguely competitive. Not only this, it is a must for any student runner!
The weekend logistics involved:
- Return train from Birmingham to Liverpool.
- Return foot-passenger ferry tickets with the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company from Liverpool to Douglas
- 4 nights at The Welbeck Hotel in Douglas (Thursday to Monday)
- 0 days of annual leave
After easily arranging travel and accommodation, we then enthusiastically completed the festival team entry & began the countdown…
After months of minor injuries & doubt over our ability to make it to the start line, we did in fact all make it to the weekend in high spirits, with our bodies generally in an ok state!
The excitement continued to build throughout the journey – the ferry out from Liverpool a particular highlight.
Day 1 – Rest & Port Erin 10k
With the opening event not until the evening – the majority of the Friday was spent with our feet up – playing cards, participating in bad chat (usually focused on who was going to finish first out of the group that evening), and exploring the seaside sights of Douglas, the island’s capital.
Late afternoon we met the rest of the festival goers on the Douglas promenade & travelled within the fleet of (FREE) festival buses destined for Port Erin (the location of the opening 10k race).
The 10k course was tough & varied but spectacular and the competition standard was high!
Happy with our opening performances (some having raced for the first time in years..) we headed back to Douglas for food and a well-earned rest.
Getting to Saturday’s fell race involved similar transport, this time to Peel. The race setting managed to even outdo the impressive Port Erin – the fell itself was extremely steep, and the views were spectacular. None of us had ever done a race like this before so pre-race was a scene of naive trepidation. The race itself was fun, but also tough after Friday’s 10k.
We had been pre-warned about the festival tradition of spending the rest of the afternoon/evening jogging back to Douglas (via several pubs en route). We met the rest of the Festival at the first pub & continued to move on mass from pub to pub until reaching Douglas (11 miles later…). It’s hard to vividly describe in full but throughout the evening the social atmosphere was buzzing with a real mix of eclectic characters.
Day 3 – Douglas Promenade 5k & a trip to the Outback (not Australia, the pub in Douglas!)
Fair to say our bodies weren’t so fresh for the final race of the weekend but luckily we didn’t have far to go – Douglas Promenade was the location of the final race. In the team standings, we had been battling fiercely through the weekend with Edinburgh University, famously known as Hunters Bog Trotters – so in this final race the stakes were high!
We all managed to complete the flat out & back course – the racing was done.
The final chapter was the presentation social at the ‘Outback’. We didn’t win anything but we were more than content socialising for the remainder of the evening!
We’d definitely made the most of the weekend and our bodies could tell. Little of note happened en route home but we all agreed that the weekend had been a resounding success! Plans were decided – we’ll be back again in 2023.