A round-up of the action at the three-race Easter weekend series
Now in its 55th year, the Isle of Man Easter Festival of Running is enjoying continuing success with more athletes than ever travelling from mainland UK to join locals in this series of three races in three days.
There was a record number of finishers, with a total of 1116 athletes taking part in the First Names Group-sponsored events.
Good Friday 10km
It was just after the half-way point that Michael Christoforou of Edinburgh University (pictured, 44) forced ahead from Linton Taylor of Leeds, the two of them breaking away from the rest of the field in the earlier stages of the race. Nathan Marsh ran a strong second 5km to take third and ensure his Leeds Doss AC team took the team honours on the evening.
The women’s race was a clear-cut affair, with positions remaining unchanged throughout the race. Cambridge Greyhounds’ Katy Hedgethorne took the win by 45 seconds over Bronwen Jenkinson of Leeds Doss, with Amelia Pettitt of Vale Royal another 22 seconds adrift.
Saturday – Peel Hill Race
The weather had improved in time for the athletes to tackle the ascent of Peel Hill, rising by just over 700ft above the seaside town, Peel castle and the pretty sandy beach.
Linton Taylor turned the tables on Christoforou, pushing the pace early on in the race to take a relatively comfortable win.
Christoforou kicked away from Nathan Marsh, who finished third again, after they were neck and neck coming off the final descent onto the harbour road.
Pre-race favourite in the women’s race was 2016 world mountain championships bronze medallist, Bronwen Jenkinson. She did eventually take the win, but it was a very close race, only decided in the closing yards with one second separating the first three.
In the team race, Leeds just edged Manchester by one point, with Cambridge in third.
Easter Sunday – 5km road race
With the weekend’s overall standings at stake it was all to play for as the women’s race got underway first, rain and coastal winds welcoming the runners to the seafront at Douglas.
Local runner Rachael Franklin proved too strong for the field, finishing comfortably and looking fresh in 17:27, although she hadn’t taken part in the previous two days of racing.
Katy Hedgethorne finished second and took the overall race series title as she finished seven seconds behind, with Hannah Brown again in the placings a further 31 seconds back.
Bronwen Jenkinson finished fourth to tie on points with Hedgethorne for the overall title, which was decided on overall time in this event.
Leeds Doss AC took the title for the weekend’s team event.
In the men’s event, the rain had subsided but left plenty of surface water for the record field of 210 men to contend with, along with the increasingly strong winds.
A group of eight runners broke away from the field in the opening mile (around 4:40) and remained together until the turn-around point on the out and back course along the promenade. Here the battle to the finish would be decided by the strongest as the head wind picked up to attack the runners. Michael Christoforou pushed on, looking all the way controlled and relaxed for a nine second win over Taylor of Leeds. Christoforou is only the third athlete to break 15 minutes on the promenade course, with 14:54.
This victory gave the Edinburgh Uni man the overall title over Linton Taylor, after finishing second overall last year. For Taylor it was his second time in three years to take the overall silver position.
Taylor could take some consolation from leading the Leeds Uni Doss AC team to a win on the day, which secured their overall title convincingly over Cambridge Greyhounds with Edinburgh Uni Hare & Hounds in third.
» See the April 20 edition of AW magazine for further coverage