Isle of Wight Fell Running Champs
Updated: Jan 13, 2021
Another excellent weekend of fell racing on the Isle of Wight with dry but cool conditions ideal for running. A record number of entries this year (275). Notable now that London clubs are swelling the numbers each year, Serpentine had 53! Although there are 3 races you do not have to enter all three, only if you want to count in the SEAA Championship.
By the way that is Tarbo’s bum bag giving the slight bulge! The walk to registration in the morning showed some first time nerves but it was a lovely day what was there to worry about! Before the race started at 1pm the 502 runners were walked around the stadium led by the local pipe band, there followed a random kit check before we were allowed into the start pen. Once away the traditional scramble along the mile of road with people chattering away, this soon dies down as we start the mountain path. Lots of support up the hill until we turned off directly across the mountain to the Red Burn halfway point. Most runners then decide to turn left and go straight up the mountain but I and few others stayed on the path which is longer but easier going and in some parts runnable, some think that it is a tad quicker.
This year making the trip to the pleasant seaside town of Ventnor were Peter Hadley, Christian Poulton, Clem Dixon and Ian Marshall along with supporters Anne Hadley and Alison Marshall. All four completed the three races.
You must complete all 3 races to be included in the SEAA championship. Although these races aren’t as tough as fell races in the North (though the road climb through the town is steep) the fact that you are running three races in a weekend makes it hard especially on Sunday. Out of the total entry of 275, 109 men and 46 women completed the three races.
In the V50 category we had 1st & 3rd, which is a great result. Christian Poulton continued his good form by winning all 3 races in the V50 category to come first. Clem was 3rd. Peter Hadley after losing 6 months running done exceptionally well to be 2nd V70. Also, because the2nd race had a course change Christian now holds the course record!
Joe Dale (Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets) won all three races so did Carla Molinaro (Victoria Park & TH) to win the individual titles. Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets won both the men’s and women’s team events.
Race 1 – St Boniface Down (2.5miles/800’)
Only 2.5 miles but this is an 800’ leg buster climb/descent from the seafront straight to the top of St Boniface Down, a loop around the radio tower and back down to finish at St Catherine’s School. The first part of the course takes you up from the seafront up through the High St then onto Tulse Hill allegedly the steepest road on the island, a few more twists and turns before reaching a flatter section and a gallop trying to claim places before reaching the pinch point at a gate leading up to the fell, though this doesn’t affect the fast boys/girls so much!
Due to the record number of runners the pinch point meant a 100yd queue for some, very frustrating! A short but very steep climb up the grassy fell and on towards the radio tower. Before I reached the loop around the tower the leaders were already flying back down. With peoples lungs and legs in various states of distress start the very fast descent, fantastic views up the coast and of the town. Down the grassy fell which plays havoc with the quads before out on the road again and a sprint to the finish at the school. Suddenly it’s all over.
Joe Dale (Victoria Park) won the men’s race in 18:02. Carla Molinaro (Clapham Chasers) won the ladies race in 20:54. Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets filled six out of the first seven places in the men’s race.
Race 2 – The Ventnor Horseshoe (7.5miles/1450’)
You have about 3.5 hours before the 2nd race at 3pm. Back to the B&B to rest & refuel. This race also has a pinch point but at a different gate, there was an announcement before the start that to alleviate this problem the route is changed, it was changed to use the gate from the morning race so the same queuing problem occurred! This alteration meant route was approx. third mile longer.
The sky came over very dark at the start, first part of the race is the same as the morning one, through the gate, turn immediately left onto the new part of the route and then the heavens opened, torrential rain and hailstones but fortunately didn’t last long. Climb steeply to re-join the old route. Once on the top it’s basically a cross country run through some lovely country. The hard part starts after about 5 miles, turn off the railway track path and wind up a narrow path that gets ever steeper, over a stile then reach an incredibly steep set of steps. Legs are struggling now but luckily there is a handrail you can use to haul yourself up. Reach the top and onto a good wide stony path leading to the radio tower which you can see in the distance. Once the tower is reached it’s the same descent to the finish as in the morning.
Phew! two races down, time to rest up for a couple of hours before meeting up with everyone for a meal and further post-race analysis. An early night was required!
Joe Dale (Victoria Park) won again in 54:17, Carla Molinaro (Clapham Chasers) won in 61:03.
Race 3 – The Wroxhall Round (12miles/1600’)
Off at 10:30 nursing sore quads, it takes a while for the legs to start working properly again despite a warm up. This time the route is along the coastal path which is very undulating, very pleasant though running by the sea. After 3 miles or so turn away from the coast, some annoying drags take you eventually to a road, cross over and the long climb up past the rugby club, although long this hill is runnable if you are feeling good! After reaching the top once again it is like a long cross country run through more lovely countryside. Rain on Saturday night left one or two slightly muddy stretches. After about 8 miles take on some water at the one drink station and onto the railway track path again, a much longer stretch this time than Saturday pm race, then as yesterday up the dreaded hand railed steps out onto the top, the radio tower and down to the finish at St Catherines.
The runners tradition after the final race is to hobble down to the beach for a dip, credit to Clem going in for a swim, I just paddled.
Once again Joe Dale won in 83:54, Carla in 93:35.