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  • Writer's pictureIan Marshall

Isle of Wight Fell Series

Updated: Oct 9, 2020

Another excellent weekend of ‘fell’ racing on the Isle of Wight with dry, warm and clear conditions ideal for running.  Notable now that London clubs continue to swell the numbers each year with Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets having a very successful weekend.  Although there are 3 races you do not have to run all three but you do if you want to count in the SEAA Championship.

Making the trip to the pleasant seaside town of Ventnor were Peter Hadley, Christian Poulton, Clem Dixon, Graham Maynard, Pat Austin and Ian Marshall along with supporters Anne Hadley, Alison Marshall and Karrie Austin.

Graham striding up St Boniface Down

SEAA Championship

You must complete all 3 races to be included in the SEAA championship. Although these races aren’t as tough as traditional fell races as in the North (though the road climb from the seafront up through the town is steep) the fact that you are running three races in a weekend makes it hard especially on Sunday. The total amount of runners over the weekend was 218 out of which 87 men and 30 women completed the three races.

Josselin Polini from Victoria Park & TH was the men’s overall winner and Rachel Thomas also of Victoria Park was first lady in all 3 races to win the Ladies title.

Victoria Park had a clean sweep in the team competitions supplying the first 3 teams in the men’s and first 2 teams in the Ladies.

In the V50 category Christian Poulton came 2nd in all three races, just pipped by Garry Parsons from London Frontrunners. Peter Hadley was runner up in the V70 category.

Race 1 – St Boniface Down (2.5miles/800’)

Only a short race but this is a wakeup call for the legs/lungs, the route is a climb/descent from the seafront straight to the top of St Boniface Down, a loop near the radio tower and back down to finish at St Catherine’s School. The first part of the course is up from the seafront along the High St then turn onto Tulse Hill allegedly the steepest road on the island, a few more twists and turns before reaching a flatter section and a gallop to try and gain a few places before reaching the pinch point at the gate leading up onto the fell, a chance to let the lactic acid dissipate and lungs to resume normal function!

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.

Aaron McGrady of Victoria Park established a new course record of 16:30.

33rd        Christian              20:42     (2nd V50) 63rd        Graham                                22:22 90th         Clem                      24:18 153rd      Peter                     29:56 163rd      Ian                          32:52

Race 2 – The Ventnor Horseshoe (7.5miles/1450’)

You have about 3.5 hours before the 2nd race at 3pm. Back to base to rest & refuel, the weather continued to be very warm and clear. Gather at the seafront again with slightly aching limbs which ease as they warm up on the road climb up through the town. This race also has the same pinch point as the morning but once through it you turn left and continue on a different route to the top.

Once on the top it’s basically a cross country run through some lovely country. The harder part starts after about 5 miles, turn off the old railway track path and wind up a narrow path that gets ever steeper, over a stile and 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.

Neil Kevern (Bracknell Forest Runners) was 1st to finish in 53:01. Rachel Thomas was again 1st Lady in 59:13. Christian was just a few seconds behind Garry Parsons in the V50 cat.

28th         Christian              63:29     (2nd V50) 68th         Clem                      71:24 138th      Peter                     90:30 144th      Pat                         93:16

Sunday 15th September

Race 3 – The Wroxall Round (12miles/1600’)

Weather still warm and clear, off at 10:30 now 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 undulating coastal path, very pleasant though running by the sea. After 3 miles or so turn away from the coast, some annoying drags take you eventually up to a road, cross over and then a long climb up past the rugby club, although long this hill is runnable if your legs are functioning. After reaching the top it is once again like a long cross country run through more lovely countryside. After about 8 miles reach the donkey sanctuary and take on some water/jelly babies at the one drink station on the course, onto the railway track path again, a much longer stretch this time than Saturday. Off the rail path and once again negotiate the dreaded hand railed steps onto the top with legs now wilting alarmingly, onwards to the radio tower and a controlled ‘dash’ down to finish once again at St Catherine’s school.

The runner’s tradition after the final race is down to the beach for a dip. Back up then to the school for the long prize presentation with lots of prizes for the various age groups/teams in the SEAA Champs and for the 3 separate races.

Aaron McGrady was 1st in 79:11. Rachel Thomas was 1st Lady in 91:44.

34th         Christian              99:41     (2nd V50) 46th         Graham                                103:03 77th         Clem                      113:29 141         Peter                     143:57   (2nd V70) 150th      Ian                          150:39


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