The 2020 Isle of Man Cross Country Championships, sponsored by Law Trust, took place on a beautifully sunny afternoon at QE2 School in Peel on Sunday 19 January. The Western AC hosted event also formed the fourth and final round of the Isle of Man Cross Country League and attracted a record turnout for the Championships of 230.
The latest senior athletes to add their names to the prestigious list of island cross country champions were Alan Corlett and Carly Craig, both of Manx Harriers. Corlett’s fifth title in the past six years saw him draw level in second place on the all-time list of men’s champions with Andy Fox and Kevin Loundes, with only former Commonwealth Games Marathon runner Dave Newton ahead of him with seven. For 2001 Island Games 5,000 metres medallist Carly Craig it was a first women’s cross country title.
A real feature of the day, and indeed of the season, was the number of families taking part in the various age groups, proving that cross country is a welcoming and encouraging sport for runners of all abilities.
Alan Corlett once again proved himself a worthy champion, settling into a relaxed rhythm from the start and gradually extending his lead throughout six circuits of the undulating farmland close to the school which was dry underfoot everywhere. Currently in high-mileage training as he prepares for his Marathon debut in London this spring, Corlett had warmed up for the race by running ten miles into Peel.
In second place less than a minute in arrears was Orran Smith who is such a wonderfully consistent performer on all types of terrain. There was a race-long battle for third place between Dave Bignell and Mark Burman, with Western AC man Bignell pulling clear on the final circuit. Christian Varley and Mike Garrett rounded out the top six and Luke Phair was the leading junior.
There was an exciting battle for team honours, with Manx Fell Runners taking the honours by just five points from Manx Harriers, with an aggregate score from their six scoring runners of 49 points to 54.
The battle for the women’s title over four laps was won by Carly Craig, better known as a long-distance road runner but who has made an effective transition to cross country in recent years. On the first three laps the race was led by 2009 champion Gail Griffiths, making her first appearance over the full distance course this season after illness last year. On the final lap Craig came through strongly to bag her maiden cross country title.
In third place was the leading junior Phoebe Coates, who had to work hard to fend off a strong challenge from Sian Coleman, and she was followed by junior Laura Dickinson and Alison King. The team title went to Manx Harriers.
Some of the racing in the younger age groups was breathtaking, not least the five-lap U17 men’s race in which QE2 School students Ieuan Owen and Corrin Leeming ran toe to toe for virtually the whole race before the former opened up a five-second winning margin in the final run to the line.
The feature of the U15 girls’ category has been the battle between Ella Crowe and Macy Hillier, who have been swapping places all through the season. This time it was Northern AC athlete Ella who came from behind to take victory by 11 seconds, successfully defending her title. Both girls have won two races each during the league season.
Ryan Corrin (Manx Harriers) looked in fine form as he took the U15 boys’ title in some style, with Gethin Owen resisting a determined effort from Western AC clubmate Corbyn Schade for the silver medal.
Just four seconds separated the three medallists in the U13 boys’ race with Cian Howard winning back-to-back titles. Sam Perry and Lucas Stennett were the other medallists, and the silver medal winning Northern AC team at the Lancashire championships filled the first four places.
The U13 girls champion Lola Bass (Northern AC) was one of four athletes to complete a clean sweep of four league victories for the season, and she ran as well as ever. There was an exciting contest for the silver medal with Florence Griffin edging out Penny Webster by three seconds.
The two youngest age groups raced on the school field, with the under-nines completing one lap and the U11s two. All four races produced some memorable competition.
Harry Stennett (Northern AC) timed his effort well to take victory in the U11 boys’ race over Freddie Crowe by two seconds with Liam Blake in third a further three seconds behind. It was equally tight in the U11 girl’s race, where victory went to Summer Craig (Manx Harriers), whose mum Carly later won the senior women’s title. Holly Salter and Abi Clayton finished close behind to claim the other medals.
Timothy Perry (Northern AC) has been the dominant figure in the under-nine boys’ category this season and he won the title by three seconds from Henry Allen who was one second ahead of Rory Condon in third. A very exciting girls’ race was won by just one second by Issy Kennaugh (Northern AC) from Poppy Clayton, and Sophie Kaighin narrowly claimed third place from Tara Nelson.
The non-championship short course races formed round four of the league and these were won by Dave Cain and Mairi Harrison.
Here are the full results.
- Many thanks go to Western AC, QE2 School, the landowner and all the officials involved with putting on another top-class afternoon of competition.
- Video footage of all the races has been posted on the manxathletics.com Facebook page.
- The Prize Presentation for both the League and Championships will take place at the Claremont Hotel, Douglas on Saturday 21 March. Further details will be announced nearer the time.
21 January 2020