Ollie Lockley wrote his name into local athletics history at Crossags in Ramsey last Sunday by joining the illustrious list of athletes to have won the senior men’s Isle of Man Cross Country Championship. 38 years ago Ollie’s father Dave Lockley achieved the same feat when winning the 1981 championship at Port-e-Chee in Douglas, and this is the first instance of a father and son both winning this title.
Rachael Franklin won the senior women’s championship for the sixth time in seven years, having missed the 2016 event through injury. She is now just one short of the record seven titles won by Christine Prescott (nee Kissack) between 1977 and 1989. The 2019 senior cross country champions are also the reigning Easter Festival champions.
The event also formed the fourth and final round of the Law Trust sponsored league, with final positions to be confirmed. Just as at the other three rounds, the weather was fine and the course dry – it must be unprecedented to go through a cross country season with virtually no mud or rain! There was an extra hazard for competitors to negotiate this year however, with a fallen tree in the uphill wooded section of the course needing careful negotiation, but this didn’t cause any undue problems.
Alan Corlett had won the previous four men’s titles, beating Lockley last year in a mudbath at the Nunnery. The reigning champion had been suffering a chest infection during the week but with typical determination he lined up to have a go at winning a record fifth successive title. It was not to be however, as after matching strides with his friend and rival during the first of four laps of the testing and hilly terrain he was forced to pull up.
This left the way clear for Lockley to dominate the race, which he did in superb style to become a worthy champion. He resisted the temptation to ease off and continued to push himself hard throughout to take victory by almost three minutes.
Ben Corkill produced a fine run to take second place as he did in 2015, while Matthew Christian completed a most impressive first season of cross country racing to finish in the bronze medal position. Paul Sykes, Jamie Beaman and Gianni Epifani completed the top six, and first junior was Luke Phair in seventh overall.
Rachael Franklin was as dominant as ever in the three-lap women’s race, winning by more than two and a half minutes. She ran in close company with fourth-place finisher in the men’s race Paul Sykes for much of her race and looked in great form ahead of a series of championship races in the UK.
Gail Griffiths produced a typically determined run to finish runner-up for the sixth time, proving she is still a force to be reckoned with. Carly Craig ran a strong last lap to pull clear of the challenge of Caroline Mayers to take third spot. Helen Taylor and first junior Laura Dickinson rounded out the top six.
Racing had begun with the usual frenetic action on the bottom field in the under-nine and u11 age groups, and there were some exciting finishes. Liam Blake took the u9 boys title by a two-second margin from Harry Stennett who in turn was just a couple of strides ahead of Zac Woodward. Abi Sinclair was the u9 girls champion by a 13-second margin from Scarlett Callister, who finished just one second clear of Emilie Katkjaer.
There were tight finishes to both the u11 races, with Samuel Corkill winning the boys’ race by one second from Charlie Arculus with Alec Sorby in third. Only four seconds separated the three medallists in the girls’ race, Lucy Ormsby taking victory by two seconds from Penny Webster who had the same advantage over Abi Clayton.
The u13 competitors competed over one small lap and one full lap of the course, and were the first to test the fallen tree obstacle on the climb through the woods. Cian Howard was an impressive winner of the boys’ race after a good battle with Sam Perry, stretching his advantage to 11 seconds. Ivan Sorby was 10 seconds further back in third. Macy Hiller showed excellent form in the girls’ race, matching strides with some of the leading boys as she took victory by a convincing margin from Madison McMullen who has run well this season. Lola Bass took third spot.
Competitors in the u15 and u17 categories started alongside the senior athletes although running fewer laps. Jake Richmond is another who has progressed well this winter and he took a fine win 36 seconds clear of Ryan Corrin with TJ Phair in third place. The usual names were to the fore in the girls’ race with Ella Crowe once more looking classy and assured to take the win ahead of Catherine Perry and Mia Dunwell who both showed good strength over a testing course.
The u17 men ran the same distance as the senior women, and the first two finishers Corrin Leeming and Ieuan Owen finished either side of Rachael Franklin. Leeming is a multi-talented sportsman and added another title to his collection with a fine run. Middle distance specialist Phoebe Coates ran strongly to take victory in the u17 women’s category from Holly Burgess.
The short course races were not part of the championship but counted towards the league as usual, and the winners were David Cain and Ashleigh Lachenicht – the latter completing a clean sweep for the season.
Here are the full results.
Many thanks go to Northern AC, all the officials and the landowner at Crossags for a splendid afternoon of cross country action to complete the domestic season.
The prize presentation for both the championships and the league will take place at the Claremont Hotel in Douglas on Friday 22 March – more details to follow.