One of the toughest sporting challenges any athlete can face in the Isle of Man takes place this Saturday.
The Manx Mountain Marathon covers a daunting course that starts in Market Square, Ramsey and finishes 31 miles later in Port Erin visiting 12 of the island’s highest peaks on the way.
The competitors have a time limit of 10 hours to complete the course but the superfit leaders will manage it in around five hours.
There is also a separate race, the Half, which is held over the southern section of the course starting in St John’s at 1pm.
Both events are promoted by Manx Fell Runners, which is delighted to announce new sponsors. Bushy’s has agreed to support the full marathon while Apollo Blinds has stepped in to back the half.
The entry of around 70 for the full race includes four previous winners. Clayton Le Moors’ Paul Thompson returns for the 20th consecutive year to try and improve on his seven victories that make him the most successful competitor in the event’s history.
He will be joined by local winners Ian Gale (2003), Rob Sellors (2014) and Tom Cringle (2015).
Present form would suggest that Cringle could be the man to beat following his excellent 10th place in the tough Welsh Vegan 3000 a couple of weeks ago. There could be a slight handicap for Cringle though as he gets married the day before the race!
Others to watch out for could be Thompson’s Clayton Le Moors team-mate Simon Halliday who always produces solid performances and Nick Coburn of Andreas who has been piling the miles in for his charity coastsal footpath run later this month.
The women’s event is quite hard to predict as there are a number of runners entered whose form is unknown.
Laxey’s Eleanor Miklos has been producing some top performances this year on the local scene but is a novice at this ultra-distance. Another Clayton Le Moors runner, Jean Brown, makes a welcome return. She put in a very good performance in her previous visit in 2011 when she finished first in the female category.
Runners can enter on the day for the half, with registration open at St John’s from midday (£15). Five-time winner Lloyd Taggart is possibly making a return to racing if his injury problems have cleared sufficiently.
Approximate times for the leaders in the main race (below depend on conditions.
Start 8am, Bungalow 9.15am, Injebreck 9.45am, St John’s 10.30am; Round Table 11.30am, finish (Port Erin) 1pm.
l There is a slight change of route coming off Slieau Whallian, with a deviation to Garey crossroads and a return to the original ascent of South Barrule from the Glen Rushen Mines side.