The JEMS team of Judith Quane, her daughters Ellen and Meghan, plus Suzanne Wild won Boxing Day’s annual relay run.
The fourth running of the popular Stewart Clague Services-sponsored event was held at Ballannette Estate, Lonan in near-perfect conditions.
Just hours later, the island found itself in the grip of a ferocious storm, so this year’s event was truly blessed by the Christmas weather gods.
The run, organised by Manx Harriers, incorporates many of the features of the former Millennium Way Relay which was held each Boxing Day until 2009.
A toal of 17 teams of four competed over six laps of a trail course of approximately 3.3 miles in length, with a total distance of about 20 miles covered by each team this year.
Legs one and four cover two laps of the course, and legs two and three cover one.
Teams are handicapped accorded to expected ability, in theory giving each team an equal chance of winning.
The course was in magnificent condition, landowner and sponsor Stewart Clague having done a great deal of work to improve the route since the first race was held in 2010.
The majority of the course follows an undulating trail round the perimeter of the Ballannette Estate, and also includes a sharp drop almost down to sea level at the stunningly scenic Garwick Bay. This is followed by a testing climb back up the other side.
This part of the course always catches out any runner who has gone off too hard.
First away at 9.30am was George Shea of Greenlight TV, followed a minute later by Stewart Jones of Chafing the Dream.
Three minutes behind them, Judith Quane of JEMS and Andy Corrie of Quality Feet started together.
One hour after the start, all the teams were out on the course with Island Games double gold medallist Kevin Loundes leading off the CRAK Runners team at 10.29am.
By this stage, some of the teams were out on their second leg and competitors were spread all over the course with many on different laps.
Loundes flew round his first lap in well under 19 minutes, but slowed after suffering stomach problems on the second lap.
There were fine runs on this leg from Paul Sykes, Graham Furner and Christian Varley, while top race walker Alex Eaton demonstrated that he is a more than useful runner too with a very strong leg.
Judith Quane was the only female on leg one, and ran a fine time of 50 minutes 46 seconds to put the JEMS team in a strong position handing over to daughter Ellen on leg two.
Legs two and three, each over one lap of the course, saw plenty of fast and furious action and several changes of positions as the faster teams started to close in on those who had started well in front of them.
Event organiser Andy Fox, running for the St Ninian’s teachers team Three Sirs and a Miss, was the fastest runner on the second leg, with Rebecca Wallace (The Stranger Returns) the quickest female.
The third leg saw two new course records being set, with Ed Gumbley (The Stranger Returns) taking 15 seconds off Ryan Fairclough’s record with a time of 20.52, while Rachael Franklin (CRAK Runners) lopped an impressive 50 seconds off her own female record for one lap of the course with 21.55.
They are two of several athletes who look to be in fine form ahead of the Lancashire Cross-Country Championships this weekend. Other notable runs on these legs came from footballer George Rawlinson, race walkers Dale Farquhar and Michelle Turner and several others.
The final two-lap leg was where the action really hotted up and it was game on to see if any of the chasing teams could catch three of the first four teams to start – JEMS, Greenlight TV and Chafing the Dream.
Suzanne Wild (JEMS) was still well out in front going into her second and final lap having taken the baton from Meghan Quane, but was being chased down rapidly by Adam Killip (Chafing the Dream) who was running a storming race. Circulating the lake with little more than half a mile to go, the gap was down to just over two minutes, but despite a great effort from Killip, Wild was able to hold onto her lead to bring her team home by 32 seconds.
Alexis Shea ran extremely well to bring Greenlight TV home into third place three minutes behind, and the remaining 14 teams were separated by less than 13 minutes.
There was an outstanding run from Alan Corlett (CRAK Runners) on the final leg to record a brilliant time of 39.31, just 36s down on Kevin Loundes’s course record.
Second fastest on the final leg was the evergreen Gianni Epifani who has not missed a Boxing Day relay for 29 years.
Congratulations to all the teams who took part, and commiserations to the final team to finish (Three Sirs and a Miss), whose end of term report will perhaps read ‘could do better’.
A junior fun run immediately followed the relay, and 13 youngsters enjoyed a run over a shorter version of the course, a distance of 1,450 metres. All won a prize - well done to all who took part.
Many thanks go to all who helped to put on an excellent event, especially sponsor Stewart Clague.
Next year’s event will take place on Saturday, December 27.