A quality line-up of well over 200 competitors is expected to converge on Port Erin for the start of the Bradda Niarbyl Fell Race on Saturday.
The race, which will start from the port’s lower promenade, close to the Bay Hotel, at 1pm forms a round of the English Fell Running Championship.
It is the first time the island has hosted such a prestigious fell race and it will be unique insofar that it will be a coastal event.
It will cover a 24 kilometre (14.9-mile) route, mostly on the Raad ny Foillan, taking in the island’s most scenic stretch of coastline to Niarbyl and returning over a similar route.
The course is similar to the regular Bradda Fell Race which basically traverses the same route over Bradda, Fleshwick and the Carnanes track to the summit of Cronk-ny-Arree-Laa. At this point the route will descend to Eary Cushlin (instead of heading across Cronk Fedjag on the out-and-back loop to South Barrule).
Instead, from Eary Cushlin, the course will follow a flagged route through Kerroodhoo Plantation to checkpoint four near Niarbyl bay, turning for home on the Raad ny Foillan to Gob ny Ushtey on the cliff edges, climbing back up to Cronk-ny-Arree-Laa and retracing much of the outward course back to Port Erin.
The arduous route will involve a total of 1,800 metres of ascent (5,905ft).
The series kicked off with the Flower Scar race in early March, followed by the Stretton Six Summits and Duddon events in May. The Manx round forms round four, with round five, the Lingmell Dash, on July 25 and the deciding round the Guisborough Three Tops on September 6. Duddon and Bradda Niarbyl are the two designated ‘long-distance’ events.
The current top three in the men’s open championship standinsg, Rob Hope (Pudsey and Bramley), Simon Bailey (Mercia) and Tom Addison (Helm Hill Runers), are all entered for the event, as is Isle of Man champion Lloyd Taggart of the organising Manx Fell Runners who is currently joint seventh overall at the midway point in the series. Taggart, a former winner of the title, is fifth in the veteran over-40 standings and currently second in the over-45s.
Douglas postman Ian Gale is likely to feature promiently in the over-50s class.
Joint British Women’s Fell Running Champions, Vic Wilkinson (Bingley Harriers) and local woman Jackie Taggart (Eryri Harriers) are both entered for the women’s event. The latter is only just back to fitness from a training accident in early April when she suffered a broken ankle.
The vast majority of the runners taking part are visiting from the UK, but a number of locals are also entered as the event forms a round of the Callin Wild Manx Fell Running League.
Pete Bland Sports and inov-8 are sponsors of the English championship as a whole, while Martin Brunsschweiler of Bushy’s Brewery has been extremely supportive of this event.
He is offering free beer for all of the competitors in the Bay pub on Port Erin promenade after the event. A pub crawl quiz will commence from outside the pub at 6 o’clock on Saturday evening, meet Kylie before 6 at the Bay for instructions.
A mascot race will take place on the beach at 6.45pm, prior to the prize presentations at 7pm on the stage on the beach.
For more details about the event and the route log on to www.manxfellrunners.org
Full reports and pictures in next week’s Isle of Man Examiner and Manx Independent.