The Ryde Harriers Easter Races have a great tradition, dating back to the first Newport to Ryde road race, which was almost certainly held in 1932 shortly after the Club was re-formed in the summer of 1931. In the 70’s and 80’s it attracted some notable elite runners from the mainland clubs, and not just those geographically close to the Isle of Wight. By the turn of the millennium, fewer runners made the trip and even Island runners found the prospect of racing on traffic-filled roads less and less appealing, so in 2011 the decision was made to change to a Multi-terrain race taking in some of the less frequented paths between the two towns (some runners still don’t really know where they are at some points!).
This year Easter was late, and the weather took a very sudden turn from the bitter cold of the previous weekend to the sort of temperatures we expect on a hot summer’s day. Many runners found themselves in considerable difficulty as a result, and were forced to slow drastically in consequence. At the mid-way water station, many took the opportunity to stop altogether for a time and start again slowly and reluctantly (I know – I was there!).
In spite of this, 136 completed the course – fewer than last year, but still a good field. The winner was Matt Sharp of Team Spy, in spite of losing his way once (or was it twice?). He must have been going at a fair old lick to miss the arrows and other markers, and he certainly had to run hard to close down the big gap opened up by Gary Marshall who was in the lead at halfway. Gary held on for second, only 10 seconds behind, with Glenn Hughes from the famous Serpentine Running Club another 10 seconds back in third. Charlie Metcalfe (Ryde Harriers) won the Women’s race from Natasha Shields (another Serpentine runner).
(Photo courtesy of Sasha Levrier)
Much better conditions greeted the runners in the Three Hills race on Monday – a cool breeze and occasional cloud cover were much appreciated. The first 3 Hills race was organised in 1981 and (allegedly) won by current Ryde Harriers Chairman Andy Leal (then a nipper of 20). The course had been designed by his father, the legendary Eddie, who maintained it was 7 miles in length. When I took a surveyor’s wheel round 20 years later, I found it to be as near 8 miles as made no difference, thus justifying the many sceptical comments that had been made every year!
Over the years the Start and Finish points have been changed, but we have always taken care to keep the distance at 8 miles. A few years ago we by-passed the Alum Bay grockle trap by going through Warren Farm (with the kind permission of Mr. And Mrs. Osman) and after last year’s emergency route alteration, this year we settled on a course which we believe can be used for the foreseeable future.
The race was won by Sam Metcalf (IoW. A.C.) who notched up his third consecutive victory, notably being still a Junior runner the previous two years. Nina Martin (Basingstoke & Mid-Hants A.C.) was first woman home, while further back the amazing Megan Eggeling established a W75 record for the course of 1.28.46. Not to be outdone, the honour of the old men was upheld by Mick Anglim (Hardley Runners) who set a new M70 record of 1.06.41, finishing 48th overall out of 151 finishers. This is also thought to be the highest ever number of finishers in this race.
All times can be found on the Results page.