2013 Round the Island Race Report

ROUND THE ISLAND RUNNING RACE 2013 REPORT   Sponsored by Estuary Life and Blackwater Estates   There was a record entry of 327 runners for this event, which was held on Sunday 30th June.  A combination of glorious weather, publicity from “Runners World” magazine and Radio Essex generated a large crowd of spectators, especially along Victoria Esplanade as runners approached the finish, which in turn produced a fantastic atmosphere.   The runners lined up on the beach in front of the 2 Sugars Café,  and in accordance with tradition the race was started at 10.30 a.m. by West Mersea’s Mayor, Peter Clements MBE.  Although it remained hot throughout the event, there was a reasonable breeze which the competitors found most welcome.   The route for this historic all-terrain race, which was first held in 1919, was in a clockwise direction around the island, and runners followed the beach as far as Monkey Steps where they were directed up the steps and along the path by St Peters Well, then out onto Coast Road.   Runners then continued past The Hard and Dabchicks Sailing Club and onto the sea wall path, which they followed as far as the fishing lake on Colchester Road.   It was in the lay-by here where the first drink station was located.  At this point everyone was still going strong and the water was used mainly as a coolant rather than a drink!  After a short piece of road work between Colchester Road and East Mersea Road they were directed back onto the coast path for the next stage of the run.   Around the northern part of the Island the runners had to contend with long grass, stiles and uneven paths. At Mersea Stone, the most easterly point, there was another drink station before they came to Cudmore Grove, where they had to drop down onto the beach once more.  Back up onto the coast path at Coopers Beach:  by this time the majority of runners were ready to take advantage of the final drink station situated at the west end of Coopers Beach.  They then stayed on the path to the Youth Camp, where they were directed back down onto the beach for the final section – the dreaded sand!  For the runners this was without doubt the worst section of the race.  By this time not only had they run circa. 9 miles of the 12.2 mile course, but running on a soft surface sapped their energy whilst at the same time they felt as if they were being pushed back by the wind.  (As runners discussed times and experiences at the end of the race it seemed they were united in their comments that contending with the sand in the last sector was the worst part of the race, and one competitor was overheard to say it was far worse than running in the London Marathon!)   At Seaview corner they were directed onto the spectator lined Victoria Esplanade, where they were clapped and cheered all the way to the finish in Willoughby Avenue Car Park. Here the 287 runners who completed the race were presented with their medals.   Trophies were presented by Mayor Peter Clements MBE as follows:   “First male” – Scott Richardson of Tunbridge Wells Harriers, who recorded a time of 1:21:42 (2 minutes slower than last year).  Carwyn Jones was second in 1:26:30 and Lewis Patching of Springfield Striders third in 1:26:41.

(Scott’s time was particularly noteworthy as not only was he some 5 minutes ahead of the chasing pack at the finish after leading the race all the way from Monkey Steps, but he had completed a 50 mile cycle race on the previous day!)     Local honour was upheld by Laura Shewbridge of Colchester Harriers who was the “1st female” in a time of 1:32:47.  Second was Andrea Collitt in 1:40:18 and third Jane Nodder of Mornington Chasers in 1:40.29       The first “Over 45” male was the aptly named Neil Swift who also came home 5th overall in a time of 1:27:0, and the 1st female “Over 45” was Sue Aves who completed the course in 1:46.07

The “Team” trophies were presented to Stowmarket (Male) and Colchester (Female)   Special congratulations must go to 83 year old George Woods, who this year completed the course in 3 hours 7 mins.   Recorded 2013 times were all slightly slower than previous years, mainly attributable to the unusually hot weather which made for difficult running conditions.

Race organisers were Mersea Island Lions who, with the dedicated help of some 45 volunteers, raised a massive £2,400 from this event.  This will be distributed to mainly local charities.  MI Lions are extremely grateful to race sponsors, Estuary Life and Blackwater Estates.  Also Mayor Peter Clements MBE, St Johns Ambulance Service, Geoff and Ann Pearce for the loan of their summer house for “Race Control”, Mersea Town Council and Colchester Borough Council for the exclusive use of Willoughby Avenue car park, and also to the 45 volunteer helpers whose invaluable help was needed to run this event.