BAC stalwarts Ian Graham and Dave Parsons have missed their annual trip to Guernsey for the Easter Race Festival in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, however, they have kept in touch with their contacts on the Island and when they heard that there were some races and parkrun in Guernsey over the August Bank Holiday weekend, there was only one thing to do. So, they went for it.
With a 5k road race on the Thursday evening on a flat point to point course from the west coast with the promise of the south west prevailing wind blowing to help them and the parkrun on the Saturday morning, the hotel was booked, travel arrangements made. There was the added bonus of the chance to run a 10 miler on part of the South Coast cliff path later in the weekend as well.
Dave and Ian were joined as usual by Poole Runners Geoff Scott, another veteran of races in Guernsey and Dave’s wife Sue in her usual capacity of ‘bag lady’ – well someone has to keep them in order!
Even the challenge of battling with setting up Guernsey Travel Tracker accounts as required under covid regulations failed to deter them. With the 5k being point to point there was the slight issue of where to park the hire car. In the end, they took the advice of one of Guernsey’s local athletes and parked a mile from the finish. That way, Sue was able to walk to the finish and Ian, Dave and Geoff could walk/jog to the start.
Using the walk (note not jog) as a warm up, they duly arrived at the start, collected their numbers and had the chance to catch up with some old friends including Lisa Evans who had joined them as part of their cross-country relay team in 2019.
All three of our intrepid Dorset trio were unsure as to how they would fare as they had all had issues leading up to the trip and were far from at their best. Also, disappointingly, although typically, there was a strong north easterly headwind which would prevent the times from being spectacular.
The runners were called to the start and suddenly, there was a shout of ‘go’ and off the field went. Caught a bit by surprise, both Dave and Ian shot off, in Dave’s case rather too optimistically, but soon it all settled down and Ian disappeared into the distance.
After about a mile, Geoff caught Dave up and moved 15 yards or so ahead and there he stayed for the remainder of the race, despite Dave’s hope that Geoff might slow down near the end.
Ian ran rather well and finished in a very satisfactory time of 26:11 for 80th place and first over 70.
Geoff ran a very even paced race and came home in 99th place in 29:03 for 3rd over 70. He was followed by a fast finishing old friend from Guernsey, Alun Williams, with Dave 101st in a time of 29:21 and 4th over 70.
All three were pleased with their efforts and it is fair to say that they all ran quicker than they expected. The race was unsurprisingly dominated by Guernsey athletes and was won by Will Bodkin in 15:24 with Alex Rowe just four seconds behind in second.
On the Saturday morning, they all had to skip breakfast at the hotel and headed off to Pembroke Bay for the parkrun. Lisa was there again as was JP Mace an old Guernsey rival and a few other familiar faces. A short warm up on the course showed that this was not going to be one for fast times.
They subsequently discovered that it is ranked in the top 10 most difficult parkrun courses in the UK, being very narrow and twisty in places with quite a lot of rabbit holes. Part of it is the same as the ‘Stonecrusher’ course used for the Easter cross country relay so it was at least familiar to them.
Geoff took the honours this time, finishing 100th (out of 181) in 30:34; Dave was 109th in 31:29 and both were more than happy with that. Ian decided that he wasn’t going to push it on such a course so just ‘enjoyed’ jogging round in 34:56 for 146th place.
For many years, Ian has wanted to go to Vale Church for Morning Service but hasn’t been able to as there is always a morning race at Easter. With no race on this occasion, he was able to go for the first time. Dave and Geoff accepted an invite to meet up with ‘JP’s Runners’ a group run by JP Mace, who was mentioned earlier.
It seemed like a good opportunity to meet up with others and perhaps run a 5 miler in unfamiliar surroundings. So, they made their way to Port Soif and duly met up with the group. They set off only to find that the course chosen took them back past their hotel and a little further on very familiar territory before turning around and heading back the same way.
It was still a lovely run and they met some very friendly fellow runners who made them feel most welcome. Most of the group then went for a swim in the Bay, (Sue had already beaten them to it) followed by coffee and cake in the garden of the local kiosk.
Dave and Geoff declined the swim (the sea being much too cold for such delicate creatures) but did partake in the refreshments. It was the birthday of one of the lady runners and a magnificent cake was produced. The group has a Facebook page so Dave now has a new group to follow!
The rest of the weekend was spent in a much more leisurely fashion including a trip around St Peter Port on the land train which included a commentary giving some of the history of the town. Some light training early mornings were undertaken and the weather was absolutely superb – certainly a lot warmer than when they are usually there at Easter.
Oh, what about the 10 mile cliff path race? Sadly, or rather fortuitously, they missed the closing date for entries. They were assured that if they turned up, they would be allowed to run but didn’t want to take advantage of such generous hospitality. In truth, having done a short walk on the narrow, undulating cliff path one afternoon, this was a very wise decision.
Thus, another chapter in Guernsey concluded. Old friendships rekindled and new friends made and a steely determination to be back again at Easter 2022 for another bash at the Easter Festival bringing the challenge of four races in four days. If they’re spared in the meantime!!