Church to Church Walk (Guernsey)
4 September 2016
The 80th edition of this annual race saw several Centurions take part. Regulars, Ed Shilabeer and Sean Pender (with Colin Bradley officiating) were joined by Centurions Captain, Kathy Crilley.
Very well organised by Sarnia Walking Club - this is a pretty tough race. Hills.. I know some dispute my definition of a hill, but this has hills. Some steep and others, not so steep. But for me - they are hills.
The course is actually very well marked on the road with painted direction arrows. Any walker (or runner) visiting the island can easily follow the route from St Peter Port ( near the bus terminal) or indeed from any point of the course, all the way round this 19.4 mile course.
The weekend started off with a warm up race of 3k at Vale. Not everyone had arrived on the island but it was a very friendly race with Centurions Sean and Colin officiating.
Sam Fletcher (Manx H) secured victory in the Guernsey Church to Church Walk at the weekend.
Sam, from Manx Harriers, completed the 19.4-mile course in 3 hours 7 minutes 45 seconds to take the win becoming only the second male Manx winner of the event after Michael George in 2010 and 2012. Many other Manx walkers have contested the race in the past, including Vinny Lynch, Jock Waddington and Steve Partington. Marie Jackson secured the ladies title in 2010 and 2011.
From the official Sarnia WC write up report: Sarnia website for full report and results
Manx Harriers race walker Sam Fletcher shot into the lead shortly after 15 miles and held on to it, to get himself into the record books of an event celebrating its 80th birthday.
Local walkers Stuart and Jason Le Noury made the pace up the hills of Cornet Street and Les vardes in the early stages of the walk, closely tracked by Sam. Past winner Jim Ball was taking the early stages at an easy pace and found himself well down on the leaders.
Olga Le Noury, the Sarnia WC champion and Marie Macdonald, last years womens winner were together at this point with neither laying claim to be the favourite to win.
Moving on to the 5 miles point, the leading four were all within 36 seconds of each other led by Stuart Le Noury in 49.20. Sam Fletcher followed 14 seconds behind, with Jim Ball having made his customary effort to close the gap once he reached the flatter sections of St Martins a further 9 behind. Olga Le Noury had opened up a gap on her main challenger Marie Macdonald as she passed the 5 miles in 59 minutes with a minutes lead.
At Les Vauxbelets, the 10 miles point, Stuart Le Noury had increased his lead to almost a minute, going through in 96 minutes 20 seconds. Jim Ball continued his surge in second place but only just ahead of Sam Fletcher. Fourth man Jason Le Noury was still in contention less than a minute behind the third man.
Moving on towards Vale Church to the 15 miles point, the Le Noury brothers both went through bad patches as Jim Ball kept the pressure on at the front of the field. Surprising himself at keeping going for so long on his limited training he still led at 15 miles in 2.25.13 with Sam Fletcher only 9 seconds down. Both Le Nourys were struggling now with times of 2.26.53 for Stuart and 2.30.52 for Jason.
Looking easy over the closing miles Fletcher crossed the line in 3 hours 07 minutes and 45 seconds to become the second male Manx winner of the event after Michael George in 2010 and 2012. Jim Ball finished five minutes behind for second place with first local Stuart Le Noury in third in 3.18.09, faster than his winning effort the year before to once again secure the Victory Cup as first local to finish. Fourth place went to Jason Le Noury three minutes behind.
Coventry's Godivas Glyn Jones took fifth place in 3.22.18 with a new personal best time. Past winner Ed Shillabeer held of fellow visitor Sean Pender for 6th place, closely followed by local Phil Lockwood.
Reversing last years positions, Olga Le Noury was first woman home in 3.54.13 to take the Star Trophy and a big personal best time by over four minutes, six minutes head of Marie Macdonald who only just failed to beat the four hours mark this time, but considering her injury problems of late was a satisfactory result.
Stalwart Kevin Le Noury clocked up 41 finishes in the walk. Close after Kevin was newcomer and local woman Donna Allan who claimed third place in the womens section.
Regular visitor David Hoben from Surrey WC, bringing along Kathy Crilley for her first Church to Church strode home ahead of locals Peter Beckerleg and John Dedman. Kathy Crilley, only a week after competing in a 24 hours walk in Belgium, completed Guernseys shorter 19.4 miles in 4.05.21 to smash the womens age best time previously set at 4.31.44 by Hilda Nyman. At the back of the field Kay Coulson walked to another new best time of 4.18.17, a well deserved result after her recent training.
A special mention for Mick Le Sauvage who is trying to reach a total of 50 finishes. After a gap of a few years he completed his 48th last year, but retired in his 49th at the 15 miles at Sandy Hook.
If you have never been to Guernsey for the Church to Church - go and take part. It is a fantastic race and everyone is welcome and very well suported along the route!