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International flavour for Isle of Man Marathon 22 July 2005

    Athletes will be travelling from various parts of Europe, as well as the Far East, to take part in next month’s Isle of Man Marathon run over country roads in the north of the Island.

    Confirmed entries include Martin Kennard from Hong Kong and Hans-Dieter Schuetz (Germany), together with Abel Ordas and Christian Leguet from France. Another definite starter is wheelchair athlete Jerry Forde from Blarney in County Cork who holds the wheelchair record for the course.

    The event, sponsored by Close Private Bank and supported by the Isle of Man Department of Tourism and Leisure, also includes a half marathon and organiser Christine Bathgate expects around 220 runners – and walkers – to face the starter on Sunday August 14th. The split between local and off-Island athletes is roughly 50-50.

    Mrs Bathgate co-ordinates the efforts of the team which runs the event on behalf of the Isle of Man Veteran Athletes’ Club. She is in her second year in this role, a position she took up after stepping down after five years as club secretary. However, she had helped with the marathon organisation for some time before that.

    Said Mrs Bathgate: ‘The number of thank you letters we receive from competitors after the race is testimony to its popularity. People who have travelled extensively to take part in marathons write to us saying how much they have enjoyed it.

    ‘They obviously have wide experience of other countries and races but many tell us this is the best they have ever done, from the point of view of the friendliness, the best value for money and the excellent organisation. Everybody says what a really good day out it is.’

    Recent years have seen an increasing number of walkers taking part in the half marathon. There is not a walking race as such because of the need to provide style judges and monitors, but walkers are encouraged to join in. Explains Mrs Bathgate: ‘This side has built up quite a lot because it is a good staging post for people who have done the 85 mile Parish Walk and wish to maintain their fitness.

    ‘There is also the End to End Walk coming up in September and it is good training for that. In addition, many people may have read about, or watched, the Parish and decide they are going to it next year. For them, our half marathon is a very good way to start.’

    Entries are taken on the day for the marathon and half marathon, the only stipulation being that runners taking part in the Isle of Man Closed Championship – where residential qualifications apply – have to enter by the end of July. This is staged as part of the overall event.

    The whole day is based around Ramsey Football Stadium at Ballacloan which opens its clubhouse to the runners and officials and which represents the official start and finish of the race. It is also the venue for the afternoon’s prize presentation with awards on offer for numerous age group categories.

    Tourism Minister, David Cretney, who has himself completed the London Marathon, said: ‘Marathons are renowned for their friendliness and camaraderie which exists between the runners and officials, but we think the Isle of Man Marathon is a bit special. With the growth in popularity of marathon running this is an event which can expand even further in the years ahead.’

    Further details about the Isle of Man Marathon can be found on its website at www.woodheights.freeserve.co.uk. The Onchan based company, Travel Services (Isle of Man) have put together a travel and accommodation package and can be contacted on 01624 661177.

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