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20th anniversary celebrations for Grand Prix of Running 10 February 2006

    The Island’s Grand Prix of Running celebrates its 20th anniversary in August with the organisers announcing plans to make it an even bigger and better event.

    A new race has been added and a major marketing drive launched, aimed at encouraging more visiting athletes to take part. Secretary Enid Watson explained: ‘We usually have around 100 visiting competitors but feel it has tremendous potential and with the support of the Department of Tourism we have embarked on a major promotional exercise.

    ‘Clubs throughout the UK have been e-mailed and the organisers of the Isle of Man Marathon, which is run over a course in the north of the Island, are including details of the Grand Prix in their literature. In this way over 800 organisations and individuals are being informed of the programme.

    ‘Last year the marathon received entries from all over the world including Italy, Norway and New Zealand. Some of them said had they known of our event they would have stayed over a little longer to take in a few of the races as the Grand Prix gets underway the day after the marathon and half marathon.

    ‘In 2005 we had three competitors from the Scottish Island of Barra and we are hoping that this time there might be even more of an international flavour.’

    Four Isle of Man athletics clubs join forces to stage the different events – this year Northern has joined in as well. August 14th sees the first official event of the week, although the previous day’s marathon and half marathon also count towards the overall points total.

    The Grand Prix itself starts with a four mile hill race at Peel where the competitors have to make their way up to Corrin’s Folly and back. A 5km walk is also on the schedule for that day.

    The scene switches to another part of the Island on the 16th with the 10km Great South Run and this is followed the next day by another 10km race – the Anna Marie Cutillo event – over a course in the Foxdale area. This also incorporates a 10km walk.

    Friday sees the final fixture, a four mile run and 5km walk. Shortly afterwards the prize presentation for the week’s events takes place in Ramsey Football Club’s Ballacloan Stadium. Last year, the prize presentation was carried out by comedian and actor Norman Wisdom who has also agreed to perform a similar task this time round if he is on the Island.

    Even after the Grand Prix has finished the action is still not over. An ultra long distance race walking event takes centre stage on August 19th and 20th when competitors bid to join the Centurion Club by completing 100 miles in under 24 hours.

    Tourist Minister David Cretney said: ‘There will be a feast of athletics in the Island between August 13th and 20th and we hope many of our visiting competitors will make a week of it by staying on to watch the 100 miles event as well. This will be quite an occasion.

    ‘The organisers of the Grand Prix are to be applauded for their efforts in trying to increase its profile. The Easter Athletics Festival and the Grand Prix of Running are established parts of our athletics calendar and it is nice to see them not only surviving but expanding.’

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