The tried and trusted formula is often the best. The essentials of the Jersey Half-Marathon have remained unchanged for many years. The course has been tweaked occasionally but only in detail. Long-running sponsors Modern Hotels remain happily on board as visiting runners boost their occupation rates over what would otherwise be a quiet weekend. The organisation has been taken on again by Mary McGrath and indeed, even during the nine years I organised it, she looked after several aspects of the race so there is great continuity.
Numbers were disappointing enough this year though, no doubt a lot of it due to the recession making a trip to Jersey a spend too far for many. Nevertheless, at the Metropole Hotel this year (the Mayfair is having work done) a few familiar faces were very much in evidence. Mary has made the decision to make everyone register over race weekend at race HQ and this is an excellent move on several levels. A pity I didn’t think about it in the course of nine years – I’d have saved time and postage and it would have given the hotel the race buzz it had this year. Mary has an excellent team around her and the whole thing went as smoothly as it could possibly have done.
Having watched the start (including a startled runner strolling in the main gates as the race started on the track up ahead and dropping his bag and heading for the start line with a ‘f*ckin’ hell’) I was stationed at Green Island, about a mile from the finish. Christine Ritchie did a great job as Chief Marshal, managing to fill many positions around the coast road that I used to struggle to fill. It was a nice spot and a little cheering group gathered which I know is always appreciated by the runners. A lovely lady brought me a cup of tea which was the nicest touch, and I had a good chat with the chap who owns Rocqueberg Cottage next door. First runner past me was two-time winner Peter Norris and he held his substantial lead for the last mile. The lady seeming most likely to become the island’s no.1 runner is Katie Thompson, but today 39 year-old Claire Forbes refused to bow to the younger runner’s pressure and held a slim lead to the line. We had a nice early finish as the last runner came by in just over 2:30.
So well done everybody involved. This race works very well indeed and it doesn’t clog up the roads too much, annoying the Sunday drivers.
I am cross with the BBC. Last week was the great digital switchover for Jersey. It ought not to have affected me as I’ve no wish to own a TV. I get along very happily listening to the sport on Radio 5Live. However I can only pick up that station when the local BBC station chooses to switch to it, usually at 7pm in the evenings and a bit earlier at weekends. So what do the BBC do? As all the TV owners can now get 5Live via the telly they’ve decided to stay with their local radio output virtually full time. (I don’t recall any advance warning of this.) Now local radio has a place but much of it is banal and I don’t want to miss a live Premier football match and listen to a school band or something instead. So it’s cost me £500 for a decent laptop plus broadband connection so I can stream radio and TV. Oh, and there are ‘no present plans’ to introduce digital radio in Jersey, though I’m sure they have it by now in the jungles of Borneo! Grrr.
One thing I’m really looking forward to listening to over the next couple of months is the Ashes series. Strange to relate England seem to be heading into the First Test as favourites despite being stuffed 5-0 a couple of years ago. It appears England have themselves a nicely balanced side whilst Australia have just not been able to fill the voids left by their stars. For the first time in memory the Aussie popular press is being slow to shower the Poms with contempt. Instead their poison pens are poised to slate their own team if things go against them. The Aussies are merciless when opponents show signs of weakness and no pity is shown to the vanquished. On the other hand they will applaud, albeit grudgingly, any team that hangs tough and gets the better of their heroes. Maybe this is one time an England team will stand up and show a bit of backbone when crunch time comes, as it surely will.
Listening to TMS (the legendary Test Match Special for the uninitiated) will of course be during the night. I recall a little cartoon years ago when England were involved in a tight match Down Under. Man in bed listening intently to cricket through an earpiece. Angry wife in curlers glaring at him. ‘If you shout ‘owzat! one more time you’re out!’
No you haven’t stumbled into the wrong blog but I can’t let Birmingham’s 1-0 win over champions Chelsea go unmentioned. Somehow the (original) Blues are managing to hold their own in the Premiership by chiselling out points without having a clue how to score more than the occasional goal.
(Oh by the way, no miles this week, I took the week off. Start again on Tuesday and see how we go.)