The Needles Half Marathon course

Newnham's Needles Victory

Chris threads his way to success in Isle of Wight Running Festival finale...

The Isle of Wight Festival of Running Needles XC Half Marathon is one of the toughest events on the calendar – so says former participant Alan Newman, who brings us this report. Lung-busting hills are the abiding memory and Alan's quads are aching just reliving the experience while typing the story!

The biggest draw of the IoW Festival of Running weekend is the Needles Half, which follows a spectacular trail along the coast from Colwell Bay to Totland Bay, over heathland at Headon Warren to The Needles. Runners then traverse the notoriously rugged Tennyson Down to the Tennyson Monument before descending to Freshwater Bay and across Afton Marsh to the finish.

Many competitors 'warmed up' with either the Freshwater 5K or the Tapnell 10K on Saturday (10 June) – or both, as the start times are cunningly arranged to tempt you to double – before starting the Needles Half on tired legs on Sunday morning (11 June).

This year's Needles XC Half Marathon champion was Chris Newnham in 1:21:33, proudly wearing race #1 on his red Ryde Harriers vest. Local knowledge can be a significant advantage on this course but is no substitute for strength, stamina, and athletic ability. Joe Driscoll (Winchester AC, 1:29:02) and Tom Woods (Littledown Harriers, 1:32:13) could do little more than admire from afar as the islander built and maintained a huge lead.

W40 Amy Chambers (unattached, 1:49:12) was involved in a much closer battle for the women's title, which she won with a two-minute cushion from Becky Fowler (Strideout, 1:51:04) and W40 Hayley Baxter (Isle of Wight Road Runners, 1:53:49).

The top 75 finished within two hours on a hot and humid day. There were 284 finishers in 3:41:04 on gun times. Social media comments praised the marshalls for their support in the torrid conditions.

As for the 'warm-up' races the day before – both were won by Ross Wilkes (Isle of Wight Road Runners) in 17:43 and 39:43 respectively. W40 Lizzie Faulkner (23:09) and W40 Natasha Colebrook (53:19) took the women's honours in the Freshwater 5K and Tapnell 10K.

For results of all events visit runABC South results page here.

Photo: Needles XC Half Marathon website

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