I've probably left it a bit late to be posting this now, but for those of you interested, the HSBC Securities Open Meeting is taking place at the NSC perimeter road tomorrow. The event attracts a quality field not just from the IoM but further afield too, especially Ireland, whose entrants have produced some fine performances in years gone by.
Entries have now closed but if you fancy a sneak peek at the action then the events are taking place pretty much all day tomorrow. The first is at 10am (the 1 mile) and then the distances increase, with the 20k at 12 noon and finally the half marathon at 2.30. Watching the racing might not be your cup of tea but the organisers have issued an invitation for lap scorers, marshals and tea-makers so if you fancy any of that, have a look at the homepage of www.manxathletics.com for all the relevant info.
From a walking perspective there are 5 events: 20k, 10k, 5k, 3k and a 1 mile event - the latter two being the preserve of the juniors. There is a good entry for each event though and I'm sure it will be a good day for all concerned.
From my limited knowledge of him, it seems that the 20k favourite might well be Ireland's Michael Doyle. From memory he was second in this year's Peel to Douglas walk and has I think contested this event before as well, so on paper is the man to beat for me. The field for the 20k, although small, is however very strong indeed and I expect Michael George and Peter Kaneen in particular to lead the local charge. Michael George just seems to be getting better and better of late, having posted some very quick times in the 10k winter league events this season including (I believe) what was his first sub-50 minute time early on in the championships, which was followed up by an even faster one at Andreas about 3 weeks ago around the 48 minute mark. 20k is a different kettle of fish but still a relatively short distance compared to many of the local events. I think Michael also set a personal best over the 50k distance sometime last year, so perhaps 20k will be the perfect middle ground for him.
It's good to see Peter Kaneen taking part and hopefully we'll see him on the start line in June as well. In my opinion he could potentially challenge Sean Hands' incredible Parish record, but I'm not sure whether Peter has been injured over the last few months as he has not contested a great deal of the local walking events. He is however very quick and technically brilliant so there could be fireworks at the sharp end of the field tomorrow.
I'm also expecting Mark Hempsall, Chris Cale and Andy Green to go very well. I'm sure they are all training hard at the moment and at this time of the year, these sorts of events can only be beneficial for honing technique and getting mileage in the legs for June. The Open walk is an important event in its own right though, so I think all three will be challenging hard tomorrow in search of a top 3 place or even better. None of them really need any introduction - Andy Green has a very relaxed, easy-on-the-eye style and has produced some excellent walks over the last 12 months, notably in my mind the End to End last year when he reached Peel in 4 hours 9 minutes. Must be the green trainers. Chris Cale and Mark Hempsall have been consistent performers over the winter too, and I think it will be very hard to split them come the end of the race. I'll be interested to have a look at the results to see how Vinny Lynch gets on - he is getting futher and further in the Parish every year and always goes well in the winter league.
The 10k event is looking very tasty as well, with Sean Hands, Jock Waddington and Dave Mackey all lining up, as does Bethany Clague who incredibly (or perhaps not so incredibly, given what she is capable of) is also entered for the half marathon in the afternoon. It is too close to call between Sean, Jock and Dave so I am going to bomb out and sit on the fence. It should be a cracking race though because you can virtually go all guns blazing from start to finish in a 10k race and I expect that to happen tomorrow.
Over the 5k distance I expect Sinead Kaneen to be fastest - one of the brightest young athletes on the Island at present. Adam Cowin and James Green have both entered winter league events and set very impressive times too, so I hope they get a decent race in as well.
I'm afraid what little knowledge and research skills I do possess does not extend into the 3k and mile classes except for the odd name here and there...but if it's dry tomorrow then I am sure everyone will enjoy themselves.
Hopefully there will be Manx Radio coverage (even if it's a bit sparse) so I can keep half an ear on the radio - if nothing else so I can hear how my close friend and fellow student Ben Lambden gets on in the half marathon. Ben has entered many events in the last few months and is home specially from Uni for the weekend - all the best mate.