Manx star Reid loving his Covid-forced island stay

A THIRD senior British champion has joined the Footes Lane arena to create a dazzling speed-endurance scene outstripping anything the ‘mainland’ can currently offer.

The British indoor 800m champion Joe Reid is very thankful for the chance to train in Guernsey and with a quality group.
(Picture By Peter Frankland, 28878994)
The British indoor 800m champion Joe Reid is very thankful for the chance to train in Guernsey and with a quality group. (Picture By Peter Frankland, 28878994)

The new addition also turns out to be a past Island Games gold medallist and possibly a major rival in the future.

Guernsey’s Cam and Ala Chalmers need precious little introduction, boasting indoor 400m and outdoor 400m hurdles titles respectively, but Isle of Man athlete and 2019 indoor 800m champion Joe Reid adds even more prestige to their elite training group.

Reid has travelled over for some quality training in Guernsey’s almost Covid-free environment and the boys were soon joined by past English Schools 400m champion Ben Claridge.

The Manx star is just over a month into his stay – which will likely be until Christmas at least – and is loving it so far.

‘It’s been brilliant so far and it’s the ideal set-up for winter,’ Reid said.

‘You’ve got two and two – me and Ben doing 800s and Cam and Ala obviously 400 and 400 hurdles, so it’s a really nice blend.’

Claridge is stepping up to that distance and Reid backs his potential.

‘Ben’s a pretty ideal training partner and I have Cam and Ala as well for the shorter stuff – like you could see on the grass [training], Cam’s pretty handy over the longer stuff too. It’s perfect.’

The quartet would have ordinarily been training in Cardiff under the watchful eye of Olympian Matt Elias.

Reid is the longest-standing figure of that group and at 24, he is in his sixth year with Elias.

Yet the impracticalities of staying in Cardiff during lockdown led to him going back home and, later, ending up desperate to find quality training partners.

‘I’d known Cam especially for a long time just through racing each other over the 400 and we’d done a couple of relays together and represented the Great Britain juniors together.

‘By chance, last year, these three ended up in Cardiff.

‘When lockdown happened, we said: “What’s the best way we’ll be able to get a group of us together again?” and it turned out it was me and Ben coming here to join these two. For the quality of the training we were going to get, I thought it was a pretty small sacrifice.’

Elias continues to coach them remotely and organise Zoom calls and the big hope now is that the quartet can compete indoors later this winter.

Yet the coming months are rife with uncertainty and Reid has yet to put an expiration date on his time in Guernsey, despite initially expecting a Christmas return.

‘With the Isle of Man air bridge getting cancelled and no word on that yet if it will resume, and the UK going into lockdown, I’m open to whatever will happen at the minute.

‘I’ll do whatever’s best for my athletics, to be honest,’ added an athlete who is currently supported by IOM Sport Aid but admits he will have to assess other financial options if he stays past December.

‘In the absolute dream scenario, there’ll be races indoors, both in the UK and in Europe. I’d go to the British Champs, win that or at least win a medal, and hopefully go to one of the major championships, whether that be European indoors or World indoors. Obviously, we’re yet to see whether that will go ahead.’

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