Friedrich's islandwide suffering proves a small price to pay

RICHARD FRIEDRICH is the latest Guernsey Marathon champion – and it was so nearly a family double.

That Rosie Williams ran a one-hour personal best to deny Friedrich’s wife, Ulrike Maisch, the women’s honours testified to her remarkable improvements of late.

Add to that the very respectable numbers of runners and supporters on course and distance.gg’s revived marathon had quite the healthy buzz about it.

Yet unsurprisingly, the 26.2-miler was not all bright and positive – with volatile weather, including heavy rain and a brief hailstorm, and a stiff finishing headwind testing the resolve of runners even more.

Friedrich nevertheless won in 2hr 41min. 54sec. and Williams posted 3hr 13min. 26sec. as both strode into Guernsey Athletics Club’s all-time lists for the distance.

In the case of Friedrich, now a family man and not able to commit the training hours of his 2011 Munich Marathon winning heyday, he had an improved challenger of his own.

If anyone could bring the upset – and the glycogen-depleting marathon distance carries plenty of those – it was Nick Mann.

Mann was right on Friedrich as runners left the Castle Emplacement start area and ascended the gruelling Le Val des Terres.

They were still pushing each other as they dropped onto the west coast and breezed towards the 10-mile marker, the wind now on their backs and boosting their prospects of a time in the low 2-40s.

However, Friedrich’s buoyancy of manner and stride suggested that he had more to give.

That was confirmed when he surged clear at Chouet, circa 18 miles in, and left Mann to soldier on solo.

Friedrich’s winning run saw him enter Guernsey Athletics Club’s all-time rankings at 16th.

‘It was a great outing – when you race along the roads you train, it makes it a lot easier,’ he said.

‘I think I’ve suffered in every corner of this island now on hard training sessions.

‘You know every little bit and you can stretch it on – “This is where I did mile reps in February” – you think “I can push myself harder”, and there were loads of people along the course supporting.

‘If you win the race, it’s a good day. At the halfway mark, I was thinking we could still go sub 2-40, but I realised it wasn’t going to happen in the later stages.’

Mann was rightly pleased after running 2-45-55 to improve his PB by nearly 2min. and climb to 24th on the Sarnian all-time list.

‘The course is tough anyway, but when you add in a force six wind and a hailstorm just when you’re starting to suffer, you’ve just got to be happy with that, haven’t you?’ he said.

Veteran Graham Merfield had practically confirmed the last podium spot with his break at 10 miles, and he came home in just under 2-55, rather impressive for his advanced years.

Ryan Martel and Carl Blewett sealed off the top five.

Not too far back arrived Williams, the runaway top woman on the day and now Guernsey’s ninth fastest of all time.

Past European champion Maisch had Williams in her sights through the early stages, but the previously injured runner had lost touch well before the halfway mark at Vazon, by which time the gap was circa 2min.

A strong finish saw Maisch close just under 90sec. back, but it was very much Williams’ race to celebrate.

‘I’m over the moon – like so ecstatic – it’s exactly the time I wanted and I knew it was going to be tough going, but I absolutely loved it,’ she said.

‘I slowed down at the end, and I tried to use the tailwind when I could.

‘I always go out quite hard and try to hold on, and I think it paid off today – if I do another marathon, I might try to pace it a bit better, but I can’t complain with it really.

‘The course was better than I expected and Le Val des Terres is fine, as you just get it out the way, and the support was amazing.

‘It makes such a difference, and having people all along the way – and having “Ingy” [coach Paul Ingrouille] all the way along the road – gave me such a lift. Really pleased.’

Mann’s partner, marathon enthusiast Vicky Carre, was the third woman over the line.

Meanwhile, The Four Non Gingers – Warwick Helps, Tom Shaw, Chris Gillman, James Priest and Rich Hann – won the five-man relay in just under 2-37.

Tri Hards – triathletes Chris Norman and Dave Mosley – won the two-person version.

Nix Petit, Summer Woodhead, Vanessa King (nee Rodrigues), Laura Quayle and Mel Nicolle just missed the 3hr mark in sharing female honours.

Full results to follow

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