A top-five finish – twice – for Guernsey at Southern Road Relays

MEGAN CHAPPLE shone individually with the third quickest women’s leg of the day as Guernsey’s male and female relay squads both logged fifth-place finishes at Crystal Palace.

Saturday’s Southern Six/Four Stage Road Relays also featured an exceptionally close contest for fastest Guernseyman, with James Priest edging Steve Dawes by one second in a reversal of the previous weekend’s Butterfield Half Marathon positions.

But overall it was very much a team event, being the island’s first outing at the prestigious relays since 2019 – which was the year after their historic women’s title.

Against diminished fields of 14 teams apiece, due to an unprecedented clash with the Aldershot Road Relays, the men recorded their highest finish yet and a completely new-look women’s quartet also showed potential.

Priest and Dawes received a solid backing from four UK-based representatives in the men’s race, consisting of 6x5.9km over a fairly hilly course.

Firstly, Richard Bartram passed over in seventh with a great early marker of 18-48.

That hot start faded slightly, with the baton hanging in eighth after Sam Lesley and Sammy Galpin had run.

Priest then clocked 18-38 in what would remain the fastest Guernsey time – yet, surprisingly, he did not gain any positions.

Dawes’ similarly strong run brought the team up to sixth, allowing anchorman Alex Rowe to overtake South London Harriers and plant them in fifth overall.

Guernsey also presented a B team led out by Dan Galpin, who produced a sub-20min. run to hand off 11th. Toby Mann, Danny Blake, Simon Ingrouille, Ben Foote and Mikey Ingrouille carried through the team to 12th.

The women’s team, starting with two domestic regulars and finishing with London-based athletes, got progressively faster and higher up the field with each 4.8km leg.

A newcomer to island representation, Caroline Barby handed off 11th, after which Nix Petit elevated them to ninth.

Emma Etheredge made up three places on her leg for the Guernsey women's squad. (Picture by Mark Shearman, 31303424)

Emma Etheredge ran 18-13 to pick off three more runners, setting up triathlon star Chapple to fly home in 17-10. Only Cambridge’s Holly Dixon (16-57) and Sabrina Sinha (17-06) topped that time.

Chapple was unfortunate to only gain one position, sprinting in 1sec. behind the South London Harriers anchor.

Team manager Paul Ingrouille highlighted the women’s performance, particularly given that the whole squad had changed since their golden year in 2018.

‘For some of them, it’s the first time they have ever run this type of event,’ he said.

‘They were always in the mix for the top half-dozen places and I must pick out Megan’s superb run, as she was within seconds of some high-class runners, for example Holly Dixon, who has run a low-16min. 5k this year.’

He also praised the men’s performance and added: ‘Many of them are between seasons, but they have not lost much of their summer form.

‘The race opened out quite quickly and we were looking like we were many minutes behind the podium places, but in the end we just finished a minute off third, with solid runs produced by all team members.’

He is now sorting out whether Guernsey will attend the National Road Relays, which take place in Birmingham on Saturday week.

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