Weston and Williams take the honours on home soil
HOME favourite Rick Weston romped in as a convincing winner of the Sure Guernsey Marathon on Sunday.
Racing 26.2 miles is a considerable challenge at the best of times, not least when it starts with a slog up Le Val des Terres and features a constant, stiff headwind along the west coast from Portelet to L’Ancresse.
But none of that seemed to faze the adopted Guernseyman, who looked remarkably fresh after completing the South Esplanade-based loop in a personal best of 2hrs 35min. 50sec. That was just 35sec. outside Will Bodkin’s course record.
His main rival, reigning champion Dessie Burke from Ireland, was among the victims on a tough outing.
The returning Burke put in a bold front-run to lead Weston for most of the first half.
His lead was fading fast approaching the halfway marker at Vazon, though, and Weston created an immediate gap after an emphatic overtake.
They passed halfway on either side of the 1-19 mark, but Burke’s race was largely run – he retired at Albecq.
The home favourite only got stronger from there, delivering a negative split to finish almost 20min. clear of runner-up Clint King.
‘I pretty much stuck to the game plan, took it easy up the first hill and just relaxed into a pace really,’ Weston said.
‘I took the lead at halfway and yeah, felt really good the whole way round – quite enjoyed it.’
Although the wind direction was more favourable when Bodkin set the course record 18 months prior, Weston was not looking for excuses.
‘It’s always windy, so I don’t think I can blame that,’ he added.
‘I’m really pleased with my time. It’s a tough course, so I’m delighted with it – course record or not.’
Burke’s retirement had elevated King into second and he maintained that to repeat his previous year’s position, posting 2-55-35.
The previous Guernsey Ultra champion defended a bridging effort by Jamie Ingrouille, who dropped out in the final five miles after struggling with nausea and fuel depletion.
That additional retirement left former Muratti footballer Gavin Le Page and rally racer Will Rutherford duelling for the final podium place.
Le Page got the edge in 2-57-32, while Rutherford clocked 2-58-00.
Rosie Williams faced no such rivalry in the women’s race – but the circumstances made it a significant personal triumph.
The 2020 winner had suffered a nasty leg accident 10 days before the autumn 2021 edition, which she supported fresh out of hospital and on crutches.
She targeted the Guernsey Marathon as a comeback race – and, after being unable to regain strength before 2022, she suffered a fractured wrist and several illnesses in the build-up to 2023.
After committing fully two days before, she came through the first half on pace to challenge Vicky Carre’s course record of 3-10-10.
Williams suffered cramp and had to stop several times to be sick in the second half, but she still broke the tape in 3-25-23.
Stockport super-veteran Linden Hiscock followed in 3-29-32 as Victoria Symes completed the women’s podium, another 2-30 behind.
‘I’m so relieved and grateful to have been able to complete it given everything that’s happened over the last 19 months, and obviously it’s always nice to win on home soil in a race which means so much to me,’ the winner said.
Williams testified to the tough nature of the route but also credited the ‘special’ support from friends, family and others throughout.
‘The support from everyone was just amazing – along the front I was really touched by cars winding down their windows and cheering, which was at a point that I really wanted to stop.
‘I was so lucky to have the leader’s motorbike with me the whole way and honestly I don’t think I would have got through it without him. He was so supportive and kept making sure I was OK, particularly when I wasn’t well, so that type of thing really makes all the difference.’
Similarly, Weston praised the support heaped throughout the route.
‘It’s got a good, local, low-key feel to it, which I really like,’ he said.
‘Lots of people out on the course. Different to a big city marathon but quite nice, because you can actually pick out individual shouts.
‘It’s not just a wall of noise. It’s quite nice to be able to look people in the eye and say thanks as you went past them.’