Guernsey Press

Woodhead proves the best after the move out west

ETHAN WOODHEAD has ticked off his first senior road race victory.

Ethan Woodhead strides over the line with a notable victory. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 32999390)

The Guernsey Athletics road series started in turbulent fashion, with Sunday’s planned Saumarez Park course becoming unusable due to flooding and a windswept L’Eree to Vazon 5km taking its place at the 11th hour.

Woodhead proved unshakeable on race day, though, as he ran from the front of a 111-finisher field against generally unfavourable winds to win in 16min. 36sec.

U20 Jack Rees followed right on the 17min. mark after holding him to around 2km in.

Both had overcome an experienced chasing pack where Dave Emery (17-10), veteran Matt Jamieson (17-11), Mike Wilesmith (17-14) and Chris Gillman (17-19) filled the next four positions.

That pack contained a couple of returning stars. Emery and Wilesmith are past Island Games runners who were most prolific around 2016, when they contributed heavily to the Guernsey men’s first team gold at the Hampshire Cross-Country Championships.

For Woodhead, a relative newcomer, his ambitions currently lie over considerably longer distances.

‘I’m putting a lot of training in at the moment, and getting the win gives me the confidence that it’s starting to pay off,’ he said.

‘I’m working hard to get a good time in the Guernsey Marathon and aiming for a podium spot, with a new personal best maybe on the cards. That’s the goal.’

His marathon best is 2-40-39 from a stunning run under warm conditions in Jersey last year. As for Sunday’s time?

‘I was hoping to get a slightly quicker time but the wind conditions made it very difficult.

‘Other than the wind, it was a very nice course and nicer than Saumarez Park.’

After landing her maiden FNB Cross-Country League title earlier this month, Nix Petit continued her reign over the current senior women’s scene.

With no immediate challenge from the other women, she ran a well-measured race and finished strongly to land just outside the 18min. barrier – 18-04. It did not beat her track highs of last season but represented a 39sec. road PB.

Veteran rival Ulrike Maisch followed in 18-30, while behind the leading duo came a welcome show of strength from up-and-coming female runners.

That included first-year U15 Grace King securing third spot.

The recent U13 Hampshire cross-country champion made an impressive transition to the roads in clocking 19-25, a time that puts her in the all-time top 20 for Guernsey women.

Also charging into minor places on the women’s all-time rankings were Lindsay Sword and Hannah Kennedy, both of whom cracked 20min. for the first time.

Sword came home in 19-50 as Kennedy, an U20 athlete, squeezed under the prominent barrier with a 19-59.

Maisch is currently runner-up in the age-graded competition behind V60 man Graham Merfield, who finished 1sec. ahead.