No hard slog for Manning at Slug

Denmead Striders ace Julian Manning Picture: Mick Young
Denmead Striders ace Julian Manning Picture: Mick Young
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Julian Manning ran away with the 2013 Stansted Slug title.

The Denmead Striders runner claimed victory in the picturesque grounds of Stansted House in an impressive time of 50min 47sec.

That was nearly four minutes faster than nearest rival, Andy Wheeler, from Petersfield Triathlon Club, who crossed the finish line in 54.38.

And close to six minutes quicker than third-placed Phil Guest, from host club Portsmouth Joggers, who completed the 8.5mile off-road course in 56.41.

That effort was enough to seal the veteran men’s title for Guest – ahead of club-mate Phil Hoy (58.53).

Meanwhile, the top woman home was another Portsmouth Jogger, Rachel Clay, who overcame the testing conditions in 1.02.20.

That time was over a minute quicker than the unattached Kim Nelson (1.03.53), who won the veteran ladies’ event.

But there was no doubting what the performance of the day was, with the experienced Manning delighted to get another victory under his belt.

‘It was fun, a bit muddy in places but really enjoyable,’ said Manning, who came third in the Solent Half Marathon the previous weekend.

‘It seemed quite close at the start, but when we got into the hills and it got a bit muddier, it opened up a bit.

‘There was a 100m gap after the first mile or two, but I just kept pushing myself and opened up the distance even more.

‘I was okay running from the front – I just kept pushing myself and it wasn’t too difficult.

‘I’m happy with my time but it’s hard to measure against a road race because of the hills and mud and all the rest of it, but I’m pretty pleased.

‘It’s good to win again.’

The Slug race replaced the Portsmouth Joggers-run Denmead 10k, which is traditionally held the week before the Great South Run.

It, however, had to be cancelled this year due to traffic concerns – but was swiftly replaced by the Stansted event by organisers, who were keen to keep their spot in the local athletics calendar.

Race director, Gill Ripiner, said the decision was the right one, with nothing but positive feedback from the 100-plus field.

‘I’m very happy how things went,’ said Ripiner.

‘We’ve had very good feedback, I’m really pleased.

‘Everyone loved their medals, too, so I’ve had no negative comments.

‘Even one guy who fell over and couldn’t finish the race was saying how lovely it was.

‘He was annoyed that he got injured because of how lovely it was.

‘And the weather was kind, too, after the morning’s storm.

‘It was wet out there, and muddy in parts, but it’s an off-road run and that’s what you expect that.’

She added: ‘We used to do the Stansted Slog and the Slug as one event.

‘But this is the first time we’ve had the Slug as an individual race, taking over from the Denmead 10k because it was too dangerous.

‘It may be back but we’re still looking for an on-road run.

‘But if we don’t do that, perhaps we’ll stay with this one.

‘It’s was a brilliant day.’