Manning’s a muddy marvel in Plod win

Julian Manning sets the pace at the Meon Valley Plod
Julian Manning sets the pace at the Meon Valley Plod
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Julian Manning lifted the 2011 Meon Valley Plod crown as the race underlined its status as a gruelling muddy rites-of-passage race.

The Portsmouth Joggers-organised event returned for its 14th year on Sunday and again proved to be a hugely-respected and popular draw.

The race is rightly regarded as one of most toughest on the calendar with this 20-mile circuit taking in the daunting hills of the Meon Valley.

And Denmead Striders’ Julian Manning was the first to successfully negotiate the course this year and take the title.

Regular winner and Striders team-mate Nick Baker was beaten to the crown as Manning finished in a time of 2 hours 21 minutes 02 seconds.

Baker crossed the line with an effort of 2.23.40, with Adam Stirk third in 2.23.59.

First Portsmouth Jogger home was Martin Bacon in eleventh in a time of 2.28.43.

Emma Taylor-Gooby lifted the women’s title, with the Midhurst Milers runner taking the honours in 2.49.49.

Next woman home was Serpentine Running Club’s Tanya Shaw (2.55.14), with Jackie Viana third (3.02.22).

The race’s reputation among runners continues to grow with entries received from all over the country as well as on the continent.

The testing nature of the event makes completing the course a huge success for those who achieve it.

Race entries are restricted to 400 each year – and there were 354 who completed the course this time around.

Race secretary Sharon Bryan said: ‘It was a brilliant day and good fun – although it is definitely brutal!

‘It’s a hugely-punishing course. People either look pained or break into a huge smile when they cross the line.

‘There’s no doubt that people love it, though.

‘They are always coming back for more. We have a lot of repeat entries.

‘The views around the course are absolutely stunning and the whole atmosphere of the race is so great.

‘Last year the mud was horrendous but it was probably just as tough this year.

‘Nick Baker wins the race year-on-year but that didn’t turn out to be the case this time.

‘It was a great day for everyone who was involved.’

The Meon Valley Plod will look to consolidate its position by moving forward.

That will ensure the Rosemary Foundation, which the race supports, continues to benefit.

Bryan said: ‘We are limited to 400 entries, so the race fills up early.

‘Because we get a lot of repeat entries and people think well of the race, people need to get in early for it.’