Alastair Chalmers more than lived up to his headline billing with an astounding performance over 300m hurdles at Footes Lane. Chalmers rarely shys away from disclosing his time goals ahead of races, and had told ITV Channel Islands that we was looking to post a time in the 35sec range, thus putting him in the top 5 of all time nationally.
The weather played ball too and Chalmers took full advantage, executing what appeared to be a near perfect race to stop the clock at 35.36sec, which was then corrected to 35.35. This time puts him above 70’s great Alan Pascoe and behind only former 300H world record holder Chris Rawlinson, 1968 Olympic Champion David Hemery and 2000 & 2004 Olympian Matt Douglas.
Behind the expected victor, Sam Wallbridge held off Peter Curtis in an exciting race for second place, posting a 37.93 to Curtis’ 37.97. All-time great Dale Garland clocked 40.00sec.
Sarah Mercier had demonstrated she was in good form during the ‘virtual’ phase of racing. However the past few weeks hadn’t been entirely plain sailing with a niggling ankle issue preventing her training to full capacity. Her coach Lee Merrien had appeared quietly confident during the week that she would be able to go relatively close to her 6-year-old Island record which was set at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow – however even he must have been pleasantly surprised to see her dip inside this with 16:29.58 to take over a second off her previous mark.
Mercier’s run certainly ranks as one of the best female performances by a Guernsey athlete. Only former hurdler Kylie Robilliard can lay claim to a level of performance that clearly superior to a 5,000m under 16:30, with her consistency in the 13-mid-to-high seconds over 100m hurdles.
One other woman who has shown potential to ultimately match Mercier’s calibre of performances in recent weeks is 200m specialist Abi Galpin. The 19-year-old posted a 24.57 over that distance last time out but was denied a PB and Island record due to wind assistance of 2.6m/s. This time she, like Chalmers, had a crack at the 300m distance…minus the hurdles in her case. Sophie Porter set the Island record indoors in winning the U17 national title in 2017 – an outstanding age group achievement. Galpin hasn’t ventured beyond 200m competitively too often – only twice in fact – but she clearly was confident to try the 300m distance following her strong start to the season. She ran a controlled middle section of the race and came home strong to stop the clock at 39.87sec.
Behind Galpin, there were impressive performances by U15 girls Isabelle Lowe and Tilly Beddow who both clocked 43sec.
Alex Rowe predictably won the 1500m but looked superb in doing so – going close to his PB with 4:00.85 after Will Bodkin led the early stages. 800m specialist Kate Bain ran an encouraging PB of 4:57.73 despite an extremely tough year with various growth-related injuries.
On the male side, the 5,000m saw German-born Richard Friedrich post an Island Games A Standard with 15:37.31 ahead of James Priest’s PB of 15:49.83. Mike Wilesmith made it three men under 16min, and it would surely have been four, had Will Bodkin not had the 1500m in his legs.
U17 Summer Woodhead stopped 5 laps early in the 5000m to clock a 3000m PB of 10:42.33.
The 400m was arguably the most fascinating race of the day. Sam Wallbridge had already undertaken the 300m hurdles, but still had enough (just about) to hold on in the final 50m despite the lactic acid starting to take hold. Chris Bain was expected to push him close but couldn’t quite get in contact, clocking 51.18 to Wallbridge’s 50.77. 15-year-ol Gian-Luca Robilliard again performed well as he clocked 52.64 on his 400m debut – running Island Games 4x400m squad member Joe Yeaman close for third place.
The 100m was affected by an illegal tailwind but saw plenty of youngsters showing promise. At the front, U15 Tim Apsion posted a fast 11.91 ahead of Vicky Mann’s 12.75 (+2.9m/s). Mann had been the unfortunate victim of a timing technical issue earlier in the programme as she and Galpin were denied a time in the women’s race held at the start of the meet.
Alastair Chalmers’ father Chris won the supporting 300m hurdles race in 47.11 ahead of Island Games 100m hurdles champion Rhiannon Dowinton and U17 Vicky Hancock.
In the field, Jonny Guille showed his competitiveness with a final round leap of 5.87m. Tim Apsion also produced his best on his last jump, impressively flying out to 5.66m. Triple jumper Sofia Mella was the best of the female jumpers with 4.61m.
James Bougourd was in action in the discus and hammer, throwing a PB of 31.88m in the former. The javelin specialist has been dabbling in hammer more regularly in recent months, but came up just over half a metre short of his PB with 37.84m. U17 Beth Powell was the only female in action, she too PB’ed in the discus with 16.54 and threw 16.22 in the hammer.