Isle of Wight Challenge

Running 66 miles. It’s a long way…. it’s a flipping long way! It’s incomprehensible for 99.9% of the populous. It’s no flat 66 miles either. It’s unrelentling undulation, on footpaths mostly. It’s hard. Very hard. But for ultra specialist Ian Russell , it was nothing new. Having run it 2 years ago he knew what he was facing.  

In it’s 6th year, this Ultra test of endurance takes the 1700 competitors around the coastal path of our beautiful Island. You can run, jog or walk up and down some total 1747m (5731ft) of elevation, (just as a comparison for you Ben Nevis is 1345m). The course is divided into quarters, each taking competitors from one further most tip of our sunny diamond to the next, each with a aid station offering drinks, food and general support. 

Starting at Chale, Ian started out meaning business. The first section takes in the dramatic coastline along Compton, Freshwater and Tennyson to Nodewell Farm. It’s the hilliest section of the course with over 528m of elevation within the 13 mile distance, but for off road specialist Ian, it proved no real challenge especially on his fresh “Tigger” legs. He set out in the top 10, and gradually picked off a few runners

The next quarter saw him work his way along the longest quarter from The Needles past Yarmouth Castle, Hampstead Farm, Cranmore, Porchfield, Thorness, Gurnard and along the seafront to Northwood House. 

“I got to the marathon distance in under 5 hours so I knew I was quicker than 2 years ago”

Halfway and the aid station at Northwood House. His family were there for a quick kiss and a hug. He had a 10 minute rest, a cup of tea and was off on his way again with another 33 miles to go, only to get held up by narrowly missing the Floating Bridge, (Yes! It was running!! MIRACLE)

The 3rd leg saw the most tarmac, as Ian made his way along the main roads from East Cowes to Ryde. Ian felt good along this stretch, despite having now run over 40 miles. He was in 6th position now and he continued to push on. Another quick hug with his wife in Ryde, continued this burst of energy all the way past the 50 mile point. His positive mental state paying dividends as he got to the half century mark a whopping 28 mins quicker than ever before. Onward he went, concentrating on his every step until he made it to the 3/4 point at Culver Down. 

“I couldn’t wait to get there. I knew my good friends Tarnia and Dan were there waiting for me. They were running the last 15 miles with me and I wanted to give them the best I could”

One more hug with his son Roman gave him a real boost as he set out with buddies. He was in 4th place now, but he knew that the guys in 5th and 6th weren’t too far behind. 

At around 60 miles Ian started to feel tired. He suffered a nose bleed as his body was telling him he was pushing it to its limits. It’s really tough terrain through parts of that area, (The Landslip at Luccombe), which can really drain tired legs. But Ian could not afford to slow down. He didn’t want to give up his 4th place to he kept on pushing.

Harry Rann joined the crew at Ventnor

“That was cool. Running with friends always helps”

The last few miles were testing, the hills of Blackgang are brutal at any time, but after such continued effort they are excruciating. But determined to hang on to his position Ian somehow managed to pull out a 9 minute mile followed by an 8 minute mile to come in under 12 hours! 

“I had to let him go on!” said Tarnia “I’d only done 15 miles and even I couldn’t keep up with him! He was awesome!”

He crossed the line with his son, maintaining his 4th position in 11.55.10…. what a legend!