With the whole Covid thing putting a stop to local rugby, it was time for Jersey Reds Head Coach, Myles Landick to decide to make the most of the free time for the team; a means of keeping the team together in the down time and there was an opportunity to use that time to give back in some way.
Thinking hats went on and Jersey Seafari skipper and owner Richard Stevens (also an Athletic player) did some calculations and proposed that, on a big spring tide, there was possibly enough time to squeeze in a marathon on Les Minquiers sandbanks. The 28th February was selected, with one of the biggest tides of the year , it would give the team four and a half ours to complete the run. But the sand would be sinking, soft and wet. This would be no simple task! Here’s an overview of what went on….
Words | Stef Stevens / Jersey Seafaris Photography Marc Le Cornu / Bam Perspectives
This was never going to be a typical marathon. For a start, the course is under the water the majority of the time. The plan was to start as soon as possible and jump onto the available sand, however small the island and start running….in ever increasing circles. It was decided the best option was to run it as a relay – Over 25’s vs Under 25’s. Two teams of five runners would complete a marathon distance (26.2 miles / 42.2 km) in competition with one another to finish before the tide. Both teams had begun their training on various beaches around Jersey – the softer the sand the better. Each runner would have to run a total of 5.25 miles / 8.8km each to complete. >>
CHOSEN CHARITY – FOJO
Friends Of Jersey Oncology (FOJO) was chosen as the fund-raising event’s beneficary; a fantastic Jersey charity that is close to the hearts of many, including players in the team. The funds raised will help provide additional care, comfort and support for patients and their loved ones during their treatment. A cancer diagnosis can have a huge impact on patients, their families and caregivers. A target of £5000 was set. (As we went to print with Gallery, this had topped £8000 already. You can still donate by searching ‘jersey reds’ on ‘Just Giving’.)
Sunday 28th February was surprisingly good weather for mid winter. Very sunny, but a tad windy NE F5/6 – not ideal Seafari conditions for the Minquiers – but the boys had raised too much money to let a little cold salt spray stop them… It was GO TIME!
The ‘Over 25’ team; Richard Stevens, Tommy Turner, Nathan Rogers, Rupert Lee & Tim Corson were on their chosen vessel, Seafari Harrier with Rich doubling up his running with skipper duties, with cabin-boy Josh Chamier by his side. They were also joined by Marc Le Cornu from Bam Perspective (thanks for all the incredible shots) and Big Stu Crawford who, as well as being the designated first aider, specialised in logistics and morale boosting. Tom Wilson, Jersey Reds Athletic’s very own Cambridge Graduate, completed the team and was put in charge of timing and officiating. He was armed with a white board, various watches, a razor sharp brain and some incredible home cooked sausage rolls – we were in safe hands.
The ‘Under 25’ team; Dom Mayo, Rowan Milne, Chris Voss, Arthur Preget and Mark Boarer were transported on The Seafari Raptor with Seafari skippers Martin and Patch. They were joined by Mark and Daniel from 3 CI Sport and Jersey Reds TV who were going to capture some video content of the day (thanks for your efforts guys) Completing the crew was, of course, Jersey Reds Athletic Head Coach, Mylo; Chief Fundraiser, all-round legend and best marathon-watcher of his age. El Presidente Cliff Chipperfield took the last spot with the all important post-race beers.
After a blustery, somewhat damp trip down, the boats and teams arrived at the Minquiers at 10.45am to no sign of sand. Rupert, aka ‘Guns’n’Chest’ was, however, warming up & ready on the ‘Overs’ boat, with a well practiced routine of tricep dips and press ups. At 11.00am on the dot, with the first grain of sand in view, he was off – the race had started. Meanwhile, on Raptor, the ‘Unders’ first runner, Arthur (with typical French flair) was not fussed and started in his own time, a few minutes later.
It was clear the plan to run a couple of 4.5km stints each was off the cards after a couple of minutes when ‘Guns’ was left with hand on hips, passing the mantle on to Tommy T. The sand was very wet, and worryingly soft. The tide retreated and, as the course got bigger, both teams settled into a rhythm and the wetter, firmer sand seemed the best option. After about 10km it seemed that both teams were on track to complete the distance before the tide raced back in. Both teams went for an unusual tactic of about a 1km run, followed by 25 mins of beach games and Wilson’s sausage rolls before they were running again. Around the half way mark, Wilson had managed to be ‘Rain Man’ and worked out that both teams were due to finish within a minute of each other – cue competitive attitudes. The pace quickened as a harder patch of sand around 1km long on the north end of the bank was found – the boys were flying.
In the end the younger legs prevailed, even with Boarer managing to pause the GPS watch and running an extra km. They finished in 3 hrs 30 minutes, 5 minutes later Athletic Captain Tim Corson crossed the finish line for the ‘Overs’. The most Southerly marathon in the British Isles was completed (twice). There was time for a few celebratory beers, before potentially the wettest Seafari return from the Minquiers in history. Job done and some fantastic money raised for Friends of Jersey Oncology. Well done & thank you to all involved.
Donate to the cause by searching ‘jerseyreds justgiving’