19/01/2010: Yorkshire white-out

2010 hardy got off on a good foot when the Yorkshire Cross-Country Championships, due to take place at Thornes Park, Wakefield, on the 9th, were postponed on the preceding Tuesday.  In fairness to the Yorkshire A.A.A Committee, they did exactly the right thing in calling the meeting off early and giving everybody plenty of notice, and as about six inches of snow had fallen that morning, and temperatures had then dropped to almost ten degrees below, it was most unlikely that things would suddenly improve.  The Scribe has been told that one major problem was parking; normally at Thornes the field behind the Indoor Centre is used for bigger events, and there was no way cars could have got on it (and even less that they could have been safely got off.)  In addition, sledging on part of the course had made it treacherously icy – and it would have been difficult, to say nothing of mean, to keep the kids off the slopes.  The event has been provisionally rearranged for February 20th at the same place – which with the National at Roundhay Park the following week is going to make the end of February a bit hectic!

16-17th January – Northern Indoor Championships, Sheffield

JAMES, JAKE AND ANTHONY STRIKE SHEFFIELD GOLD

It wasn’t a massive turn-out at the E.I.S. – eighteen members showed up over the two days – but statistics can be made to tell any number of stories, and a ‘strike-rate’ of one medal per two athletes looks pretty impressive.  Four Gold, three Silver and two Bronze is quite a good return, and add to it at least ten PBs and a hatful of near-misses to make the efforts of the eighteen bodies look really creditable.

Wins are the thing that attracts most attention.  One title is good going, but two and a runner-up is quite something, and it comes as no surprise that the name in question is Gardiner.  No, Not Dan – he gave this one a miss – but Jacob, whose two days covered a narrow miss-out in the Hurdles in spite of a cracking PB of 8.79, another but winning miss-out in the Long Jump, where he took the title but with 6.68 was an agonising centimetre down on his Best, and then was rounded off by getting both together in the Shot in which he added about a metre to his best with 14.40.  The other two wins came in the Senior events, and the opposition t the winners was very different.  James Heaton only faced one opponent in the High Jump, but that didn’t make his task any easier as the competition can become very intense and need focus; and as he had to go to 1.95 to edge out a determined challenge that’s what he had to find – and did so successfully.  By contrast Anthony Timms had to take on thirteen opponents and the famously unhelpful Sheffield runway, but in a tight contest he came out on top, if only by three centimetres (6.94).

Things were also tight for the two Silver medallists.  Matt Hudson started Saturday by using the 60m heats as a warm-up (7.16 – quite a warm-up!) before running a quick 8.15 Hurdles heat and then coming down to 8.03 – and still losing out by two hundredths.  Tom Mosley had three rounds of the 200 on Sunday, and got quicker by the round – 22.76 Heat, 22.45 Semi, and then two hundredths shy of his best in the Final with 22.28.  With the winner doing 21.88 he’d have had to fly to do better than Silver.

One of the two Bronzes came from the only female medallist, Alice Simpson, who was only 20cm down on her Best (also set indoors); in the same competition Jenny Lumley came out of hibernation to be within 20cm. of her PB with 10.66 in 6th. The other came as a nice touch – taken by three-hundredths of a centimetre after missing another one by three hundredths of a second, and getting PBs with both.  In fact Matt Campleman had quite a day, first lowering his PB in the Hurdles to 9.61 (only Matt Wagner and Jake G. have gone faster as Under-15s) and then breaking the five-metre target he’d earlier set himself with a hefty 5.090 improvement to take his medal; he also ran a handy 8.31 and added a 7.33 Shot to make a day of it.

The near-misses and PBs came in some profusion.  Kadena Cox had two good fifth places in the Under-20 sprints, with 8.04 for 60m on Saturday and 25.85 in the heats of the 200 on Sunday (her Final effort was only .05 sec. slower), though in the Seniors Naana Adusei (8.22 and 26.88) showed herself a bit short of sharpness – but it is only January!  Neither Melissa Fletcher nor Alyssia Carr made the Finals of their events, but both set new figures – Alyssia in the hurdles with 9.93 and Melissa in the sprint with 8.81; and it can’t be said too often that they’re up against girls up to 18 months older.  Alyssia was a bit flat be her standards in the long Jump (4.46), but a lot of people were at Sheffield; and while Hannah Ukandu also didn’t hit the heights there she put a very healthy half-metre or so on her best Shot (7.73).  Both Dan Brownbill (53.65) and Jack Mosley (53.28) essayed  their respective 400s, Jack reaching the Final but not being able to find the edge in it, and Connor Morley’s 8.95 with the  heavier Shot wasn’t a bad effort.   Finally, one Club record was actually equalled by the last finisher of four in the Triple Jump, Julien Gittens getting out to 11.89 to match last summer’s Over-45 mark – at 48 years and two months.  Anybody taking bets on twelve metres outdoors if the Old Gent can stay in one piece??

SEASONAL FIRSTS

Three of the Club’s younger girls were the first to make an impact on the 2010 scene.  On the second day of the year Gemma Keir and Nicola Sawyer were the first Club members in competitive action, in the Sheffield Open Cross-Country Meeting; they finished second and 8th respectively in the Under-13 Girls’ event.  The first PB and Ranking performance of the season took only another 48 hours to emerge, when Melissa Fletcher went across to the City of Manchester Open at Sport City and ran 10.48 for 60m Hurdles; for good measure she also equalled her PB of 8.88 over the same distance ‘on the flat.’

Only another week elapsed before the first Northern title of the year came the Club’s way, courtesy of Katy Marchant, who placed 4th in the Under-20 Pentathlon in the English Indoor Combined Events Championships at Sheffield on the 10th and won the concurrent Northern event with a PB (just – by 14 points) of 3354.  She got off to a roaring start with a Hurdles run (9.02) a mere four hundredths of a second off her best as an Under-20, followed that with an on-form High Jump (1.60) and another age-group PB in the Shot of 10.41, and rounded the afternoon off with a rousing 2.34.81 800 which was substantially faster then her previous outing at Kelvin Hall in December.  The only slight fly in the ointment came in the Long Jump, where 4.86 was a bit down for a regular five-plus performer last year; but as the Scribe has said before on numerous occasions, it’s a rare multi-event when everything goes right.

The only County Cross-Country Championship to escape the frozen holocaust was the Lancashire event at Blackburn, which is a good sign as the Northern Championships are at the same venue on the 23rd.  It also provided the first County medallist of the year, as Simon Deakin had an excellent run in the snow to finish second to the host club’s Ben Fish.  The Scribe reckons it was probably interesting going up Witton Park’s legendary Saucer, though.

The first representative honour of the year for a Club member went to Alan Buckley, who was selected to represent the North of England in an inter-area match held in combination with the U.K. Cross Challenge at Cardiff on the 16th – and a fair old shift he made of it too, finishing a good seventh only about a minute down on winner Andy Vernon. There was also very nearly the first Club record of the year on the 16th – Dave Webb missed his own mark for the half-marathon by a mere four seconds in winning the Helsby Half-Marathon in Cheshire.  As he was almost two minutes up on second-placed Neil Renault, and a long two minutes up on Ben Fish in third, it might be interesting to see what he’d do if he was pressed.