25/08/2009: Status maintained as team dig in…

22nd August – British Athletic League, Div. 2, Kingston-on-Thames

The objective, set out by Martin Horbury, was clear – beat Kingston & Poly on their own track to stay up, and if that proved impossible, beat one of the other London area clubs by two places, in order to stay up. As it turned out, the nineteen-strong team which turned out was within two points of beating promoted Blackheath & Bromley, and more than just rescued the Club’s National League season but ensured a considerably easier summer of travelling next year. From the statistician’s point of view it was a quiet match – only one new Ranking performance, and only a handful of season’s bests – but from leaving Leeds on Friday it was clear that “everybody was up for staying up,” in Martin’s words, and the job was done thoroughly, as the Results Page shows. Moreover, on a warm and mostly sunny day at Kingsmeadow the meeting ran smoothly, the only unfortunate incident was when an over-enthusiastic player in Kingstonian F.C.’s match in the next-door stadium put the ball over the (fairly low) stand and hit field Referee Margaret Nelson in the face, breaking her glasses. The Scribe trusts he was sent to apologise at least!

The early events were a bit of a mixed bag. While Deputy Assistant Team Manager’s Mate Mark Harrison and Sam Allan were chucking the Hammer at one end of the track the Vault and Long Jump were dividing the attention of Dan Gardiner at the other as he launched into his first two of five events. The division of attention didn’t seem to affect performance adversely, as Dan won the latter, with Anthony Timms taking the B event, and when the former ended three hours later was close to his PB, partnered by the youngest and perhaps the most dedicated team member in Mark Fuszard – well, how else would anyone describe somebody who lands at Heathrow on Friday morning from a Canadian holiday and is on the Club bus by 6.30 that night? Mark had two very close calls at 3.40 as well, which would have been a PB, so the effort was probably worth it. On the track Tom Lindsay, just hurdling on this occasion, had afresh partner in Matt Hudson, who doesn’t often do the longer ones these days; he seemed a bit cautious over the first five, but then went through to second like the proverbial dose.

The next two track events demonstrated that Cardiff had come with intent to take the title; two excellent 800s by Mike Salter and Ben Craddock were topped by Cardiff runners, and some very decent sprinting in time terms by Dan G. and Umar Hameed was made to look limited as Christian Malcolm powered to a flying victory in 10.59. Umar, however, looked a lot sharper than at Leeds three weeks earlier. Healthier points came out of the Steeplechase, where the only danger to James Wilkinson appeared to be from falling over his own feet while looking back to see where the opposition was; James Lavin, however, looked to be struggling a bit, and admitted afterwards that he “probably left his best form at Stretford on Tuesday night.” (See below.) Out in the Field Mark H., in spite of having tweaked both hamstrings running the Non-scoring 100 for the hell of it, was showing his recent Discus improvement wasn’t a one-off, while Matt Allison was starting on an afternoon’s work which would see him become only the fourth Leeds City athlete to score over 400 B.A.L. points.

The oscillation continued and the nerves still jangled for another hour or so, but gradually strong events saw the Club begin to consolidate its position. While Sam Lowrey and Ben C. battled manfully against quality fields, and Anthony T. risked wrist damage partnering Matt A. in a tough Shot competition, Nick Hooker ran his second gritty and unbending finish of the week in the 1500 and was most chuffed to hold off Scott Overall (who’s a bit quick over 5000 if you look at the Power of Plonk) and ‘Salty’ supported well with a brisk last lap. The quality of sprint fields was again evident in the 200, where Tom Mosley and Umar found themselves up against some big guns; but then the last three events turned the issue.

First, the collection of injuries formerly known as Matt Barton, the Keith Angus of Triple-jumping (for the benefit of younger readers, Keith, who ran for the old Sheffield A.C. in the 1970s, was reckoned never to run well unless he was complaining of three broken ankles and terminal gut-rot) pulled all the bits together yet again to beat a classy field by around half a metre; his partner, amazingly, was Dan G, who hadn’t tripled since he was an Under-17 (and he was peeved that he did further then!) Matt A. and Sam had meanwhile gone out to the Javelin (Matt passing up all his last three Shot efforts to concentrate on it) to produce their usual consistent effort and pull in a vital 24 points; while on the track Simon Deakin and James Smith attempted to control a good 5000 field, mostly from just behind the lead except when James took it up in the fourth kilometre, and almost managed it, Simon blaming lack of sharpness for being outkicked. The key point was that in all three of them Kingston, Harrow and Thames Valley dropped points; and it meant that a somewhat outclassed sprint relay squad (who nevertheless put in a battling effort) and a very scratch bunch of mainly middle-distance runners masquerading as a 4×400 team merely had to get round without dropping the stick to make sure of staying up.

So Leeds City stay half-way up the League – but next year’s Division 2 looks interesting. There area still three London area clubs in it (Herne Hill, Thames Valley and Harrow), and they’ll be joined by Crawley, which could mean a match south of London; but the two Welsh have gone (one up, one down), to be replaced by Notts. A.C., Derby and – Border Harriers! At last, after being denied last year, The Scribe gets the opportunity of a whole year of baiting Dave Farrell!!

MOUNTAIN-RUNNERS AND MARMOTS BEWARE!

Regular readers will be aware of the mountain-running exploits of Adam Osborne over the last couple of years, and will also be ware that in this particular speciality ‘Asbo’ is fast becoming one of Britain’s leading competitors. He confirmed that status last week by being selected for both the World Mountain Running Championships, to be held in Campodolocino, in northern Italy on September 6th, and for the European event held in a rather less exotic venue – Keswick – in the same month. He finished third in the trial for the World race, but was only in fact the Club’s second counter – Adam Grice won it, about thirty seconds in front. As these selections rate as full Great Britain internationals, The Scribe, on behalf of the Club, congratulates its pair of official GB mountain-goats.

WHILE THE REST OF THE WORLD WAS ON HOLIDAY

August is always a bit of a quiet month, with a lot of people away and team competitions mainly completed; but that doesn’t mean that Leeds City members are inactive. Some of them, even, find things to do in distant parts, while things go on nearer home as well. This is what The Scribe picked up in his surfings and from his informants.

The final West Yorkshire League meeting of the season, at Wakefield on the 9th, seemed to be particularly hit for numbers by holidaymakers, but that didn’t prevent a bit of fireworks as Alyssia Carr lowered the League record in the Under-13 Girls 70m Hurdles to 11.56 – which makes it a Club record as well. She also won the 80m flat in 10.70, and Caoimhe Crampton, who’d chased her in the Hurdles to a PB of 12.65, found herself in race 2 in a close finish with Molly Allinson – so close that both girls were given 11.51. India Wilson was just back from holiday, which might explain slightly slower than usual sprint times (13.50/27.69), but she scored highly with them.

On the male side of the house Tom Lindsay took on four events; if the fact that the Yorkshire Combined Events is upcoming has anything to do with it the combination of 11.95 100, 54.35 400, 7.73 Shot and 37.19 Javelin (one centimetre ahead of Matt Barton, who was out playing again) might indicate an interesting Senior Decathlon debut in September. Steve O’Neill had another bash at 1500 (4.15.36), and Israel Ajala (12.49) brought his 100 time down again. In the Under-17s Rob Torch had a tactical win over 1500 (4.37.29) and a spirited 400 (55.07), and Bradley Robinson (13.09 100, 1.45 High Jump and 4.75 Long Jump) was another going the rounds – a family trait, as in the Under-13s little brother Cameron also took on a treble (16.05 Hurdles, 3.70 Long Jump and 2.53.01 800). Liam Braithwaite ran his quickest Under-15 200 of the year (25.18), and in the same group Steven Eastwood had a comfortable win over 1500 (4.39.82) besides running the same 100 time as Liam (1`2.65) in separate races and Long-jumping 4.57, while Matt Campleman consolidated his Hurdling improvement (14.88) and put in a 4.29 Long Jump.

The same day saw quite a decent Club turn-out in the Askern 10-Mile Race, an event which seemed to be dominated by older runners, as the first Senior Man in the field finished 8th. On the other hand, when the first two were ex-internationals Andrew Pearson (now over 35) and Carl Thackeray (now over 45) it’s perhaps less surprising; nor is it surprising that while in 7th place (58.03) Sean Cotter took the Over-40 ‘pot’ there were a couple of older gents in front. The congregation of Vets meant that Trevor Clough in 48th place (64.59) was only 7th Over-50 and Julie Barley (137t, 75.44) was fourth among the Over-45 Ladies while the rest of the Club’s representation consisted of John Wood, who seems to be trying most things (80th, 68.45), Sarah Whitley, on a break from Teesside (149th, 76.24) and Chloe Ryall (215th, 85.29), who can usually be found where John is.

A further report has reached The Scribe of the Mountain Adventures of Adam Osborne, who on August 9th “raced at the IAAF Mountain Running Grand Prix at Ebensee in Austria. Clearly inspired by “a stint of altitude training in St Moritz,” he “finished third in this 11km race (on a) great course with 1000m of climbing, winding through the forest before hitting the steep ski pistes and finishing with a faster section on the mountain-top plateau – a real test. There were a couple of Kenyans away from the gun, one finishing a good 4 minutes ahead, whilst I overhauled the second on the steepest section of the course only for him to pull away again on the flat. Still, very pleased with this run, which was 1 ½ minutes faster than last year, when I was 7th.” Unfortunately on this occasion Adam didn’t have “a single animal-related anecdote relating to the race!”

It’s almost become a tradition that Darran Bilton takes home the Vets’ ‘pot’ from the York Millennium Bridge 5k, and on the 11th he was there again to do so, finishing second not far behind a Birchfield African and running 15.09; Aidan Adams, who Lives In They Parts these days, also showed up and was a clear 4th in 15.55. The race is run on a restricted course, so the organisers have had the sensible idea of running a second event for older and slower persons; the first description might apply to Alistair Davy, but the second is becoming less applicable as he took another Over-60 ‘pot’ in 5th place (21.50) . Also out in this race, wither being inspired by finishing the Hyde Park the previous week or by daughter Nicola’s 19th place (10.34) in the 2.5k short race for youngsters (up to 16, so 19th for a 13-year-old ain’t bad) was Mark Sawyer, who clocked a worthy 25.16 in 33rd place.

When four new Club records are set in the space of two hours, it usually means one of two things – a star has emerged, or one of the Veterans has reached a landmark birthday. On the 12th, in the first meeting in the Northern Veterans’ League ever staged as South Leeds, Hazel Barker went into her first competition since turning 50 and duly set four marks – 14.9 100, 1.35 High Jump, 9.44 with the ‘little’ (3k) Shot and 21.01 Javelin – which she reckons she’s “every intention of beating” before too long – injury permitting of course, and Hazel’s had her share and somebody else’s of those. She was somewhat disappointed with the Shot, but expects to improve after technical advice from Mark Gulliver, who himself did 11.42 and won the hammer with 46.17. Rather disappointingly, the only other Club member who turned out was John Lunn – and he was so busy organising the meeting (or some would say disorganising it – who else would manage to lose two of the field-event result cards??) that he “threw like a donkey” and only managed 5.77 and 16.13.

Injuries and illness taking some possible medal contenders out of the frame left Katy Marchant as the Club’s only participant in the English Under-17 & Under-15 Combined Events Championship on the 15th and 16th; and Katy’s probably still undecided about whether she had an excellent weekend or whether she’s as sick as the proverbial parrot. In one sense she certainly starred; it’s hard to argue with an overall Personal Best, two individual-event PBs and three other Season’s Bests out of seven events; but she lost the Under-17 Heptathlon by an agonising 59 points, and like Dan Gardiner in Novi Sad it all turned on one event being below par.

She certainly started out well, with one of the best first-days she’s ever put together, leading throughout and scoring 2800 points. Her Hurdles opener wasn’t quite up to her best (12.05), but was the fastest of the 18 starters, possibly indicating a headwind, but she followed it with a near half-metre improvement in the Shot (10.34), a right up to form 1.63 High Jump and a PB 200 of 27.32. However, she needed all of that; after such an excellent start her lead over her main challenger, Basingstoke’s Becky Curtis-Harris, was a mere nine points! (For comparison, Becky’s efforts were 12.31, 10.42, 1.54and 25.85.) However, the wheels came off in the Long Jump on Sunday morning; normally a reliable five-metre performer, Katy only managed to get out to 4.71, about half-way down the field, while Becky produced 5.36. nobody can say Katy didn’t rise to challenge the disappointment; she threw a season’s best 35.91 with her third Javelin effort to pull back a lot of the lost points (Becky’s mark was 28.36), and then put in another best of the year (2.31.81) over 800 – but with Becky just behind her in 2.32.02 it wasn’t quite enough.

It seemed to depend what people were doing in Cardiff on Saturday as to how well they went. None of the quartet who took part in the McCain U.K. Challenge Final events hit any real heights, the best-paced being Matt Barton with a 14.92 Triple Jump in 5th. Dan Gardiner (7.22) and Anthony Timms (7.20) were 7th and 8th in the very compressed eight-man Long Jump field (it was won with 7.65), and Rhys Smith (49.57) was well down on his early-season improvements. In contrast, in the B.M.C. Grand Prix races held at the same meeting, Nick Hooker produced his sixth or seventh middle-distance PB of the year, running 3.52.65for 1500m.

Saturday the 15th seemed like a good time for some people to go to Wales; Alyssia Carr went to the Wrexham Games and put in a couple of good times at what for Under-13 Girls are considered the ‘over-distance’ sprints. Her 13.2 100m heat and 27.64 200 Final times place her second on both Ranking Lists – but how come she (and all the other girls who qualified) ran so much slower in the 100m Final? A Welsh Whirlwind??

Two of Hazel Barker’s new Over-50 records lasted a mere four days, as she competed for the North in the Veterans’ Inter-Area Meeting at Solihull on Sunday and improved her High Jump to 1.40 and Shot to 9.86. She also threw a 19.77 Discus and (in her own words) “short-jumped 3.98. I’d like to believe that I’m going to improve considerably on these marks, but past experience has taught me that we disintegrate with age and what seems poor at the bottom of an age-group can begin to look respectable within very few months.”

There are usually a few PBs and the like coming out of the Trafford Grand Prix meetings, and this season’s penultimate effort on August 18th produced a couple; more to the point, they produced a couple of good races where the manner of performance was more important than the time. Nick Hooker, in one of the B.M.C. paced races, took the lead early in the last lap and resisted challenges all the way round the last 200 to win it in 1.54.74, a fractional advance but a splendid race. Later in the evening Lee Allsopp took his PB down a bit over the same distance (2.10.71). The other racing effort, in the 3000 at the start of the meeting, was one of contrasts; Will Plastow went off a bit quick chasing a good field, had a second-kilometre ‘wobble’ but came back strongly and just missed a PB (9.05.37) while James Lavin started more cautiously but then worked through on every lap to crack the nine-minute barrier for the first time – just! (8.59.77). Dale Worton (4.06.86) ran himself into the Under-20 ranking List, but Elliot Todd (4.11.38), Danny Davis (9.33.62) and Kadena Cox (26.23 200) were all a bit, but not much, ‘down’ on previous efforts. While all this running was going on, out in the field John Lunn was quietly (and if you believe that you’ll believe anything!) setting season’s bests with the Old Persons’ Hammer (19.53) and Shot (6.14).

A couple of Club records went down at the Tartan Games at Gateshead on August 22nd when Matt Hickling and Chris Maw went up to tackle the Wheelchair sprints, and tackled them with gusto. Though they were beaten by older athletes (age-group races are difficult to find in this aspect of athletics, due to lack of numbers), both set new PBs over both 100m and 400m, Matt achieving 19.21 and 67.52 and Chris, who’s two years younger, 20.35 and 81.76.

Alan Buckley hasn’t been too visible this summer – the Joys of Parenthood appear to have intervened – but he put in an appearance in the Burnsall 10-mile Road Race on August 22nd, and it proved a victorious one. He was involved in a fierce two-handed contest with Otley’s Ian Fisher, who according to reports received by the Scribe attempted to ‘burn off’ Alan with a fast pace, and probably paid for it on the incredibly nasty little up-and-down to Thorpe at about 7½ miles. The winning time of 52.47 seems a bit slow to anyone who hasn’t experienced what must be about the hardest ’10’ in the country; The Scribe, who has and ran a lot slower when he was fit, knows better. There was another Leeds City winner about six minutes behind – in 6th place (and a minute in front of the first Lady), Sean Cotter took the Over-40 prize.

Two days earlier ‘Scooter’ had been one of three Club members out in the eighth race of the Yorkshire Veterans’ Grand Prix Series races at Starbeck, near Harrogate, but on this occasion he was unsuccessful, finishing second two seconds behind arch-rival Richard Pattison in 30.30. He’s currently lying second in the overall positions, and while he’s not likely to catch the winner that place is unassailable. The other two finishers, both in the Over-55 section, were John Mace (56th, 39.02) and Peter Bates (69th, 40.27), who placed 4th and 7th in category; John is lying 5th overall, but having only scored in five races (the grand Prix is decided on each runner’s best seven placings in the ten races) and a couple of those ahead have a full seven in already, he could well finish up in the first three.