23/03/2010: Wilko for the world…

As a result of the U.K. Trial race at Birmingham (see below) James Wilkinson has been selected to represent Great Britain in the World Cross-Country Championships in Poland.  The Club has had representatives in the World Championships before, but as far as The Scribe can recall James’ achievement is unique in Club history; not only has he been selected at the first attempt, but as a result of his first-ever race as a Senior!  Clubnews takes the greatest pleasure in conveying to James the congratulations of everybody in Leeds City A.C., and expressing best wishes for a successful effort in the Championship.

(In order not to detract from the Club’s pleasure and satisfaction at James’ selection The Scribe forbears to comment on other aspects of U.K.A.’s selection policy.)

21st March – Northern 12-Stage & 6-Stage Relay Championships, Manchester

RACING EXCELLENT, VENUE LESS SO

The observant will note a word missing from the heading – road!  The Scribe had considerable doubts about the course on offer when he heard that the venue was to be Wythenshawe Park, and even more when he saw the course map; and his worst fears were justified when he arrived.  For a start, he recognised a significant part of the route as being on the Manchester University cross-country course he ran on in his youth, and he wasn’t surprised to find that fully a third of the ‘road’ was actually unsurfaced and at best packed gravel; it was just as well the rain kept off or there might have been serious complaints.  Now that it’s unsafe to hold this event on open roads a big park is the only option; but frankly, Wythenshawe isn’t big enough, and hasn’t enough tarmac surface, to fit one in.  Moreover, two or three 180-degree turns per lap isn’t a great idea.  However, the racing overcame the shortcomings, and Leeds City overcame them as well as anybody; the below-strength Women’s team battled their way to a fine 8th place, the B team once again qualified for Sutton Park, and the A team won almost as decisively as at Stockport.  As has become customary, each team gets its own report.

Men’s A Team – 1st, 3.50.17

YOUNG LIONS SET UP GLORY RUN FOR THEIR ELDERS

On Tuesday night Arthur Cockcroft was heard to describe the advertised team as “a funny old collection,” and on Sunday he admitted he doubted their ability to win.  With no less than seven potential first-teamers not available for one reason or another there was some substance in Arthur’s concerns; and yet be the end of Sunday afternoon there was almost a feeling of embarrassment as the assembled dozen came home just short of five minutes ahead of the best anyone else in the North could provide.  To The Scribe the most heartening feature was the way the short legs, as has often been the case, set up the victory, as five of those short legs were done by four Under-20s and a first-year Senior; this was a far younger team than most the Club has put out for a year or two.  Having set it up with youth, however, Greg Hull placed the responsibility for the last two legs on a pair whose combined ages exceeded ninety years – and his confidence was not misplaced.

Unlike last year the Club didn’t lead all the way.  The first leg was fiery, with the likes of Tom Lancashire, Mark Buckingham and Patrick Martin around, and it probably justified the slightly unusual decision to entrust it to Simon Deakin, who usually goes a bit later.  Deek was never far away from the lead, but wasn’t quite able to stick with Buckingham and Martin in the last half-mile or so, in spite of running the fastest of the Club’s long stages (22.11); however, he was only thirteen seconds adrift of the lead. Which looked a good platform.  How good it was soon became apparent as Carl Smith put in the day’s eighth-fastest short leg with 15.02; there were two others quicker on the leg, but they moved up from some distance back while the teams around him at the start of the leg faded away.  The result was a tidy minute’s lead which looked good at such an early stage.  It as needed too, as Chris Birchall was well aware that Salford were chucking in Andi Jones on the third stage, even if he was coming through from 6th.  The only thing an athlete can do in these circumstances is make it as hard for the chaser as possible, and Chris is an old hand at this kind of run; he kept up a steady pressure all the way round, and though Andi pulled back 80 seconds on his 23.26, he still had nineteen seconds in hand t the finish – and more important, a minute and a half on third.

The lead was quickly restored.  Joe Townsend has hit a good vein of form in the last month, and has a record of running decent relay legs in spite of his youth, and he found another on the fourth.  It wasn’t startlingly fast at 15.20 – Sunderland’s Massingham was running nearly a minute faster behind him – but it was startlingly faster than the runners the other leading teams put out on this leg, and he regained all the time Chris had dropped.  A very similar story could be told of Mike Burrett’s run, a rock-solid 23.21 which paled alongside the way Gareth Raven was bringing Sale through but took time out of Salford, Morpeth and Derby and extended the lead to 1¾ minutes.  There was by now a fairly consistent jinking around between the next group of clubs, with Liverpool, Blackburn and Hallamshire also threatening to get involved, but it was all done at a respectful distance; and even though Spike Williams had to contend with the flying Nick McCormick (and if you don’t think 13.43 was flying you ruddy well ought!) his 15.22 lost only about 20 seconds overall and opened the gap to third to 2½ minutes.  It was a third fine effort from the Under-20 ranks.

The clincher came on Leg 7.  James Walsh, who clearly felt he had something to prove, set off with the apparent intention of running down the lead cyclist, and as his run coincided with one of Morpeth’s distinctly weaker long legs the damage was disproportionate.  Admittedly Liverpool’s Adam Peers exactly equalled James’ 22.24 (equal 8th best of the day) and nearly caught Morpeth, but the gap was now a daunting 3½ minutes and Leeds City were literally, on this convoluted course, out of sight.  James’ run was followed by one of those paradoxes you get in a long relay; Oliver Ziff, on the first team at last, ran the slowest of the Club’s short legs (15.41) but was one of only two members of the team to be the fastest on his stage, and pushed the lead out to almost four minutes.   It’s all right to say that Leg 8 is a traditional ‘hiding place’ for clubs’ weaker runners, but it was a new experience for Ollie to have to hold a big lead, and he held it well.

On Leg 9 a rather older debutant, Paul Marchant, was similarly placed, and though he dropped just under half a minute with 23.48, the slowest leg, and found the pace of shorter races a bit daunting (“it felt as if I was into nosebleed territory,” he commented afterwards) he admitted it won’t do his long races any harm.  Almost all of what he dropped Mike Salter promptly regained with a sound 15.26, partly due to Sale, who had moved up on Paul’s leg, fading out again; at this point it was Salford, with a flier from Carl Hardman, who had moved into second in a contest where the next four teams were only 40 seconds apart.  The last of the splendid Under-20s now handed on to the first of the pair of Old Warhorses, and Darran Bilton showed very firmly that there’s a charge or two left in him.  He wasn’t quickest on his leg – Glen Comish was eight seconds faster – but as he came through from behind to push aside Salford and Liverpool Darran prised another half-minute or so out of the trailing bunch to lead by four minutes and twenty seconds.  As Liverpool faded Sale, Morpeth and Salford were all in medal contention.

With such a lead the oldest member of the team might have been excused for having a bit of a cruise round and accepting the plaudits others had gained.  So did he?  Anything But, when the oldest member is Martin Roscoe!  He set off with the clear intention of putting the whippersnappers in their place, and far from cruising he turned in a scorching, arm-dropping, jaw-dropping Dosconic classic to put up the tenth fastest short leg of the entire day with 15.16.  Some of the youngsters could well be asking themselves just what they have to do to shift the craggy old edifice off the team; the answer is, of course, to work as hard at it as Doscoe has over the years.  It was fitting that he should lead the Club to a victory if anything more extraordinary than the one at Stockport last year.

If reasons are sought why Leeds City is building up a great record in this kind of event, it’s not far to seek.  Sale, who finished second, were 25 seconds faster in aggregate time over the long legs but had four short-leg runners slower than sixteen minutes.  Morpeth, in third, had two flying short legs (their six ‘shorties’ were only four seconds slower than Leeds City’s) but only had one long-leg runner under 23½ minutes, and that only by a second.  In fourth Salford’s range of long leg times was 2½ minutes, Leeds City’s 1½; their shorts covered 1½ minutes as against 39 seconds.  The lengths of the two legs were in the proportion of 60:40; so, precisely, were Leeds City’s aggregate times.  While every other Northern club has to carry at least one weak leg somewhere, Leeds City just keep rolling ’em out.  And with Webb, Wilkinson, Buckley, Hilton, Gostling and Osborne to put in …..

Men’s B Team – 13th, 4.09.44

SOLID STRENGTH GETS MERITED QUALIFICATION

If you have to put half your reserves in the first team and they all come good, you’re then faced with the question, how good are the reserves for the reserves?  On this showing the Third Division are pretty good, as the nearest second string to them was over six minutes behind, and the time-spread on the long legs, at 1½ minutes, was just as tidy as that of the first squad.  The short legs could probably have said the same but for one that was well out of line – in the right direction; and only the rapidly-improving Hallamshire squad was ahead of them among Yorkshire teams.  The lads can fairly say they did all right!

The team got a sound start from the much-improved and definitely recovered Alex Davy, coming through 22nd with 24.38; A year ago nobody would have thought of entrusting him with the responsibility, but he fully justified it on Sunday.  There was a little slip back of two places on Leg 2, but John Wood had never run a long relay (or The Scribe suspects any sort) before, and 17.24 from a novice wasn’t a bad effort.  Martin Farran stabilised the position while other teams around him were doing impersonations of yo-yos, and even though it was the slowest of the team’s long ‘uns at 25.59 it kept the lads in contention for a move up, which came almost immediately.  Injury and unavailability has restricted Elliot Cole’s appearances since he came out of the valleys, but he appeared at Wythenshawe and ran 15.37 – just quicker than Ollie Ziff, but Elliot had people to chase – to move up five places and make a lot of ground on the teams in front., though there was a 1½-minute ‘hole’ in front of him.

The hole was swiftly closed by another runner who’s had a ‘broken’ winter, James Smith; he’s got a bit to go to get back to last summer’s form, but his 24.35 here showed that some progress in that direction has been made, and it put the team into a chasing position against those in front which Ben Dyson was able to exploit a bit, making one with 16.47 but again coming in with a ‘hole’ in front.  There wasn’t at the end of Leg 7, though; Ali Mauizbin, recently recruited through Kevin Ritche’s good offices, made his first appearance in Club colours and made an immediate impact, closing down another 90-second gap, taking two places and running a highly acceptable 24.08.  With a bit of settling in he’s going to be an asset.  He put the team close enough to one in front to allow Geoff Belcher, racing for the first time since the Northern Cross-Country and yet again recovering from something, to give himself a confidence-boosting run with a place gained (16.45).

Most lower-level teams were beginning to scrape barrels, but if the reserves were doing it they were coming up with apples.  Leon Foster (25.58), a late choice for a long leg, did himself justice by holding 15th with fast men coming up behind him; James Lavin (16 00) lost a place, but as the place was to Altrincham’s Andy Norman it was hardly unexpected, and not only did nobody else get past him but he lined up five teams within the minute in front of him for Mark Bryant to chase.   Mark would have had to have done wonders, after missing half the winter, to get all five; as it was he ran 25.06, took two, one of which was Holmfirth, and put Chris Needham right behind Preston.  Whether it was just that a determined effort happened to come to fruition at the right place, or whether ‘Kermit’ was indulging in a bit of show-boating, The Scribe isn’t certain, but he duly caught the Preston lad – on the back straight of the track!

Women’s Team – 8th, 1.53.45

GIRLS SURPRISE THEMSELVES IN FINE STYLE

Hopes of two Women’s teams took blows in the week before, and the Club finished up with one somewhat below-strength team and two individuals who made up the B (Sian Davies ran 20.46 and Sophie Waterhouse 22.38).  Not a great deal was expected – certainly not a repeat of last year’s medal showing – but what they did produce was a really solid and workmanlike performance.  With one exception only a minute covered the team, and the exception was in front of the other five – which ain’t bad at all.

The most heartening sight was Kirsteen Young lining up at the start; she’s had so many injury setbacks this winter that some despaired of seeing her back in action at all.  She soon set about showing that there’s life in them there legs, though not quite enough to go with the leading group who were whipping it along in some style; Kirsteen was just off the front for the whole race, and finished up less than a minute off the lead in 8th with 17.35.  She was followed by Chloe Ryall, and interested parties waited ti see if her excellent National run was a flash in the pan; if so it’s a pretty big pan!  IN spite of being a complete novice at this sort of event she got stuck in, held her place, ran 18.43 and didn’t allow the gap in front of her to open up too much – a fine first effort.

The other four have all done it before, and made a good shift of doing it again; and if they were a bit slower than the first two, they were going well enough to keep up with those all around them.  Rachael Dyson did lose two places (19.07) but as one of them was to the flying Hatti Dean (at 16.08 she’d have beaten all the B-team short-leggers bar one) criticism would be unfair.  In any case the curious vicissitudes of relay running saw Jennie Guard run only three seconds faster and storm her way upwards by three places.  Anna Martin (19.45) ran a solid leg, though not quite as good a run as her Blackburn effort in January, but as she had the fast Rachael Deegan and Jenny Clague starting behind her lost two she couldn’t have been expected to hold on to.  On the last Ruth Wilcox was involved in a bit of a Battle of the White Rose as to which Yorkshire club would be the County’s third behind Hallamshire and Rotherham; she gave it a good go (19.31) and got in front of Wakefield, but Holmfirth’s Katie Walshaw was flying, so 8th in the race was only good for fourth Yorkshire.

20th March – English Schools’ Cross-Country Championships, Manchester

LADS CONTRIBUTE TO MEDAL SUCCESS

Two girls and five boys represented West Yorkshire at Heaton Park at a venue where Club members have recorded considerable successes but on a course which according to one of The Scribe’s sources hardly made best use of the terrain.  (The Scribe has an opinion on schools’ athletics which many in the Club know!)   The Scribe can’t be too sure of how well all the County’s teams went, as there appear to have been problems with the results (the Junior Boys’ race failed to show the County team finishing at all, whereas they were actually well up.)  What is certain is that three of  the Club’s members contributed to a medal-winning effort.

From the two girls no fireworks could really be expected, as both of them were at the bottom end of their respective age-groups, so that Gemma Keir’s 128th place in the Junior Girls‘ and Georgia Yearby’s 191st in the Intermediate Girls’ were probably up to their known form; their achievement was in getting there in the first place.  Mike Wood (54) and Dale Worton (65) had sound runs in the Senior Boys’, though again West Yorkshire appeared not to finish a team (did they??).  Theer wasn’t any doubt, though, about the Intermediate Boys’ team; they placed third and half the counters came from the Club.  Star effort came from Gordon Benson, who ploughed his way to a splendid 7th place, which could (the Scribe isn’t certain of the criteria) mean a Home Countries’ international selection; and among his backers-up were Elliot Todd (perhaps a bit below form in 92nd) and the younger Harry Foster, who got a late call-up and fully justified his inclusion in 115th.

13th March – Inter-Counties Championships, Birmingham

CURIOUS COUNTY CAPERS AT SPEED

It never used to happen in the Old Days, y’know, but in this year’s Senior Men’s Championships at Cofton Park (incorporated with the latest round of the McCain Challenge, whatever that is) Leeds City had three members out representing three different counties – and two of them got team medals, though the first finisher didn’t!  Anyway, as they all finished in the first fifteen of a sizeable field none of them could have been disappointed with their efforts.  In a striking case of The Last Shall Be First, Simon Deakin, who finished 15th, was second counter in the Lancashire team which won the title while in a remarkable 7th place in his first major Senior event James Wilkinson led home the Yorkshire team which were runners-up – one behind James Walsh, second counter (his team-mate was one in front of him!) in the Warwickshire team that finished 8th.  (Pay attention – there’ll be a test next week!)

Four other members turned out in the younger age-groups and all counted in Yorkshire teams.  Gemma Keir (72) was third member of the Yorkshire quartet in the Under-13 Girls which placed 8th, and in the Under-17 men’s race half the Yorkshire count in 4th place was made up of Gordon Benson in 14th and Elliot Todd in 33rd, though Michael Wood (51) had a bit of an off-day compared to his Championship form – but The Scribe has been told he’s carrying a minor injury.

March – North-Eastern Open Pentathlon, Gateshead

TAPPY-LAPPY DOON THE SHORTENED PENTATHLON

It is a well-known truism that multi-eventers are to say the least ambivalent towards the last event, the long (for them) run.  They’d much rather, for the most part, do without it, but it wouldn’t be an all-round test of athletics if it didn’t feature, so they have to put up with it.  However, there are a number of areas where there isn’t a proper indoor facility (like Leeds, for instance), and in the North-East there has been a tradition of staging indoor pentathlons in such places and replacing the 800 with a 60m sprint.  It’s significant that all the five Leeds City members who made the trip had competed at Birmingham a fortnight earlier, and four of them returned higher scores this time.  (The fifth couldn’t possibly – see below!)

Top effort of the day come from Matt Campleman, who ended his indoor campaign on a high by winning the Under-15 Boys‘ event and setting three P.B.s – 9.05 Shot, 1.55 High Jump and 8.07 60m – and coming close in the other two.  It was probably not a surprise that he didn’t advance his Hurdles (9.68); he has advanced it three times in recent weeks, and you can only ask so much.  However, his Log Jump suffered from one if the inevitable problems with holding a multi-event in a confined space; to make the timetable possible the events didn’t run  in the same sequence in each age-group, and Matt’s event was taken fourth, very shortly after the High Jump.  As a result his 4.87 was decidedly ‘down’, but at least he got all three in this time.  The score of 2356 was about 200 up on Birmingham.

The two Under-17s both finished third in their events, and both put up new individual-event marks.   Connor Morley (who had no chance of beating his Birmingham score because that event was a Heptathlon) had particularly good efforts in the two jumps, registering a small increase in height (one centimetre to 1.63) and a more substantial expansion of length (5.44, about 20cm better).  He also produced a best 60 (8.34), and came close in Hurdles (10.10) and Shot (9.12), and at 2377 reckoned the exercise worthwhile.  Fran Coldwell cold have done even better than she did, and 2890 was pretty good; but she could have come within shouting distance of the best Club performance at this odd event (3077 by Bethany Staniland) but for a horrendous Long Jump of 4.25, well over half a metre down on what she has been doing.  It was a real pity, because in almost everything else she set P.B.s, reaching 1.45 High Jump, 8.50 Shot – over half a metre improvement in two meetings – and 8.43 60 flat, and missing by less than a tenth of a second over the hurdles (9.52). But that’s how multi-eventing goes – one of them almost always goes amiss.

Both Alyssia Carr (2691) and Melissa Fletcher (2393) were substantially ahead of Birmingham performances, but it was a strong Under-15 field (of 14) and the two youngsters placed 6th and 11th.  Neither of them set any new marks, but both produced performances of exemplary consistency, and Alyssia was particularly pleased to lay the bogey of her poor Birmingham High Jump by putting in a much more characteristic 1.45.  Three of her other four marks were all sound – 9.54 Hurdles, 4.50 Long Jump and 8.46 60 – and in the same events Melissa recorded 10.17, 4.34, 4.36 and 8.68; but they just don’t get the Shot out far enough – 4.63 and 4.92.  The Scribe would suggest a beef and Guinness diet, but it might slow up the other events, so it might not be worth it.

14th March – Leeds City Indoor Open, South Leeds

YOUNGSTERS OVERWORK RANKER AT MATT’S WELL-PATRONISED SHOW

Last year Matt Barton and Co coped well with about sixty or seventy competitors at each of the two indoor events he staged in the Indoor Centre; this year he only put one on, without official Council assistance, and got 110 entries.  Clearly things were tight, and a late choice of date made getting officials problematical; but the meeting ran to time without disasters, and as Leeds City members registered 22 new Ranking-level performances and considerably more P.B.s it was clearly worth taking the trouble.  The only person cursing was the ranker, as all the effort of sorting them out meant he couldn’t do his usual transmogrification into The Scribe and get a Clubnews out last week.

There were a number of meeting records, some of which fell to Club members; the most striking was probably a double by Elliot Hurley, who struggled to do 4.90 in the Long Jump last year but like a lot of second-year Under-15s is suddenly a lot stronger, and opened this season with 5.34. He also took another meeting mark with a sharp 7.6 60m.  Bradley Robinson raised his own Under-17 Long Jump mark with 5.17, though he was probably more satisfied with his 7.7 60 which cracked his best for the second time this winter; and when the Leeds City Wheelers came out for their 60s (they got two, as there was no other event for them) Matty Hickling shattered his own time of 14.4 by hitting 12.6 twice,
while Nick Smith posted a new mark of 14.6 and the younger Dagan Roberts set inaugural figures of 21.2.  (The hardest part of such a short race for the Wheelchair Gang is getting the thing going.)

However, the most unlikely – and pleasing – meeting record-breaker was Haris Hameed – yes, that’s right, Umar’s little brother.  When he first started coming to the Induction Group a year ago some people felt he’d only come to play – but since then he’s discovered throwing, and it’s amazing what happens when somebody finds something they can make a real shift at.  Haris certainly did that – in his first serious competition he advance to fifth on the Under-13 Shot list with 8.02; and as Louie Hurley (7.02) and Harry Ansell-Wood (6.01) also set new marks it was quite a good day for little chuckers.  As all three of them also ran handy 60s in the morning (9.6 for Haris and two 9.0s for the others), and Louise and Harry also put in respectable Long Jumps (4.15 and 3.98) they all had plenty to be pleased about.

More good early-season marks among the established youngest came from Tom Harrison (an explosive 8.5 on the track and a solid 4.12 Jump equalled by Sam Clark) and Caoimhe Crampton, who opened with a 10.6 hurdles and 8.9 sprint before adding close to a metre to her best Shot with 7.52; not too far behind was Vikki Adams (6.79), who’s better known for High-jumping.  Among new names at Under-13 level there was a sound first Long Jump by Eleanor James (3.98) and the emergence of a possible new all-rounder in Jessica Barker, who ran 9.5 and jumped 3.79 before tackling the High Jump and clearing 1.25 before colliding with the upright attempting 1.30 and having to withdraw.  Mind you, she was facing a young lady from Trafford who must have stood five foot ten in her socks!)

Among the slightly older Max Ansell-Wood – another who’s growing – put in a sprightly Hurdles (10.3) and improved Long Jump (5.05), Kendle Hardisty turned in an 8.2 sprint (sister Jasmine was also in action with9.7, a 3.41 Long Jump and 1.05 High) , and Luke Cooper, who arrived very late and tried gutsily but unsuccessfully to join in the High Jump at 1.45, got  it together in the Shot with 8.27.  In the Under-15 Girls’ events Amena Abdelaziz and new member Sian Gilmartin-Green spent the whole day having a private contest of remarkable closeness; Amena edged the 60 (8.8 to 8.9), but in the Long Jump and Shot Sian got the better of her, in each case by two centimetres (4.22 to 4.20 and 6.46 to 6.44).  Another new competitive face, Esther Anaman, and the longer-established Simran Sandhu also did all three (9.3/3.95/5.63 and 10.1/3.26/5.05 respectively).  Finally, among the very littlest there were a couple of good sprints from Under-11s Jess Mogridge (10.0) and Lois Fish (10.3), the latter also clearing 2.725 in the Long Jump.

OPEN ROAD AND COVERED TARTAN

The Scribe admits to a soft spot for the Norton Nine.  For one thing, he sees no reason why every single road race should be 10k, ten miles or half-marathon when there are perfectly good circuits like Norton, and for another he used to train round there in his early teaching days (c1964, before even Doscoe was born!) This year’s race, on March 7th,  saw a couple of Leeds City members featuring prominently; Paul Marchant finished in second place(48.39), admittedly some four minutes behind the resurgent Andrew Pearson, while in 34th Trevor Clough (55.07) took second spot among the Over-50s.

Run one, get one free – this seems to be the policy for sprinters at the Reebok Open Meetings at Sport City, Manchester, and it appears to suit, among others, Umar Hameed.   Having run a pretty respectable 7.15 in his first series 60m race, he went even quicker the second time round with 7.12.  Good to see him showing a bit of form after last year’s injury-blighted campaign.

On Sunday, in the Belgian M****rs’ Championships in Gent, the Club’s longest competitive record stretched for yet another year when Steve Linsell finished joint 1st in the High Jump (and as the other guy was a mere stripling of 40 or so won the Over-45 event) and cleared 1.80 for the thirtieth year in the past 31 (in the other he was injured and couldn’t compete, as regular readers will know).  Just let that tendon hold out for another summer at least, and who knows!

Rumour Has it that Susan Partridge missed the National because she’s in ‘marathon mode’ and after Commonwealth games selection at least.  Judging by the fact that she finished 14th overall in the Spen 20, some six minutes in front of the next female finisher, the mode is well switched in.  The time wasn’t fast on paper – 2.11.03 – but anyone who’s run the Spen 20 knows that if the course was moved to the Blackpool Pleasure Beach it wouldn’t be inappropriate.  Winner Pulmani Bangani, who’s no slouch on the road, took about 1.57.

Had the Spen course actually been moved to Blackpool, it might have seen Jamie Higgins open his summer campaign at Stanley Park in the Blackpool Open with a 2.19.3 clocking over 800m.

Matt Barton has submitted a slightly belated report (he’s a busy lad, you know) on the efforts of “a small group of Club members and other who went to Sheffield for the Tom Pink Relays on 6th March. For those who don’t know, it inevitably contains a range of Relay races, but also a variety of Field events borrowed from Sportshall Athletics and the Highland Games!

In the Under 13 Girls, Leeds City dominated the Throws with wins for Nicola Sawyer in the Shot, and Sian Gilmartin-Green in both the Weight for Height and Weight for Distance. In the former Sian took the title won by Alyssia Carr last year and in the latter she only just fouled a National Record! Caoimhe Crampton backed Sian up with 2nd in the Weight for Height, but was a little off her best with 6th in the Shot. In the Sprint relay, athletes were borrowed from the Under 11’s to fill the spots. The girls qualified comfortably, but an injury to Caoimhe meant it was always going to be difficult for the team to medal. It was still a fantastic effort for 4th though.

Only one Leeds City athlete turned up for the Under 13 Boys. Jack Lane performed credibly just missing out on the medals with 4th in the Standing Long Jump and 4th again in the Standing Triple. The Club did however manage to import an athlete from Holmfirth Harriers. Aaron Kettlewell (UK No.1 in Long Jump at the time of writing) just pipped Jack in the Triple with 3rd place, and was 7th in the Standing Long Jump – he prefers a run-up! As if the motley crew weren’t motley enough, they were joined by a girl for the 3 x 500m relay! Jack and Aaron were joined by Nicola for a great run, but again just missed out with 4th. Like the girls, the boys borrowed from the Under 11’s for the sprint relay and placed 4th yet again. 4th was becoming an unfortunate but regular occurrence!

The Under 11 teams were a mixture of Leeds City, Leeds Lions and Crossgates Cougars athletes. Of the Leeds City athletes, the relatively experienced Jessica Barker gained a credible 5th in the Standing Long Jump and 9th in the Weight for distance and performed very well in the sprints despite an ankle injury. Newcomer Gabby Cummins made a solid debut with 9th in the Caber Toss, but was most impressive on the track where her running was particularly fluid. The Under 11 Girls was probably the most competitive division and all should feel pleased with the 7th in the Sprint relay and 9th in the Over Under Relay. A special mention should go to Jessica’s younger sister Rebecca, who as a Year 4 has another 2 years in the U11’s, but that hasn’t stopped her from being able to call herself Yorkshire and Humberside Caber Tossing Champion!

Josh Thompson was the Club’s sole representative in the Under 11 Boys, but certainly did the Club proud. He won the Weight for Distance in his first competition, and had a great effort in the Javelin unrewarded with 4th. The relay teams came close again with 4th in the Over Under Relay and 6th in the Sprint Relay.”

Spring is here, and Essex Man is heading for the fells!  Gavin Chatterton made his first foray into the Great Outdoors at the Ultimate Trails 18k Race at Cartmel, and he reports on his adventures in inimitable style:-

“Saturday consisted of two challenges; I shall leave the reader to decide which was toughest. Challenge No.1 was completing the race, which started and finished on the race course and headed north over the now familiar idiotic terrain. Heavy rain had turned the going from ‘good’ to ‘soft – marshy/slimy/trenchy in places’. As ever, these races consist you having about 12 bad patches, 7 good ones, 4 thrashes through holly branches, 3 “have I just broken my ankle?” encounters and 1 trapped foot in a cattle grid. Oh yeah, and 1,500ft of climb and descent. Anyhow, I came how 5th in 1.13.52 behind Martin Hilton in 2nd (1.12.26), and we were all done in by some Scottish bloke from Dumfries.

Challenge No.2? We had use of the jockeys changing room after the race. Tired, muddy, stiffening up and nursing bruised feet, a 10min wrestle in a shower designed for four foot ten inch men became an epic duel of co-ordination, farcical squatting and patience. Luckily, there was somewhere to hang my saddle.”

IS THIS A RECORD?  WELL, NOT YET!

There was some debate, after the Club’s eighth consecutive set of Senior team medals in the National Championships,  whether this was a record run since the Second World War, when the event became open to all clubs without qualification through the area events.  Brian Hilton suggested in his analysis that it might be; Roger Norton had his doubts, and his view has proved to be correct, as one other club shares the record.  Between 1961 and 1968 the celebrated Portsmouth A.C. Team, which included the likes of Bruce Tulloh, Martin Hyman, Tim Johnstone, Frank Salvat and the brothers John and Dave Cooke also took eight consecutive medals.  Technically Leeds City’s record is slightly better – four wins, three seconds and a third as against three wins, three seconds and two thirds. – but there’s not much in it, and by a curious coincidence both clubs finished fourth in the year before the run began.  Unless some other club is able to challenge this, the two appear to be the only run of eight consecutive places since 1945 – any offers, anyone?

Moreover, there is a strong possibility that Simon Deakin, though he may be unique in Leeds City’s annals with his eight consecutive medals, isn’t quite so solitary in National history; Roger has been in contact with Martin Hyman (now 75 and living in Scotland), who reckons he featured in all the eight in the Sixties, and believes that Tulloh and both Cookes did likewise.  Confirmation is being sought; but the moral to both the team and to Deek is clear.  One more next year, lads, and you stand alone!!