24/11/2009: Not the best day in Thornes Park mist

21st November – Complete Runner League, Wakefield

NOT THE BEST DAY IN THE THORNES PARK MIST

It’s little things that tell you when a day’s not going to go well – like Greg Hull deciding on the basis of a windy weather forecast not to risk brining the tent, and finding instead a more or less calm day with penetrating damp mist when it would have been useful.  It was a bit like that all day; some things went right, but others didn’t come up to expectations.  Still, perfection is an impossible target, and one team win and two seconds wasn’t bad on a day when Christmas shopping seemed to be more of an attraction.

There was quite a bright start in the Under-11 Boys when not only did Tomas Szajdzicki finish in the first three for the third successive race (third this time) but the turn-out in this age-group was doubled when Haydn Williamson made his debut and came in a very respectable 13th, well in the first half of the field.  There was another debutant in the Under-13 Lads in the form of Daniel McGlinchey, who found the pace a bit hot and finished 46th; he won’t be the first to find real racing a culture shock, and has plenty of time to get used to the idea.  The other two races where there was only individual Club representation were the Under-17 Women, in which Chloe Harley battled with a tough old course and came in 17th, and the Under-15 Boys, where the lads were short of a fourth counter but made an impact nonetheless.  Harry Foster and Steven Eastwood were up with the leading pack of five all the way, and when three split with about half a mile to go Harry was right in there, only being headed in a somewhat desperate rush for the line by a couple of seconds.  Steven ‘lost it’ a bit in the run-in and was guilty of the cardinal sin of easing up in the last few strides – and as a result was sixth instead of fifth.  It happens to everybody once, and he’ll learn!   Luke Murray, who’s been working steadily, ran steadily again for a good 14th in a sizeable field; if someone else had finished last they’d have been placed!

The younger Girls’ teams finished well down, but finished; in the Under-13s Gemma Keir continued her consistent progress with another third place in a race where the form-book from previous races appeared to turn itself inside-out.  Nicola Sawyer, who’s been doing a bit of road running recently, once again found the mud hard work in 33rd, and Gabrielle Scobie (60th) made sure there was a counting three.  Both Georgia Yearby (24th) and Grace Coburn (36th) ran significantly better than they’d done at Bodington three weeks earlier, and the Under-15 team was made up by India Wilson (41st), who’s game for any sort of competition.

The turn-out in the Under-17 Men’s race was under strength both in general and from the Club point of view (in the latter case a ‘bare three’), but it still provided the Club with its two wins of the day.  Individually Gordon Benson and Elliot Todd were well up from the start, but coming down the steep hill off the castle mound Elliot slipped and landed rather hard on his … posterior, and the shock took a while to recover from, as a result of which he slipped back to finish 7th.  Gordon, meanwhile, found himself in a tough battle; he shook off Sam Kerfoot-Roberts and Max Kaye, but Skipton’s Billy Pinder proceeded to do an excellent impersonation of a limpet right yup to the last run-in, when Gordon’s pace proved decisive.  Alex Hart didn’t look anything like as good as he had in October at Halifax, but ran doggedly (when does he ever do anything else?) to finish 14th and clinch the win.

The Senior Ladies managed, even without the resting Emily Klee, to repeat their second place of the previous race; mind you, it did help that both Sarah Peterson and Rachael Dyson made their first appearances of the year.  The startlingly-blonde Sarah looked a bit short of edge, but the ‘front end’ of this field isn’t ever weak, and after struggling a bit with the fast start she settled down to a battle for 6th with Holmfirth’s Katie Walshaw which she ultimately lost out on.  Rachael was involved throughout in a tight little group of about half a dozen in the mid-teens, and their private scrap went right to the line, with eight seconds separating the lot and  Rachael still in the middle of it at the end in 16th.  Once again Ruth Wilcox and Sarah Whitley were locked together, but on this occasion Ruth got the better of it by a place (24th to 25th), mainly due to the fact that her fell-running background allowed her to make a faster descent of the castle mound.   Just to make sure of the team position Alison Varley was no great distance behind in 30th, placing 4th among the Over-40s, though (shock horror!) she was just behind the first Over-50!

It just wasn’t the Senior Men’s day!  With a number of people preferring to go for the Abbey Dash they still looked early on as though they were going to sweep the board – until James Smith came out “feeling weird and light-headed” after about a mile and it was pointed out that Joe Townsend, week-ending from Birmingham, was running as a non-counting guest.  Ironically Joe ran what’s probably the best race he’s run on the country as an Under-20, placing between Martin Hilton, who despite being left without a child-minder when his partner got lost after shopping (he was almost reduced to calling on his uncle’s services!) and having a sketchy warm-up finished 4th, and Adam Osborne, one place behind on his first run of the year and pushing himself so hard that even offers of sheep couldn’t raise another gear.  Nick Hooker and Greg Hull lurked just outside the first ten for most of the race, nick using a villainous kick to get inside it (9th) ahead of Bingley’s Andrew Peace, who held off Greg to be the first Vet finisher; but then it needed good runs from Danny Davis and Dale Worton, and they both suffered the same fate.

While a Veteran-studded and experienced Bingley pack consolidated in the late teens and early twenties to win the race by 33 points (they’d have lost by five if Joe had been entered), both Dan and Dale paid for somewhat over-enthusiastic starts and struggled and went backwards in the middle of the race.  In their defence it has to be remembered that they’re both in their first year among the Old Men, and it’s a hard transition to make; they’ve both been going well and might have been encouraged to take a risk; and that Thornes Park is a bad course to have an off-day on; and to their credit, where they might have wilted and dropped out a few months ago, both suffered their way through it and found a bit of recovery on the last lap.   Dale wound up 44th, and while Dan (38th) managed to hang on to sixth counter he was passed late on by a runner who must have been surprised to be ‘in the count’ – former 400-metre man Steve O’Neill, who came through steadily and ran as well on the country as The Scribe has seen him do.  Both Ben Dyson (52) and Martin Farran (57) ran steady races, and a full B team finished, made up of Martin Horbury (93), who seemed to be enjoying himself, Danny Jones, who in 118th on his first outing of the year didn’t, and John Mace (129), who ran his usual battler among the old fellers but couldn’t be inspired even by the offer of a pint from The Scribe to catch his old Rothwell clubmate (and Leeds City member of many years ago) Keith Pailaing.

21st November – Northern Athletics Indoor Open Meeting, Sheffield

TOM AND MATT WIN, BUT CLAUDIA SHATTERS

The Club had a couple of good winners in the first of this season’s meetings at the E.I.S., but when a record went down it fell to an athlete who finished 7th of eight!   This remarkable achievement – her first appearance on the Club Record Lists – fell to Claudia Chrappah, and it fell in her second event.  She may have been a bit disappointed only to do 8.50  for 60m, since last year as an Under-15 she managed a good bit faster; but when it came to the 150m, in a race where she was pitched against older athletes of both genders, he ran 19.79 – third-fastest ever time by any Leeds City female sprinter, indoors or out, and one of the two ahead of her was achieved with a following gale.  The Scribe seriously questions whether Claudia realised what she’d done when she left Sheffield – she does now!

It wasn’t the only decent bit of sprinting and hurdling on view, as there were a couple of fine victories.  Tom Mosley took his heat of the 150m in 16.80, third-fastest of the day and fastest by an Under-20; in a later heat brother Jack ran a very fair 17.79 to finish second and see off some older competition.  The day’s other winner was Matt Campleman, who along with a fairly average 4.45 Long Jump managed a PB 1.40 High Jump (he’d like to have managed 1.45, but didn’t quite), but really highlighted with 9.81 to win the Under-15 Hurdles – and just to make his day, among the athletes he now ranks ahead of, in third place, is one Daniel Gardiner! (Now there’s a target for you, Matt!)  The Girls also had a good day; Caoimhe Crampton improved both her best Under-13 60m (9.03) and Shot (6.42), while Alyssia Carr and Melissa Fletcher advanced confidently into the Under-15 Rankings in both 60m and 60m Hurdles – Alyssia with 8.40 and 9.95, the latter ranking her 4th all-time) and Melissa with 8.89 and 10.74.  The only athlete to try something a bit longer was Dan Brownbill, now an Under-20, who experimented with 600m and ran a worthy 1.29.38 to hit the Senior List.  There wer also a couple more ‘movers-up;’ Connor Morley, in his first competition as an Under-17, sent the bigger Shot out to 8.48 and ran an 8.50 60m, while Molly Allinson took her first steps on the boards and as an Under-15 to register 9.09 over 60m and a 3.64 Long Jump.

SNIPPETS CATCHING THE SCRIBAL EYE

There was a small but well-former presence from Leeds City at the UK Cross Challenge round at Gateshead on the 14th; one runner in each of four pretty classy races and all of them pretty well up the field.  Readers can choose for themselves whether the pick of the four performances was James Wilkinson’s third place in the Under-20 race behind (and only seven and two seconds respectively behind Jonathan Hay and Nick Goolab (26.09) or James Walsh’s 9th in an if anything more classy Senior field in what looks to have been a ‘dip finish’ with Ryan McLeod; The Scribe, not having been there, finds it hard to decide between two excellences.  There was a good solid early-season run from Mike Wood in 10th place in the Under-17 event, while in the race for Old Gentlemen Martin Farran placed 16th, and 4th among the Over-45s; it would have been tricky to do a lot better since the race was won by an Over-45 – one Brian Rushworth!

A reasonably strong contingent of Leeds City members featured among the madding throng otherwise known as the Abbey Dash on Sunday, finishing in all parts of the first third of the field.  (The Scribe confesses that when he got to 1987th place and found former Club president Tim Cock, now of Holmfirth, aged 68 and having run the West Yorkshire League the previous day, he decided that nobody from the Club would be behind him – if as a result he missed anyone, he apologises.)  There was a good trio in the first 23 places – James Walsh right up with the leaders in 5th (30.06/30.08 – chip and gun times respectively throughout), and Chris Birchall and Mike Burrett close to each other in 21st (31.46/31.47) and 23rd 31.52/31.54) respectively – but Altrincham had a slightly better trio in the same area.  Aidan Adams also got in to the first fifty (45th, 33.10/33.12), and Chris Needham, whom we don’t see a lot of racing these days, made the first hundred (79th, 35.10/35.14), while Pete Steel (197th, 37.45/37.52) continued along his road back, John Wood (229th, 38.20/38.28) ran up to and perhaps a bit above form, and Rob Gatenby (778th, 44.12/44.45) soldiered on in his regular fashion once he reached the start line.   Simon Hill also finished, in “about 38.30,” but somehow got missed off the results.

There was quite a little contest between two of the four Club Ladies, which ended with both beating each other; Jennie Guard (434th, 32nd Lady, 40.49/41.21) was the faster of the two, but Chloe Ryall, benefiting from recent track training and running the best race she’s put in since joining the Club, got a better position on the start line and finished first (421st, 29th, 40.59/41.13).  It can happen in these big fields!  Sian Davies ran a good consistent race (729th, 47th, 44.10/44.21), while considering the state of her legendarily battered knees Jenny Harrison’s run in 1125th place (45.56/47.27), which gave her 28th place among the Lady Vets, was pretty sound.  (It shows how time’s passing when a member The Scribe still thinks of as ‘one of the University lot’ hits 35!)  best run of the three male vets was Chris Corcoran’s 40.53/41.03, good for 7th among the Over-55s and a pleasing effort; in the same age-group Geoff Pitter placed 46th (1655th, 49.00/51.10), just heading Jenny for the biggest gap between chip and gun, while Dave Barras (1029th, 46.14/46.44) will have been pretty chuffed with 9th among the Oveer-60s.

With three formidable talents such as Mike Wood, Gordon Benson and Elliot Todd in the offing, it isn’t often that the likes of Rob Torch get to hit the front of a Club Annual Ranking List – but it does happen, and on November 8th it did.  Competing in a Schools’ Biathlon competition at South Leeds, Rob was required to run 1000 metres, and did so (winning the race, according to Dad Bill, by a good margin) in 2.42.95 – which was slightly better than two of the above trio managed on the boards in Dortmund earlier in the year.

Again on the 14th, Adam Grice and Sian Davies were part of a sizeable Leeds University party who went up to Edinburgh for the Braid Hills Cross-Country Races – an event which The Scribe suspects is one of those University events where the subsequent social intercourse is as attractive a feature as the race.  (The Scribe remembers many such from his youth!)  Anyway, Adam placed 7th among theme, and Sian 56th among the women.

Those who after the National Road Relay were wondering if Father Time might just be beginning to encroach on Darran Bilton were given a sharp reminder that there’s bounce in the Pickering Pixie yet when in the Barnsley 10k – which couldn’t possibly be on an easy course when the topography of Barnsley is taken into account – he finished second by two seconds (31.37) – to Mark Buckingham, who a fortnight before at Bodington had beaten the likes of Martin Hilton by around a minute.  Also sampling the slopes of South Yorkshire was Steve O’Neill, who finished a very creditable 21st (36.36).

Chris Birchall drew The Scribe’s attention to a couple of errors in the last edition of Clubnews, not the least of which was describing the first counting six in the West Yorkshire League as being a bit long in the tooth; he points out that he’s only just achieved his thirtieth birthday, and is “nowhere near as old as Bucko yet!” (Whatever can he mean by that??)  He also notes that his actual time at the National Relay the week before included a 20-second delay “on the start line as I failed to see Adam Grice finish; the organisation in the changeover area was not what we’re used to in Yorkshire, or Sutton Park for that matter.”  However, as he was also responsible for making sure that Jennie Guard was credited with her run The Scribe is glad to correct any aspersions inadvertently cast.

The Yorkshire Veterans’ A.A. Grand Prix Series finished at Spenborough on the 15th with only two of the Club’s Older gents turning out – John Mace finishing 46th (4th in the Over-55s) in 40.23 and Roger Parker being (to his own surprise and due to the absence of two or three highly-rated Over-60s including Brian Hilton) second finisher in his age-group in 57th (41.44).  This certainly did neither of them any harm in the year’s overall rankings, John finishing third (1067 points – scoring best seven of ten races with the winner given 200 points) and Roger one place behind Brian, respectively 8th(702 from only four finishes) and 9th (576).  Dave Barras (15th – 227) also registered in the Over-60s, and  Peter Bates (501) occupied the same position in the Over-55s, but the highest-placed Club member was Sean Cotter in the Over-40s, only seven points (1387) behind the winner.

SERVICE BREAK

This will be the last Clubnews to appear on the website for a month or so, as Webmaster Bircho is swanning off to New Zealand for a month, thus leaving himself open to the predictable round of jokes about the large number of sheep in those islands.  Clubnews will, however, continue to be written and posted at South Leeds, and will get on the site when he gets back, unless in the meantime an alternative provision is suggested.  Any member who is absolutely desperate to receive The Scribe’s latest wit (!) and wisdom (!!) can send an e-mail to the usual address (lunnrun@fsmail.net) and a attached copy will be returned; but don’t expect lightning responses, as he’ll be wearing his other hats as provider of beer for Santa Trains (no, he is NOT playing Santa!) and Clerk of Course for the National Championships in February.

Talking of which latter, The Scribe takes this opportunity to mention that the Club will as ever be marshalling a section of the course at Roundhay Park on February 27th.  Brian Hilton is organising the Club’s contribution, and he’s asked that anyone who’s able and willing to help out should contact him, by putting their name on the notice he’s putting up at South Leeds (before the New Year if possible).  Only if it’s not possible (for geographical or whatever reasons) to get to the Stadium should people contact him by phone (0113 2772658)