29/09/2009: Stars of the mountains!

STARS OF THE MOUNTAINS!

The trio of Leeds City Mountain-runners who represented England in the first-ever Commonwealth Mountain Running Championships at Keswick this month certainly showed they merited their selection.  On September 18th James Walsh and Adam Osborne took team Gold medals in the Uphill Race, which went up to the summit of Skiddaw, finishing 5th and 6th respectively and placing second and third counters in the England team.  Two days later, in the Uphill and Downhill race on Latrigg, Adam Grice did even better, not only taking a team Gold but an individual Silver.  The Scribe has had a report from Adam G, but Asbo has been away this week (major social event, it’s believed), so it’s hoped that when he gets back a more detailed ‘horse’s mouth’ account of both races can be published.  Meanwhile, congratulations to all three of the Club’s history-makers.

26th September – Northern 6-Stage & 4-Stage Road relay Championships, Beckett Park

THIRD TIME FOR MEN AND SELECTION AGONY FOR LADIES

On seeing a map of the course round Leeds Met’s Beckett Park Campus, The Scribe was taken back to Tahir Akhtar’s wickedly convoluted lap used in the early days of the Hyde Park 5k, which at the time aroused comments about the effect of running round in ever-decreasing circles.  It wasn’t quite as drastic, but keeping even a two-mile circuit within the confines of the campus involved some pretty tortuous running, and including a lengthy stretch of unsurfaced path which led Lunchtime O’Surf to suggest that “if it hadn’t been a fine dry day it could have been the Northern Trail Relay.”  It could be that the very sizeable fields (84 starters in the Men’s race and 52 in the Women’s) might encourage Northern Athletics to consider a permanency; they might take the above comment as a cautionary tale.

It would appear to suit Leeds City if it happened, however – because if last year’s results at Hartlepool were remarkable enough, this year the Women’s Harriers teams more or less equalled them and the Men surpassed them by quite a margin both in quantity and quality.  Indeed if another body could have been found the Club would have finished five Men’s teams.  Moreover, neither section was at best possible strength for several mostly unavoidable reasons, and it’s possible that in different circumstances the Women could even have joined the Men on the podium.  Each race, as ever, gets its own report.

WOMEN’S RACE – A team 8th (1.12.21), B team 33rd (1.23.27)

Nobody can say Leeds City’s A team didn’t start this one with a bang!   It would have been quite easy for the Ladies to lie down under the decimation which the squad has recently had (Celia de Maria departed abroad, Kirsteen Young out injured and Alex Gostling starting a family), but nobody told Susan Partridge to lie down, and she certainly didn’t!  On a first leg where a lot of the big guns were wheeled out (seven of the fastest eleven times were done on it) Susan strode away from the rest after about half a mile and as far as they were concerned was never seen again, coming back into the track with a phenomenal lead of 42 seconds in 15.53 – nobody else got within thirty seconds of it all day.  It looks as if the Flying Scotswoman could be back to something like her Commonwealth-Games best.  The problem on Saturday, needless to say, was following it, especially if like Claire Duck you’ve been out with an injury and haven’t raced for four months; the fact that she not only held the lead but that only one of Chester-le-Street’s team of flyers was able to close on her 17.07 indicates another blistering return to form.

However, the selectors were faced with a quandary on Leg 3.  With Emily Klee carded to run the anchor leg, one of the ‘lesser lights’ (with all due respect) had to hold the line and lose as little ground as possible; and in view of her track form the selectors’ choice fell on Anna Martin.  However, Anna on the track and Anna on the road are two different creatures, and furthermore she more than likely suffered from what the Scribe calls the ‘Fondles Effect,’ the psychological battering of having a string of fast runners come rocketing past and not being able to do much about them.  (For explanation of the name see Leg 3 of the 1980 National 12-Stage.)  Whatever the cause, she slipped to 12th, running 21.20, and the ground lost was emphasised by some very fast opponents up front.  Whoever had done the leg would have lost ground, and Emily knew she had some work on; she set about it with a battling 18.02 which saw her drop on place to Bingley’s flying Veteran Sarah Jarvis, but pick up another five in compensation.  The result can be measured two ways – we were behind winners Chester-le-Street’s B team and only third Yorkshire team, but on the other hand the girls beat the likes of Sale, Morpeth and Lincoln Wellington.

Needless to say the B team exhibited The Scribe’s First Law of Relay Team Management – if a choice has to be made, whichever choice you make will be the wrong one!   On both ends of the team there were runs which if substituted for Anna’s effort would have put the A team in the first five, and possibly in the medals (isn’t 20:20 hindsight a wonderful thing!)  Sarah Whitley led off, and led off in a highly satisfactory 19.24 which placed the team 31st of the 52 starters (though exactly a quarter of them weren’t to get to the finish line, and eight got no further than this leg.)  She was followed by the tried and tested Veronique Marot, who went round in 20.45 and inevitably lost a few places to younger and friskier athletes, but held up well.  She left another ‘irregular’ in Lucy Turner in 34th place, and considering her recent lack of competition Lucy did well to drop only three more (23.36); and then Ruth Wilcox, who’s not been seen around much since last winter, turned out and proved she’d not lost a lot of fitness by running 119.52 and picking up four to put the team in a respectable position.

MEN’S RACE – A, 1st (1.45.31), B, 6th (1.50.42), C, 19th (1.54.55), D, 43rd (2.01.38)

Going for a hat-trick of wins in this event, the A team was lacking three or four major names, but the order of running proved to be as decisive as anything else.  Adam Grice likes first legs, and was given the honour, but it was soon clear that he’d still got a lot of Latrigg in his legs, and he finished up 10th in 18.02, some forty seconds off the lead and with Mike Burrett, leading off for the B team, almost literally breathing down his neck.  However, a lot of the teams in front – Sunderland, Warrington, Gateshead, Blackburn, New Marske – were soon to fall away; and if Greg Hull had foreseen the possibility of Adam being below his best he’d made all the right countering moves.  On Leg 2 he sent out James Wilkinson, and James duly obliged by storming through to third with a Top-Ten 17.17 clocking (fastest on a pretty fast leg) and closing the gap on the lead by about half.  He had to go a bit; St. Helens Sutton’s young flyer Dave Forrester was right behind him and only a second slower!

Leg 3 saw the heavy artillery come out and the big clubs move through.  To misquote, “And now aroseth Barnes, Raven and Deakin, these three – and the swiftest of these was Deakin.”  Clearly the mileage towards a half-marathon had suited Simon, and though Sale and Altrincham moved up to challenge Sunderland ‘Deek’ ploughed away smoothly and irresistibly to open up nearly a minute’s lead as the early challengers began to fade.  It left a nice cushion for James Walsh, which after his mountaineering exploits he was likely to need with Ian Hudspith on the leg; what he and everybody else hadn’t allowed for was that Altrincham had acquired a Transylvanian Express, and Marius Ionescu turned in an even faster leg of 16.52 which nobody bettered.  James just managed to hold him off with 17.46.

But then the factor kicked in which has carried Leeds City through so often in recent years – depth!   Both Morpeth and Altrincham were ‘hiding’ weak men on Leg 5; Leeds City wheeled out Alan Buckley!  17.33 was not quite a flying time but a very good one, and adequate to open up a lead of 1¾ minutes and make the title pretty safe – particularly with Darran Bilton champing at the bit to go.  (When is the Accelerated Antiquity ever doing anything else??)  It was going to be needed, as one other club was also practising ‘back-loading; Salford’s Thomas Abyu, having gained half a minute on Alan, was handing over to Andi Jones!   Sure enough, Andi came though to snatch Silver on the track and rob Morpeth of a medal sixty yards from the finish (only five seconds covered 2nd to 4th!) – but all this was academic, as Darran bounded round the campus in 17.41 and in splendid isolation.

Meanwhile the B team was reaching unprecedented heights.  Mike’s splendid start (18.03) was built on by Chris Birchall (18.29), who dropped one place to 12th but lost little ground on the road, and then by Nick Hooker (18.32) who held the position and again kept well in sight of the teams around him.  The move came on Leg 4, and again it was due to consistency rather than a flashy run; Joe Townsend’s 18.25 was all of a piece with the rest of the team, but as several clubs faded around him he moved up four places with a run that looked more like the old young Joe.  Youth was followed by elder inexperience as Paul Marchant, who’d never sampled this level or type of competition with Rothwell Harriers, slotted seamlessly into the team and ran 18.33 to hold the place, not being flustered as Abyu and Jonny Mellor flew by.  Eighth was splendid – but returning yet again from injury absence Martin Gostling (18.40) put the cherry on top of the bun by pulling back another two – and as one of them was Hallamshire it meant that Leeds City B were only beaten among Yorkshire teams by Leeds City A!    (Incidentally, if the A team’s time-spread of 50 seconds was impressive, how about the B team’s 37?)

And if that wasn’t enough, the Third Division improved five places over Hartlepool – and put their six together within 43 seconds!  Greg put himself on the C team lead-off and ran a solid 19.07 in 38th, and from there on it was nearly all up!  Will Plastow started the process with 18.58 and a gain of ten places; James Lavin, who’s getting well back in the groove, picked up three more with 19.17; and Welsh import Elliot Cole (18.45) was good for five more with the team’s quickest leg.  A further place into the top twenty fell to a battling Trevor Wilks effort (what else? – 19.28), which left Gavin Chatterton in a little gap; but while team around him moved up and down Gavin held the place and came within an ace of snatching another, in spite of describing his run as “mostly rubbish rising occasionally to the heights of mediocrity!”

The Fourth Division saw a pretty youthful ‘head’ (Eddie Mason coming in 50th in a useful 20.22, Ben Craddock running 20.02 but losing three and Danny Davis pulling them all back with 20.16) supported by a somewhat older ‘tail’ (Scott Mitchell picking up a couple in 21.08, Sean Cotter turning out instead of in a Vets’ race the next day and gaining two more with 19.56 and Leon Foster in spite of being partly crocked making the final three gains with 19.24) to finish a very reasonable 43rd; and if another body could have been found to add about 24 minutes to the efforts of Phil Townsend (20.34), Lee Allsopp (23.33), Pete Kidd (22.57), Simon Hill (22.01) and Brian Hilton (23.29, though he was roped in late and missed the change-over, and claims he was about a minute faster in fact) there could have been an E team in about 60th.

27TH September Northern Young Athletes’ Road Relay Championships, Beckett Park

REASONABLE TURN-OUT AND TANGIBLE REWARD

The Youngsters were using a shortened version of the same course the older athletes had used the day before, but it was notable that the clubs didn’t turn out in the same numbers as they had in the  Senior races; some fields were a bit thin, the biggest turn-out being only thirty finishers.  The Club had full teams in four of thee six races and representation in the others, and considering the inexperience in this kind of race of some of the younger runners did well to finish the day with some pretty reasonable places, and one medal to add to the previous day’s tally.

Not unexpectedly it came from the Under-17 Men, who placed third in 29.58, about fifty seconds behind winners Derby, though according to Bill Torch two of the trio weren’t feeling at their best before the start.  Gordon Benson, one of the ‘off-colour’ pair, led off, and contributed a solid opening in spite of this  in 5th place (9.49) which allowed Mike Wood to make a place although running the slowest leg of the three (10.16).  This left Elliot Todd the opportunity of making the medals, and a sound 9.53 run made up the place needed with a bit to spare.  This was the only age-group where a second team turned out, and good, consistent running from Rob Torch (10.44), Alex Hart (10.52) and Jamie Higgins (11.14) saw the Second Lot wind up in a respectable 14th (32.50) of the 22 finishers.  It’s good to see a bit of ‘depth’ somewhere else besides the Senior Men.

The other two Boys’ teams also finished in respectable places.  The Under-15s finished 10th of 30, Steven Eastwood (10.02) giving them a solid lead-off in 14th place which allowed Harry Foster, who’s running into a good streak of form, moving up four places with a 9.49 clocking.  Luke Murray, who’d only declared himself available on Thursday, hung on well (10.39) to maintain the position.  The three Under-13 Lads, not surprisingly, were all running their first relay, which is very much not the same thing as running a straight race, and to add to that two of them were turning out for the very first time, so 13th of the 19 finishers (smallest field of the day) wasn’t bad at all.  Kieran Savage, the only one with racing experience, led off in 18th with 11.09; the promising-looking Joe Allinson (11.37) pulled back five, and Cameron Bradley (12.53), left in the ‘lonely spot,’ did enough to hold on.   The only full Girls’ team, the Under-13s placed 33rd, with a fair start from Nicola Sawyer (12.27) who’s running with more confidence on the long stuff these days.  Gabrielle Scobie (14.46) went back a bit, but Gemma Keir, reverting to what’s probably her strongest area of competition, ploughed through twelve places on the last leg with a pretty fiery 11.44.  Also turning out were Georgia Yearby (11.43) and India Wilson (13.49) in the Under-15s and Chloe Harley (14.24) in the Under-17s.

19-20th September – English Schools’ Combined Events Finals, Bedford

FIVE GO WILD IN MULTIPLE

It’s not unknown for the odd PB or two to go down in a multi-event competition, but there can’t have been many occasions when so many Club Lists were hammered so hard by so few.  There were only five Club members involved in the competition, but every one of them achieved a new personal best overall score; while their combined tally of individual event improvements amounted to 21.  Just to add a little gilt to the gingerbread, two of them featured in a winning team.

For once the male side was comparatively quiet – but only comparatively.  Jacob Gardiner and Mark Fuszard didn’t have a third to make up a West Yorkshire team in the Under-17 Octathlon, but this didn’t prevent them from getting stuck in.  Jake (7th) registered the biggest improvement of the weekend in points terms, his 4724 (which places him third on the Club list, about 250 points behind brother Dan) being almost 700 points better than he did in qualifying at Jarrow in June.  Much of this was due to the fact that this time he finished the 1500 (5.13.32), but there were also sizeable contributions from new marks in the hurdles (14.41), 400m (53.96), Javelin (37.45) and Shot (13.39) and handy marks, not far off his best, in High Jump (1.69 and Long Jump (6.61).  His only ‘soft’ one on this occasion was the Discus; 31.22 is a fair way down on what he has done.  Mark’s improvement in 31st place wasn’t quite as spectacular, but 250 points advance (3798) wasn’t to be sneezed at; PBs included Hurdles (16.19), Discus (28.19) Shot (9.80) and Javelin (33.30), and an equalling of his 400 with 57.40.  The other three (1.60, 5.79 and 5.13.42) weren’t that far off, though the 1500 time appears to suggest that he and Jake made a social occasion of it.

Meanwhile Katy Marchant and Fran Coldwell were combining with Wakefield’s Samantha Brook to give West Yorkshire a win in the Under-17 Heptathlon – and having to work a bit for it!  Hertfordshire (with a four-girl team) pushed them all the way, at one point being only four points behind; the eventual winning margin was less than 100.  Having just missed her PB in the recent International at Stoke, Katy did what The Scribe predicted (who is this Derren Brown??) and bounced back to add 65 points to it with 4606.  She produced two PBs on the first day, a prodigious 10.76 with the Shot and a speedy 26.78 200, but for the rest it was consistency all the way; the rest of her marks were just below, but very little below, her very best, being 11.64 Hurdles, 1.60 High Jump, 4.94 Long Jump, 33.07 Javelin and 2.34.77 800, and that was enough to secure the bronze medal in the event.  Fran similarly had two PBs counting towards her 3687, and improvement of just under 100 points; both were in what was her weaker area, the Throws, with a very sound 8.14 Shot and a big five-metre improvement with the Javelin to 27.78; add to that a Best-equalling 1.42 High Jump, a back-to-form 12.90 in the hurdles and good running marks of 27.22 and 2.38.77, and that was enough to overcome her one disaster – only 4.15 in the Long Jump.  She’s done over five; and a form-holding 4.80 or so would have seen her lot higher than the 25th she finished.

Turning out on her own in the Senior Heptathlon was Rosie Trudgen, who like Mark added about 250 to her score (3807) in 11th place; but she can claim the crown for most improvements, with six PBs including a ‘perfect’ first day where she improved everything.  By far the most significant of Saturday’s efforts was her 1.63 High Jump, which moved her near the Senior Top Ten; she’d started out with 17.71 in the Hurdles, a narrow improvement, and did likewise over 200 (28.20), but made a big advance in the Shot, putting on nearly half a metre (8.26).  She was even more pleased, having missed so narrowly earlier in the year, to start the second day by cracking the five-metre Long Jump barrier (5.07), and finished strongly with a 2.32.16 800; the one small blot on the landscape was only managing 17.45 with the Javelin, which she’s been over twenty.

26-27th September – Yorkshire Combined Events Championship, Doncaster

SEASON ROUNDED OFF WITH TWO MEDALS

It sometimes seems as though the Yorkshire County A.A. treats anything other than the main Track & Field and Cross-Country Championships as an afterthought; both the Road relays and the Combined Events are stuck in at less-than-convenient times of their respective seasons, and it was noticeable that none of the Club’s members who had represented West Yorks. Schools the week before turned out for a second bash.  That still left six Club members to show up at a sunny but chilly Keepmoat Stadium to brave the distractions of car boot sales and American Football tournaments and register two Bronze medals, five new PBs and a string of event improvements, including what The Scribe can only describe as one and a half Club records.

On Saturday Connor Morley and Matt Campleman were involved in the Under-15 Boys’ Pentathlon, and while it was Connor who came away with the Medal, third with 1990 points, Matt was the one who came home with the PBs.  Connor had one of the sort of days Katy Marchant had a month earlier; while he didn’t put up a single bad performance all day, he was a little below what he’d done before in nearly every event, and about a hundred points down altogether. The one exception was his opener, a handy little improvement to 13.5 over the Hurdles.  He followed that with 5.08 Long Jump and 9.92 Shot, which would have been PBs only a month or so ago, High-jumped 1.53, and then had a slightly disappointing 2.46.6 to finish with.  Matt started out by equalling his best Hurdles with 13.7, and then set two new marks on the trot – 4.87 Long Jump and 7.70 Shot.  He was only a centimetre off adding another in the High Jump (1.41), and ran a decent 2.38.8 800 to round off a 70-point improvement to 1767.

On Sunday it was the Under-15 Girls’ turn, though in fact out of the Club’s trio of competitors only Hannah Ukandu was an Under-15; the other two were Alyssia Carr and Melissa Fletcher, ‘competing up’ as there isn’t an Under-13 event.  It was soon clear that neither was daunted by giving years away; Alyssia opened by cracking the Club Under-13 record for 75m Hurdles with 12.4 at her first attempt at the distance, and Melissa moved to 4th on the list with 12.9.  In contrast Hannah had an off-day in this one (14.3) but put in a good 4.25 Long Jump to compensate; Melissa added 3.96, but with 4.61 Alyssia was beginning to look like a serious medal prospect.  The Shot found both the younger girls out a bit – it was the first time they’d chucked the 3.25k implement, and they’re both quite slight.  Alyssia managed 4.52 and Melissa 4.56, while Hannah, used to the weight, put out 6.50.

With 16 competitors (including five Tynesiders in the Open event) the High Jump was a bit chaotic; on a couple of occasions Melissa, who’s about the height of four penn’orth of threepenny bits, disappeared into the crowd to emerge on her run-up.  If it bothered her it didn’t show, as she cleared a PB of 1.31, a height equalled by Hannah, while Alyssia went ten centimetres higher and edged nearer the medal podium.  None of the girls are ‘natural’ 833 runners, but all achieved season’s or personal bests, Alyssia with 2.51.1, Melissa with 2.57.6 and Hannah with 3.04.4, and that’s probably as much as can be asked of multi-eventers.  This left Hannah with a total PB – just, as her 1868 was an improvement of just eight points, but she was pleased with it.  Melissa recorded a very satisfactory 1852, and Alyssia’s 2259 beat by about 100 points the score Ashley Little set eight years ago – which means that if there was a record for the Under-13’s Under-15 Pentathlon (which officially there isn’t) she’d have broken it.

While all this was going on Tom Lindsay, last year’s Under-20 Champion, was tackling his first Senior Decathlon and making a very fair fist of it.  Admittedly he finished 10th of the 12 starters and 8th and last in the Yorkshire event, but an opening score of 4870 isn’t to be sneezed at, especially as it represents a very high percentage of Tom’s theoretical potential based on PBs.  He opened on Saturday morning by equalling his best 100m with 11.7, which is an encouraging way to start, and encouraged himself even more by only missing his Long Jump best by two centimetres (6.50).  Shot, as with the young girls, is a bit limited for Tom due to slightness of build, but he managed 7.89 to keep things rolling; and then in what’s probably his front-line event, the High Jump, he put in a season’s best effort of 1.78 and was close at 1.81.  54.9 for 400m rounded off a pretty good first day; but Sunday started even better with three PBs on the trot.  First running a neck-and-neck hurdles battle with Holmfirth’s Graham Bickerdike and registering 17.9, he then went to the Discus circle and beat his previous best with all three throws, finishing with 23.82, an improvement of around three metres.  Tom’s only an occasional Vaulter, so to follow those two with 2.70 was a considerable bonus.  His 32.11 Javelin would have been a good throw if he hadn’t done over 37 within the last month, and was probably his only slight disappointment; and he ‘survived,’ as many decathletes do, a 1500 in a not unreasonable 5.15.6 to round off a worthwhile weekend.

MATURE LADY WRITES HER OWN RECORD BOOK

Hazel Barker has been filling the Club records list ever since she became a Veteran (in Women’s terms) some fifteen years ago; and there was never much doubt that when she turned 50 in August the process would continue.  Over the weekend of the 12th and 13th of August she did so in a job lot while participating in the British M****rs’ Multi-Events Championship at Iffley Road, Oxford (home from home, as she’s the Club’s only female Blue), winning not only her age-group Heptathlon but taking the trophy for the highest age-corrected score across all the age-groups with 5065.  Of the seven individual events five were Club records (as was the total score), one, the High Jump (1.39) missed by a single centimetre, and the only reason the 800 (3.16.82) wasn’t is because Veronique Marot exists!  In three cases (Shot, 10.38, Long Jump 4.23, Javelin 22.98) she broke one she’d set earlier; the Hurdles (13.42) and 200m (30.30) were inaugural marks.

Naturally Hazel was “pleased with the result, although its easy to wonder ‘what if’ about a longer ‘no throw’ I did in the javelin, the 3 consecutive narrow misses at a manageable height in the high jump and the fact that my long jumps were all from behind the board…….but if I get those things right in my next heptathlon (when I’m a year older), its unlikely to be in warm dry weather like we had this weekend so the UK record (102 points more) will probably remain out of reach.  It’s a motivator though!”

Hazel also reckoned that when she competed the following weekend in the Yorkshire Veterans’ Track & Field Championships at Cleckheaton that she’d “still be sore after the heptathlon, so don’t expect improvements.”  In strict accuracy she was right, but she certainly seemed to respond to the splendid weather (typically of Cleckheaton, where it usually rains all June, September 20th was possibly one of the summer’s best days!)   She actually equalled her High Jump record of 1.40, and her other marks – 10.09 Shot, 4.11 Long Jump and 13.7 Hurdles – weren’t that far away from her previous week’s records.  She took four Over-50 titles; and there was another Club High-Jump winner was Steve Linsell, who popped over 1.75 to take the Over-45 title and was very close at 1.80.  The weather even inspired John Lunn to a season’s best Shot of 6.18, though his Hammer (17.86) was a bit disappointing.  There were also two returnees from competitive absence.  Tony Bowman, who’s had quite a serious operation this summer, looked to have a bit to do to get fully fit, though he won the Over-70 100 (15.4) and 200 (32.5), and ran his season’s fastest 400 (81.1)  and Martin Farran (16.51.1), who’s had patella tendonitis, looked a shadow of the bounding Vet. the Club is familiar with in the 5000.  He blames early-season steeplechasing, an activity he’s giving up, for his injury.

Four of the above were out again on the following Sunday in the Northern Veterans’ Championships at Accrington, and the result was two more Club records for Hazel Barker and a total of seven individual titles at least (as informant Steve Linsell wasn’t sure where Hazel finished in a couple of others).  The records came in the 100m (14.4) and Shot (10.46), the latter being an indication that she’s getting accustomed to handling the lighter weight.  She also recorded 13.8 over the Hurdles (she won that, too), 4.01Long Jump and 1.35 High Jump.  Steve himself took the Over-45 High Jump with 1.75, which added 20cm to the Championship record, though he didn’t think he’d gone as well as the previous week – “but I acme away in one piece.”  Tony Bowman contested four Over-70 track events, winning three (15.4 100m, 31.8 200m and 3.37.0 800m), and placing second over 400 (80.5).  The other competitor was Martin Farran, but Steve didn’t get his 5000 time; details will no doubt emerge.

VIEILLE DAME RETOURNE ÁSES RACINES – ACTUELLEMENT ET PENIBLEMENT

What do you do when you go back to your birthplace?  Stroll around gently and reminisce, most people would probably say; not many would celebrate their return with a 22-mile run through the local countryside.  But then, not many people are Veronique Marot!   Returning to Compiègne for family business, she took in the Tour des Beaux Monts Trail Race over 34 kilometres on September 13th, and judging by her report had an interesting time:-

“The Beaux Monts are little hillocks situated some 5km directly opposite the Chateau de Compiègne, made famous by kings and emperors.  It was Napoleon I who decided that it would be a nice welcome present to his future wife, Marie-Louise, to cut all the trees facing the chateau over a distance of 5km and 50m wide to remind her of her native Schönbrunn Palace in Austria.  On a bright Sunday morning 400 or so brave souls decided to risk the wild boars, deer and not least, the dreaded tics which abound in that part of the forest, The race winds its way up that famous cutting facing the chateau, climbs up to the top of the Beaux-Monts and then…… disappears into the forest, down, up and down, round and about in ever tightening circles and switchbacks up and down every conceivable hillock in the forest. The Clerk of the course, boulanger de son etat (baker) must have been slightly high on croissants when he devised the b****er of a course awaiting us.

I felt quite good for the first ten miles, which I took carefully following the boulanger and his fellow club members but then he and his mates speeded up after half way, I got isolated and started to think that doing 10km three times a week was maybe a little light as a preparation for a 34km trail race. Then the baker and his mates came back towards me, no doubt suffering from the effect of the excessive downhill parts. I struggled past them and trundled homewards, only to be overtaken in the last 10km by a French/American woman claiming to suffer from the after effects of giving birth in June and flying back from California 2 days earlier. I saw little sign of it!   We proceeded quite happily for another five miles as the route levelled, striking up a conversation and passing men frozen on all fours by the side of the path, clearly suffering from a sudden attack of cramp. In the last 2km, however, I too started to feel very stiff and I begged Marion to leave me to die and go on ahead. I managed to keep shuffling along at a pace barely recognisable as running and finished in 3hrs 43′. And I wasn’t even first Over 50, although the organisers (friends of mine) had given me the number 1.  After all that I had to drive all the way back to Leeds the next day, a drive of about 9 hours!

Lack of training apart, I really recommend this race, all off road on beautiful sandy very well marked trails, with plenty of support, shade (it was a warm day) and an amazing variety of trees and landscapes – if you’re in good shape to see them!”

LATE TRACK AND ASSORTED ROADS AND TRAILS

If Jacob Gardiner could have stored up the two throws he put in at the Douglas Bedford Open at Wakefield on September 13tth for use in the Schools’ Combined the following week he’d have come home considerably happier; both Discus (36.98) and Javelin (41.18) were four or five metres further and would have been a lot of points better.  Still, such are the ways of athletics!  There seemed to be quite a number of people warming up for future multi-events at Wakefield; Fran Coldwell was out hurdling (2nd in 13.42), Tom Lindsay put in a decent Javelin (32.14) and another good Long Jump (6.47) to rise Yorkshire hopes, and whole Connor Morley had an off-day in the High Jump (‘only’ 1.55) he compensated himself with two excellent PBs in Shot (10.16) and Long Jump (5.27).  Once again the Under-13 Girls were out in force, trying out the longer sprints some of them will have to do next year; fastest times fell to Alyssia Carr (13.6 100m and 28.74 200m, plus a 1.35 High Jump), but improvements fell to Caoimhe Crampton (30.19, best as an Under-13) and Molly Allinson (14.6 and 30.79).  Vikki Adams also had a double up to her best form (1.20 High Jump and 2.54.49 800m).

Matt Barton made an interesting appearance in the Isle of Wight Championships at Sandown on the 20th.  Forsaking his normal round of events (possibly to spare his beleaguered knees) he contested the Throws instead, finishing third in the Hammer (19.76 – the winner did over sixty!) and Discus (28.90) and 4th in the Shot (9.36).

Not much has been heard of the Great North Run this year, and the website of results is impenetrable without a degree in IT (to old technophobic f***s like The Scribe anyway) but it has emerged (via Lunchtime O’Surf) that James Smith finished 32nd in 69.24, which places him 21st on the Club All-Time List.  If anyone else took part, the Scribe would be grateful to receive details.

The last few weeks have seen the Club’s Over-55 Gents in a fair bit of long-distance action.  On September 13th Chris Corcoran took time off from curing aches and pains to inflict a few on himself in the Wistow 10, just outside Selby; he finished 24th in 69.31, which placed him 4th in his age category.  A week later Peter Bates turned up (as is his habit) at the Kirkstall Valley Trail Race and finished 5th Vet in 61st place, covering the 10k or so of assorted terrain in 54.14.  John Mace went a little further afield on the same day; he took in the Berlin Marathon, and ran a very respectable 3.21.45, but there’s no indication of how many gentlemen of his age were around.  John was clearly taking this one pretty seriously – he even passed up on the Saltaire Beer Festival to take part!