11/08/2009: A few shining lights in a poor week…

SCRIBAL APOLOGY

The combination of two days’ officialling, delayed amendments ot result-sheets, domestic commitments and the procurement of beer (not for personal consumption!!) meant that The Scribe was unable to finish a Clubnews last week. He apologises, and hopes that this bumper two-week edition will make up for it.

August 1st/2nd – Senior Leagues

A FEW SHINING LIGHTS IN A POOR WEEK

Clubnews has a duty to tell Leeds City how it is, not how it would like to be, and at the present moment the track & Field side of Leeds City doesn’t give the impression of functioning as well as it should be. There are all sorts of excuses to be made, many of which (injuries, illnesses and the like) are valid; but it has to be said that some facet of the Club’s organisation are in need of a lot of thought. It was in retrospect over-optimistic to try and run three Senior teams, and this weekend it came unstuck; the third team simply didn’t get put together (for the first time in about twenty years a Club team failed to show up), which wasn’t surprising when the second team only half happened.

At least, however, there were some rays of light on the scene; the Men came good in the British League, the Women retained their place in the U.K. Women’s League, and in all three meetings there were some good, in some cases excellent, individual performances. It’s in organisational matters, however, where things have gone wrong, mostly it has to be said from circumstances rather than lack of goodwill, and this needs addressing well before 2010. The Scribe (who reckons himself not entirely blameless for some aspects of what’s happened) is more than willing to publish other people’s thoughts on the situation before he airs his own.

Detailed results of all meetings, as usual, are on the Results page.

1st August – British Athletics League, Div.2, South Leeds

THE REAL LEEDS CITY MEN’S TEAM STANDS UP

All the things that could have gone wrong didn’t. The Pole Vault landing area arrived in time, and the uprights worked; the photo-finish was delivered, installed and operated; with one exception (who had said that a holiday might intervene) all the officials booked to turn up arrived, and several Club members and parents buckled down and acted as unofficial retrievers. More important, by 2 p.m. Martin Horbury was able to report that an almost full-strength Leeds City team had all reported in; and the lads then did their buckling-down to win the fixture and give themselves a fighting chance of avoiding relegation. The only thing that didn’t oblige was the weather, which appears to target B.A.L. fixtures in Leeds with a particularly horrible climatic cocktail.

Competitively, though, the team didn’t get off to a great start. In the Shot, which for Health and safety reasons opened the meeting, neither Matt Allison nor Mark Gulliver (throwing with a strapped wrist) were at their best, and the same went for both Dan Gardiner and Anthony Timms in the Long Jump. Dan admitted that he’d “done very little” after Novi Sad (is anyone surprised??), and Anthony simply dismissed his efforts as “shocking.” However, things brightened up when the Hammer got going, with Mark G. putting out a decent throw and Mark Harrison, having previously extended his PB about fifty centimetres at a time, added a whacking four metres at one go to place a surprise second in the B. Neither, though, came close to TVH veteran Steve Whyte, whose near-60 metre effort took the Man of the Match Award.

The early track events showed promise. Press-ganged into 400 Hurdling, Nick Hooker blasted over a second off his previous Best, and Tom Lindsay started an excellent afternoon by going under 60 for a season’s peak. The A 800 proved to any doubters that Michael Salter isn’t just about fast times; he produced an exhibition of race control that more seasoned campaigners would have been proud of. In contrast Ben Craddock tried front-running, and succeeded in shaking off everybody but one. The 100 featured a rather leg-weary but gutsy Dan G nicking a couple of places in the last five yards and an uninjured but clearly not yet fully fit Umar Hameed; but the ‘Chase was a different matter. In spite of the persistent challenge of Cardiff’s Chris Discombe James Wilkinson put on a masterclass of controlled racing, gaining ground at each water-jump and going away on the last lap; and behind him James Lavin, his injury traumas behind him, ran with grit and determination to a PB and a second place.

Out in the field Matt A. and Mark G fared rather better in the Discus, though up against some really classy throwers; and while both the Leeds lads were out fairly early in a vault which appeared to go on for ever Mark Fuszard added three centimetres (courtesy of a curious League directive) to his PB and Tom Wagner was simply glad to get through a B.A.L. match without a disaster. By this stage the Club had a narrow lead, which was never to be subsequently lost.

The Club’s individual performance of the day came in the Sprint Hurdles, when Matt Hudson flung himself at a three metres per second headwind – enough to blow some hurdlers backwards, including one of Herne Hill’s – to record what’s believed to be a Stadium record of 14.64; it was seriously considered for Athlete of the Match. Tom L. supported manfully, and had enough left to go and do likewise for Matt Barton in the Triple, equalling his season’s best. The Bounding Islander looked as if he might be having one of his off-days as the heavens opened and the waster flooded into the pit, but typically saved one big one – in this case for the last round – to take the event. The weather seemed to affect both Rhys Smith and Sam Lowrey in the 400; though both battled mightily, they both acknowledged being down on earlier form this season.

Meanwhile there was another Club win – possibly the most hard-fought of the afternoon – in the High Jump; while Steve Linsell , in his Club record-setting 48th B.A.L. appearance, went out early for him, complaining that his old tendons were creaking (and he was due to jump in Finland on Monday!) James Heaton on his B.A.L. debut finished on 1.88 with an identical record to TVH’s Myles Fisher, and came in for the High-jumpers’ nightmare – a jump-off, and in the most dreadful conditions for such an eventuality. Both failed at 1.91 – the bar came back down to 1.88 – and James made it! The final field event, the Javelin, saw everybody a bit weather-beaten down from their best, but Matt A. put in a decent throw for third, and Sam Allan wasn’t that far behind to take the B event and score highly.

The final track events consolidated the Leeds City position. Nick H. clearly hadn’t left too much ‘over the sticks,’ as he ran a battling 1500 and was closing near the end, and it was good to see Joe Townsend racing aggressively and effectively again. Tom Mosley took on a good field of 200 runners and put up a fine performance, with Matt H. as supporting act, looking quite sharp for an ‘irregular’ sprinter. The 5000 saw four Leeds City runners line up, two as guests, which prompted the League Secretary to warn of possible disqualifications in the event of pacing; The Scribe forbore to tell him that one of the team runners was James Walsh, and there would be no question of anyone being allowed to pace him! Though all the way through the race both James and the equally aggressive James Smith tried to force the issue, there were a couple of ‘kickers’ in the field; but more excellent points came rolling in.

The Relays saw a worthy effort in the 4×400 from a team featuring another very young B.A.L. debutant in Jack Mosley alongside Sam, Rhys and Ben C.; bit it was the sprint team that caught the eye, where suddenly a quartet came to life. Two strong opening legs from Matt H. and Anthony T. set things up, then Umar suddenly came to life, ran a sterling bend and produced the most nerve-jangling hand-over to Tom M – The Scribe swears the baton was in mid-air between them for an instant – to allow Tom to hang on like grim death in a blanket finish and anchor the first relay team this century to get into the Ranking Lists – in fact the first team to be added to the List since 1991! Quite a finale to an excellent afternoon’s competition, by all eight clubs; in the whole afternoon only five of the 288 event places went unfilled.

The final congratulation to be handed out over the Club’s home B.A.L. meeting is to everyone – from the Club, from the surrounding clubs in West Yorkshire (and a few other places besides) and the Council staff who by officialling, recording, shifting, announcing and doing a thousand and one other menial but vital jobs, gained the accolade from League Hon. Secretary David Jeacock that it was “a most efficiently run meeting.” After some of the comments passed last year by certain visiting officials it was music to the Committee’s ears.

2nd August – U.K. Women’s League, Div. 4, Gateshead

JOB DONE BY DEPLETED REMNANT

Injuries, holidays, other commitments and simple failure on the part of some members (shame!) to acknowledge e-mails left Veronique Marot with a team of only eight athletes to tackle the last meeting of the season at Gateshead – which became ten when she put herself in a couple of events and Rachael Dyson, who’d gone to official because an injury prevented her running, offered to throw as well. Of course it wasn’t easy to get a team together electronically while on a long visit to France; so it was just as well that the two previous excellent results made relegation virtually impossible. Nor did it help that one team member found herself double-booked (she still turned out and dashed home by train!) and another pulled out with injury the day before. It’s therefore no surprise that the team finished last; what has to be said, loud and clear, for the girls who went is that Leeds City filled 30 of the 36 event-slots and made a sterling effort not to be at the back. In fact, mid-way through the afternoon it looked as if they might not be; and the lack of a 4×400 team (scratched by the Team Manager when it was clear it would make no difference to the result) was an indication of how much the girls had taken out of themselves.

With everybody bar Veronique doing three events PBs and wins were few and far between, but there was plenty of determination shown throughout. Liz Best, after opening up as a Hammer-thrower, got on with hurdling, ran a battling 400 and then edged her PB in the 100 later in the afternoon; her partner in the 400, Rosie Trudgen had a narrow PB here but was disappointed not to hit five metres in the Long Jump, especially as “I had one at 4.92 where I fell on my backside.” She and partner Caroline Park (who also had a bash at the Javelin) came good in the High Jump, the best-scoring event of the day, with a second and a first.

Sheryl Punter gutsily covered all three sprints, not an easy thing on a day with a strong wind (though for once Gateshead was bathed in bright sunlight) and her 200 as particularly good against a field which could honestly be called classy; Danni Carr supported her valiantly, and also ‘got one in’ with the Javelin for a point. The other field events were filled by a process of ‘auctioning off,’ a process that Anna Martin opted out of by offering to do 400, 800 and 1500, a tough treble; of the three her 800 was outstanding, and but for the breeze she might well have achieved the 2.20 she was aiming for. Veronique was also after her own Over-50 record, but “it wasn’t going to happen with that wind.

The two longer races were in the good hands of Sarah Peterson and Emily Klee, who had gone with the intention of setting Steeplechase PBs; first, however, they took on a good field in the 3000 and didn’t quite go as fast as they recently had at Stretford. When it came to the ‘Chase, however, it was a historic moment; the first time any club in this Division had put out a pair of ‘Chasers. Both produced PBs in their contrasting styles, with Sarah confidently clearing the ‘dry’ barriers but still inelegant over the water, and Emily far more sure ‘in the wet’ but stepping on the others. Both girls also contributed, literally, one throw in support of Rachael – for which many thanks!

It was a bit of a downbeat end to what’s been a ‘learning’ season, but there’s plenty of good things over the year to work on; and the spirit shown at Gateshead is one of them. It might add a bit of spice to next year that Wakefield could have been relegated into the same Division. All the same, there’s work ahead to get things righter!

5th July – Northern Senior League, Div.1, Stretford

MEN PERFORM WELL IN ISOLATION

If it was difficult to raise women for Gateshead, it was hardly surprising that only one woman – Fiona Maddocks – got to Preston, and the fact that she made the trip worthwhile by improving her best times over 800 and 1500, and according to Arthur Cockcroft running an impressive race in the latter, is some consolation at least. So it was the Men on their own, and by and large they made an excellent shift of it, scoring well all round and at least going out of Division 1 with a bit of a flourish.

There were in fact four ‘recidivists’ from the previous day, which made a considerable difference; biggest gluttons for punishment were Mark Gulliver, who came and did the same three throws, going rather further in the Shot and Discus than at South Leeds, and Tom Lindsay, who did four events, had an excellent win in the Long Jump with a season’s best, and set PBs in both Sprint Hurdles and Triple – clearly the B.A.L. was just a warm-up! Mark Fuszard backed Tom up in High Jump and Long Jump – both good scoring events – but didn’t get hold of the Javelin; on the other hand Tim Miller did, performing not far below his previous best, though a clerical error suggested that he had set a new PB for the fourth time this year. The rest of the field team consisted of David Milnes, who threw everything throwable and was near a Hammer best.

The Track events fell into two groups – covered by youngsters and covered by honest work-horses who have served the Club well. The latter included Tom Waiting, who has improved no end in his first season as a sprinter and is just the sort of guy the Club needs to have around when the stars get injured; Mark Gilmer, a true hundred-per-center who on this occasion was rewarded by a season’s best over 200 metres; and the grafter of them all, Trevor Wilks, still grafting at 38 and defying all the injuries, who yet again bounced back and turned up another season’s best. His partner on this occasion was another in the same mould but making his track debut; former Bridgend athlete Elliot Cole also impressed Arthur with a determined chase of Blackburn’s Ben Fish, and could be yet another ingredient of depth to the Harriers’ squad this winter.

The youngsters who turned out seemed to have a good time and tackled Seniors fearlessly. After his previous day’s 1500 effort Joe Townsend stepped down to 800 and made a fair fist of it, partnered by 14-year-old Elliot Todd, the youngest Senior of the season and not in the least overawed. The only slightly older Gordon Benson, partnered by comparative ‘veteran’ Geoff Belcher (all of 18!) made a good shift of the 1500, and Rob Torch took to sprinting (well, 400 anyway) before the four youngest made an unlikely sprint relay squad, and Rob and Elliot combined with Tom L. and Team manager Andy Whitley to pick up points in the 4×400. Danny Davies, however, had a bit of a rough time in the ‘Chase.

WHAT A WAY TO GAIN A TITLE!

Getting the full results of this weekend’s England Athletics Under-17 and Under-15 Championships has been a difficult business. Whoever runs the EA website is one of those internet wonks who puts presentation ahead of substance, and navigating from pictures of the winners proved only to lead to Finals results; however, The Scribe finally thinks he found where everything had been hidden, and if he’s missed anybody he apologises.

The Club had four Under-17 finalists, two of them in one event. Jake Armstrong had a Discus series he’d have been well satisfied with in June, but didn’t quite recapture that near-50-metre form of July and finished 5th with 45.70. Michael Wood ran very close to his season’s best both in Heats and Final of the 1500, but 4.05.07, good though it was, only placed him 10th in a race won in around 3.55. The 3000 saw both Elliot Todd and Gordon Benson in the frame, and if they’d been permitted the ante-post bookies would probably have been quoting Elliot at the shorter odds. However, on this occasion it was Elliot who had the slight off-day, placing 13th in 9.16.39, about eight seconds down on his Best – while those who might have questioned the wisdom of Gordon in passing up the Steeplechase to go for the longer race were silenced as he ran the race of his life. Winning an English title at any time is an achievement; taking no less than 22½ seconds off your PB in the process is doing it in some style. To put it simply, if he’d gone just over two seconds faster than the 8.42.18 that he ran, it would have placed him on the Senior Ranking List – at fifteen years and three months!

FLYING ROAD TIME BY WEBBO, AND OTHER STUFF

Back in 1972 Mike Baxter (who put in an appearance at South Leeds on Saturday, the Scribe is pleased to relate) ran what he regards as one of his best-ever races, over ten miles ; he beat a field which contained the cream of British distance-runners of the day, running a magnificent 47.12. That time has never since been approached by any Club member – until Sunday at Sale, when Dave Webb finished third in the Sale 10, twelve seconds behind the Kenyan winner and seven seconds behind Belgrave’s Mark Miles, in 47.47. It’s certainly by a massive margin the fastest ten-miler done by a Club member this millennium!

Steve Linsell, in spite of moaning (not like him!) about his creaking state of health, flew to Finland the day after the B.A.L. meeting and took part in the World M****rs’ Championships at Lahti, and “somehow managed to get away with equal second” in the Over-45 High Jump on Monday “going off 5 strides to try and get through the competition in one piece, as both tendons were killing me and I’d had bad lower back pain for a week; it couldn’t have got much worse. The actual competition was conducted in decent conditions, with the odd shower, but was really great; it was just the heights that were disappointing.” Steve finished second , jointly with American Thomas Vanzandt, behind “Italy’s Marco Segatel, the expected winner, who took gold but with only 1.84.” As both the other medallists have cleared 1.95 Steve was “more than happy with the medal and I guess the height under the circumstances. A couple of months earlier when I had no niggles …. but such is athletics! It’s all on the day and you never quite know what’s going to happen.” The Club’s only other competitor was Hazel Barker, who completed the first day of the Over-45 Pentathlon (Hurdles 13.79, Shot 8.98, High Jump 1.36 and 200 31.44) but didn’t start the following day; Steve Suggested that her High-jump mark – well below her best – could indicate n in-competition injury.

The second Hyde Park 5k on August 5th saw a bigger overall turn-out (99 recorded finishers, plus one guy who e-mailed to say he’d been left off the results),but only four Leeds City starters – principally as a lot of potential competitors ere marshalling. There was a return to action by a not-yet-fit but determined Scott Mitchell in 19th place (18.15) – mainly determined to stay in front of Martin Horbury (21st, 18.28) and deny him the pint offered by the Scribe! Rob Gatenby, who’s done a lot of there, finished 57th (21.45), and Mark Sawyer (that’s Nicola’s Dad) debuted in 80th place (26.36). Full results are elsewhere on the site.

Closer, ever closer, to that 1.50 barrier creeps Mike Salter – if ‘creep’ is the right word for running 1.50.06 as he did at the Trafford Grand Prix on Tuesday. It wasn’t the only noteworthy mark by any means, but anything that approaches a barrier like that is quite something. Barriers played a part in the other two most noteworthy efforts; James Wilkinson shattered one, going a good way under 3.50 by taking nearly five seconds off his PB (3.48.67), while Sarah Peterson cleared eighteen of hem in finishing fourth in the Northern 2000m Steeplechase Championship, lowering her two-day-old PB by around eight seconds (7.22.67). Over 800 Gordon Benson came within an ace of two minutes (2.00.23), new recruit Dale Worton ran a very sound 2.01.70, and Fiona Maddocks just missed her Sunday mark with 2.27.4. Danny Davis lowered his 3000m mark substantially (9.24.01), while over 1500 there was plenty of interest – Nick Hooker going close to PB (3.54.73,), James Lavin lowering his season’s best by sixteen seconds as he returns to form (4.08.58), Rob Torch chopping a chunk down with 4.19.20, and a very classy lady from Coventry finding herself outkicked by Alex Hart (4.33.01) and Steven Eastwood (4.33.84) as they had a private battle in race 8!

Taking a break from rejigging the Club website, Sorrel Hoare turned out in the Idle Trail Race last Sunday and finished 84th (42.49). The question which immediately springs to The Scribe’s mind is, did it start from the wonderful institution, the Idle Working Men’s Club??

Three of the group coached by Alan Childs went across to Blackpool this weekend to do the North West Combined Events Championships, which incorporated an open event, and were probably all glad they went. The only one who didn’t set a PB, either in combination or in any individual event, was Fran Coldwell, but as she won the Under-17 Heptathlon, was only about seventy points shy of her Best (3520), and turned in a performance which as a model of consistency, she wouldn’t be too disappointed. She was a bit down in the High Jump (1.37) and Javelin (18.70), for which she compensated with a swift 12.99 Hurdles, her best in a multi-event; the other marks (7.72 Shot, 4.74 Long Jump, 27.67 200 and 2.40.28 800) were about to form. Connor Morley improved his best score by 31 points (2080) in winning the Under-15 Pentathlon, in spite of a not-too-good 800 (2.42.72), which may have been heat-affected; his cause was helped by PBs in the Hurdles (13.89), High Jump (1.61) and Long Jump (5.22), and his second-best Shot Putt (9.91). The only non-winner was Stephen Coles, trying the Octathlon for the first time and putting up a respectable 3657; as might be expected he scored well in High Jump (1.76), Long Jump (5.84) and 400 (53.65), ran a decent Hurdles (16.70) and a surprisingly good 1500 (4.43.69). However, his weakness was clearly in the Throws; his lean build is more suited to the other events, and 6.28 Shot, 20.02 Discus and 18.53 Javelin lost him a lot of ground. Still, third in his first one was anything but a flop.

It’s quite a thrill to see your name on the scoreboard of a major international stadium at a Grand Prix meeting with GBR after it – especially when you’re only thirteen! On July 28th this happened to Matthew Campleman while on his holidays on the Côte d’Azur, when the family went to watch the Monaco Super Grand Prix. Discovernig, in the words of Mum Alison’s e-mail, that there were “1000m races for ordinary mortals before the meeting starts, which are run on the basis of the year you are born in” Matthew got stuck into the race for boys born in 1996, “competing against athletes from France and Italy.” His time of 3.30.41 in 7th place of 19 finishers was “not great, as he’d done 2.31 for 800, but the race took place in a temperature of 27o Centigrade (at 5.30 p.m.) and he’s not used to that.” Alison reckons it was “a great experience;” and besides giving Matt the distinction of being the youngest Leeds City athlete ever recorded as a GB representative (!) also makes him the only Club member ever to gain a Ranking List time in the Principality of Monaco!