14/07/2009: Thirty-five barriers cleared and a bigger one broken…

A COUPLE OF CHAMPIONSHIPS

This weekend was where the Club’s leading lights on the track in all age-groups came up against their major challenges, in the most prestigious national events. As ever, results in this area have to be weighed against the quality of opposition the members are up against; it’s perfectly possible (and has actually happened this weekend) for an athlete to perform superbly and yet fail to make any apparent ‘achievement.’ The Scribe, who rejects the popular-press idea that anyone who doesn’t come back with a medal is a failure, is happy to report that from that point of view the weekend saw a lot more positives than negatives.

July 10-12th – National Championships and World Trials, Birmingham

THIRTY-FIVE BARRIERS CLEARED AND A BIGGER ONE BROKEN

Of the eight Club members who turned out at Alexander Stadium there isn’t much doubt about the outstanding effort. James Wilkinson’s fourth place in the Steeplechase, within very close distance of a medal in his first serious season at the distance, saw him become the first Under-20 in Club history to break the nine-minute barrier, and as the three in front of him were all older there’s every chance of him joining Dan Gardiner on a trip to Novi Szad (if that’s how it’s spelt) for the European Junior. Incidentally, only four other athletes have broken nine minutes in Club history.

There was actually one ‘winner’ at the meeting, but Matt Hudson didn’t make the Final of the 100m Hurdles and won the B Final instead; still, two runs of 14.41 and 14.40 emphasised his consistency this year, the latter being a ‘legal’ PB. Not everybody hit their best for the big event; Mike Salter must have been hopeful of considerable progress after resent improvements, but ‘only’ mustered 1.52.78 (which would have been a PB just over a month ago) in the 800 heats, Matt Barton clearly hadn’t got over his trip to the Åland Islands (see below) and was well down on his best in 8th (14.67) and Anthony Timms had one of his less good days, though most long-jumpers would be glad of 7.08. The biggest Leeds City presence was in the 5000m, with three finalists, and nobody can say Dave Webb didn’t rise to the challenge; he forced the pace through the third and fourth kilometres (he’s not a great finisher it was his only realistic hope of a medal) but was burned off in the fifth to finish 6th. However, he was at least rewarded with a PB of 14.11.16, while Simon Deakin edged down his season’s beset by a bit in 9th (14.15.14); Adam Grice (10th in 14.20.33) ran solidly but couldn’t find the bit of spark he’d produced a fortnight back.

10-11th July –English Schools’ Championships, Sheffield

ADAM’S BIG LEAP AND JAKE’S BIG SLING

One title and one medal from thirteen starts isn’t the best-ever Leeds City record from the English Schools’, but it isn’t half bad either; furthermore the figures also, as with the Senior Championships, conceal a number of PBs and creditable performances in strong fields, as well as a few disappointments. The only place where everybody has a happy ending is in fairy stories; and however good the facilities are at Don Valley, nobody can mistake it for fairyland or suggest that Attercliffe Road is made of yellow bricks. (Cries from younger members of “What is the Old F***unctionalry goig on about now??)

The title could be said to be a bit of a family embarrassment; while brother Anthony was having a torrid time at Birmingham Adam Timms was producing a “legal” Long Jump PB of 7.16 and winning the Senior Boys’ title with a jump eight centimetres further than Big Brother (7.16). The Scribe senses that a head-to-head in the next British League match could be fun! This was well the best of the five Senior performances of the day, though none were a long way below the respective athletes’ PBs and one – Tom Mosley’s ‘windy’ 22.13 in the 200 was a fastest-ever. Like Tom Kadena Cox found a good time (25.8) not enough to get past the heats; and the two other Senior Girls were both struggling against the effects of ongoing injuries , which makes both Amy Marchant’s 4th in the High Jump (1.66) and Carrie Simpson’s 10.60 Shot Putt for 7th rather more creditable than would at first appear.

For just under 39 years the second-oldest Club record – Jonathan Hartley’s Under-17 Discus mark of 54.90 – has seemed well-nigh unattainable, never being approached closer than eight metres; and for just over 34 years the name of Paul Armstrong has been attached to the Under-20 record in the same event. Now both are under threat, as in taking the Bronze medal in the Intermediate Boys’ Championship Jake Armstrong added over three metres to his best with 49.50 – and barring injury he’s got another twelve months to close down those five metres. There were a couple of other near-misses in this age-group; Katy Marchant placed 4th in the 80m Hurdles (11.61 after an 11.65 heat), but at least one observer suggested that she was understandably a bit tentative after a false start in the Final, and that could have cost her a medal. No complaints about Jacob Gardiner’s 6th in the Long Jump, though; he added a centimetre to his Best (6.69) in spite of jumping into a strong headwind. The standard of competition is always high in this meeting, as Matt Wagner found out when running within three-hundredths of his best in the Hurdles (14.33) didn’t see him to the Final. Gordon Benson in the Steeplechase (8th, 4.38.60) and Stacey Evenden in the Hammer (10th, 30.30) produced good form performances, but neither Mike Wood (4.11.54) nor Elliot Todd (4.18.21) progressed beyond the 1500m heats, while Jack Mosley was disqualified in the 400 heats.

TRACKS NEAR, FAR AND INSULAR

According to his own e-mail, Matt Barton gave himself three targets for this year – a Personal Best Triple Jump, a third successive Northern title, and a third successive win at the International Island Games. After last week in the Åland Islands (go on, then – where are they??) only the PB eludes him, as he took the title again with 14.99 – not quite as far as he managed in Rhodes last year, but half a metre clear of second, and it’s not quite so warm in the Ålands, is it? (A clue!) He wasn’t so pleased about his Long Jump, though; he finished 4th with 6.84 “from well behind the board (and) I had a 7.20 marginal no jump.” By the sound of it, the Isle of Wight don’t pay a fortune in expenses; Matt described his trip home as” 27 hours consisting of coach, boat, plane, car and a sleep in the car at Trowell services.” Not really the lifestyle of a pampered international!

There seemed to be quite a few people going well over 1500 metres at Cleckheaton on Wednesday when the fifth West Yorkshire League meeting took place; each of the three male races at that distance finished up with a Leeds City runner in front. At Under-15 level Steven Eastwood, after setting a PB over 100 with 12.9, ran a good tactical race against Wakefield’s Jake Worton and just held on for a narrow win in 4.41.6; behind him Harry Foster took no less than 18 seconds off his previous best mark (4.48.9). The next group up saw Rob Torch run away from the opposition in 4.24. 8, while in the Senior race Steve O’Neill (who also had a little flourish sprinting, doing 12.5) was four seconds faster. Tom Lindsay had his usual busy evening, setting three season’s bests (11.8 100, 6.27 Long Jump and 20.61 Discus) and even putting in the 1500 as well (5.03.5 – does The Scribe sense a possible Decathlon later in the year?) Ben Tootle (2.34.2) boldly took on Sam Convery (son of John) over 800 but lost out, while Sam Clark, after his normal bout of sprinting (12.2 for 80m) had a bash at 800 and lowered his PB by quite a bit (2.53.0). Matt Barton was observed playing at being a thrower (29.01 Discus), while Israel Alaja, who’s been seen training at South Leeds for a while, finally made his competitive debut with a 12.8 100.

On the female side Fran Coldwell improved her season’s 100 mark to 13.5, and Chloe Harley was one place off making it a 1500-metre ‘set’ (5.34.7, another season’s best), but the sprightliest action took place in the Under-13s. Alyssia Carr had a good night running her fastest 80m without benefit of tailwind (11.0) and moving to third on the Long Jump list with 4.46, and Melissa Fletcher (11.7) was also quicker over 80 than before; but Wednesday was the night when Molly Allinson came out of the shadows. So far she’s been a bit of an understudy to Alyssia, Melissa and Caoimhe Crampton (who also ran 11.7), but an improvement to 11.8 and a substantially bigger Long Jump of 3.81 would indicate that she’s moving steadily nearer centre stage. Gemma Keir (2.37.6, who also did both 80 and Long Jump) led for most of the 800 but was outkicked (it might be an idea for her to ‘take a ride’ occasionally), while Nicola Sawyer was within a second if her recent PB with 2.45.4.

Half a dozen younger members chose to go to the Barnsley Young Athletes’ Open on Sunday, and again fortunes were varied. Alyssia Carr had the best return of the day, winning her three events and setting new marks for the full-distance sprints (13.4 100 and 28.2 200); the Long Jumkp (4.44) was just two centimetres short. Connor Morley set a new PB in the Shot with 9.58, and equalled his High Jump best of 1.60, while after trying his hand/legs at springing (decent 26.0 200) and Long Jumping (3.91) Steven Eastwood won the Under-15 800; his time (2.13 or thereabouts –The Scribe didn’t get the accurate clocking) wasn’t specially impressive for him, but the manner of taking the race was. Fran Coldwell, however, had one of teose days you can get at open meetings with no strict timetable; all her three events started at once, and she couldn’t’ do herself justice in any of them.

HARRYING ABOUT

The Rainton 10k is part of the Black Sheep Series of races around Harrogate and district; whether the ale is an attraction, as most of the races start from pubs, isn’t clear, but certain Leeds City members seem to favour them. Three went to Raintonon June 28th for a 10k “with about a mile and a half off-road,” and two came back with wins. Anyone who’s been thinking that Darran Bilton has been a bit quiet since the Edinburgh Marathon will be pleased to note that the Galloping Geriatric is well back to action, winning by somewhere around a minute and a half in 31.20 and setting a new course record. Trevor Clough, who reported on the race, finished 15th in 38.02 and brought home the Over-50s ‘pot,’, while nine places behind Simon Hill ran a creditable 39.01 to set himself up for the following week’s tracking.

It was a bit of a Club benefit in Rothwell Harriers’ Methley 5k Canal Race on July 7th; four turned out for a quick burst along the Far Canal (Fancy That!), and Dave Driver (16.25) and Martin Sanders (16.37, back from injury) took the first two places. Trevor Clough reckons that if there’d been an Over-50 prize he’d have had it in 11th place (18.09), “but there was only one Vets’ category,” while back in 35th John Mace (20.45) showed a sprightly turn of speed for an Over-55 gentleman.

The Scribe regrettably had to hold over reporting the fifth Yorkshire Veterans’ A.A. Grand Prix race in Adel Woods due to Ex-Webmaster Pop being on holiday and mislaying Lunchtime O’Surf’s e-mail due to spring-cleaning. The race marked the return to action after injury of Sean Cotter, and though the defending Over-40 Champion has a way to go yet he finished 5th (2 and first in his category, to announce his return. In 29th place Brian Hilton led home the Over-60 category, and there was even a three-man team of proto-pensioners consisting of Roger Parker (4th, 56th overall, 35.19) and Dave Barras (11th, 94th, 41.12), though Dave afterwards admitted he’d had an off-day. Two comparative youngsters of just over 55 also finished in a good turn-out of oldies; John Mace (56h, 34.49) was third in the category, while Peter Bates (74th, 36.50) placed 6th. However, in the sixth race at Honley on Sunday Sean (who finished 5th again in 38.27) was on his own; everybody else was either on holiday or otherwise occupied (see below). In the overall standings Brian, Roger and Dave are respectively third, 8th and 15th in the Over-60s (though Brian has run less races than the other two), while John and Peter are third and 16th among the Over-55s and Sean 4th in the Over-40s.

Two of the above Old F Gentlemen forsook the Vets’ events for the Eccup 10k on Sunday. John Mace had quite a sprightly circuit of the reservoir for an elder person, finishing 84th in 71.27 and placed 11th in the Over-50- category (it as a ten-year age-group race), while Dave Barras was clearly in a bit better shape. recording 74.39 in 133rd and placing 5th among the Over-60s. The pair were joined by Ian Brine, who finished 172nd in 77.49.