Northern T&F League - Division 3E - Meeting 1
[Sun 3rd May]
The 2015 track and field league kicked off on Sunday 3rd of May in true British style...i.e it was cold, grey and everything was rather wet. Nontheless the beginnings of the Blyth/Wallsend contingent were there nice and early and, with only a little moaning and wondering when the event would be cancelled, we got the tent set up. At this point I was happy to 'borrow' a cup of Ralph's coffee, sit in the tent and wait for the fun to begin.
As ever, the morning was slow with only some brave hammer throwers competing. We were well represented in these events though, with Paul Corrigan and Ralph throwing for the men, and Sharon Richardson and Becki Newman throwing for the women. Becki is clearly a big fan of the rain as she had also filled the B slot in the Long Jump, with Erin Scott (just about) turning up in time to be our A jumper. It's great to see athletes like Becki trying so many new events.
Mercifully, the rain began to ease up a little, just in time for some of the day's star performances. One being a winning 400m hurdles race from Lauren Barrett, in a PB of 76.9 seconds, she won comfortably and looked strong the whole way around. Showing off his Long Jump prowess at the same time was youngster Peter Skirrow who launched himself in to a big personal best at 5.60 metres. I jumped far less impressively as the B athlete in that event, but scraped a few precious points nontheless. Next up on the track was Blyth's track and field allstar, Daniel N'jai who showed off how much he has improved over winter by breaking 60 seconds for the 400m hurdles for the first time. Not only is this a PB, but also a club record, winning his race by a clear margin. In the B race for our combined team was Michael Day who finished 3rd, claiming valuable points from a tough event.
One of the the events that is always hotly contested, the 800m, was the next to go off, and leading the Wallsend/Blyth team was Leanne Herron in the women's A race, showing off her tactical mind by running a reserved first lap, before storming the second lap and taking a close 3rd place. In the B race, it was Becki's turn to show what she could do, performing well to also take 3rd. Then it was the men's turn to hold their own, and it was team leader Paddy Dinsmore who ran in a gruelling 800m, hanging on to 5th with a great time of 2:13.8. This was followed up by the younger, but no less wise, Joseph Dungworth who led the race for a lap and half and came through in second place. At the same time, Daniel Njai and Paul Corrigan were teaming up to take 7 points each from a closely contested Discus event. Peter was back in action in the high jump next, stealing the men's A competition with a big PB of 1.68 metres, showing just how in form he is, whilst Wallsend's Denver Stretetsky cleared 1.40, which was enough to take maximum points in the B field.
Meanwhile on the track, Ella Wood and Michelle Heron took third and second in the women's 100m A and B. Blyth veteran Dave Swalwell stretched his legs in the 100m with a great season opener of 12.3 seconds into the wind, coming 4th in his race. I ran in the B race, finishing 5th in a time that I was less than impressed with. But it's points that count, and points is certainly what Michelle Heron and Anne Craddock came away with, performing well against tough competition in the shot putt. Jitka Richards and Becki Newman of Wallsend combined to both take second place in the A and B fields of the triple jump. At this point, the team were in good standings, having left few events unfilled, but needed an inspiring performance, a true green-vested hero, to drive us on for the rest of the afternoon. Sadly, Jake Jansen wasn't available, so Jon French rallied the troops himself with a strong steeplchase win, in a time that isn't too far off the Blyth record. The Robin to his Batman was Sean Macintyre, who took first in the B event, in what is one of the most challenging track events around. Jon's time puts him first in Britain for V35 steeplechase, which is a wonderful achievement.
This morale boost led to a string of victories including Daniel and myself winning the A and B over 110m hurdles (a truly terrifying experience to the uninitiated), Lauren Barrett and Lyndsey Thompson taking second and first in the A and B women's 400m, and Paul and Dave taking second and first in the A and B men's shot. This was closely followed by the men's 400m in which young guns Jake Masterman and Denver ran flying times against tough opposition. Next in the field was Alice Dungworth taking on the high jump for the first time and clearing 1.10m to take some points from the A field. Blyth were leading comfortably at this point, and we just needed to hold onto our momentum.
With Sarah Lynch, Leanne Herron, Simon Lyon and Jon all scoring big points in the 1500m, Peter and Sean stealing a few points from a tough javelin field, and Jake and Steve Aird coming away from the triple jump having beaten a few of the opposition, it seemed unlikely that we could be caught. Ella was back in action in the women's 200m, coming 4th in the A race, followed by Jitka who took second in the B. Obviously having never recovered the morning drenching, I could only manage 5th in the men's 200m A, but Dave put in another strong run to win the B race. With that there were only a few events left; the 5000m (Matthew Derbyshire and Joseph D took on the 12 and a half laps to take 4th in the A and second in the B), the women's Javelin (Becki took on yet another new event to come second in the A, accompanied by Anne who took second in the B), and finally it was just the relays to come.
Even on tired legs, the Wallsend/Blyth ladies were only narrowly beaten in the 4x100m, but more than made up for it by comfortably winning the 4x400m. The men's 4x100m was hotly contested, and won by an impressive Durham team, but our team ran well to come 3rd, with plenty of room for improvement, and maybe even a team record. This was followed by an exhausting 4x400m, in which a flying run from Daniel brought the team home in second place on the final leg. When all was said and done, the combined Wallsend/Blyth team came out comfortably on top, giving us 6 league points and leaving us top of our division. But we can only stay there with as many people as possible volunteering for events to make up the points, so let's keep bringing such a strong team out, and we might just be in division 2E next year.