An Evening With Bill McGuirk

Wallsend Harriers recently organised a “Night with Bill McGuirk”, where the Chronicles Athletics writer talked about his 50+ years in the sport in the North East. It was great to hear Bill talk of his exploits as a young athlete - running on cinder tracks (ask your parents/grandparents) and competing against his great friend George Ogle as well as Olympians (Peter Snell – google him) and New Zealand Warriors! A fascinating and brilliant evening.


Summer Cup

The Summer Cup is a series of six races held over a 2.5 mile course using the promenade and beach path.

Format is similar to Winter Series in that races are handicapped, points are awarded on race positions, and there is a team competition. The first race is on Wednesday June 1st. I don’t have full details yet as certain things need to be discussed at Committee level. Main one is the minimum age will be 14.


Kevin Freeman confident Blyth can impress

  • by Bill McGuirk, Evening Chronicle (Thursday 12th May)

THE starter’s gun has hardly been raised on the track season but plans are already advanced for the North Eastern Counties AA Cross-Country Championships in December.

Blyth Running Club, one of the area’s youngest outfits, is eagerly looking forward to hosting the 106th annual championships at East Cramlington Nature Reserve in just over six months’ time.

It will be the first time the championships have been held in Northumberland since 1994 when they were run in conjunction with the inaugural European XC Championships in Alnwick under the backdrop of the castle.

Kevin Freeman, chairman of Blyth RC, is delighted that the championships are being held north of the Tyne once again and he is confident that the club he heads can put on an event worthy of what is expected by athletes and officials alike.

“We are delighted and excited to be given the opportunity to host the North Eastern Counties Cross-Country Championships, and our committee and myself can promise a challenging and true cross-country course for all who come along,” said Freeman. “We are confident that Blyth RC can make the ‘leap’ from hosting two recent Harrier League fixtures at the same venue to the prestigious championships.

“The whole club is determined to deliver a well-organised, safe, colourful and memorable event. Our club treasurer, Dave Kitching, has already designed a challenging, competitive layout fit for a championship which will be a variation on the already tried and tested HL course.

“We have had good support from Blyth Valley Council while club secretary Ralph Dickinson already has in place much of the infrastructure required – things like marquees, catering and the likes, and, should they be needed, a couple of tractors thanks to two local farmers!

“Blyth Running Club is extremely grateful for help and support from South Shields Harriers who hosted last winter’s championships and to the NECAA cross-country committee for their encouragement.

“We are determined to leave no stone unturned so that the championships are a huge success.”


Virgin London Marathon

Greenwich Common at a quarter past eight on Sunday 17th April and the five Blyth survivors of their marathon training programmes met up in the ‘blue’ start area with various degrees of nervousness, trepidation and downright uncertainty as to whether their bodies (and minds) were going to cope with the next few hours. Between us we had experienced a broad spectrum of issues just getting to the start line – back (Chris), shin (Phillippa) and both knee and hamstring (Dave R) injuries and the absence of the usual family presence before (Dave B) or during (Davina) the marathon were all far from ideal, but we had made it this far and weren’t going to be stopped now (we hoped).

The weekend weather forecast had gradually been changing for yet warmer conditions and the increasingly cloudless skies across the London skyline told their own story – this was going to be a warm one. In fact, the number of people wandering around quite comfortably in only their vests and shorts at that time of the morning told its own story – it was already warm.

By the time that the mass race started (9:45) with its usual immaculate organisation and with huge crowds to support us (but also to remove any prospect of the breeze reaching the runners) it was seriously warm. Even a steady start got sweat pouring off us within the first mile and the only sensible option was to keep taking small amounts of water on board at every water station.

All of that training showed its benefits as all five of our runners started to real off a whole string of really consistent split times well into the second half of the race, helped by both the general volume of crowd support and particularly the support crew of Blyth members and supporters who made it to miles 9, 13 and 22 to give a vital boost to us all.

Both Phillippa and Dave R had missed out on a few weeks of vital training during February or March, so it was not too surprising that they suffered the consequences, with either their feet or legs showing the strain at about the 30k point, just as the route emerges from Canary Wharf. Both managed to keep going, albeit at a slower pace than previously.

By the last few miles, the heat had got to just about everybody and the Blyth runners were no exception (a North Eastern winter really is no preparation for a hot marathon). Descriptions of the last few miles varied from “very difficult” through “too tough” to “sheer agony” but everyone made it to the finish and then to their well-deserved ‘recovery sessions’ that afternoon and evening!

Chris Stone – running his first marathon – was first Blyth runner home, with a very impressive performance given both the conditions and the back problems that interrupted his training on more than one occasion.

Dave Roberts survived his latest attempt to injure himself - falling over spectacularly (again) twelve days beforehand - to run a solid race up to 21 miles and then just about hang on for the last few miles. To his great surprise, Dave’s badly bruised knee and leg didn’t really hurt that much during the run – or maybe it was just that everything else did?

Dave Bradley had yet another really consistent run, slowing only very slightly towards the finish and appearing to be in much better shape than the rest of us during those last few miles. Dave even managed to just beat his previous PB – a great result in those conditions.

Davina Lonsdale was convinced at mile 19 that she was going to do her first sub (or very close to it) 4 hour marathon. Unfortunately, she ‘blew up’ at mile 22 and the next 4 miles were a mixture of walking and very slow jogging. Although the heat had got to her, Davina had still produced a strong run, and was pleasantly surprised to see that she had managed a new PB - one minute faster than Loch Ness last year.

Phillippa Baxter was also having a really good run up until mile 19 when a blister started to hurt on her foot, necessitating brief medical treatment. She too had been on target for 4 hours. Phillippa is now looking forward to Edinburgh in a month’s time and hopes it won’t be quite so hot there!

Overall, there were 34710 finishers, from around 37000 who started and about 49000 who entered. Our runners finished as shown: -

Chris Stone                 3:22:23            2987th    Dave Roberts            3:40:07            5354th

Dave Bradley              3:41:29            5557th    Davina Lonsdale       4:13:48            12271st

Phillippa Baxter          4:19:20        13596th


Davina Lonsdale and Dave Roberts got places in this year’s London Marathon through the ballot and have used these places to raise funds for charities that support causes they feel close to.  They have raised well over £1300 (and still rising) between them.  They would like to thank everyone at Blyth Running Club who has supported these charities through sponsoring our runners.

 If anyone still wants to contribute, both Davina and Dave are still accepting donations, or you can donate online at

(Davina ran for Cardiac Risk in the Young after a friends’ son tragically died in his sleep last year)


 (Dave ran for Diabetes UK as he is an insulin-dependent diabetic)




Minutes of meeting held 4th April 2011

Apologies: None                The meeting commenced at 8:30 p.m.

Minutes of meeting held 7th March 2011 were read and approved. This was proposed by Dave Kitching and seconded by Helen Morris.

Matters Arising

London Marathon Club numbers – Ralph confirmed the wording on the letter from VLM as “You will have received your Club Entry for the 2011 Virgin London Marathon in recognition of your services to your club”. After much deliberation it was decided to leave the selection process for allocation of these numbers as it is currently.

Club Mark Re-Accreditation Kevin was asked to chase up the assistance that has been offered.

Chairman’s Report

I am delighted to report that yesterday’s 7th running of the Transped BV10K was a huge success for BRC, and was a perfect vehicle for accommodating the NECAA 10K Road Championships. Thanks to the dedication and hard work of the membership, but in particular thanks to Dave Kitching for making it all happen.

During yesterday’s presentation Bill McGuirk, Chairman of the NECAA announced that BRC had been awarded the 2011 North East Cross Country Championships. Such is the importance of these Championships that it is almost as big a coup as London getting the 2012 Olympics!!!!  Lets make sure we put on a good show both in the organisation of the event and, just as importantly, in the races. Finally, very well done to the U17 Mens Cross Country Team. They finished 2nd in the Harrier League 6 Race Series, just 1 point behind Gateshead Harriers. This is very encouraging for the future of Cross Country running at Blyth.

Secretary’s Report

Ralph reported that he had various race entry forms including; Tynedale 10k, Tynedale 10 mile, Bridlington Festival of Running, Low Fell Watergate Trail Race, Low Fell Watergate 5k Race, Cragside 10k Race, Bamburgh 10k Race, Track & Field Sports Open Meeting at Hexham.

Following on from Kevin’s announcement that BRC are to host the North Eastern Cross Country Championships I had spoken to the NCC country park officer to confirm a booking for 10th December 2011. He confirmed that we could borrow 2 small marquee tents, 6m x 3m, and some tables and chairs. They can even put us in touch with a local farmer with a tractor if the weather is bad to assist with any problems with stuck cars. There have been 5 new members in March; 3 juniors and 2 seniors, and one resignation.

Treasurer’s Report

Dave reported that Club funds are quite healthy.

Men’s Captain Report

Iain provided a report as follows;

·         Terry McCabe won the overall NSP series outright, a great achievement and well done to Terry. Robbie Barclay was 4th fastest at the last race; this is the longer course of 5.2 miles. Dave Bradley and Terry McCabe were 5th and 15th on the night. Well done to all who competed, and especially the “Meerkats” who were 3rd team overall.

·         Our own 10k was run yesterday with over 500 finishers recorded. Robbie Barkley was first back for Blyth, closely followed by Jake Jansen. Dave Cox was amongst the prizes in his age category.

·         Prudhoe was the venue for the final Cross Country Harrier league meeting of this season.  Thanks to all who turned out, especially to Ralph, Ian and Dave who then competed in the Northumberland Half Marathon race the very next day. Despite our best efforts the gentlemen were relegated from our division. Many thanks however to all for their sterling endeavours over the season.

·         This years veteran Cross Country Race was held in Whitley Bay, I represented the gentleman on this flat, fast course. I also attended the Hamsterley Forest Wild Race a week later.

·         Haweswater and Northumberland Half’s were well attended; full reports are on the website. Many of our athletes had excellent races.

·         The indoor track and field season concluded at Gateshead recently where we were represented in the High Jump.

·         We were also represented at the recent High Jump Coaching weekend in Gateshead and the seminar featuring Stacey Smith, Lindsay Dunn and Jim Alder at Morpeth. Both of these events were from our McCain Network of clubs organisers. Thanks to Keith Willshire, Hemant Desai and John Stacey for these events.

Ladies Captain Report

Helen reported the following;

·         The 5th fixture in the Harrier League took place on the 12th March at Blaydon and incorporated the Davison Shield. Only 1 senior lady ran, Susanne Hunter, who had a great run and was promoted to the medium pack. Well done.

·         The following weekend was the North East Vets Cross Country Championships held at Foxhunters field, Whitley bay. Helen Morris ran the 2 lap course and finished in 14th position.

·         On the 20th March, Susanne Hunter ran a Kielder marathon and finished 6th overall in a time of 3:37.

·         The final Harrier League fixture was at Prudhoe on the 26th March; a great course and a good day for it. Helen Morris was the only senior lady to run and finished in 37th position. Blyth ladies were 19th team out of 26 in the final grand prix series.

·         The 26th March was the Wallington Half marathon, where we had 9 ladies out. Well done to Heather Christopher who was 3rd overall in a time of 1.33.28. Also, well done to Davina Lonsdale, 1st over 45 and Cath Young, 3rd over 50.

·         The final NSP grand prix race took place on the 29th March, where 6 ladies ran. The 1st Blyth lady back in the race was Claire Riches in 25th position. Two ladies finished in the top 10 fastest females. Well done to all who did the series.

·         On 3rd April our own BV10k took place. We had a great turnout of ladies; 13 ran. 1st Blyth lady back was newcomer Julie Clark. Well done to all.


Keith reported the following;

·         Junior Handicap is Monday 18th April and any help would be much appreciated

·         The date for the Junior Beach Races will need to be rescheduled

·         In the Harrier League Charlotte Ramsay was first U15 at Blaydon. As well as the U17 men finishing 2nd team overall, Scott Povey finished third overall for the season.

Grand Prix

Aynsley & Mal reported 3 good races, 3 good turnouts.


Aynsley reported that he had been asked to revisit the paint ball day. This was mainly from our junior contingent. Tickets will go on sale this week for the Presentation Evening. A short discussion on the format for the evening took place. The Ceilidh evening is likely to be planned for mid September.


Summer Cup – the dates have been agreed. Administration work for the Summer Cup will start after the conclusion of the Winter Series.

Notice Board – this has been tidied up. Thanks go to Keith.

Application for Grant - The Grant available from the Daily Telegraph, in partnership with the Royal Bank of Scotland, has been applied for. Thank you to Dave Roberts for his input.

Track & Field League – Iain intends to send an email in due course to the male members regarding this year’s senior track and field league, although there has been a good response in any case recently, all after our success of last year!

BV10k de-brief Kevin reported that our race had been reported in the Sun, the Chronicle and the Journal and also shown on Tyne Tees TV. He suggested that we should attempt to keep the date to early April as this seemed to attract a larger contingent of runners. He apologised for the slight cock-up at the presentation, but the whole day seemed to have gone very well. The small presentation for Mothers Day had been well received and we had received several well-done’s both during and after the event. A resident from Bath Terrace had complained about the Road Closure. Perhaps we can drop a note through residents’ doors next year. We had also received several requests to amend details on the results. These had all been dealt with and the results amended on our website.

Winter Series – a question had been raised on the eligibility of t-shirt winners. After a lengthy discussion it was agreed that it was not an issue.

Travel Expenses – this issue had been raised at the previous meeting. It was agreed to revisit this issue at a later date after Dave Kitching had had a chance to review/reassess costs and expenditure in previous years.

New comers and Beginners Running Club Susanne Hunter wished it noted that Alison Lowes was doing a very good job with all the new runners that had been attending the club recently. Alison thanked Susie and reported that the Friday beginners club had not been going so well.

North Shields Poly – As Blyth members participate in the NSP handicap, Aynsley suggested that NSP members could join BRC as 2nd Claim to participate in our club races; Winter Series, Summer Cup, Autumn Relays. Ralph will pass on the invite.

NMAN – The next meeting is on Monday 11th April. There is also a North East Network Meeting on the evening of Monday 11th April. Future planned Events are a Biomechanics and Conditioning Workshops at Alnwick on Thursday 14th April and a Short Form Competition at Cramlington Sporting Club on Wednesday 20th April.

Coaching Questionnaire – this has been sent to all coaches.

Club Handicap Dave Kitching identified Wednesday 27th April as the likely date for this event.


History of Blyth Running Club 1982  Part Four:  Targets.


On April 9th1982 Blyth Running Club had their first official race in club colours in the 8.5 mile Blyth Valley Fun Run and they won the team prize.


There is nothing like success to motivate a club and whilst the dozen or so members were still raw and inexperienced, we had a refreshing attitude to running. We were unattached and unfettered; we were not bound to the official rules of our more serious neighbours at Morpeth, Blaydon or Gateshead where selectors decided who would run in club competitions. We would sit around over a pint after training and earmark a race in the future. In 1982 it was to be the second Great North Run that we decided to prepare for. The first GNR had brought about the club’s existence and we all set our targets for this late June event. That meant we had twelve weeks to prepare.

The training consisted of the usual Monday and Wednesday blow-outs of about eight miles and maybe a more sociable 10-miler on a Sunday morning. My diary shows that I was averaging about 28 miles a week prior to the GNR and since I had run 1-26-45 the previous year, off little or no training, I hoped I might get under 1-20. In 1982 ‘personal bests’ were quite a novel idea and it was a motivating factor to see if you could improve on the previous year.

Then, with six weeks to go I was offered the chance to take part in the second staging of the London Marathon as a friend from Morpeth Harriers who had been invited the take part (a Scottish international) injured himself in training. Security wasn’t quite so strict in the early days but it did mean that I could sneak in but I would be near the front. It was a mistake being up there at the start because the pace was so quick but actually it was a mistake being there at all! I was so unprepared but it was an offer (as a film at the time said) that I couldn’t refuse. On the day, I had reached 22 miles in a respectable 2-34 but then I came apart. My diary reminded me of the anguish of that day (I’m sweating now at the memory as I write):

“My thighs, calf’s, groin and stomach were knotted with cramp as the hundreds I had overtaken came past me. At Tower Bridge I was doubled up and felt like weeping when I heard a voice call ‘Howay Blyth!’ It was a Beefeater in full regalia who had read my vest and out of the corner of his mouth, in a clear Geordie accent, told me ‘You show ‘em marra.’”

What could I do with such inspirational support? I eventually finished in 3:12 and it seemed to impress some people, but not me, I was inconsolable at the finish. All runners have been there and all have their own personal ‘hell’. Yet, in spite of the pain, I was hooked. I now wanted to run the perfect marathon; I wanted a sub-3. Before I could consider the marathon again I had the GNR and when it came around I astonished myself with 1:18:36; exactly 6-minute miling. Most of the Blyth lads were peppering 1:20 which showed the strides we were making.

Sixteen days later I took that GNR fitness with me into the North Tyneside Marathon and ran a steady and comfortable 2:55:52 for 19th place. Blyth RC was making an impact on the running scene and we were being noticed by the Amateur Athletics Association officials who were keen that we should sign up as an affiliated club. We valued our independence and we fiercely resisted their persistent overtures... for now.


Senior T&F – Meeting 1

Blyth Running Club Seniors have combined with Wallsend Harriers to compete in the North East Track and Field League again this season. After gaining promotion last year, they competed in the higher league for the first time on Saturday and performed commendably to finish in 4th position, with only 30 points covering the first four teams. In the field events Blyth had two winners, with Kalvin Hurst winning the Long Jump and Craig Birch the Triple jump, while Scott Povey finished in second position in both the “B” triple jump and long jump. For the women, Rebecca Nail was very impressive as she won the Long Jump and came second in the Triple Jump, Rebecca managed to set PB’s and new Club records in both events. On the track, Craig Birch was showing his versatility by winning the 110M hurdles, finishing second in the 400m hurdles and third in the 100m. Two of Blyth’s newer members Dave Swalwell and Steve Dobby were making their T&F debut and both can be pleased with their efforts as they gained valuable points for the team. In the final race of the day, the Blyth quartet of Craig, Kalvin Hurst, Dave Swalwell and Scott Povey were convincing winners of the mens 100m relay.

If any other club members would like a try at T&F then please inform Ralph, Iain Singer, Helen Morris or Susanne Hunter of your interest. There were many events in which Blyth/Wallsend had no competitors, even a few points in these events could have changed our 4th place finish to 1st. Next one is Saturday 4th June at Middlesbrough.                            Full results can be found on the Power Of 10 web site

          BLYTH LINKS 10K.

TUESDAY.   30th. August 2011.


START TIME:  7:15 P.M.



Registration: Dave Stevens Building.


                                       INVITATION EVENT.







Free after race buffet at ‘The Quay’ pub in Blyth Town Centre. Raffle.






26th JUNE 2011.


BLAGDON LANE (Just past the Snowy Owl)

                           Arrival time 9.15 prompt                              All packages feature the following:


·                     9” personal pizza for every player. Pizza delivered hot & fresh by Perfect Pizza (or similar chain)

·                     12-14 action-packed games

·                     Choice of movie-set quality paintball game zones

·                     Full training and supervision throughout the day

·                     Full head protection anti-mist goggle system

·                     Full body protection suit - body armour

·                     Full neck protection - combat suit with high padded collar

·                     Custom designed special-forces combat suit

·                     Latest USA-spec rapid-fire semi-automatic machineguns

·                     Hip-mounted 400-shot capacity ammo magazine – DF battlepack (to safely carry your paintballs)

·                     Unlimited gas propellant

·                     End of day debrief and TOP GUN awards

·                     Comprehensive public liability insurance

·                     A safe, friendly and professional service



National Young Athletes League Match 1, Monkton: 08/05/11

As the Greggs Children’s run was on the same day we struggled to get a full team out – there were no U13 girls. However, as usual there were some excellent performances as once again people tried new events. Both Ryan Povey and Calum Storey set PB’s in the 100 metres, while Adam Swalwell, Harry McCabe and Daniel Ord all made their YAL debuts and gained points for Blyth.

Chris Lillico ran an impressive 800 metres to set a new Club record and moved into the top ten in the North East – mind you he then had to go and lie in the First Aid van for half an hour (made up for his disappointment in not clearing the High Jump), Scott Povey also set a PB in the 800 metres. Charlotte Ramsay also ran the 800m and set a PB, but excelled in her first ever 200m race to win the race and set a Club record and move into No 5 in the North East rankings. Rebecca Nail carried on from the previous day when she had competed for the Seniors by setting another PB and Club record in the Triple Jump, while Bethan also set a PB in the Triple Jump and the 300 metres hurdles. Lisa Blackburn tried her hand at the Discus and was an easy winner, while coming second in her first ever attempt at the hurdles. Charley Hedley was also making her YAL debut and finished third in both the 100m and 1500m. The final events were the relays and Blyth had several successes, winning the U17 men 4 X 100m and 4 X 400 meters, while the U15 boys were second in both relays and the U15 girls were second in theirs.

Next one is Sunday 22nd May at Monkton


Newcastle – Gateshead Games

Every year Newcastle and Gateshead have a running competition at Gateshead Stadium. The teams are selected via heats, with four heats at Newcastle and four at Gateshead. For the past few years some runners from Blyth have entered the heats and managed to make the final at Gateshead. The events are for runners under the age of 15 with the longest distance being 400 metres.

7th June     Gosforth Central Middle School, Gosforth

8th June     Lightfoot Walker Park

14th June   All Saints College, West Denton

16th June   Westgate Centre for Sport, West Road


Not sure of final date yet


The youngest age group is for 5 & 6 year olds and they do a 60m sprint


Coaching Sessions

As the number of Juniors grow it maybe worthwhile pointing out to the newer members exactly what we do. In the past I think we have concentrated just too much on the running side of things, but I would like to think that we are slowly changing the mentality about this. England Athletics are pushing Athletics 365 as the way forward and hope that it may stop the decline in numbers of Juniors who still participate in the sport between the ages of 16 – 22. One of the ways in which we hope to combat this is to encourage Juniors to try everything – so if you see anybody throwing a howler, they are not messing about – they are practicing their Javelin technique!

In the past we have organised Pole Vaulting sessions, hurdling sessions (some are going to Gateshead stadium for a session with Matt Woods this week), high jumping and  throws sessions – all attended by some Juniors. Currently, Monday night will still be the main session where everybody tries to attend and the groups are quite well established with the coaches now, but if anybody wants to try sprinting for example just let us know. During the summer there are a lot of activities mid-week, so Wednesday night training is very ad-hoc, Thursday night is for the older, more experienced Juniors as they love to run around the sand dunes. On Friday, nights there is a Sprint session at Churchill playing fields for the more experienced sprinters. Saturday mornings may be a track session at Churchill if there is no competition on that weekend. Sessions are on the web-site.


High Jump Coaching There is a dedicated high jump training session every Friday night at Monkton Stadium, Jarrow from 18:00 - 19:45. There is a small charge - entrance fee to the Stadium.

There is also a session every Friday at Alnwick.


Pole Vaulting there are sessions at Gateshead indoor stadium during the week


Anyone wanting further details on any of the above, see Keith


Blyth Running Club On-Line

Most people should be aware of the club web-site:


We also have a Facebook group (this probably doesn’t mean anything to anybody over 25) but to everybody else it does. Many photos of events are put on Facebook (join the group Blyth Running Club)


A couple of other useful sites for checking your rankings are



Enter these sites and you can see where you rank in the country in your age group


England Athletics Events

England Athletics and the Northumberland Athletics Network have put on several coaching events and talks over the past few months, not all just for Junior coaches – actually none of them were primarily for Junior coaches.

England Athletics as part of their ongoing Local Coach Development program organised a “physical preparation session using the theory of fundamental skill development and functional movement patterns to create a holistic approach which develops athleticism in athletes”. Given by Dr Duncan French who works with Newcastle United, on issues such as strength and conditioning and injury prevention. How many senior coaches/athletes from Blyth attended?

Talk in with Lindsay Dunn, Stacey Smith and Jim Alder. Lindsay is the leading endurance coach in the North East. Jim Alder helps to coach the Morpeth endurance runners. Stacey Smith is a current England International runner. How many senior coaches/athletes from Blyth attended?

Even the Junior athletes who attended could feel the passion that Jim has, although he did ‘scare’ several of them!

Physical preparation and conditioning related to endurance athletes session by Julie Twaddle. This was a repeat of a session Julie did in early January at Gateshead attended by coaches from all over the North East and voted the “best coaching session of the year”. How many senior coaches/athletes from Blyth attended?

Coaches and Athletes Development Day. Chance for coaches and athletes to try new events, warm ups drills etc etc and talk to Senior coaches from the area. How many senior coaches/athletes from Blyth attended?

Athletics 365and short form competition workshop. Actually, this was just for juniors but one of the questions asked about Athletics365 was “would you try and introduce the concept of athletics 365 to new members of your club and the reply was why not” So if any new members are interested just see Keith for further details. I’m not sure if Dave Bradley volunteered for a job at this one!


Physical preparation and conditioning related to endurance athletes session by Julie Twaddle, the people who attended this session and similar ones by Nick Ridgeon asked if we should try and start something up at Blyth on a regular basis – my thought was Why – because I get as many Juniors as possible to attend because the Seniors aren’t interested – then the seniors moan about the money being spent on the Juniors?


Holiday Athletics Camps

There are two Star:Track Athletics camps organised for the Whit School Holiday week.

The basic details are :

 Bedlington High School from Tuesday 31st May – Thursday 2nd June,

 Chantry Middle school Morpeth from Tuesday 31st May – Wednesday 1st June;

Both start at 09:00 until 15:00 each day. Cost equates to £10 for per day and each attendee receives a goody bag. 

I believe there will be discounts if more than one child from a family attends

Attendance must be pre-booked

See Keith for further details and booking form


Race Reports

Gordon Smith Memorial Races

For the first time in the club's history we had teams competing in the Wallsend Harriers hosted Gordon Smith Memorial Relays on Wednesday evening 4th May. A team consists of three runners, one of which must be a vet, and can be all male, all female or mixed, although mixed teams are not eligible for prizes. Each runner does the same 2 mile course which is a fairly flat 1 and a ½ lap loop using the Hadrian Park Cycle Way near to Segedunum Roman Fort

Blyth had 6 teams competing, 4 male, 1 female and 1 mixed. The best team performance on the night was by the team of Jordan Middlemist, Andrew Henderson and Iain Singer who finished in a highly creditable 7th place overall out of 54 teams. Fastest Blyth runner on the night was Andrew with 10:36 and fastest Blyth lady (and 5th fastest vet lady overall) was Julie Clark in 12:45. It was good to see a large Blyth turnout from young to old(er) and also thanks to the supporters, our own David Bailey aka Dave Kitching was again lurking in the undergrowth taking photos where least expected!


Senior Handicap

Once again conditions were excellent for running, with a cool temperature, blue sky and little breeze as race organiser Dave Kitching set the first runner Alison Lowes away at 7:15 pm, from then on it was a steady procession of runners until Andrew Henderson set off some 25 minutes later. Running strongly Alison managed to hold onto her lead for virtually the whole race until she was passed by eventual winner Julie Lemin in the last 100 metres, Alison did manage to hold onto 2nd place by 15 seconds from 3rd placed finisher Louise Rawlinson. A clean sweep for the ladies, in fact the first 8 finishers were all ladies!

Fastest time on the night was recorded by Andrew Henderson with 37:07, and fastest lady was Julie Clark in a time of 43:32, which was also a new F35 course record.

There was a total of 28 finishers, unfortunately somewhat down on last year (maybe due to people saving themselves for the next Grand Prix race the following Sunday), but disappointing considering the effort put in by Dave and his helpers on the night, which included Terry, Gloria, Sandra, Aynsley, Rob, Sam, Iain, Dave, Dickie and Stephen.


Future Races

May 2011






Snods Edge 6 mile

Wed, 18th

Junior Track & Field Heat 2, Monkton Stadium, Jarrow

Sun, 22nd

Windermere Marathon

Sun, 22nd

Pier to Pier (~7.5M)

Sun, 22nd

North East Athletics League (Monkton)

Weds 25th

Druridge Bay 10k

Sun, 29th

Raby Castle 10k

Sun, 29th

JUNE 2011


Summer Cup Race 1

Weds 1st

Angel View Run ~5 mile

Thu, 2nd

Track and Field Heat 2, Middlesbrough

Sat, 4th

Alwinton Fell Race (~14 mile)

Sat, 4th

Allendale 8

Sat, 4th

Junior Track & Field Heat 3, Monkton Stadium, Jarrow

Sun, 5th

Blaydon Race

Thu, 9th

Roman Wall Show Fell Race

Sat, 11th

Newton Aycliffe 10k

Sun, 19th

Junior Track & Field Heat 4, Harrogate

Sun, 19th

Run Northumberland Bamburgh 10k

Sun, 26th

Windy Gyle Fell Race

Sun, 26th


The steeplechase scrutinised



Arguably one of the toughest events on the track is the steeplechase and the development, training and history of the unique race is studied by David Lowes


WHAT inspires an athlete to make the steeplechase their specific event? There are many reasons and many would argue that they are athletes who cannot reach the level they desire in none obstacle events on the track. This is not strictly true as we could argue that some of Britain’s greats such as former world record holders and major Games winners, Colin Jackson and David Hemery were failed athletes on the flat. They were not of course; they were just supreme at their events. We could take the argument even further and claim that those who are multi-event specialists are not good enough in any one event, but are fairly good in many. However, this viewpoint is endless, are 200m athletes failed 100m sprinters? The bottom line is that athletes specialise in their chosen event because they excel at it and also because it is something they truly enjoy.


The men’s world record holder, Saif Saaeed Shaheen           (formerly Stephen Cherono) is an example of someone who is supreme at the steeplechase and with pb’s of 3:33.51 for 1500m, 7:34.67 for 3000m and 12:48.81 for 5000m he would be number one in most countries in the world, however as great as those times are, they are not good enough to be the outright best in the world. In the same vein, the women’s world record holder, Gulnara Samitova-Galkina has pb’s of 2:00.29 for 800m, 4:01.29 for 1500m and 14:33.13 for 5000m and most of these are world-class times also, but again, not fast enough to trouble the very best in the world.


The following is the history of the winners of the Olympic Games and although Europe reigned initially with 10 victories out of 13 in the men’s event, the last 11 Games have seen nine victories by athletes from Kenya and in 2004 they claimed the gold, silver and bronze medals and in 2008 the gold and bronze medals. Only one man has won the title twice and that was Finnish athlete, Volmari Iso-Hollo. The women’s event has only been held once and that was in a world record time by Gulnara Samitova-Galkina from Russia in a time that would have won the men’s event up until 1952 and the first major championship appearance of the event was at the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki.


Year   Athlete                              Country   Result

19001   George Orton                    CAN        7:34.4

19041   James Lightbody               USA         7:39.6

19082   Arthur Russell                   GBR         10:47.8

1920    Percy Hodge                     GBR         10:00.4

1924    Ville Ritola                        FIN          9:33.6

1928    Trio Loukola                      FIN          9:21.8

1932    Volmari Iso-Hollo             FIN          10:33.4

1936    Volmari Iso-Hollo             FIN          9:03.8

1948    Tore Sjöstrand                   SWE         9:04.6

1952    Horace Ashenfelter           USA         8:45.4

1956    Chris Brasher                     GBR         8:41.2

1960    Zdzislaw Krzyszkowiak    POL         8:34.2

1964    Gaston Roelants                BEL         8:30.8

1968    Amos Biwott                     KEN         8:51.0

1972    Kipchoge Keino                KEN         8:23.6

1976    Anders Gårderud              SWE         8:08.2

1980    Bronislaw Malinowski      POL         8:09.7

1984    Julius Korir                        KEN         8:11.80

1988    Julius Kariuki                    KEN         8:05.51

1992    Matthew Birir                    KEN         8:08.84

1996    Joseph Keter                      KEN         8:07.12

2000    Reuben Kosgei                  KEN         8:21.43

2004    Ezekiel Kemboi                 KEN         8:05.81

2008    Brimin Kipruto                  KEN         8:10.34

1 2500m. 2 3200m.


2008    Gulnara Samitova-Galkina                 RUS                                          8:58.81


There are 35 obstacles in a 3000m steeplechase with 28 barriers and seven water jumps to negotiate. The water jump is usually on the inside of the track which means that one lap is 390 metres and less commonly on the outside of the track which adds up to 410m per lap and this necessitates different starting locations with an outside obstacle meaning a home straight start and an inside obstacle moves the start to the back straight with the water hazard being omitted on the first lap. For younger age groups there are is a 2000m race which involves 18 barriers and five water jumps and a 1500m race which incorporates 13 barriers and three water jumps.


Unlike a hurdles event, the barriers will not move and any collision will them will cause pain and almost certain failure to finish (they weigh between 80-100kg). The barriers are 91.4cm in height for men and 76.2cm for women. The water pit is 3.66m long and slopes upwards from 70 cm deep at the barrier end for 30 cm to level with the surface of the track at the exit end and this barrier is slightly narrower at 3.66m. The width of the barriers are 3.96m wide and the wooden top of the barrier is 12.7 cm square and these take up three lanes of the track and sometimes the first barrier is doubled up to accommodate for the bunching of the field which is negotiated 10m into the first full lap (257.8 metres). Although disqualification is rare, if a competitor misses a barrier or their trail foot goes outside of the barrier then this will constitute an infringement of the rules.


The origins of the event began in Britain when runners raced from the steeple in one town to the next. The steeples were used as markers due to their visibility over long distances and the runners had to jump creeks and low stone walls separating estates along the way. Today’s event was originated from a two-mile cross country steeplechase that formed part of the Oxford University sports in 1860 and in 1865 it was replaced by an event over barriers on a flat field, which became the modern steeplechase. The steeplechase became a real event when it was placed on the programme for the 1900 Olympics in Paris. In the 1900 and 1904 Olympics, the distance was 2500m and 2 miles during the London Olympics in 1908. From the 1920 Antwerp Olympics onwards, the distance became the now standard 3000m.


The progression of the world record, like all events has moved on markedly over the years and the men’s record has seen fairly uniform improvements with two to four seconds being the maximum improvement at a time over the last 55 years. The world’s best times now are performances that some ‘would-be’ elite athletes would be happy with over 3000m with no barriers! Of the modern era athletes, Henry Rono has also held the world records at 3000m, 5000m and 10000m while Moses Kiptanui has held the 3000m and 5000m records as well as the 3000m indoor best. The British best still stands to Mark Rowland with a world-class 8:07.96 set in 1988 in the Seoul Olympics which secured him the bronze medal.


Time        Athlete                                 Country    Date

8:49.6        Sándor Rozsnyói                 (HUN)   28/08/54

8:47.8        Pentti Karvonen                  (FIN)     01/07/55

8:45.4        Pentti Karvonen                  (FIN)     15/07/55

8:45.4        Vasily Vlasenko                  (URS)    18/08/55

8:41.2        Jerzy Chromik                     (POL)    31/08/55

8:40.2        Jerzy Chromik                     (POL)    11/09/55

8:39.8        Semyon Rzhishchin            (URS)    14/08/56

8:35.6        Sándor Rozsnyói                 (HUN)   16/09/56

8:35.5        Semyon Rzhisgchin            (URS)    21/07/58

8:32.0        Jerzy Chromik                     (POL)    02/08/58

8:31.4        Zdzislaw Krzyszkowiak     (POL)    26/06/60

8:31.2        Grigoriy Taran                     (URS)    28/05/61

8:30.4        Zdzislaw Krzyszkowiak     (POL)    26/06/61

8:29.6        Gaston Roelants                  (BEL)    07/09/63

8:26.4        Gaston Roelants                  (BEL)    07/08/65

8:24.2        Jouko Kuha                         (FIN)     17/07/68

8:22.2        Vladimir Dudin                   (URS)    19/08/69

8:22.0        Kerry O'Brien                     (AUS)   04/07/70

8:20.8        Anders Gärderud                (SWE)   14/09/72

8:20.8        Ben Jipcho                          (KEN)   15/01/73

8:19.1        Ben Jipcho                          (KEN)   19/06/73

8:10.4        Anders Gärderud                (SWE)   25/06/75

8:09.8        Anders Gärderud                (SWE)   01/07/75

8:08.2        Anders Gärderud                (SWE)   28/07/76

8:05.4        Henry Rono                        (KEN)   13/05/78

(electronic timing)                              

8:05.35      Peter Koech                        (KEN)   03/07/89

8:02.08      Moses Kiptanui                   (KEN)   19/08/92

7:59.18      Moses Kiptanui                   (KEN)   16/08/95

7:59.08      Wilson Boit Kipketer          (KEN)   13/08/97

7:55.72      Bernard Barmasai               (KEN)   24/08/97

7:55.28      Brahim Boulami                  (MAR)  24/08/01

7:53.63      Saif Saaeed Shaheen           (QAT)   03/09/04


The women’s event, although fairly embryonic, has shown a huge advancement over the last 13 years since the American Sara Herb ran 10:34.5 in 1996. Daniela Petrescu, Romania, was the first to break the 10 minute barrier two years later and when Polish athlete Justyna Bak sliced an amazing 18 seconds from the record in 2002, it really set the standard and although Galkina is currently the fastest in history, if this article was revisited in two to three years time, I’m sure the record will have moved on with the involvement of more and more African athletes. The current British best is held by Helen Clitheroe with 9:29.14 set in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.



Result     Athlete                                  Country    Date

10:34.5    Sara Herb                             USA      20/04/96

10:30.2    Gracie Padilla                       USA      17/05/96

10:23.47  Courtney Meldrum               USA      23/06/98

10:19.6    Karen Harvey                       CAN     18/04/98

9:55.28    Daniela Petrescu                   ROM     21/06/98

9:48.88    Yelena Motalova                  RUS      31/07/99

9:43.64    Cristina Casandra                 ROM     07/08/00

9:40.20    Cristina Casandra                 ROM     30/08/00

9:22.29    Justyna Bak                          POL      05/06/02

9:21.72    Alesya Turova                      BLR      12/06/02

9:16.51    Alesya Turova                      BLR      27/07/02

9:08.33    Gulnara Samitova-Galkina   RUS      10/08/03

9:01.59    Gulnara Samitova-Galkina   RUS      04/07/04

8:58.81    Gulnara Samitova-Galkina   RUS      17/08/08


What attributes does a steeplechaser require? The speed of a middle distance runner, the stamina of a cross country runner and the strength and flexibility of a 400m hurdler are good for a start and obviously the training required can be diverse. The best steeplechasers in the world will have the capabilities of running well over 1500m and 5000m and it is the mix of these two events plus the technical expertise that set them apart. Indeed, without the ability to hurdle well, which will save energy and maintain speed, success will be difficult to attain. Steeplechasers are invariably good cross country runners because they can tolerate a constant break-up in their running rhythm which most flat runners find difficult to endure. The key to maintaining good technique is to ensure that all four phases of the take-off, barrier clearance, flight and landing are executed as quickly, economically and as efficiently as possible. The following are the basic requirements for the steeplechaser: technique, speed, endurance, event-specific endurance, mobility, strength-endurance, speed-endurance and power. There are special steeplechase spikes that have a mesh fabric which allow the water to quickly disperse and wearing socks is obviously to be avoided.


There are many who attempt the steeplechase and fail miserably because they are not ready for the event. Anyone who is not proficient over similar distances on the track or other surfaces will not miraculously become good at the steeplechase. You must be strong and confident on the flat before even contemplating competing over the barriers. There have been many international runners on the flat who have attempted the steeplechase with some preliminary sessions over the barriers and have either failed to finish their race or have had a disastrous run because although they have ‘mastered’ a reasonable technique in training, they haven’t experienced the longevity of the event under extreme fatigue and in the presence of a crowded field.


The more experienced steeplechaser, male or female will employ the standard hurdle technique. This is far more efficient and the athlete will spend less time in the air than when using the “step-on” technique. They need to accelerate into the barrier in the take-off phase with no collapsing of the lead leg. In the clearance phase they must attack with the lead leg, keep low and flow over the hurdle. The lower the athletes centre of gravity over the barrier the more proficient they will be.

The ability to be able to hurdle off either leg is an advantage. The lead leg in the flight phase should hit the ground as quickly and as controlled as possible so that the minimum amount of time is spent in the air. The eyes should be

focused ahead so that there is no over rotation. The trail leg is the key to the landing phase and this should be brought through as quickly as possible so that the athlete not only accelerates away from the barrier, but is into their normal running action as soon as possible.


Many younger athletes are now being encouraged to try the steeplechase and unfortunately in the UK it is a somewhat dying event that needs resurgence with many county championships having only one or two competitors in the race and in some there are no entrants whatsoever! There are not enough competitive opportunities and perhaps more importantly insufficient development programmes over the whole of the country which could give the aspirants sound advice and be taught the event as it should be. I have always thought it would be a good idea for novices to have the opportunity to run some ‘development’ races with the water jump excluded and this would give them the confidence and encouragement to move up to a full race only when they are ready to do so and this would also provide them with a better idea of pace awareness with every lap being 400m.



Next time the second part looks at the training involved and the differences between barrier and non-barrier sessions.