Three teams from Gloucester Athletic Club featured in the English National Road Relays Finals at Sutton Park in Birmingham on Saturday, further emphasising the Club’s aims of providing the highest standard team competitions for its members.
Bright sunshine and cool temperatures made for perfect racing conditions as the U15 Girls team started the ball rolling for the City club. Alice Stalberg led the team off on the first of three legs each of 3.88kms and came home in a very credible 44th place of the 70 starters with a 16:03 leg. Ruth Brook then took up the running on the second leg and produced one of her best-ever runs as she clocked 15:10 to haul the team up to 30th place. Aliya Hankins, running way beyond her normal track distance, fought hard all the way to bring the team home in 43rd place overall.
The U17 Mens race saw Ben Darlow running lead-off in a very competitive event. He ran strongly to place 50th in 13:33 to hand over to Aron Asher who clocked 14:13 when making up two places. Charlie Coles also ran 14:13 to give the City team a 47th overall placing.
The Senior Men’s race was run over six legs each of 5.85 kms and saw Ben Robinson produce probably the finest performance of the day by a City athlete as he placed 21st of the 80 starters on the opening leg with a 17:35 clocking. Jordan Evans had only been able to run in local ParkRuns in recent months as he returned to the sport, but he took over on the second leg and battled gamely to come home in in 63rd place with 20:47. The ever-reliable Jeremy Mower took up the running on leg three and clocked 21:11, while youngster Finlay Hawkins continued his integration to the senior ranks with a 21:28 clocking on leg four. On leg five, Owen Parry continued his return from injury with 21:25 with another stalwart Dave Gresswell bringing the team home in a commendable 73rd place overall with a 22:25 leg.
Club spokesman Richard Blackwell said afterwards: “The sport is still recovering from the effect of the pandemic and it was a huge statement by the Club to show its members that we want to get back to competing again in these big events and to go from strength to strength over the coming winter months.”
Elsewhere, Gloucester Athletic Club’s Simon Crilley placed 802nd in Sunday’s Therme Manchester Marathon in 3:06:14, his first attempt at the distance.
Charlie Price has been in outstanding form in late-season frame-racing competitions, establishing herself as the country’s top-ranked exponent of the sport in every distance from 100 to 800 metres. At the recent CP Sport National Championships at Coventry, she won the gold medals in the 200 and 400 metres before smashing her previous best in the 800 metres by five seconds to win her third national title of the weekend.
Whilst many of Gloucester Athletic Club runners will have been bemoaning the fact that they have been unable to race for the best part of 12 months, imagine the frustrations felt by middle-distance runner Andrew de-Camps who, because of a series of injuries, has not raced for over three years.
Despite suffering set-back after set-back which at times led him to consider giving up the sport, the former Midlands Senior 800 metres Champion has slowly regained his fitness and confidence over the past year, and he finally dipped his toes back in the water when he raced in the Runthrough 10k event at Newbury Racecourse last week. Not only did de-Camps finish in a commendable sixth place, but he also beat his previous best time set over four years ago, with a 35:43 clocking.
His coach and Dad, Paul de-Camps, said “I was really pleased for Andrew after all he has been through over the past few years. It was good for him to get this first race out of the way so that we can all look forward.”
Also racing at Newbury was Hayley Winters who placed 27th overall and third lady in 40:12, her fastest time for two years.
Club members have been recording some impressive times over the 5k distance in early-season road races. Ben Robinson followed up his fine run in the Chepstow 10k, with a fine second place in the Hereford 5k, clocking 14:47. Second-claim member Richard de-Camps placed 9th in 15:08.
At the Prestwold 5k event near Loughborough, Jason Tilley placed 18th in the ‘C’ race in 17:88. Second-claim member Tracy Hinxman continued her fine form, placing 14th overall and first lady in the same race with 17:51. Richard de-Camps placed 9th in the Elite race, clocking 15:28.
This weekend (16th) sees part one of the 2021 Gloucestershire County Track & Field Championships at the Blackbridge track in Podsmead. This will be the first Championship event that many of the Gloucester club members will have competed in for nearly two years and it will be interesting to see how they fare.
The Gloucester club’s 2021 track & field fixture list has been released and sees the Club competing in three Leagues, the Midland Track & Field League, the Avon League and the National Youth Development League. All leagues are in a regional truncated form this year as the organisers attempt to reduce the amount of travelling as the sport recovers from the lock-down. Club Chairman Richard Blackwell says “It’s great that we can offer our athletes a comprehensive fixture list this year after the uncertainty of the past 12 months. We’re all looking forward to see what the summer brings.”
Gloucester Athletic Club members have been returning to action following the widespread suspension of competitions last year due to the COVID pandemic and even though there is some way to go before the sport returns to normal, the athletes are clearly relishing the opportunity to dust off their shoes and test themselves after such a long lay-off.
The Gloucester club set the season off by hosting a series of intra-Club events for its members at the Blackbridge track in April as a curtain-raiser with all of the competitors commenting that it was good to get back into the swing of things.
The first open competition of the season was the Birchfield Young Athletes Open Meeting held at Nuneaton which saw members of Matt Holloway’s multi-events squad making their season’s debut.
For many years, the pole vault has been a weak event for the Club but there were signs at Nuneaton that this could be changing as three athletes set new personal best heights. Joshua Robinson improved to 2.70 metres, Kyle Neal 2.55m while Emily Herron set a new Club U17W record with a clearance of 2.10 metres.
Declan Murray set a new personal best in the long jump of 5.46 metres and there was a new best mark in the 300 metres for Emma Tillott of 45.16 seconds.
There were pleasing runs for Gloucester club members in last week’s Shepperdine Half and full marathons at Berkeley. Steve Kenyon clocked a new half marathon best time of 72:50 in sixth place while Jeremy Mower placed 38th in the full distance event, clocking 3:00.46.
On Sunday (2nd), three Club members travelled to Chepstow to compete in the Speedway 10k, a race designed to get the fastest runners in the south-west together in five graded waves. Upon arrival at the venue, the athletes were greeted with a glorious sunny day with a slight south westerly wind and a pancake-flat course, all of which were ideal for fast times.
Gemma Collier started off in the fifth wave up against some of her local competitors from the newly-formed Western Tempo and various other clubs. Gemma ran an evenly paced race to work her way through the field to place sixth lady in 36:49, a personal best by over two minutes, ahead of several athletes who she had never beaten in the past.
Meanwhile in the second wave, Ben Robinson and James Denne started off together and ran in a pack of eight athletes for the first 4K before Ben pulled away from James and ran with the remnants of the pack, gradually picking off athletes from the first wave. Ben ran a very fast time to place 23rd overall in 30:43, just 15 seconds off the club 10K road best, which now must be in his sights. James clocked 31:12 in 31st place for a new personal best and Club V35M best.
At the Mallory Park Spring 10K, Jason Tilley clocked 38:14 for 14th place. Second-claim member Tracy Hinxman clocked a personal best 37:00, the best by a Club member in this age-group.
Next up for the Club’s track & field athletes are the Gloucestershire County Championships which take place at Blackbridge on the 16th and 23rd May.
Additional results from Birchfield Open Meeting at Nuneaton:
Snr Men Declan Murray 100m 12.04;
U17M Kyle Neal 100m 13.78; Jav 30.84m;
Joshua Robinson HJ 1.45m;
U17W Emily Herron 100m 14.83; Jav 20.33m;
Emma Tillott LJ 4.30m; 80m Hurdles 14.59;
U15G Ula Mohammed 200m 29.65; HJ 1.30m;
U13B Theo Myles 100m 14.14; HJ 1.35m;
Piers Clutterbuck 100m 15.31; HJ 1.30m;
U13G Bailey Ward 100m 17.51; LJ 2.71m; 800m 3:37.02;
U11G Bethan Holloway 75m 12.69; LJ 2.84m; 600m 2:19.0; Howler 20.24m.