In Spring 2020 we were all expecting that there would be no track season. Many young athletes had stopped or reduced training during lockdown, whilst some continued training albeit on a less intensive and focussed basis.
Competition appeared to be a far off and distant prospect. Watford announced that they had scrapped all open meetings – a mainstay of many athletes during the track season. Then the announcement from all the main athletics bodies – no Counties, no English Schools. Most began to look towards the cross-country season.
Then in the Summer, the UK began to adapt to the pandemic- and so did athletics. The now legendary Toulmin Drive socially distanced grass training sessions commenced at the Club. Athlete numbers were high, and what’s more, all parents and guardians rallied around to help with the new regulations and get involved. We were always an inclusive Club, but we had now reached new levels.
Competition began to creep back into focus and the Club staged a several time trials to help the athletes make sense of the training in the absence of open competition. This was thoroughly enjoyed by all and almost a return to some assemblance of normality.
A number of Covid friendly open meetings began to emerge in towns and cities never once considered. Some of our athletes scoured the internet for meetings, with a low number of places available they had to be quick off the draw to enter. Towns and Cities such as Bromley, Southampton, Nuneaton. Iconic locations such as Parliament Hill. Harrow – with what felt like a concrete surface but surprisingly fast, with an array of diggers and sand dunes to admire during the race. Dagenham – a new adaptation with drone coverage for each race to provide a birds-eye view later. Not forgetting Tooting Bec – 1 hour door to door from St Albans, for a great little track with good competition and a location I am sure will now be on the calendar for weekend races next year.
We all adapted and there were some great performances and 3 Club records – which was remarkable given the lockdown. It is fair to say most, if not all athletes, were rusty from lack of competition and the window of opportunity (late August to October) was short. However, all gave an excellent account of themselves. It is also worth noting that across the age-groups, the vast majority of our athlete’s rivals from other parts of the UK were competing and this is relevant to the UK rankings we achieved.
In the U15 girls, Poppy, Annabel and Phoebe competed in the 800m. Phoebe ran a very well-paced race to record a time of 2.13, the second fastest time of the year in the UK and the fastest for her year-group – and a new Club record.
In the U17 girls, Sarah Mc competed in the 800m. In the 1500m, Sophie competed and ran well at Bromley, and Antonia ran a PB for a top 50 ranking. In the longer event, the 3000m, Sarah Mc competed at Bromley for a PB and Antonia almost broke 10 minutes with 10.01, with very tight pacing and almost even 1500m splits – a time which ranks 6th in the UK this year and a new Club record. In the U20 women Christy Durbin competed in the 3000m at Harrow.
In the U15 boys, we had a well-represented bunch of athletes with Alexander Mc, Oren, Mathew, Tom and James B competing in the 800m. Tom and Matthew bagged PBs and Alexander and Oren were both well within the top 50 rankings dipping comfortably below 2.10. In the 1500m, Oscar ran a PB and a top 50 ranking, and Matthew produced a great top 20 ranking for his age group with an excellent time of 4.37. in the 3000m, The Club excelled with 3 lads competing – Oscar ran a great race at Harrow, churning out repetitive 75s laps against senior athletes to record a Club record at 9.24 (by a whisker) and a 10th place ranking. Alexander ranked 15th for his best time this season and Matthew a ranking of 9th for his year-group.
In the U17 boys, Zac and Ben H competed for the Club. Ben just missed out on a sub 2.10 performance but with a slightly longer season, he would definitely have dipped below the target this year. Zac competed in the 400m, 800m and 1500m and had a great season. His 400m time of 53s is ranked 17th in the UK for his year-group and isn’t bad at all for a non-sprinter! Developing into a final lap specialist, his 800m time of 1.55 is ranked 9th in the UK and for his year-group 2nd. His 1500m time is top 50 this year and again his age-group top 10 at 8th.
Despite the pandemic the Club produced a season to remember for more ways than one and there is a great deal to build on for next year. Well done to all the athletes for managing to train, socially distance, compete and just enjoy their running. Special thanks to the parents and guardians for rallying around and of course to the coaches.
On the road we also had some outstanding performances over 10km
- Will Bowran 33.13
- Thomas Halling 35.26 PB
- Euan Turner 37.17 Pb