On Saturday 25 May 2015, the ladies and men of Nene Valley Harriers travelled to Colchester for the first Southern Athletics League match of the season. Despite a strong wind on the second bend and into the faces of the cage throwers the athletes performed well and were just piped by a single point into second place.
This was a tough meeting with Colchester at home always putting out a strong team, Thames Valley Harriers who romped to the division 2 title last season and Norwich who are one of the strongest teams in East Anglia. The team were never threatened by any but other team except eventual winners Colchester and indeed led throughout most of the day only to be pipped by Colchester in the last few events.
The club saw numerous personal bests throughout the day, a great achievement so early in the season and an amazing improvement in club records, all of which deserve separate mention.
We saw several athletes step into fill gaps and even at the expense of their own non-scoring events. Rosie Jacobs, usually does not pass the finish line except at the end of a race finished second in the ladies 3,000m and Rosie Fresen, a pole vaulter completed the 2,000m steeple chase with a smile on her face the whole way and to record 9:54.2, an under 17 club record for second place. Rosie Fresen had earlier recorded a new club record 2.80m in the pole vault. Cat Foley stepped into the 400m relay when her fellow athlete was taken ill just beforehand assisting the team to a good second place.
Simon Achurch was the athlete of the day in terms of club records. He secured a brilliant three veteran club records following a javelin win of 38.92m, second in the hammer with 42.58m and a third in the discus with 33.63m. Simon also took third place in the men's shot putt on the day. Leigh Ann Rose was the other new club record holder recording a time of 9:03.6 in the 2,000m steeplechase as an under 20. Maria Hollingsworth also equalled her under 20 110m hurdles record with a 15.2s win.
Ashley Sandall's 49.3s second place in the 400m but him in the man of the match rankings as did Lily's 100m and Becky Hall's winning shot putt of 12.19m. These performances alongside the 18 wins and 25 second places saw the club finish well clear of third place.
Although there were many athletes stepping in to fill gaps, David Bush competing in his usual 7 or so events picking up points all over the field, Pete Lewis recording third places in his pole vault and high jumps events before failing to convince officials that they had miscounted the laps as he started his last lap of the 3,000m steeplechase and Andrea Jenkins recording a win and a second place just two days after being given the all clear following a recent operation, there were numerous cracking races in their own right but not all of these can be recorded here.
Kane Wright's blistering 100m win, leading from the gun and Lily Hughes breaking the club record despite slipping out of the blocks at the start. James McRae and Brad Spurdens took the competition to the other clubs in the men's 800m, neither wishing to let their team mate win raced each other to the line and left the field well behind. Megan Ellison ran the same event with tactical prowess more associated with someone much older than the 14 year old. She led the filed and pulled away from the only challenger over the last 200m. The men's 400m relay team was led out by Dave Brown and from that point forward they left the field trailing almost 100m behind, never challenged. It may not have been a club record but it was worthy of mention all the same.
The meeting saw a large number of athletes experiencing the league for the first time, whether as a result of moving to the club or moving up age groups so that they are now eligible. It is a great learning place for the youngsters who compete along side their more experienced senior athletes with a number of them refusing to be outclassed and not fearing the older athletes.
The next meeting is on SUNDAY 25 May 2015 at Chelmsford. If you wish to compete then please contact Tim Needham for the men's squad and Ken Maggs for the ladies.