Newsletter – Inter-area competition 6 August 2023

What a day at the Inter-area Track and Field Challenge at Nuneaton this year.

The men handed over the trophy won for the first time by us last year. Everyone else upped their game, the Scots in numbers, the resurgent Welsh, the Midlands who usually win and Eastern who won the indoors this year and were maybe our biggest threat.

We were challenging throughout the competition and had hopes of finishing high but in the end, we finished 4th out of 9 teams overall.

The men finished 4th and the women 5th.

Overall positions were;

1st: MMAC 640 points
2nd: EMAC 606 points
3rd: SCVAC 565 points
4th: NMAC 528 points
5th: WMAA 491 points
6th; SBHV 319 points
7th: NEMAA 302 points
8th: VAC 300 points
9th: SWVAC: 160 points

It was disappointing that the results weren’t ready at the end, consequently, there was no presentation. Hopefully next year that will improve.

The two team captains, Carol Holt and Paul Barlow put in hours of work in the weeks and months before the event getting the teams together.  We had 26 male athletes in the team and 8 more registered, strength in depth plus great backup.

The women had nearly a full team but were missing a World Champ and top thrower/pole vaulter. The men had a hard week running up to it losing a World Champ plus others, having to call on the reserves, then losing super thrower Greg Pell before the first of his 3 events on the day. Luckily there were athletes willing to fill in at very short notice – Steve Linsell ( world class high jumper covering 3 throws!), Jed Turner (400 & 800)and Simon Oak( 800 and 1500) etc, all willing to help the team effort.

Neil Pendlebury, Helen Elleker and Chris Ireland heroically took on the dreaded walk!

Athletes were willing to do multiple events, the most amazing being Mark Line who covered 5 events and a relay, amassing a huge 35 points in his events. Ilse Hemming covered 4 events and gained many points.

Some, like Julien Gittens were willing to drop down an age group to help the team.

Congratulations to Debra Dasse and James Taylor who won all their events, in James’ case, 3 throws. Top class! The throws were well looked after by James, the Todds father and son duo, Leeroy Goulding, Steve Linsell, Mark Line and in the ladies Beth Lishman, Julie Wilson, Caroline Marler, Hazel Barker, Lynsie Whyke and Wendy Valentine. We had talent throughout the team. Fast sprinters Rick Beardsell, Anita Saunders, Amanda Potter, Katie Eckersley and Mark Line showed great form.

Many, many people did events out of their comfort zone e.g. amongst the women, Helen Elleker, Debra Casson, Anne Hewitt, Lynsie Whyke, Debra Dasse, Ilse Hemming, Katie Eckersley, Wendy Valentine and Juliet Smith.

Amongst the men, Rick Cordwell was happy to do anything, Leeroy Goulding, unusually did the long jump. John Ward, a runner who normally does Park Run, cross country and 10ks competed in 4 new events, 100, 400, 800 and Long Jump, an amazing challenge. For this he was awarded The President’s Trophy.

As the meeting progressed, we felt we might challenge for top spots. The middle distance runners worked hard- Jeff Prest, Juliet Smith (1500m and 3000m!) Stephanie Robson, Anne Hewitt (normally runs up mountains!), Katie Eckersley, Neil Pendlebury and Helen Elleker, both doing the 1500m as well as the walk!

The jumpers and vaulters rose to the occasion – Anita Saunders adding 2nd in the long jump to her win in the 200m,  Lynsie Whyke winning the triple jump,  Ilse Hemming gaining two third placings as did Mark Line. Pole vaulters Andrew England and Ashley Pritchard gained valuable points in a hard to fill event. Stephen Thorpe, later to become British Champion, got practice in at the Triple jump.

Hard to mention everyone and if you are not, it’s not that you weren’t appreciated.

We are getting stronger but so is everyone else, Inter-area is on the map, a major event like it should be.

We need to get all our stars out, backed up by the athletes who are so good at their events and willing to fill the gaps. Then we would be unbeatable.

Caroline Marler, NMAC President.