Nene Valley Harriers celebrated the end of one of the club’s most successful track and field seasons last Thursday when more than 100 athletes flocked to Peterborough’s Embankment track to attempt to run, jump or throw their way to a new personal best.
The cold, foggy conditions were not conducive to fast times in the nine graded 800m races. Nevertheless, athletes defied the autumnal weather to record some fine results across the age groups, with seven U11 youngsters dipping under 3 minutes for the distance.
Sam Oakley was the fastest of the U11 boys with a superb 2:43.7, just holding off Freddie House, who crossed the line in 2:46.4. Third quickest was Angus Bowling in 2:55.6, while Isaac Fell, fifth in the Great North Run junior race, ran a strong 3:11.6 in his first ever 800m race.
U11 girl Jose Downer was hugely impressive on the night, recording the fastest time in her age category of 2:58.6, before going onto jump the furthest overall in the U11’s long jump competition with a superb personal best leap of 3.96m. That jump places her ninth in the country this year.
Flo Brill was second fastest U11 girl with a swift 2:59.3, while Lottie Hemmings was third in her first 800m race with an excellent 3:09.1.
In the senior races, Ben Jones sped to a new PB of 1:57.3 to claim the fastest time of the night, just ahead of U17 Bradley Spurdens’ 1:58.0 and Josh Reed’s 1:58.7. U15 Megan Ellison showed maturity beyond her years when beating off much older opposition to take the fastest women’s time with 2:20.9, just over a second shy of her PB set in June this year. Alice Callcutt, also U15, was second quickest with 2:33.4, while 12-year-old Amber Park ran a speedy 2:35.5 for third fastest.
Josh Akinwumi is more used to winning ways in the sprint races, but on Thursday he put his speed to good use in the long jump, leaping the furthest by a large margin when marking the sand at 4.96m, ahead of Tom Maker’s 4.75m and Scott Waumsley’s 4.57m. Ewan Drew and Angus Bowling both jumped identical distances of 3.52m to take the U13 and U11 boys’ events, while U13 Olivia Thompson’s PB leap of 4.24m beat off her nearest competitor’s efforts by 0.6m.
54 youngsters took part in the long jump, with five achieving PB’s for their efforts.
The throws featured some fine performances from athletes who have represented the club in numerous competitions this year, including U15 Lydia Church, U20 Isaac Huskisson and V35 Andrea Jenkins, who threw respective distances of 33.58m, 51.44m and 48.49m with the 3kg, 6kg and 4kg hammers on the night.
V75 Brian Sumner hurled the 3kg weight to a fine 34.48m to maintain his third position in the country for his age group, while John Blackwell, currently ranked eighth V60 nationally, recorded an excellent 34.50m with the 5kg implement.
As with all successful sporting events, they cannot go ahead without scores of volunteers, and Thursday’s celebrations were no different. A total of 31 officials gave up their time to ensure all of the athletes were catered for, both on the track and in the field, but also in the club house afterwards, where hungry Harriers were treated to a full buffet.
The club will now look forward to the cross country season, with the first main fixture being the Frostbite League event at Priory Park, St Neots, on October 5.