Nene Valley Harriers
Nene Valley Harriers third in close fought contest

SAL, West London

Nene Valley Harriers third in close fought contest

The Nene Valley Harriers men’s and women’s team went down to Wormwood Scrubs on Saturday and we are pleased to report none were required to be detained. In fact the effort and commitment by this band of athletes was a credit to the club. The athletes showed great team spirit and support not only for the club but one another. At the end of the day the team finished third just two points off second place and six on the match win which would have returned the club to top of the table.

Although we usually give all the credit to the top performances which will certainly be the case later in the article, but it was a day of ‘team’ spirit and dedication. Andrea Page and Mick Lynas were not competing themselves and had no family competing but came along to support the club with the important role of officiating. Mick Lynas who has only taken up time keeping over the last two years volunteered to take on the role of chief timekeeper on the day as none had been available. Also Andy Hughes, our residential doctor and valued official performing his duties on the day despite injury and then would be at the Anglian Schools the next day to support his sons.

The men’s team made some quick changes in the day after a couple of withdrawals on Friday and then athletes not turning up as expected on the day. There was no need for press ganging as the spaces were filled promptly with volunteers. Even when David Bush’s dodgy navigational skills sent his transport over to Windsor Slough and Eton before the match (did you ask a police officer?) his place in the 400m hurdles had been filled. He arrived in time and continued to improve this season’s long hurdles performances.

The ladies team had been hit hard in the last week but again spaces had been filled, Emily Maltby competing, at her request in five induvial events plus a relay. Emily scored impressive point’s tally of 17.5 for the club on the day.

The team pulled together in adversity during the day as well. Unfortunately, Poppy Tovey seeing that there was a gap in the ladies pole vault, an event she had only just started training in, stepped in and unfortunately cut her leg whilst attempting 1.70m and needed seven stitches. She had a smile on her face throughout the whole escapade.

Chloe Pavey stepped in to fill her place in the 800m but this meant that she had been too tired for the 2,000m steeplechase later in the day. Youngster, Imogen Woodard said that she would step in for Chloe and run her first ever chase. Despite being given the opportunity to come out before and during the race she went on to produce a very creditable performance.

The clubs throwers went very close to rescuing the match for the city side with the ladies dropping only three points over all throwing disciplines. Becki Hall extending her club record shot putt with an impressive 12.70m was equally matched by Andrea Jenkins who’s hammer fell just one centimetre behind the UK age group record giving her an age group best throw of 50.10m. Both ladies winning their A string competitions were supported by Lydia Church also recording two wins in the B strings.

The male throwers refused to be outdone, Martin Tinkler and Simon Achurch recoding wins in the shot putt giving the club maximum points throwing that hefty ball. Tomas Sanaurious and once again Simon Achurch also recorded the same feat in the javelin with Tomas falling just short of 60m. Simon had an impressive day with 3 wins and a second place to his credit.

On the track Daz Holding and Dave ‘Blade’ Brown completed a 400m double win. These performances lead to an exciting climax to the day with the men’s 400m relay. Blade, Olli Bowling, Dave Bush and anchor man Daz fought every inch of the mile to hold onto second place and make every effort to catch the leaders Chelmsford. The irony being that Chelmsford was leading the match and indeed the league itself.

Despite the problem we seem to have with getting endurance athletes out on the track, those that are attending are improving every meeting. Michael Channing’s 5,000m racing performances have shown a marked improvement each time and his time of 15:43.9 was 1 minute 20 seconds than he had recorded on the track before and quicker than any of his road performances. He was well supported by John Nash who also recorded a second place and in the ladies 3,000m Nicky Morgan and Imogen Woodard both gained third place finishes. Paul Parkin also turned up in London and raced the men’s 5,000m on the basis that he would slot in if the club was short. When asked if he would do the steeplechase he respectfully declined the offer, “you have to be crazy to do that…” and as such..

Rio Chilvers recorded his first ever steeplechase win in the men’s 2,000m knocking some 14 seconds off his personal best and most remarkable was that there was not a hair out of place at the finish. Rosie Fresen, after her second place in the pole vault and Imogen Woodard ran good races in the same event and Rio had the support of pole vaulter Pete Lewis. The club have no explanation as to why our pole vaulters seem to volunteer for the steeplechase despite knowing that they cannot use a pole for the hurdles.

The club’s sprinters are getting back to strength with three wins in the ladies sprints and four second places, Georgie Ivens with two of those wins and Lily Hughes producing one of her best performances this season. The men also scoring well in the sprint events with Blade competing in all sprint events including his 400m win.

A final special mention goes to Sean Reidy, ever the club man after leaving the last fixture to get home for the birth of his daughter did show the effects of early parenthood and the lack of a good night’s sleep as he tired in the 400m hurdles but recorded a ‘B’ string win. In the words of Tim Needham (Team manager), overall the whole team performed well and it was a gutsy performance which deserved so much more than they got.

Next match is at Crawley on Saturday 9 July.

Barry Warne