Long Eaton in Nottinghamshire was the venue of the annual BMAF National XC Relay Championships.
Despite each leg being only 3km and pancake flat, usually favouring track athletes, this year there was mud and water in abundance making conditions quite challenging to run fast.
The M65 team were first to run and Neil Hotson ran a storming 1st leg (6th fastest overall, 13.35) to put his team right up at the sharp end placing 4th with Salford Harriers at the helm.
Leg 2 saw team affairs change completely with Barnet now leading and Oxford City a close 2nd.
Ed Connolly running above his usual 800m on the track hauled Southampton into a stunning bronze medal position (10th fastest overall, 14.45) but with Salford Harriers only 13secs adrift in 4th.
Chris Hibberd set off on the final leg quite conservatively and powered through the mud (9th fastest overall, 14.23) to increase their advantage over Salford and win a fantastic first National medal in that age category for Bronze.
The M55 team were quite optimistic beforehand of being amongst the sharp end come the finish and Jon Grainger did not disappoint.
Jon laid down the gauntlet on the opening leg with what turned out to be the fastest leg of the day (11.30) and a 4sec advantage over hot favourites Leicester.
John MacInnes had the toughest leg 2 of his life having to run from the front with the big clubs lining up behind.
Where others may have gone out too fast in the moment, John didn’t panic, kept his cool and despite dropping to 4th brilliantly ran his own solid race and kept Southampton in the medal hunt.
Noel O’Dowd set out on the penultimate 3rd Leg 38 secs down on 3rd place and paced his race brilliantly closing the gap throughout to halve the deficit to 19 sec.
Pete Costley had to use all his many years experience and tactical nous not to run too hard too early and paced it very well to run 6th fastest overall, 12.07. Despite gaining no ground on the bronze medal position at half way, the medal places were changing further up the field. Costley overhauled Shrewsbury with approx 1km left to run and at that point it was never in doubt as he brought Southampton home for their 2nd Bronze medals of the day.
The M35 team ran extremely well to finish 11th of the 26 teams considering 60% of the team were running down in age from the M45-54 category.
In fact they were never lower than 11th place and were up to 8th during the race which more than goes to show this age group can compete with the best.
Matt Risden had his first race for a while after injury and got the team off to a good start with 11th place and the fastest Southampton time of the day (11.07).
The ever dependable David Blackman, one of 3 dropping down in age paced his race very well moving up one place to 10th with 11.39.
Jez Curtis ran very well and holding 10th place closed a lot of ground on the clubs ahead running 11.27.
Jim Bennett, another dropping down age and gradually getting fit again hauled Southampton to a fantastic 8th with 12.22.
Howard Long running against athletes nearly 20 years his junior ran a great last leg to bring Southampton home for 11th place and only one place down on their best ever finish of 10th from 2017.Jon Grainger – Fastest Leg M55M35 L-R: Jez Curtis, David Blackman, Howard Long, Matt Risden, Jim Bennett
From Andy Morgan-Lee:
The third meet of the season saw Basingstoke as hosts in the latest round of Veterans SCVAC Track & Field League.
Mark Collins, boosted by lowering his own M45 100m club record the previous day at Newham edged to a fine victory here in 12.0sec.
Steve Beak was equally impressive running an M55 club record 12.5sec for 2nd in B String and 3rd in 400m (58.2) with his competitors 20 years his junior.
The versatile Derek Warn had a busy evening competing in the M50 category finishing 4th in the 100m (13.8), 5th in both Hammer (24.87m) and Shot (7.87m) but saved his best for last in the Long Jump with a winning leap of 4.67m.
M35’s Andrew Sheerin (Hammer, 34.27m) and Brian Thompson (HJ, 1.70m) both took victory to follow up later with 3rds in the Shot (10.10m) and LJ (4.84m) respectively.
The 3000m steeplechase saw Andy Morgan-Lee finish 4th in the A String (11.51.0) and Kit Lau winning the B String (12.03.8). David Blackman finished a fine 3rd (13.08.7) in the M50 category and minutes later took victory in the 400m (61.3).
There were 4th places for Simon Ciaravella in the M35 400m (60.2) and Michael Coker in the M60 Shot (9.18m) while fellow M60 Vic Novell ran a seasons best in the 400m (73.1).
The biggest points tally of the evening came in the 1500m with Paul Laslett (4.29.0) and Jon Hannan (4.50.6) both finishing 2nd in the M35 A & B String while Jon Grainger ran to M50 victory with 4.46.9 and the age group club record to boot.
Guest performances throughout the evening.
100m – Garry Bell 14.2
400m – Garry Bell 61.6 (PB)
1500m – Andrew Lewis 4.48.4
Greg Warder 4.51.2 (PB)
Garry Bell 4.53.5
Mark Hayter 5.12.6
Noel O’Dowd 5.22.9
High Jump – Greg Warder 1.40m (PB)
Michael Coker 1.20m
Long Jump – Michael Coker 3.52m
Report from Andy Morgan-Lee:
It certainly wasn’t a day for fast times on a very hot day and very little shade throughout the undulating BMAF 10mile Veterans Championships in Dorking, Surrey.
Matt Hibberd won individual silver with 61.20. With Andrew Lewis finishing 5th M35 in 64.53 and Mark Hayter 7th 67.01 it was enough for the M35’s to win their first BMAF team medals to claim bronze.
Paul Boyd-Leslie just missed the individual BMAF medals to finish 4th M45 (64.55) while Rob Bentley finished 5th in a quality M50 race with 63.04.
The event also doubled up as the SCVAC club Championships which Hibberd, Lewis and Hayter won individual Gold, Silver and Bronze respectively.
M35 BMAF Team Bronze
Report from Pete Costley:
At the SEAA championships at Bedford over the weekend, the club achieved a haul of 10 medals as detailed below.
Also on Sunday, at the Dorking 10 mile race Matt Hibberd, Andy Lewis and Mark Hayter won bronze medals in the M35 category at the British Masters championships.
Here is a picture of Max on the podium, sorry didn’t get any other podium shots.
The second instalment of the Southern Counties Veterans Track & Field League saw us increase our advantage at the top of the table with another comfortable victory at Winchester.
Mark Collins continued his fine form with victory over 200m (24.0) and Steve Beak finishing a fine B string runner up (25.0) despite competing down in the M35 category.
Report by Andy Morgan-Lee:
Southampton AC Veterans carried on from where they finished the 2018 season, winning the first meet of 2019 in the Hampshire Division of the Southern Counties Veterans Track & Field League.
The foundations were laid down from the start in the M35 category with the experienced Mark Collins and Graham Lay claiming victory in the 100m (12.0s) and Shot (13m) respectively.
Sean Connerton, new to the vets scene, marked his debut with 3rd in the B String 100m (12.8), A string 400m (62.6) and Long Jump (4.92m).
Steve Beak claimed a fine double victory in the M50 100m (12.7) and 400m (58.6) while Simon Ciaravella finished runner up in the M35 B String 400m (58.1).
Derek Warn was victorious in the M50 Long Jump by a mere 4cm (4.49m), 6th in Shot (8.46m) and 4th in Hammer (26.44m) with Graham Lay finishing M35 runner up in the latter (25.10m).
Brian Thompson High Jumped 1.60m for runner up spot in the M35 category while M60 Michael Coker kept busy with 1.20m HJ, Shot (9.33) and Long Jump 3rd (3.90m).
The 2km Walk produced good points from both M55’s John MacInnes (2nd, 12.18.8) and Wayne Vincent (4th, 12.21.6) with the former dropping down age groups to the M35 category and Vincent the M50 category. Peter Haynes completed the line up with 17.05.5 and also a non scoring 100m (17.4s).
In terms of sheer numbers the 1500m was the most popular event of the evening.
In the M35 category A string Paul Laslett (4.22.7) and B String James Smith (4.32.5) scored well for 3rd and 2nd respectively.
Andy Morgan-Lee made his debut as an M50 for 2nd place (4.46.4) and M60 Neil Hotson marked his return to track racing after many years to finish 3rd (5.43.7).
The non scoring 1500m proved there is good strength in depth in Southampton’s Veteran ranks with no less than 6 red and white vests filling half of the starting line up across 4 different age categories.
1st M35 Jeremy Curtis 4.33.9
2nd M40 Jon Hannan 4.41.2
3rd M35 Andrew Lewis 4.46.8
4th M35 Kit Lau 4.53.7
5th M45 Greg Warder 4.57.
10th M60 Noel O’Dowd 5.26.2
The final event of the evening saw Ciaravella, Connerton, Beak and Collins bring home the baton in a thrilling 4 x 100 victory over rivals Aldershot and a fantastic overall team victory on the night.
Remarkably, tonights victory marks an extremely impressive 22nd team victory on the spin stretching back as far as July 2013.
Long Eaton in Derbyshire played host to the National Masters Cross Country Relays.
Andy Morgan-Lee got proceedings underway for the M45-54 category team placing 4th in a time of 10min.16sec for the 2mile lap.
James Smith ran a storming 2nd leg posting the 5th fastest time of the day of 10.11 moving the red & white stripes up to 2nd place.
Rob Bentley getting his first taste of National competition since joining Southampton kept them in the medal placings with 10.58.
Peter Costley increased the lead over the chasing teams with a 10.52 clocking and put a firmer hold on a medal prospect.
The anchor leg saw David Blackman clock 10.30 to claim his club their first National medal at this event with bronze behind Northern giants Leeds and Salford.
National Masters Bronze Medalists
(L-R) Smith, Blackman, Morgan-Lee, Costley, Bentley
Southampton Men’s Veterans Track & Field team won their 3rd successive Southern Counties Veterans League Final at Ashford in a close match and take victory by 3 points.
Matt Coffey made his debut finishing 2nd in the M35 800m (2:05.47) along with David Blackman 2nd B string (2:19.63) and Jon Grainger (2:20.50) winning the M50 category.
This put the red & white stripes top of the table with a 4 point advantage from the start and although it was a close affair throughout the day with Oxford City and Tonbridge it was a lead they never relinquished.
M35’s Mark Collins (11.92s) and Simon Ciaravella (12.85s) took double 3rd in the A & B String 100m.
Steve Beak (12.46s) comfortably won the M50 category while Vic Novell (13.90s) finished 2nd in the M60 category.
In the field M35 Andrew Sheerin and M50 Stephen Dobson were kept busy all afternoon scoring well in the throwing events.
Sheerin scored 3rd Hammer (34.44m), 3rd Shot (10.61m), 4th Discus (26.80m) and 5th Javelin (28.58m) while Dobson in the M50 category won the Shot Putt with 10.78m, 4th Hammer (25.27m) and 4th Discus with 25.90m.
M60 Michael Coker (8.97m) and M50 Gordon Westley (23.68m) scored valuable points in the shot and Javelin respectively.
Back on the track Jon Tilt who just a few weeks ago was crowned double World M55 Champion for 400m and 400mH in Malaga was narrowly beaten in the 400m (56.28s) by the Tonbridge athlete, albeit some 20 years his junior.
Simon Ciaravella finished 4th in the B string (57.79s) while Beak went on to make it 2 wins from 2 for him in the M50 category with 58.64s.
Vic Novell at the age of 74 and giving 13 years away to his competitors in the M60 category scored another brilliant 2nd place (69.51s) in his first outdoor 400m this season before Long Jumping to 3rd place (3.71m) then valiantly throwing the Javelin for the first time ever gaining a valuable point for his team.
The 1500m came next along with maximum points from Coffey in his 2nd event of the day as he won impressively from gun to tape in 4:18.94.
Blackman also doubling up after an earlier 800m finished 4th (4:45.55) in the B string as did Grainger (4:38.4) for 3rd in the M50 category while Sid DeLara (5:29.8) ran well for 3rd in the M60 category.
Collins (24.23s) finished 3rd in another quality sprint event over 200m with Ciaravella (26.36s) 6th in the B String while Beak (25.74s) just held on to make it a hat-trick of victories for him on the day in the M50 race before leaping 9.09m for 5th in the Triple Jump.
The Pole Vault which started much earlier on in the day came to its conclusion with M50 Derek Warn winning maximum points on count-back with a 3m clearance.
Between vaulting Warn was keeping busy scoring double 3rd in the M50 Long Jump (4.76m) and High jump (1.30m)
while Coker also scored well for 3rd in the M60 High Jump with 1.25m clearance.
Brian Thompson added more points to the board in the M35 category with a brilliant runners up spot in the High jump (1.65m), 4th and a personal best in the Long Jump (5.16m) and 3rd in Triple Jump (10.65m).
John MacInnes (12:23.24) and Wayne Vincent (12:49.04) took on the 2km Walk with good points for 2nd and 5th respectively before Tilt, Beak, Ciaravella and Collins combined for the 4 x 100m Relay to finish 3rd in 49.72s.
Mark Causebrook (9:37.63) and Andy Morgan-Lee (9:58.33) scored a double 3rd in the M35 A & B String 3000m with Pete Costley (10:18.22) running well for 2nd place in the M50 category.
The final event, 4 x 400m would be enough to see Southampton win the title for the third successive year if they could stay close enough or beat Oxford City.
Ciaravella, Blackman, Coffey and Tilt didn’t disappoint as they stormed to 2nd place narrowly beaten by Tonbridge but well ahead of Oxford City in 3rd to cap another fantastic winning performance to take the Cup back to Southampton.
Oxford City 216.5
Epsom & Ewell 146.5
Enfield & Haringey 120