The track season is now at the time when the important domestic competitions are taking place thick and fast.

Athletes from the long sprints group have been looking to make sure that their best performances of the season are at the right time and in the meets which count. Medals and titles they won during a successful indoor season count for little if they are not bettered in the summer season.

In the North Eastern Championships Tim Tetlow won gold in the senior men’s 400m in a PB of 49.62. This is a particularly impressive performance as the time he can devote to training is severely restricted due to studies for his masters degree and also the rigorous process he is currently negotiating which will see him gaining an officer commission into the RAF.  At the same championships Sophie Wood and Jacqui Hodgson took silver and bronze respectively in the senior women’s 400m and Scott Armstrong  won a tactical U/20 800. So, all four runners from the long sprint group competing in those championships won medals.

At the Northern Championships on 10/11th June at Manchester, Scott Armstrong just missed out in a sprint for the bronze medal in the U/20 800m. His cause was not helped by his determination to lead into a strong wind thereby giving his nearest rival an easy ride until the finishing straight! In one of the best standard races of the championships Tim Tetlow, in one of his rare forays away from the North East, qualified out of his heat into a very strong final. He was joined in the final by Rob Shipley (DUAXC) who won the Northern Indoor 400m back in January. In a good quality final Tim finished 6th and Rob took the silver medal. Jason Hoyle (DUAXC), nursing his long term injuries which date back to his school days,opted for the 200m where he qualified for the final with a big, but wind aided, PB of 21.66. Sensibly, he did not line up for the final as he wanted to ensure he was in shape to compete in the England U/23 championships one week later. Sophie Wood ran a very strong race in her senior women’s 400m heat to qualify for the final where she finished an excellent 5th.

On the same weekend as the Northern Championships, the youngest member of the group Anna Carlon (16), was an easy winner of the Intermediate Girls 300m at the Durham Schools Championships 42.1 (hand timed). This summer is the first season Anna has taken her athletics remotely seriously; but she is taking things very cautiously training wise which suggests there is significant improvement ahead of her.

Only one week later (17/18th June) Rob and Jason were in action at Bedford in the England U/23 Championships which also served as the trials for team selection for this years European U/23 championships; while Anna was representing Durham Schools in the Northern Schools Inter County meeting at Hexham. While there was confidence that Rob could qualify for his 400m final at the U/23’s, Jason clearly had a bigger task if he was to also qualify. They exceeded expectations when, drawn in the same semi final, they both set lifetime bests and qualified for the final. Rob (47.55) and Jason (47.91) then lined up the following day for the final where Jason’s injury restricted training caught up with him but he still ran 49.04. Rob not only finished 5th in a very high quality race, he ran another lifetime best of 47.29. That was the fifth time he has improved his 400m PB this year. It is worth noting that Rob’s PB when he joined the group nineteen months ago was over 51 seconds! Jason has moved his own PB on twice this year.

On the same weekend Anna set her own PB when she comfortably won her 300m race at the Schools Inter County in 42.17. 

As a result of their performances this season both Rob and Jason qualified to compete in the senior UK Senior Championships/IAAF World Championships Trials at Birmingham on July 1/2nd. Samantha Coleby also qualified and was invited to compete but declined the invite. Competing against the best seniors in the UK Jason ran 49.05 and Rob 47.67 in their heats. In Rob’s case this saw him fall agonisingly close to making the final. Both however will benefit from the experience.

However, as a postscript to the above Rob Shipley has received the news that he has been selected to represent Great Britain at the European U/23 Championships in Poland on 13-16th July in the 4x400m relay. A well deserved reward for his hard work…and for been shouted at by his coaches!

Long sprint group – busy times, medals, PBs and a Great Britain selection!