After a week dominated by road races, it was once again back to the softer terrain of the track for Harborough AC, as both the Senior and Veteran Teams competed in the third instance of their respective league campaigns.
First up, midweek, was the elder branch, who journeyed en masse to the Pingles Stadium, Nuneaton. The opening two rounds had left the combined team in fifth spot in the division, and an evidently lucky total of 13 podium finishes this time out ensured that position was maintained. The sole top-step occupant, however, was Andy Wilkinson, who cleared a height of 3.00m in the Pole Vault. Wilkinson currently holds a nationwide spot inside the top-5 of the MV45 rankings, and certainly has his mind on, quite literally, greater heights!
Second-place finishes were achieved by Ady King (in the MV35 1500m, with 4:49.8), Stuart Avins (MV60 High Jump, 1.30m), Jenny Jones (FV60 2km Walk, 19:15.6), and Marise Taylor (FV35 Discus, 14.03m). Avins also secured two third-place finishes (in the MV60 100m 15.2s and 400m 75.1s), while Chris Hollidays recent abundance of competitions (having registered a Seasons Bests over 400m just six days earlier) has clearly had a positive effect, as he took third in the MV40 age group over that distance (in 60.9s). Will Clapp was third in the MV40 1500m (4:51.0), with John Thompson just eight seconds off his own Club Record as he also secured third in the MV60 2km Walk (11:42.3). On the womens side, both Karen Brooks and Yvonne Scarrott were third in the 1500m, with Brooks edging the intra-Club battle, with a time of 5:27.7 (in the FV40 category), to Scarrotts 5:30.3 (in the FV35s).
Overall, the combined team echoed the distinctly bronze hue of the day, with a third-place finish; with the Men matching that, and the Women snatching fifth.
The weekend then saw the metaphorical baton passed to the Senior squads, who travelled for the second time this term to the Harvey Haddon track, in Nottingham. And they certainly took to the task with relish unabound; levelling no fewer than sixteen individual victories, and one relay win, to make light of the terrible weather conditions that greeted them! With six of those triumphs split equally between them, the mother-and-daughter duo of Karen and Lianne Brooks certainly proved their respective worth to the team. Karen was first in the 3,000m (A string, 12:29), 800m (B, 2:43.3) and 1500m (B, 5:58.1), while Lianne took top-spot in the 400m (B, 75.7s), 100m Hurdles (B, 24.1s) and 400m Hurdles (B, 95.6s). The latter also later registered a new PB and Club Record for the Pole Vault (at 2.40m), taking second place in the process. Having made her Senior debut this season, Bethany Ellis is also swiftly proving an invaluable asset to the make-up of the team and, with another two wins to her tally here (in the A 800m 2:28.6, and A 1500m 5:26.6), continues to go from strength to strength. Also on the female victory bandwagon were Sarah Ward (A 100m Hurdles, 23.6s), Lin Farrow (B 3,000m, 19:16.4) and Marise Taylor (B Long Jump, 3.26m), coupled with the 4x400m relay as well. There were second places for Ward (A 400m Hurdles), Taylor (A Discus, Javelin and Hammer) and Farrow (B Hammer), along with thirds for Ward (A 400m, High Jump and Triple Jump), Taylor (A Shot Put) and Farrow (B Javelin).
Keen not to see themselves overshadowed by their female counterparts, Roy Barber (A 100m, 12.4s), Dan Taylor (A 400m Hurdles, 65.3s), Matt Driver (A Steeplechase, 7:36.1), Andy Wilkinson (B 400m Hurdles, 85.6s) and Mark Cherry (B Steeplechase, 7:49.7) did likewise for the boys. Barber (A 200m, 24.5s), Taylor (B 800m, 2:43.8), Driver (B 1500m, 5:08.6) and Cherry (B 5,000m, 19:54.4) all took silver-medal places too. While third places went to Michael Burke (A 800m), Driver (A 5,000m and B 400m), Cherry (A High Jump), Wilkinson (A Pole Vault) and Dave Ward (B Long Jump), as well as the 4x100m relay team.
Elsewhere, five intrepid road exponents trekked to the testing route of the Weedon 10k, for the penultimate fixture of the 2012 East Midlands Grand Prix Series. Renowned for its tough, hill-based, course, the circuit is certainly not one for Personal Bests, more resembling of part of a stage of the Tour de France than a rural English running race! Yet that failed to daunt those clad in the maillot jaune of HAC. Chief amongst them in a definite renaissance year was Lin Farrow, whose 52:12 clocking saw her take first place in the FV55 Class, and represented her best 10k time of 2012, and a 2 minute+ improvement over the same race twelve months hence! From 249 total finishers, it was Mark Cherry who led the Clubs entrants over the line, in 47th place, and a time of 41:08. Nick Johnston was second home (130th, in 47:49), just 24 hours before battling through three events on the track. Kenny Anderson chased him hard, eventually taking 146th (49:32). The Club compliment was ably concluded by Jo Johnston, who improved her previous best time over the Weedon course by more than a minute, stopping the watch at 53:06 (for 195th) .
Meanwhile, a couple of days earlier, Yvonne Scarrott was supplementing her track outings with a tremendous half marathon; at Torbay. With a run of 91:49, Scarrott not only placed inside the top-100 (83rd) from upwards of 1300 runners. She also won the FV45 bracket, and reduced her best time of the season for the 13.1 mile distance by over three minutes.
Over twice that length, Rachael Hardman passed the half-way mark in her 12-in 12-in 2012 marathon quest, with the Tenby marathon. With a tough route that takes in Penally on the way to Pembroke, via the Welsh Ridgeway, the race itself is a lesser-known treasure of the marathon scene; boasting fantastic views and challenging terrain in compliment. Of the 803 who completed the race, Hardman was a highly creditable 205th. And with her time of 4:12:50 offering evidence that the 157.2 racing miles covered thus far are failing to stilt her progress. Next up for Hardman is the Milton Keynes Enigma, at the end of this week.