Southern Athletics League: Fixture 4 at Erith

England were due to play Belgium in the 3rd place play off in the World Cup at 3 o’clock. Nobody seemed to care though as blue and yellow LCAC vests filled South Eastern Rail carriages at London Bridge and Deptford to make the trip down to Erith for Round 4 of SAL.

The previous evening Andy Melrose had gone into “friendly bullying” mode. Convinced that participation points were the key to LCAC success and a steady climb up the overall rankings he had commenced a technique of “pre-meditated registration”. This is a technique whereby participants are entered into events before they are actually asked whether they are willing to participate in them. Nevertheless, the Melrose call was headed and “Heather’s Hill” was established early on the Saturday.

Even though nobody was competing in the women’s hammer, the LCAC presence was felt early on as Maria Butylina and Dee Strang (who seems to be making a habit of being the first to arrive and last to leave SAL events) made their way over to the women’s long jump. Maria jumped 2.32m in the A category to finish 3rd and Dee jumped 2.13m to finish 3rd in the B category. The points were quickly added to by Richard Jones who also made the early train to throw 16.79m in the men’s hammer to finish 3rd in the A category.

As more blue and yellow arrived, armed with coffee cups (and in Adam Millbery’s case, a shake consisting of 2.34 eggs, 1.476g of protein powder and 487.3% of his daily allowance of vitamin B12) the women’s shot put was underway. Alice Aniello threw 6.5m to finish 3rd in the A category and Dee Strang threw 5.17m to finish 2ndin the B category.

Heather Haggis in previous days had bravely volunteered herself for the women’s 400m hurdles and a host of other sprint events. She was modest as the hurdles were being set up and claimed it was simply “for the points”. She did not disappoint and finished 2nd in the A category in a rapid time of 89.46 seconds. Nick Androulidakis ran an impressive 73.4 seconds, gliding over the hurdles to finish 2nd in the A category of the men’s race.

Up next was the 800 meters. Jane Mclver finished 1st in the A category and Alice Aniello finished 1st in the B category to take a clean sweep of the points in times of 2.44 and 2.51 respectively in the women’s race. Matt Speed’s “#project800” came along nicely with a time of 2.05 albeit conscious of Tommy Rushton over his shoulder who yet again was attempting to compete in the biggest range of events SAL has ever seen. If there was a blindfolded egg and spoon race on one leg, Tommy would be competitive in it. Tommy ran a sharp 2.17 to finish 3rd in the B category.

Somebody has recently been quoted as saying “Every race Stew runs is entertaining”. Stewart Muir’s modesty and polite nature should not overlook his confidence to run hard and fast in whatever event he is in. It was not surprising then that anticipation was high for the 100m which Stewart had boldly entered himself into. Matt Speed was a victim of pre-mediated registration, running 13.36 to finish 3rd in the A category while Stew ran 13.43 to finish 2nd in the B category.

Edwin Mooiman turned up looking like he was ready for the beach; in short shorts, a tan and flip flops. He was however fresh from a series of Parkrun PBs that just seem to keep coming. Confidence must have been high. His first event was the men’s shot put and he managed to throw 4.15 to finish 3rd in the B category. Andy Melrose who was now his own victim of pre-mediated registration ran over to take part and throw 5.53 meters to finish 3rd in the A category.

Stewart Muir followed up his sprint performance with a 4.60m jump in the men’s long jump to finish 4th in the A category. Tommy Rushton added to his repertoire of events with a 4.49m jump to finish 3rd in the B category.

Chloe Hocking hammered home in 64.23 seconds to finish 3rd in the A category of the women’s 400m while Nick Androulidakis and Andrew Firth both finished 3rd in their categories in times of 62.24 and 68.03 respectively of the men’s race.

Marie Duignan tends to avoid races that don’t involve triple digit mileage and whole lot of pain. She was asked if she wanted to do the women’s 5000m and her first response was “where are the aid stations?” The gun went for the start on the far side of the track and by the first bend Marie was already increasing a 40 metre lead. This continued as talk began over whether she would manage to lap 2nd place. Her inexperience at track racing was revealed however when she was handed a cup of water and proceeded to throw it cleanly yet extremely confidently over her right shoulder. She then proceeded to run as if she had meant to do it. Marie went round in 20.10, about 200 meters ahead of second place. Maria Butylina who was trying to rival Tommy Rushton for number of events competed in ran around in a strong time of 23.47 to win the B category.

The men’s javelin was next and Richard Jones threw 17.56 meters to finish 3rd in the A category. LCAC were without a second thrower and Andy Melrose, whose clip board now resembled a 4 year old’s drawing of 10 spiders unravelling a ball of cotton, ran over to scoop up the points. With clip board still in hand he took hold of the javelin and threw 11.98 meters. In his dulcet Scottish twang he then asked the marshal “Is that a legal throw?” to which the marshal responded “It’s close but I’ll let you have it”. Andy replied “in that case – that’ll be my last throw” before trotting back to his command centre.

Adam Millbery has had three weeks gardening leave and he has used it to develop his Strava stalking app and to live and train as a professional athlete. That’s what he says. His washing is piling up, his beard is overgrown and he hadn’t showered in days. His 3000m was still impressive though and he worked hard at the front of the pack for the majority of the race, finishing in 1st place in the B category in a time of 9.39. Koen Stockbroekx has the intimidating technique of making his watch bleep quicker every 200 meters to increase his pace as a race develops. No wonder he finished 1st in the A category in a time of 9.37. Andrew Shreeve’s Wednesday run buses and pint of milk recoveries earned him a time of 10.40 while Fergal Dunne finished in 12.51. Edwin Mooiman followed up his recent road running success with a time of 12.40.

Jane Mclver finished 1st in the A category of the women’s triple jump with a distance of 8.44.

Dee Strang finished 3rd in the A category of the women’s discuss with a throw of 15.45m while Alice Aniello threw 12.36m to finish 3rd in the B category.

In the women’s 200m Chloe Hocking finished 2nd in the A category in a time of 28.11 while Heather Haggis yet again boosted her sprinting credentials by flying round in 33.95 to finish 2nd in the B category.

Our star of the sprint team, Alpha Bangura was back for the men’s 200m. He beat his previous time of 24.9, this time running 24.44 to finish 2nd in the A category. Thrown in at the deep end again by Andy Melrose, Matt Speed managed to claw back a 26.83 second finish after a slow start to finish 3rd in the B category.

Marie Duignan and Maria Butylina were looking build upon impressive 5000m runs just an hour earlier in the 1500m. By now it was hot and conditions on the track were ruthless. Nevertheless this didn’t stop either as Marie managed to finish 1st in the A category with a time of 5.28 while Maria also finished 1st in the B category in 6.33.

The men’s 1500m was as exciting as it gets as far as inter club competition goes. The pack was closely knit for the majority of the race but as the 2nd lap drew to a close, George Ashdown began to pull ahead. Tommy Rushton and Stewart Muir managed to maintain the gap however and as the race entered the last lap, a game of cat and mouse ensued amongst the LCAC runners. Tommy was on George’s shoulder and Stewart, who is always keen to make a dramatic finish, came flying down the final 100m. Tommy just pipped George at the line. They finished in 4.39 and 4.40 respectively. Stew also finished with a time of 4.40. Less than a second separating all three runners.

Jane Mclver carried on chipping away at her field success with a 1.30m jump to finish 3rd in the A category of the women’s high jump and Nick Androulidakis finished 3rd in the A category of the men’s triple jump with a distance of 9.93m.

Simon Brown’s performance in the men’s 3000m steeple chase was in a word; inspirational. Lots of LCAC folk have spoken about doing the event in recent months but every single one has shied away from actually committing to it. Simon went out confidently and as far as a mere spectator could see… it hurt. Simon went round in a time of 12.22 to finish 2nd in the A category. His performance was met with such enthusiasm that there was even talk of an LCAC takeover at the next SAL steeplechase. Let’s see where we’re at on August 18th! Simon, on the other hand, has been jumping over everything he can find on his long runs since!

In the men’s discuss Tim Campion threw a monstrous 34m to finish 2nd in the A category, beaten to first place by only 3.2m. Richard Jones threw 13.81m to finish 3rdin the B category. In the 4 x 100m relay the women came third with a time of 67.02 while the men came 4th with a time of 59.98. Inspired by Simon’s earlier performance in the steeplechase, in the 2000m women’s steeplechase, Alice Aniello finished first in the A category in a time of 6.48 and Dee Strang finished 1st in the B category in a time of 8.10. The final event of the day was the 4 x 400m relay and the women came 3rd with a time of 5.22 while the men came 2nd with a time of 4.07.

So did Melrose’s pre-meditated registration work? LCAC finished 3rd with 126 points. This was behind Bexley who finished with 239 and St Mary’s Richmond who got 202. Medway Park Phoenix who only had 4 competitors on the day finished with 24 points. The building blocks are there and some incredible individual performances have highlighted the potential for LCAC track and field success in the future.

Hopefully they won’t dock any points for Andy Melrose’s handwriting.

I’m glad I didn’t watch the football.

Matt Speed

Southern Athletics League: Fixture 3 at Tooting

It was hot. Even at 11am as the first of the women’s hammer throwers were limbering over to the throwing area. LCAC weren’t represented but as the sun beat down over those first competitors, Rachel Collins and Dee Strang were already warmed up, stretched, poised and ready to go in the women’s long jump. A monster 4.65m jump from Rachel providing a 1st place finish in the A category and an impressive 2.05m jump from Dee providing a 2nd place finish in the B category put the first LCAC points on the board.

They didn’t have time to rest or even collect their bags as they rushed over to the women’s shot put. Not that this seemed to matter to Rachel who proceeded to win that as well with a 9.07m throw. Dee put in another strong performance to throw 4.77 meters to finish 3rd in the B category.

Meanwhile in the men’s hammer, Richard Jones was able to throw 17.68m to finish 3rd, falling just short of Courtney Green of Kent Athletic Club who threw 19.62m.

Much to the amusement of Tuesday evening Southwark Park track users, Bryan Maillardet has recently been seen finishing his sessions by repeatedly throwing himself over the high jump bar. It was no surprise then to see him arrive in a pair of oversized reflective aviator sunglasses ready to take flight in the men’s high jump. George Hudson who in the preceding week had decided to sign up to everything SAL had to offer was by his side. Despite being flabbergasted by competitors in the high jump wearing spikes, Bryan was able to clear 1.45 meters to finish 3rd in the B category. George who undoubtable had one eye on start line for the upcoming 800m managed to beat the next height of 1.5m to finish 3rd in the A category.

The 400m hurdles gave him enough respite to warm up the legs and get himself over to the start line for the first of the LCAC represented running events. Matt Speed ran a hard fought two laps (even if I do say so myself ;)) to finish in 2nd place in the A category with a time of 2.08. George was close behind with a time of 2.19 to come 2nd in the B category.

In the women’s 100m, Rachel Collins was extremely close to maintaining her 100% winning streak. Her rapid 13.7 seconds was beaten by a hair and a freckle by Kimberley Garcia, a talented U17 sprinter from Paddock Wood and Folkestone Running Club.

Onto the men’s long jump. George Hudson who was seemingly unaffected by his earlier exploits in the high jump and on the track was now launching himself into the sandpit. He managed to jump 4.85m to finish 3rd in the B category while Tommy Rushton finished his first event of the day with a 4.32m jump to come 4th in the A category.

With the event now well behind schedule and the sun scorching the track for arguably the most difficult event of the day; Heather Haggis was able to fly round the women’s 400m to finish 3rd with a time of 76.1 seconds.

Up next was Sandra Marie in the women’s 3000m. Not put off by an apparently “chatty Southwark parkrun”, Sandra went off like a rocket and managed to hold on for 3rd place in the A category with a time of 12:13.

Chris Raveney’s winning throw in the men’s javelin was Herculean. A 34.47m best by James Nichols of Cambridge Harriers made him look to be cruising. Chris was completely unperturbed by this and produced a 40.26m throw to win the event by a country mile.

With Koen Stockbroekx not available for the men’s 5000m, Calvin Mullings seized the opportunity to turn some recent impressive 5km times into track success. It worked and he finished comfortably in 2nd place in the A category with a time of 16.21. Tommy Rushton finished 3rd in the B category with a time of 18.05. Non scoring competitors Matt Speed and Fergal Dunne finished with times of 16.52 and 22.51 respectively. Despite also running at Parkrun earlier that morning Andrew Shreeve seemed anxious about a diminished weekly mileage after an afternoon of watching athletics in the sun. He decided to run the 5000m and cruise round with a time of 18.29.

Back to the sprint events. Rachel Collins continued her dominant form and came 2nd in the A category of the women’s 200m with a time of 27.8 seconds.

The men’s 200m was keenly anticipated as 15 year old Alpha Bangura was due to make his debut. Unaffected by the step up from some recent incredible performances at junior level, his warm up starts were met with impressed murmurs from those watching and unease by those lingering by the start marshal. He was quick. Really quick. Alpha finished 3rd in the A category with a time of 24.9 seconds, an impressive first race from a talented young sprinter with a promising future. It was encouraging to see the investment in LCAC’s young athletes paying dividends in senior competition.

Jo Tillman ran a well-judged and well-paced 1500m, negatively splitting to finish with a time of 6.08 and a 3rd place finish.

With Cian Cunningham unable to compete due to illness, Adam Millbery, who had already agreed to leave his Strava control centre for the day, was promoted into the A category. Bryan Maillardet meanwhile removed the aviators and agreed to fill in the now vacant B spot. Joe Jenkinson was running his first competitive race since coming back from a frustrating injury while James Screen completed a strong LCAC field.  Adam spent the majority of the race with Bryan breathing over his shoulder. Bryan resisted his usual tactic and urge to shout threateningly at those ahead of him and Adam held him off to finish 3rd in the A category with a time of 4.33. Bryan was 2nd in the B category in 4.37. Joe’s return to racing undoubtedly provided him with a confidence boost as he hammered home in 4.49. James Screen completed an impressive set of LCAC 1500 times by finishing with a tidy 4.53.

Tim Campion represented LCAC in the final field event of the day, the men’s discuss, where he finished 3rd in the A category with a throw of 34.36m.

The LCAC camp moved over to the finish line for the women’s 4 x 400m relay making the support disproportionate to the apparent small number of competitors and spectators. Rachel Collins kicked things off and flew out of the blocks. Who would have thought that she had won the second event of the day six hours earlier?! Jo Tillman was handed the baton and proceeded to run an impressive 1.21 lap. All the more impressive considering that she had only finished the 1500m an hour and a half earlier. Lynda Cameron was due to do an aquathlon the next day but this did not put her off turning up specifically to hammer out a competitive 1.18 third leg. Heather Haggis was handed the baton and ran a 1.17 lap to bring home third place for the ladies and a time of 5.02.

The men’s 400m relay was the running equivalent of the farmer, chicken, fox and bag of grain challenge. Bryan Maillardet did not feel confident having the baton handed to him so he had to run first. Matt Speed could not be handed the baton by Bryan because he would laugh meaning he couldn’t run second. Fortunately Tommy Rushton and James Screen were dynamic enough to fill in the gaps. Bryan’s first lap took a minute. Tommy and James ran 1.04 apiece and Matt Speed finished with a one minute lap. The boys finished 2nd with a time of 4.09.

LCAC finished with 77 points, not far behind Paddock Wood and Folkestone Running Club’s 79. Cambridge Harries ended up with 183 while Kent Athletics Club finished with 227. Nevertheless, some outstanding individual performances, promising signs of LCAC’s age group athletics feeding into the senior squad and by far the best support made for a top day at SAL for LCAC.

Matt Speed


Congratulations, Coach Melrose!

Andy Melrose, our club committee Chairperson, has recently qualified as an Athletics Coach through England Athletics.

Andy had already completed the Coaching Assistant award. After a few months of assisting Neil and Jim at the track nights he decided to take the next step and go for the full UK Athletics Coach level. He passed with flying colours at his final formal assessment day on Sunday 16th July 2017. So we will see him leading sessions from now on as part of the London City AC coaching team. We’re so proud of you, Coach Melrose!

Lessons from London Marathon 2017

If you learn anything from marathon running, it is to learn to manage your inner voice. Running for so many miles, both in preparation for the event and the actual event itself, you are forced into a process of introspection which you cannot escape. My inner voice in particular is of the pointedly unkind and pervasive sort. It reminds me constantly of my failings and that everyone is always fitter, faster, and runs with more finesse than I do.

My inner voice is also singly exceptional in finding me reasons to stop. There’s a park bench generously situated on the edge canal (I can picture it clearly in my mind’s eye as I write. It is that clearly imprinted in my memory). I calculate that the elevation of the hill would be much better for you if you walked. Oh, look at the little ducklings. We love ducking don’t we? The sun’s out – surely you’ll need your sunglass now, but alas, they are at home next to the couch.

What is even more perplexing about the process is that you are doing it to yourself – willingly. The cross you bare is your own – no one has forced you into this undertaking and you can, if you so chose, stop at any stage.

If you think you are resilient enough to complete the training without any of these troubles you are wrong. Embarking on any marathon training thinking it will be easy is like running fool’s errand.

Yet, we do. And this, our biggest weakness, that we are amateurish, becomes our biggest strength. We foolishly fumble our way through training plans developed for other people, run at paces across distances our bodies are neither prepared or built for. We eat a hodge-podge of food, increasing elements that make no real difference (low-glycemic or not), and wash it all down with array of booze (up to the penultimate week of training because I’m tapering in the last week, of course).

But it is in all of this that we have an opportunity to find a sense of ourselves that isn’t always
available to us. We push our bodies across the 16 weeks of training to a point where, in my case anyway, it learnt to hide away the niggles and pains I would feel for days after a normal run. It would always find that little something extra when I realised I had missed the turn to start the return journey and I would have to cover another 5 miles. When I can think of nothing worse than running 8 miles on a Wednesday, after a long day at work, in near freezing conditions and the blisters from the weekend run have only started to stop hurting…it pushed me through. But better than all this it helps you contain your inner voice. Not completely, but enough to give you some space to start enjoying your running again. Even if it was just a slow recovery run.

On marathon day, when everyone else is running passed you, your inner voice is there with you too. It hasn’t abandoned you. True, it’s laughing at you, calling you names and willing you to stop. It finds its voice about mile 15, by 20 miles it is bellowing in your ears and by 23 miles it is having an orgy of self-gratifying humiliation at your expense. But it’s there. This is no Gethsemane. Of course, after 16 weeks of training you’ve trained your legs, your core, your lungs and all those little systems that work amazingly in support of you covering the 26.2 miles but you’ve also trained your mind to ignore your inner voice, to block out it’s message and instead channel its focus into helping you through those last 6 miles.

And it’s at that point that you start to notice things.

The sound of someone calling your name. The London City AC banner standing out against the noise and multitudinous array of similar ones. Cheering club members emerge in a sea of unfamiliar faces (thanks Denise and Stefan), friends positioned where the crowds have thinned and the skyline bleak; like Poplar, to cheer you on and tell you are beating Gordon Ramsey (thanks Alison and Matt) and friends and loved ones planning their London Marathon support strategy in more detail than your entire 16 weeks training (thanks Zoe and Amy).

These are moments your inner voice cannot touch. No one can. They too are the moments, now after running two marathons, that I remember most vividly. They are the moments you should think about signing up for, and ultimately, they are things that make marathon running worthwhile. Not your time, not you pace or the medal at the end (both of which are already at the bottom an unremembered draw). These things don’t really matter. What matters is taking control of the voice inside you that challenges your self esteem and self worth and learning putting it back in its place. Your Vo2 max will fade, but your new strength of character will not.

Will I run another? Well, I’m not sure. I know of a bench, on a hill, with little duckies wading in the water that I wish sit and watch in the sun. I’ll have to get back to you. Adrian Donovan

Paris Marathon 2017

Félicitations to all our London City AC runners in Paris last weekend for the Paris Marathon. A massive 43,754 athletes competed in the world-famous City of Light. Even under sweltering skies, London City AC smashed it with Personal Bests aplenty.

Welcome to London City AC track training in Southwark Park!

Tuesday 4 October 2016 was a momentous day for London City AC as we took to the newly refurbished athletics track in Southwark Park for our inaugural track training session.

Over 100 athletes participated in coached sessions in endurance running, sprints and throws. It was a truly exciting evening after over two years of waiting. The first night on the track did not disappoint. The opening was covered by Southwark News.

London City AC are working in collaboration with King’s College London AC to offer track training, which is exclusive to club members, every Tuesday and Thursday evening from 6pm until 8:30pm. The sessions are open to all London City AC members and suitable for runners and athletes of ALL abilities.

We look forward to seeing you at the track!

London City AC launches with Southwark Park 10K

London City Athletics Club celebrated its official launch by hosting a 10K race in Southwark Park. A sunny Mother’s Day morning set the scene for almost 200 runners to tackle three laps of the park to mark the creation of London’s newest athletics club.

The race was started by Simon Hughes, former MP for Bermondsey & Old Southwark, who in a pre-race speech provided runners with an historical picture of the park.

Andy Greenleaf of Winchester & District Athletics Club was first across the line in 32:13 and over 20 seconds clear of his neaest challenger. Jess Fawcett of London City AC breached the 40 minute mark to take first place in Senior Womens category with 39:50.

The London City AC launch race was a UK Athletics licensed event. The race which also featured a Junior 3K race was organised in a partnership between London City AC and the RUN! Southwark’s Athletics Activator. London City AC will now be looking to compete regularly in regional road running, cross country and track field competitions at senior and junior level. Results can be found here.