SAL match 2 – Wimbledon May 19th 2019

After last month’s long trip to historic Hastings, LCAC went into battle a bit closer to home for SAL Match 2, in leafy Wimbledon.

A short distance away, Venus Williams, John McEnroe and Lleyton Hewitt were serving up an exhibition match to celebrate Court Number 1’s new retractable roof. (And rest assured this intrepid reporter won’t ‘let’ the opportunity to shoe-horn in some tennis references slip by). However, the main event was at Wimbledon Park Athletics Track, as the LCAC team ran, jumped and threw their way to another very successful meet. One team member (*cough* Mike Harwood) even managed all three simultaneously…but more of that later.

Women’s hammer team of Rachael Collins and Dee Strang

First, hammer time. In the women’s competition, after some close line calls and deliberations worthy of Hawk-Eye, Dee Strang’s strong hammer debut of 11.48m saw her claim 3rd place in the B group, while Rachael Collins’ outstanding throw of 18.63m (breaking her own LCAC club record) took 3rd place in the A group. Ally Stanleywho had decided to limit himself to just the 10 events in Wimbledon due to an injury got his programme underway in the men’s event with a powerful throw of 26.18m for 3rd place in the A.

Next up, women’s shot put, and Court 1’s new roof might have come in handy as the heavens opened just as competition got underway. However, athletes are made of stronger stuff than tennis players (or perhaps just have a lower tolerance for Cliff Richard’s singing) and rain didn’t stop play. Rachael Collins threw an excellent 8.13m with her first throw before deciding to retire from the competition. Reports that Rachael took coaching tips from Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself’ (“You only get one shot, do not miss your chance”) are, as yet, unconfirmed. Either way, her one shot was good enough for 2nd place in the A and Lisa Geary’s solid throw of 5.96m took 3rd in the B.

In the men’s high jump, Ally Stanley was reaping the rewards of his comparatively leisurely schedule and soared over 1.73m to take 2nd place in the A. He then sped off for the 400m hurdles, winning the A race comfortably in a very quick 57.7 – more than 9 seconds ahead of his closest rival.  Long-term LCAC supporters will know that Nick Androulidakis has ‘previous’ in claiming some dubiously quick times on the track. And Nick (*coincidentally* former club record holder over the 400m hurdles!) was up to his old tricks in Wimbledon, managing to get himself announced as winner of the event on the day. While rightful order was restored in the official results, much credit goes to the Wimbledon stadium announcer for his faultless Greek pronunciation!

There was much less controversy in the next track event – the men’s 800m – where the rain poured down for the second time. LCAC was represented by Olly Bellamy and Simon Brown, each competing in multiple track events.  Both men performed strongly and finished very well in the wet conditions, with Olly taking 2nd in the A in 2:14 and Simon 2nd in the B in 2:23, to keep the points rolling in for LCAC.

A slightly damp start to the 800m for Simon and Olly
Olly ensuring his 800m effort will be on Strava later

Next up was the first of the sprint events – the women’s and men’s 100m. And LCAC’s sprinters showed that their storming season-opener in Hastings wasn’t a one-off.  In the women’s competition, Lisi Freeman-Alarconput in an impressive runtaking 4th place in the A in a time of 14.8, while Kirsty Benhamclocked a speedy 14.5 to take 4th place in the BIn the men’s competition, LCAC’s sole representative Mike Harwood powered home in a time of 12.4 to take 4th in the A. Mike then teamed up with Ally Stanley (by now up to his 4th event on the day) for the men’s shot put. In a quality field, both bettered their throws from Hastings and contributed valuable points to LCAC’s total, Ally picking up 3rd place in the A with a throw of 10.15m and Mike taking 3rd in the B with 9.80m.

Lisi Freeman-Alarcon in action in the 100m

Over in the women’s javelin, Rachael Collins continued an impressive all-round throws performance, winning the A competition with a throw of 23.44m. LCAC’s Dee Strang who was officiating the javelin competition may ask for danger money next time, as she came perilously close to being speared by some of Rachael’s long looping throws! Lisa Geary on her javelin debut didn’t cause the same level of worry for Dee, but did manage 3rd place in the B with a throw of 12.34m. Meanwhile, in the long jump competition, LCAC’s sole representative in the sand pit, Nick Androulidakis, showed that his technique is coming on in leaps and bounds with a jump of 4.32m for 4th place in the A.  

Olly questioning his choices on the 400m start line

Back to the track for the 400m. In the women’s event Kirsty Benham continued to shine, taking 2nd place in the B with a powerful run of 66.0. In the men’s, Olly Bellamy was back for the A event but, based on the photo below, was possibly regretting his decision to sign up after a few pints earlier in the week! Nevertheless, he dug deep to take 4th place with a quick time of 59.0. Nick Androulidakis was (unsurprisingly) unable to maintain “his” blistering speed from the 400m hurdles earlier in the day, but still powered home in 64.1 for 4th in the B.

Meanwhile, Maria Butylina was following one of the lesser-known tapering plans for her impending marathon and had signed up for long, middle and sprint distance events on the track. First up was the women’s 5000m where a very well-timed run by Maria in 23:50 took 2nd in the A competition and some very valuable points for the team.

Ally opening up LCAC pole vault section

The next field event – and a first for the club – was the men’s pole vault. And what a debut for LCAC! While a new LCAC club record was already guaranteed, Ally Stanley soared over the bar at 3.00m to win the A competition, a full 40cm ahead of 2nd place. Ally also brought a Diamond League feel to the event by urging the crowd (the competitors in the nearby women’s discus!) to join in an encouraging slow clap which built to a crescendo as he cleared the bar.

Back in the women’s discus (once the pole vault excitement had died down) the club continued its excellent throws performance. Rachael Collins capped a fine individual display with another LCAC club record in the A event – a storming throw of 20.43m taking 2nd in the A competition, while Lisa Geary’s throw of 15.40m topped the B group. In the men’s javelin, Ally sprinted round the track from the pole vault competition to grab 2nd place in the A with a formidable throw of 43.61m. And Raúl Montoliu on his LCAC debut showed the club’s strength in depth, taking 4th place in the B with a throw of 14.27m.   

Women’s discus team of Lisa Geary and Rachael Collins
Triumphant 10kers Andy,
Marie and Tommy

On to the middle distance events, with Tim Sherman and Simon Brown lining up for LCAC in the 3000m. Round these parts, it’s traditional for tall, well-mannered men called Tim to have physical structures named after them. Henman had his Hill, so what does Sherman get? A stand, perhaps? Sherman Stand…nah, that’ll never catch on! Nevertheless, Tim put in an excellent performance in the A, taking 2nd in a pleasingly round number of 10:00.00 with Simon closely behind in 10:08 for 2nd place in the B. Meanwhile, back in Sherman Stand, the raucous LCAC support was bolstered by the arrival of Marie Duignan, Andy Melrose and Tommy Rushton, fresh from some cracking PBs in the nearby Sutton 10k.

 View from Wimbledon’s new ‘Sherman Stand’

Ally took a short break from his field heroics for the 110m hurdles – and powered home to another first place finish in a rapid 17.0. The 200m races also saw some noteworthy performances from the LCAC sprint squad, with Kirsty Benham clocking 29.7 and Mike Harwood 25.6 to take 4th in their respective A races.

Mike Harwood in action in the 200m

Next up was the middle distance part of Maria Butylina’s madcap marathon taper plan – aka the 1500m – and Maria put in an excellent run of 6:45 for 4th in the A race. George Ashdown took 2nd place in the men’s A event with a quick time of 4:43 while Olly Bellamy notched up his third quality performance of the day, with 2nd in the B in 4:51.

  Men’s 1500m team of George Ashdown and Olly Bellamy

And then it was time for the relays. The well-drilled men’s 4 x 100m quartet of Nick, Ally, Olly and Mike saw the baton safely round in a very quick 50.2 to take 3rd place. And after his lead-off leg, Nick continued to sprint round the track to the sandpit to register a triple jump of 7.66m, taking 4th in the A competition.

The 4 x 400m relay was the final track event of the day. For the first time in SAL history it was a mixed event and LCAC had assembled a crack squad of Kirsty, Maria, Mike and Ally. Kirsty started quickly on lap 1 and Maria maintained position strongly on lap 2 – ticking off the last part of that marathon taper plan. On lap 3 veteran Mike didn’t quite manage to run the full lap due to a dramatic calf injury in the last few metres of the home straight, but a hobble, a triple jump and a javelin throw of the baton to Ally kept the LCAC show on the road. As Mike crawled away from the action in a manner last seen in a Vietnam war movie, Ally set off on a blisteringly quick final lap, seeing the team home in 4:23 and 4th in the A race.

The final event of the day was the men’s discus. Ally completed his SAL decathlon with a fine throw of 33.73m to take 3rd in the A group and Raúl took 3rd in the B group with a strong 19.43m effort. By now, Mike was back on his feet (through a combination of ice pack, Haribo and not wanting to listen to any more age-related ‘banter’ from Olly) and was able to hobble to the pub with the rest of the LCAC crew to celebrate another great day out.

Overall,a fantastic showing by the LCAC squad: strong debuts, impressive multi-event performances, three new club records, and the club soaring to new heights in its first ever pole vault competition. Special mention to Ally and Rachaelfor being ranked amongst the top 10 ‘Athletes of the Day’ for their performances in the 400m hurdles and javelin respectively.

A big thank you to Hercules Wimbledon AC for a very enjoyable and well-organised meet.  We finished in 4th place, running East Grinstead close for 3rd and remain well ahead of the club’s points total at this stage last year.

Next up: Match 3 in Guildford on 15 June. See you there!

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SAL match 1 – Hastings April 13th 2019

After a promising rookie season in the Southern Athletics League, LCAC are back for another crack in 2019.  The first fixture of the season drew us in Hastings – could this be the start of an LCAC conquest in SAL Division 3 South East?  Will there be a breakaway section of the club that embarks on an elaborate sewing project, to construct a Bayeux-style tapestry of the LCAC 2019 season for our future clubhouse?

A strong squad made the hour and a half train trip to the South coast, with willing alternates jumping in to cover for some late injuries.   The dedicated LCAC team coach, aka the 26A bus, arrived on schedule to ferry our squad door-to-door to the picturesque Hastings track.  LCAC had some of our best representation in the sprints and throws so far, which would add valuable points to the tally.

The day began in the sun with the women’s hammer – Rachael Collins started off a fine all-round performance representing in the throws, launching a 16.82m effort to take 4th place in the A category.  Maria Butylina was also putting in extended duty with a mix of track and field events, and was up next in the long jump – duly taking 3rd place in the A category with a 3.13m leap.

Recent signing Ally Stanley was making his LCAC debut, starting the day with an elaborate, break-dancing style foam rolling routine performed on the floor of bus stand 1.  The men’s hammer was the first in a formidable 12 event day for Ally, teaming up with Joe Dalton and showing the impressive LCAC strength in depth with Richard Jones sadly out due to a late injury and Tim Campion unavailable.  The dynamic duo made their assault on the leader board; Ally came second in the A group with a 27.07m throw, with Joe putting in a 13.88m heave to take second in the B – the points were starting to roll in early.

Then, it decided to hail.  The women’s shot putt was just getting underway.  The officials asked if some kind of postponement was needed – but Rachael Collins and Lisa Geary are not the sort to be slowed down by an ice blizzard.  Launching the silver sphere through the monsoon, Rachael stormed to 1st place in the A group with an 8.05m catapult and Lisa added further points in the B with an impressive 5.55m throw for 3rd place.  No postponement required!

Women’s shot putt team of Lisa Geary and Rachael Collins

As the hail lashed down, Ally Stanley moved into intense multi-tasking mode as the men’s high jump got underway.  Unperturbed, and having lived through much worse weather on most days of his Scottish upbringing, Ally dialled up a 1.75m leap to take 1st place in the A, beating his closest rival by 15cm.   Deciding that the gaps between jumps were essentially time wasted, Ally got in the blocks for the 400m hurdles, powering through in 57.1 to take the A group top spot and an LCAC club record.  Then back to the high jump.

Left: Distributing the team lunch kindly provided by Hastings AC in the LCAC tent.  Right: controversy in the high jump. 

The next event was the men’s 800m, with Stewart Muir and James Screen on the track for LCAC.  James had his family down in support, inspiring the next LCAC generation.  Chasing a pack of Hastings AC runners, Stew, apparently now having decided that even 1500m was ‘a bit far’, came 2nd in the A group with a 2:15 run and James turned in a speedy 2:22 to take 2nd in the B.

Next up was the women’s and men’s 100m and LCAC was bolstered by a strong sprinter team in attendance.  Lisi Freeman-Alarcon, India Falconer and Kirsty Benham put in the first of impressive set of sprint performances with Lisi storming home in 14.8 to take 4th place in the A group and India powering through in 15.8 for 2nd in the B.  Kirsty, running as non-scorer produced an impressive 14.3 burst.  The rest of the season certainly looks bright for the LCAC women’s sprinters, with Rachael also hopefully back soon on the track from injury.

Women’s sprint team of India Falconer, Kirsty Benham and Lisi Freeman-Alarcon

Over to the men’s and Ally and Mike Harwood were in action – in a strong field both produced explosive runs with Ally’s 12.1 run getting 3rd place in the A and Mike clocking a 12.4 for 2nd in the B.  With no time to waste, Ally and Mike jogged round ¾ of the track straight into the shot competition and continued the LCAC points-fest – Ally picked up another 1st place in the A with a 9.89 throw and Mike’s throw of 9.75 comfortably won the B and would have been 2nd in the A – essentially a nice 1-2 for LCAC.  At the same time, Rachael was continuing her points tally in the women’s javelin – and came away with her second 1st place of the day with a 22.58m throw, over 7m ahead of 2nd place.  Maria Butylina also chipped in with valuable points in the B competition, throwing a strong 8.14m for 3rd place.

Olly and Ally take on the hail and the 400m field

Over in the long jump pit Nick Androulidakis was in making his first appearance of the day ably assisted by Joe DaltonJoe sprung to an impressive 4.71, falling forward and then fearlessly left out of the pit onto the concrete to unselfishly maintain the distance and take 3rd place in the A.  Nick came through with an excellent 4.10 leap to add 2nd in the B and keep the scoreboard ticking over.

Back at Hastings station, a seagull appeared hell-bent on keeping Dante Hall from competing in the 400m – no-one will ever know exactly what happened following the stare down that ensued, but Dante eventually gave his assailant the slip to take his place in the 400m alongside Ally and Olly BellamyAlly and Olly went in heat 1 – both getting fast starts, the pack was tight on the first bend with both in contention.  Ally managed to hang on for 2nd place in the A with a speedy 54.9Olly produced an impressive 57.0 to win the B category.  Dante, running as non-scorer and still looking over his shoulder for the seagull found an extra gear to come first in the second heat in a very strong time of 56.0.  Will a Matt Speed-style ‘project 400’ be on the cards?  Lisa Geary added the 400m to her impressive collection of events on the day, with a third place finish in the A group in 97.3.

It was time for the distance events – in the 3000m Florie Lhullier made her first appearance of the day to claim 3rd place in the A category with an excellent 12:49 effort – Maria was putting in the hours with the field events, but had plenty in the tank for a gutsy 13:11 for second in the B.

Florie in the 3000m

Ally was up to his 7th event by now and was racking up some serious points for the team – with a 44.02 throw he took another 1st place for LCAC.

Unconfirmed reports of a seagull on the officials table at the start of the men’s 5000m left LCAC with the sole representation of Koen Stockbroekx – but what representation – a storming run of 16:26 put him in 2nd place in the A category.

 Koen Stockbroekx in the 5000m

Over in the discus circle, Rachael Collins and Lisa Geary both finished 3rd in the A and B, producing impressive throws of 15.67 and 12.78 respectively.

Ally refuelled himself with Haribo and got in the blocks for the 110m hurdles – with only one other athlete competing, a gripping one-on-one contest ensued.  The race stayed tight until the last 20m when Ally pulled away – another first place was in the book.  The 200m featured some more strong performances – Kirsty put in a blinding 29.7 effort to claim 3rd in the A category.  This was followed by Ally adding a 27.5 in the men’s A and Mike a storming 25.9 in the B, running in the ‘200m Mike’, due to all the competitors in his heat also appearing to be named Mike.

The day was entering its final stages.  Stew, Olly and Maria took their intense rivalry into the 1500m, which on the way home would extend into a challenge of who could make the better Thai curry – results for that are TBC (mine has turnips in it, just saying).  Olly found an extra gear on lap 3 to pull away and chase down a couple of extra places in the last 200m, finishing in a speedy 4:40 for 2nd in the A and Stew not far behind with 4:43 for 2nd in the B. Nick continued his good form in the sandpit, triple jumping a springy 8.13 for 3rd place in the A group. Ally hadn’t done an event of any kind for at least five minutes, so decided to embark on the 2000m steeplechase.  A nearby official declared to the observing LCAC crowd that he may possibly be a little mad – no one from LCAC disagreed. Ally powered home in 7:18 for a second place finish – taking him up to 10 events on the day.

Relay time – and after a baton passing tutorial making use of some fallen tree branches, the changeovers were slick – the women’s quartet of Kirsty, India, Rachael and Lisi stormed home in 59.3 for a well-earned second place.  Mike, Stew, Olly and Ally were up for the men and sneaked 2nd place too in 49.6.

Rachael had one more event in her locker – the small matter of the 2000m steeplechase – storming home in 2nd place in 9:57 to add to the points haul.

The 4 x 400m was the final track event – Kirsty was flying on lap 1, putting the women’s team in strong contention – Maria and Florie hung on to second place, allowing Lisi to finish the job on the anchor leg to maintain position in 5:15.  For the men, James had expertly combined his racing day with a nice family beach trip, and fuelled by the sea air he returned to pull out a storming first lap, with Nick, Joe and Mike getting the baton round for a 4:12 finish and 3rd place.

Maria Butylina waiting to receive the baton from Kirsty Benham 

The final event of an action-packed day was the discus – Ally’s 12th event with Joe also jumping in straight after the relay.  The pair added the final points of the day with a 36.23 throw winning another A group for Ally and a 15.98 throw putting Joe top of the B group.

A great day out by the sea for the LCAC track and field squad, followed by a well-earned pint in a pub where we found out that no-one ever actually leaves Hastings.  If you do, you are destined to always come back – unless – you find a stone with a hole in it on the beach.  No-one did, so we’ll see you next time Hastings AC, thanks for a brilliant and well-organised meet.  We finished in second place on the day with our highest points total so far in the league – big shout out to the multi-eventers, with Ally, Rachael and Maria putting in some serious energy.  See you all in Wimbledon for match 2!

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