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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