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