See below for an update from the Chair of the Youth Development League (YDL), Grace Hall. Team managers and athletes have been informed.
“In the light of the continuing uncertainty around the Coronavirus situation the YDL
management committee held a Skype meeting on 29 March to look at all the possibilities for
the 2020 season and have decided regretfully that all matches scheduled for the 2020 season
will be cancelled forthwith.
There were a number of factors influencing our decision, namely:
Whilst government guidelines have forbidden mass gatherings until the end of May, it’s by
no means certain that this won’t be extended, indeed if one were to use other countries as
a model, it’s more than likely that this will continue for at least a further month if not
We have been made aware that first aid support from St John’s Ambulance at meetings is
likely to be withheld until at least the end of June.
We are aware that a number of tracks intend to extend their closure until June or July at
We felt that it would be helpful to clubs if we were to make a definitive decision so that
they have as much notice as possible to cancel tracks or transport arrangements to avoid
With the limited number of weekends likely to be available for competitions, there would
be undue pressure on those dates, and clubs and athletes may be more willing and able to
compete at a more local level than having to travel some distance to compete. This being
the case we have requested that any dates previously allocated for YDL, be reserved for
clubs who wish to organise local and open competitions.
We wish to support the Home Countries in their endeavours to try and salvage what
remains of the 2020 season, and hope that our decision gives a little clarity to a confusing
We also considered the duty of care owed to our officials, some of whom may have to
undertake a 12-week isolation period, which takes us well into June.
There are continuing costs involved in keeping the league working towards next year, and we
can assure clubs that individual match team fees collected for 2019-20 will be automatically
credited towards meeting the match costs of the 2020-21 season.
This decision was based on advice being communicated at the Government daily briefings
where restrictions may be turned on and off and has not been made lightly; we would like to
ask our clubs for their forbearance and thank you all for your support. It’s not a situation of our
choosing but we hope that being pro-active will help clubs with any forward planning and help
cut down any additional costs being incurred.
We also ask our clubs to please pass on our sincere apologies to all those athletes for whom
this season would be their last opportunity to compete in YDL. We are aiming to keep a
watching brief of performances of all the athletes who would have hoped to compete in the
league this year and wish them all the best in their future athletics career.
Good luck and the very best wishes to you all.”
Our u13, u15 and u17 boys were out in force last weekend. Many thanks to team managers Ali and Emma for all their efforts supporting the lads!
U13 boys: Ali Hurford reports…
Having fond memories of three years ago when the u13 lads finished in a very creditable twelfth position I was looking forward to another exciting day in Wollaton Park.
Arriving on site with plenty of time after an uneventful journey the fun began. Much to the boys amusement our car clearly did not like the mud so with the help of Zac, Joey & Ronnie pushing we eventually managed to park.
After warming up around the course it was clearly going to be a case of when the going gets tough the tough get going. This was the first national event for most of the group & they were clearly excited to be on the start line with around 400 other eager boys. This must be the most difficult race for the starter to control & also extremely competitive.
Once the race had finished I had hoped for some down time but this was not to be as I needed to find Zac who due to illness earlier in the week had to pull up, Walter lost both his spikes in the mud & Ben had mislaid his wallet and wished to buy a hoodie.
The day did improve once Zac left the first aid tent and ate his picnic, Ben found his wallet in the car and Walter thought he had rescued his spikes but unfortunately I have now discovered he does not have a matching pair.
Going into the race I had predicted a team position of around 22nd which would have been possible if Zac had been 100% fit but these things happen, so hopefully he will be fully recovered for the final Gwent league where he is in a top 10 position.
The best race of the day came from Alex Auton Green (126) who is young in the age group so will be top 100 next year. Ronnie Wilmott (160) used this race well as a warm up for the intercounties later in March. Joey Taylor (238) has really committed to the winter season & will certainly improve next year along with Vijay Bakrania (273) who closed the scoring team in.
Ben Pocock (324) continues to chip away at each race & is all smiles at the end so clearly enjoys the challenge. Max Finning (351) was certainly aqua-plaining around the course & I admired his run into the finish looking for the best ground. Walter Davies ( 367) showed real grit after losing both
spikes halfway round he continued to finish showing such determination.
384 boys finished & we were 29th out of 42 teams. Next year I very much hope to be further up the leaderboard & already many of the group have saved the date when we will descend on Hampstead Heath.
u15 and u17 boys: Emma Withers reports…
The road to the National XC champs in Nottingham had a bumpy start.With a half hour delay in Bristol our arrival at Wollaton Park was less than easy. Hampered by storm Dennis the previous week, the long queue saw us disembark before the car park with 7 u15 boys and run to the start of the race, this was not how we had planned the day.With the help of one of our Senior Ladies, spikes were tied tightly, numbers pinned, chip timing secured, warm up (dynamic stretching) whilst we waited at the crossing point, we went into the pens with a whole 3 minutes to spare and a few more grey hairs for me. The boys took it all in their stride and dealt admirably with the exceptionally wet and muddy conditions underfoot.Sinking into a very large puddle just a few 100 metres in, took its toll on Fred Cummins, who took the decision that it was too strenuous on his knees and enough was enough.Ishmael Bradley continued with his good form and fresh from the South West Schools in Bournemouth, leading the boys home in 204th position (20.03). Nick Pestell, who appeared at the finish covered head to toe in mud, was next in 246thposition, (20.38).Joseph Hull, managed to remain upright, 326th position (22.39) and completing the team, with a steady return to form and over taking several competitors in the last 100m, Tomek Czerepinski, position 332 (22.53).Ollie Robertson Kurd, with support from Dad, Tariq, looked relatively clean at the finish, his height being an advantage with the mud splashing from other runners, position 351 (24.08) and completing the Bristol and West u15 team, Alex Robertson, who had been quite nervous at the start, took the advice to not worry about anyone else and just keeping going, finished in position 362 (27.05).
Our three u17 boys headed out at 12.05, having viewed the course in all its glory before warming up.Ollie Harper made steady work through the pack and should be delighted with his top 100 finish (helpfully counted through by the spectator next to me!), position 96 (25.48) and glad to be injury free this year and not needing the services of the medical tent as he had done in Leeds last year.Jay Akbar, who was clearly not enjoying the mud and water, fought through to 245th position (29.26), with no smiles at the end but very relieved to have made it to the finish line.Otto Kingston, started off well, but pulled up on the downhill stretch and limped to the finish line to cheer the others through.
After cheering the Senior Ladies around we made our way back to the coach and headed back to Bristol with half of Wollaton Park stuck to our shoes and legs.Our last fixture is the Gwent League in Swansea on Sunday, lets hope the weather in Wales is kinder, fingers crossed!
To make the podium for the third year running in what is surely one of the most competitive team championships in British sport is no mean achievement and rightly cause for celebration. Yet there was a sense that our bronze medals in this year`s National championship race were something of a consolation prize, for unlike our success in the previous two years. This year for the first time we arrived at the event with our strongest ever team and a realistic, if outside, chance of challenging for the overall title. Such was the tangible nervous tension beforehand that one sensed our runners would have considered it a failure if we had not medalled.
While that may be so, there is no disputing that we have closed the gap in our title quest, finishing just 54pts down on winners Tonbridge who regained the title they had won at Parliament Hill two year ago, when very much against the odds we had taken the silver medals but with a deficit three times that much. What`s more this time we were only 20pts behind the favourites and holders Leeds City, who beat us by more than 200pts last year. Even more significantly in the subsidiary 9 to count classification only Tonbridge beat us and our score was nearly 200 pts lower than we totalled in third place last year.
Perhaps these stats help explain any disappointment felt, for to have taken the title our six scorers would have each only had to finish some ten places higher, and apart from JACK MILLAR for whom that would have meant winning the race(!), our other counters PETE LE GRICE, CALLUM JONES, KURT TAYLOR and ANDY CHAMBERS would probably have all been expecting to do at least that, depending of course on the prevailing conditions, and so too our team captain OWAIN JONES on his past record in the race, while to be honest in terms of performance on the day only Jack, possibly Callum, Owain (due to his enforced lack of training) and JED BARTLETT exceeded our pre-race expectations. All this surmise merely highlights how close we are getting to the ultimate goal, for we have now built a squad that is capable of challenging the best in Britain every time we turn out. As for this year we have kept our bronze medal position and retained the trophy going to the top Midland club, comfortably avenging our defeat by Birchfield and Notts in the Midland championship, as well as the engraved plinth awarded to the leading team among the ten founder member clubs of the organising English Cross Country Association.
The race itself was a genuine traditional cross country test – a mix of rolling fields, gravelled tracks, water ditches, and above all stretches of squelching mud that after all the previous races had turned into a gruelling slurry underfoot – conditions that we felt would favour most of those expected to score, in particular JACK MILLAR, ANDY CHAMBERS, WILL CHRISTOFI and FELIX MCGRATH, as well as OWAIN JONES and JED BARTLETT. Of those as events transpired only Jack, Owain and Jed were able to capitalise, with the others not coping as expected, with Will the first to admit that his limited training time this season due to job commitments left him underprepared for such an arduous course.
Jack had planned his whole winter since finishing at Oxford University in the summer to peak for the major tests of the cross season. After a couple of impressive early season performances in UK cross challenge races at Cardiff and Milton Keynes, a ten week altitude training trip to Kenya provided the groundwork to achieve his goals. His confidence duly boosted by a best ever 4thplace in the recent Midland championship and subsequent selection for an England team in the latest Belgian cross cup race, where he finished in 11th place, he underlined his ambition from the start by wasting no time in following the early leaders of the huge near 2000 strong field. Relishing the underfoot conditions that he had been praying for, he was always in the top 20 , and while others faltered on the final large lap of the 12K course he never showed any sign of weakening to end up in a career defining 10th place.
It was just the start we needed, but PETE LE GRICE, who had led the team home in 18th place last year, knew he was not in such good shape and ill prepared for a race on such testing ground as he has only recently started his long build up for the London marathon, which is his priority this year. Consequently despite a determined start that saw him only just outside the top 20 after the first small lap, he soon found his level in the mid thirties and that`s where he stayed to eventually end up in 33rd place.
Behind Pete CALLUM JONES proved a real revelation. He had only finally decided to race on the day – he was there as part of the Saucony team that sponsored the championships – as the intensity of his training has been limited this winter by a chronic groin strain. However in the testing conditions the big mileage he has managed to get in as compensation, certainly appears to have payed off. He was never far behind his fellow Cornishman and held on grimly to finisnh just ten places back in 43rd place.
ANDY CHAMBERS, like Jack, was expected to take advantage of the tough conditions, but after settling initially around the top 50 and expecting to move forward in the second half of the race, like FELIX MCGRATH further back he failed to capitalise on the sort of soft ground that he normally enjoys and actually fell back in the closing stages to be caught by teammates KURT TAYLOR and OWAIN JONES, who had both measured their efforts to finish the last 2K strongly, with Kurt, who coped with the mud better than he had anticipated, eventually passing Andy on the run-in to finish a creditable 69th. Andy was right behind in 70th and Owain only two places further back our final scorer as he had been last year in 72nd position. No one, not even Owain himself, had anticipated he would be scoring this year due to his training being chronically hampered by a niggling knee problem, but he once again ran a true team captain`s race to close our score at 297pts, some 20 better than last year. As for Andy, his failure to move through in the second half of the race may have been due to incubating a cold that he woke up with on Sunday morning.
Had Owain not produced the goods on the day, we would not have medalled as we had to wait till just outside the top hundred before ANDY WATT, who has been struggling with a hip injury for the past month, came home a reasonable 104th, chased all the way by JED BARTLETT, who lapped up the slogfest conditions to cap the steady progress he has made this winter and finish an impressive 110th. This left JOSH MOODY to complete our nine man challenge. Despite conditions that hardly suited him, big Josh characteristically measured his effort meticulously to work his way through the masses and finish strongly in 122nd place.
Josh was followed closely in 128th position by our Tri-Counties champion FELIX MCGRATH, who has been recovering from a cold and admitted he never got to grip with the conditions that normally he would have no problem with as an international mountain runner. The same unexpectedly applied too to WILL CHRISTOFI, who failed to improve on his Midland effort in 148thplace, while the evergreen JARLATH MCKENNA, who by his own admission is not fully race fit after a busy last six months moving house, still managed to finish 165th and give us 12 runners in the top 10% of the field, which we have never approached before. Clearly Felix, Will and Jarlath have all suffered this year too by having to do all their training on their own and not raced as often as they would not only have liked but perhaps needed due to their work commitments. But having said that everyone has a disappointing day at the office occasionally, especially in a sport like ours that offers competition 52 weekends of the year and we look forward to seeing them all back in action at the spring road relays.
Pick of our other runners was our supervet GRAHAM BREEN, who finished 250th, with LUKE ROBERTS 310th and PETE BAINS 387TH. But to put those positions in perspective Pete had clocked a personal best 5K of 15:47 in Armagh the previous week. Such is the standard of the National.
Back to the team standings. As expected Tonbridge and Leeds maintained their stranglehold on the top two positions, with Tonbridge (243pts) regaining the title they had surrendered to Leeds (277) last year, and to continue the action replay nature of the result, our repeat third place was again at the expense of the luckless Bedford team by the same margin of just five points, with Highgate only another seven points back in 5th and Southern champions Aldershot (348) completing the top six. The other area champions our Midland conquerors Birchfield (511) and Northern winners Sale (583) could only finish 9th and 10th respectively.
Perhaps the most encouraging result from our point of view was that whereas our championship score was only 20 points better than last year, in the nine to count standings, as mentioned earlier, it was nearly 200 points lower and bettered only by Tonbridge to underline the team`s ever growing strength in depth. It was further proof too of the success of the model that led to our rebranding of the club in 2004, with three of our medallists having their roots in the West country. I like to think that the South West now has a club firmly established at the top table of our sport. It`s surely only a matter of time before we bring back that elusive National title to the region, and while there`s no denying that opportunity had knocked this year, the door is still ajar and we will soon get another chance to open it wider at the legendary 12 stage road relay championship. We did win that exactly 40 years ago. It`s surely about time we won it again!
U11 girls – Simon Jones reports It was a fantastic day out for the under 11 girls at a surprisingly sunny Chepstow racecourse; a fantastic venue for a Gwent League match! It is superb to report that we had 6 girls running; our highest in cross country for a long time. Gabi came in a brilliant 7th, running herself into joint 6th on the league for the season, closely followed by Holly a second behind in 10th, now 10th overall in the league. Mairi made her debut in a brilliant 22nd, with Phoebe running solidly into 25th, and Amira in 29th. Primrose finished in 66th; another fine debut in a field of 116. As a team, the girls improved their score from match 3 by 10 points finishing 3rd on the day and going into the final match in 5th overall, with an outside chance of 3rd place. The future of Bristol and West is bright!
U15 girls – Paul Owen reports On a glorious sunny day at Chepstow races I had the pleasure of being honorary team manager today and reuniting with girls I recently coached. We had 3 girls left from an Avon Schools depleted team. However proving the strength in depth we had Fleur Hayden with a really solid and consistent run coming in 5th showing that she is back to her best (or very near) next up was Molly Thomas also showing a return to form with 9th place working really hard throughout. 3rd in was Sophi Hayes in 15th who ran incredibly given she’d been suffering hip pain throughout. I am confident this performance has ensured that the team are in a great position for the final race to secure a silver medal. Sadly no 4th team member. Great efforts from the girls today who did themselves and their coach proud.
Feedback was generally that it was a good venue. I liked the ease of the car park and close proximity. Good facilities. Tent area with good view on to the course. If the weather had been awful then there was plenty of shelter in the stands where people could watch the end parts of the race.
U11 & U13 boys run to form over good going at Chepstow race course.
Ali Hurford reports… This was a new venue & clerk of the course did an excellent job & although perhaps we did not quite live up to the sport of kings there was some very competitive racing from the colours of Bristol & West.
The u11 boys were as usual raring to go and eager to maintain the bronze team position. So it was no surprise when dark horse Tom White (6) made a long run for home resulting in his best ever position. Oisin O’Halloran (10) continued his impressive season & along with Eddie Bent (29) who still has another season in this age group, the team result was looking promising. Our final score was Rufus Hull (49) who gave nothing away in the closing stages. Our final finisher was Alfie England (82) who continues to improve & held his own in a large field of 109 finishers.
The u13 lads likewise did not disappoint & once their racing plates were well secured it was going to be a case of horses for courses. So it was no surprise to see our front runner Zac Cox (7) eating up the track just ahead of Ronnie Wilmott (8) who made up some impressive places in the last 50m beating the Swansea athlete by a short head. Harry Harvey (23) just got the better of Joey Taylor (27) over the last few metres & these two training partners definitely bring out the best of each other in a racing situation.
Unlucky not to make the scoring team Vijay Bakrania (33) ran his most positive race to date but closing in very fast was Dan Jarrold (43) who is certainly coming into form at the right time. Barney Thomas (63) is still learning the ropes & along with Walter Davies (65) should progress well next season if they can Summer well.
Felix Pearson (72) has been training well & perhaps this was just not his day. I am sure he will up his game at the final fixture.
Overall this was an encouraging result for the squad. We were not at full strength due to the numerous other activities on offer this weekend ie South west schools xc, music lessons & not everybody passed the vet. So with a bit of luck we can be at full strength going in to the final race & maintain the bronze position which is so well deserved.
Emma Withers reports… With several of our team away at the South West Schools in Bournemouth we needed a good turnout to keep our team ranked positions and the u15 and u17 boys did not disappoint. 14 boys turned out for the Bristol and West hosted Gwent League at Chepstow.
Leading our u15 boys home, Amos Kingston had his best run to date, enjoying the undulating course and realising that with a little more effort in training that he could be a top 10 contender. Finishing in 12th position, (13.53). Misha Evans made a determined effort, particularly on the tough uphill home stretch, finishing in 22nd place (14.37). Joseph Hull, went out with gusto, but perhaps a little too fast, was third home for B&W in 33rd place (15.13) and completing the first team, Ollie Robertson Kurd, a little distracted by his watch, showing he has a lot more to give in these competitions, 37th (15.32). Leading our second team in, a battle between team mates Ismail Rashid and Tomek Czerepinski, gave an entertaining finish with Ismail only just pipping Tomek over the line, 40th (15.49) and 42nd place (15.53) respectively. Zac Roe who had already completed football training that morning, in 49th position (16.38) and our most consistent runner, Joe McNamara, completed the second team in 57th position, (18.04). Our 9th runner, Fred Cummins, was unable to complete the course due to painful knees, but did a sterling job cheering and encouraging his team mates around.
The u15 boys have moved up to 5th position overall.
The u17 boys had a long wait until 2.10pm and plenty of time to study the course. Starting out strongly Jay Akbar, glad that there was no mud this week, glided around and finished in 14th place, (18.13). The battle for 2nd in the team between good friends, Otto Kingston and James Casling, made for another exciting finish, with James putting in his fast sprint on the hilly home stretch. The hills were on Otto’s side this time and he maintained his lead, 26th place (19.34), James in 27th place (19.38). Jacob Roe, hot on their heels, finishing only 2 seconds behind in 38th place (19.40). A debut run for newcomer Dylan Peters showed a fantastic start to cross country competition, in 40th place (20.12). Dylan said he enjoyed it and we hope he will be back for our last fixture in Swansea.
The u17 boys were very pleased to hold their 2nd position overall.
Massive thank you to Steve Grant, Keith Brackstone and Roger Brocklesby for setting up the course and providing us with a great cross country run and brilliant facilities. No complaints from the junior boys, particularly as the teenagers got an unusual and much appreciated lie in!!
It was very disappointing to be at Cardiff last week-end and observe only one Bristol & West athlete competing. I realise that he is Welsh qualified by parents but these Championships were ‘Open’ so you others, why miss out on a local competition???
The athlete that did compete was infact Owen GARRETT in the U13 Shot and he did us proud by coming away with a Silver Medal and beating his own Club Indoor Record by 46cm in a tight final. Owen who is now a regular performer at Cardiff had only one measured Put in the competition but that distance of 7.51m was enough to take the medal. Well done Owen who is pictured on the Rostrum (below).
Before I leave on my winter holiday I should clear up a couple of important omissions from the last week:-
Most prominent was the magnificent 4.45m clearance in the Pole Vault (very close to her 4.47m Indoor Club Record) by Lucy BRYAN in Ohio USA. In this Olympic year we trust that Lucy will move on to even greater achievements.
I see from Po10 that we have a top Woman middle distance runner in our ranks, joining us from Scotland is Emily STRATHDEE. Emily ran a fine 4:44.77 for 1,500m at Cardiff on 19th Jan so will no doubt feature in our much strengthened National League team in 2020. Also strengthening our middle distance league squad will be Higher Competition Member Chloe CROSSMAN. Chloe who is regularly training at Whitehall has run in January 2:10.79 and 2:11.84 for 800m and 4:38.70 for 1,500m so can be considered a prolific performer Indoors. Welcome to both Emily and Chloe.
While I am away I am sure the Indoor Athletes would appreciate their efforts being recorded and published. So if anyone cares to carry on the task in my absence I would appreciate it.
INDOOR TRACK & FIELD
Loughborough Students Indoor Meet – 11th January – Mike Strange reports
Senior competition came into its own this week with the Loughborough Students Meet and Bristol & West’s # 1 Sprinter Hannah WILLIAMS did us proud by equalling the Club Record for 60m with a top performance of 7.59 secs. The joint record holder is British International Emily DIAMOND / LEONARD so this shows the high standard of this excellent record. In the Meet Hannah matched her performance last week at Eton in her first run of 7.68 before coming out to blast 7.59 secs in her 2 nd run. This is great newsfor Hannah and for this Club at such an early stage of this new season.
An Under 23 Indoor Record was also equalled by Emma BAKARE in the Triple Jump where she leapt to 11.07m to match the previous mark of Samantha BARRETT. Well done Emma.
On the Men’s side we had two 60m Hurdlers operating for the first time in a good many years with
Loughborough based Dajon WRIGHT and Matt CURTIS in action. Dajon continued with his emergence as a top performer with a sound pb of 8.61 secs clocking in his first race before knocking a further second off to move up to third on the Club ‘All Time’ 60m Hurdles list with a 8.51 secs clocking. Matt who set his pb of 8.53 secs before joining B&W 1 st Claim opened with a good 8.69 clocking before rounding off a good day with 8.77 secs.
Also in action for the first time this season was our 400m specialist Mark COTTAM who at 60m set a pb in his first race to 7.25 secs and then improved it to an excellent 7.20 secs.
Over in the USA I note that Emily WRIGHT featured once again after a rest from athletics for a couple of years. Emily the current Club Indoor Record holder for the Long Jump at 6.19m tentatively eased back into competition with a 5.27m leap and sprinted 8.11 secs for the 60m. Good to see you back in action Emily.