A small band of Bristol & West officials and athletes attended the second of the MAL matches of this season in good heart, humour and team spirit.
Our officials had already pitched in above and beyond their normal exemplary commitment to help out co-hosts Cheltenham and Gloucester with some leads and additional judges for the day. Thanks also to Tania Sinclair, Clare Jolliffe and Sarah Everitt for taking our turn on the reception desk.
All five teams were struggling for numbers with the combination of English Schools, general event congestion and COVID isolations taking their toll.
The Triple Jump, Hammer and Steeplechase returned to the programme after skipping Match 1 with the Pole Vault, Discus and 400mH having a break this time round. This match was the first where the women’s steeplechase was a scoring event and the longest women’s flat race was 5000m rather than 3000m. The women’s steeplechase was duly won by our Emma Clarke to give it an appropriate baptism.
Our bijou team had 35 athletes and all bar one contributed to the team as we deployed guest/reserves to cover known and emergent gaps. We were the only club to put out four relay teams, thanks to some ‘willing give it a go’ heroes. About a quarter of the team were new to the MAL and covered events we had struggled with in Match 1 so it is all helping to build the pool for future matches this and next year.
Gloucester took the win this time and easily had the most slots filled of any team illustrating yet again how to win league matches. We came second with Cheltenham, Yate and Forest of Dean following on but there are no league consequences this year in any case.
So now a few mentions of the day:
Ruben Brady and Tim White knew we were short in the Javelin and Triple Jump respectively and took the time and trouble to get some advice and practice while also preparing for more familiar disciplines.
Destiny Sadiku and Matthew Hula were both new to the MAL and got put straight in to the LJ team slots grabbing 2nd team place in that event.
Ella Bowell and Ryan Brady turned up after their English School competition that was pretty difficult experience due to all the COVID precautions, and not forgetting the same effort their parents (Nicky and Marcia) put in.
Alice Watson ran her first ever track race in the 1500m, then volunteered to take the vacant spot on the LJ having never done it before, and combining with Ella Bowell, to end up second team just behind the overall event winners.
The two 4x100m teams were made up of recognised sprinters but with no spare bodies left. Our women won in a close competition against a good Yate group despite never having raced as a team before. For the men, Alon Farrow ran his first ever relay and we were a creditable second after being blocked on a changeover that wrecked any chance of challenging for the win.
Our 4x400m teams were made up of whoever was still able to stand up and breathe at the same time. The women’s team comprised a British Masters hurdles medallist (Hen), a steeplechaser who also officiated all day long (Emma), a British Masters champion endurance runner who had just finished the 5000m (Sarah) and a triathlete (Alice). The men at least had one 400m runner (Johnny), another endurance runner who had just finished the 5000m (Tariq), a middle distance runner on his third hard race of the day (Felix) and a sprinter who put his team first to give us four runners (Yusuf).
Stand-in Midland Athletics Team Manager