BUCS Indoor Championships:
(Many thanks to Ed Hickman-Casey for this report)
On Friday the 18th February, a small, elite, group of seven guys and our fan club of one: Jacqui Hodgson, set off to Sheffield to compete in the 2011 BUCS Indoor Athletics Championships.
Leading from the front, joint athletics captain Gareth Phillips got us started with his 60m heat. Gareth had the missfortune of having the guy in the lane next to him make a false start, though after an agonising wait the officials decided that no one should be disqualified (the fact that the culprit was one of the ‘big names’ had nothing to do with this decision!). When the race finally got under way, Gareth showed some understandable caution from the blocks but pulled through with a time of 7.66s to finish in 5th place.
Now it was the time for the long awaited BUCS debut of Durham's newest sensation, Tom Knight. In his third trip to Sheffield in as many weeks, Tom was looking to use his track experience and build on his strong performances at the Steel Cup and the UK Indoor Trials.Tom came second in his heat with a time of 7.17s which was good enough to earn him a place in the semi-finals as one of the fastest losers.
It was then Ed Hickman-Casey's (so my) turn to race in the 800m heats. In my opinion I had a good race, though it showed the need for some speed work before the summer. I got a time of 2.03.18, which hopefully shows that I am at least close to my season’s aim of sub 2 mins. I later found out that the winner of my heat (Loughborough's Guy Learmonth) went on to win the whole thing with a championship record of 1.48.18, though Mike Grimes swears that he heard him say that winning his heat was the hardest part!
Next up was Matt Williams, who despite being in his third year, was making his indoors debut. Matt had been struggling with his hamstrings leading up to his 400m race and had said the night before that he would be happy just to make the finish line. You will be pleased to hear that not only did he manage to complete the race, he also achieved an impressive time of 51.93s coming fourth in his heat.
We then got to witness the major inter Durham rivalry of the weekend with Rory Johnson specifically asking to be moved down to the 1500m so that he could take Chris Lowe on. Chris was the man in form having comfortably beaten Rory two weeks before at BUCS Cross Country and was looking a lot stronger in training, however Rory had shown at the Cross Country that he knew how to win one on one battles after piping a certain 800m runner (and team-mate!) to the line.
Being drawn in Heat 1 gave Rory the task of setting a time for Chris to beat. After a fast opening lap he found himself in no mans land and with no opponent close it was up to Rory to show his mental strength and grind out a good time. He did this with great skill and produced a time of 4.22.11, which at only a second outside his p.b., is a very respectable indoor clocking.
Chris then came charging out of the call area with his compression socks pulled high ready to intimidate his opponents. Unlike Rory, Chris had company for the majority of the race, though unfortunately the illness that he had been suffering from for the last week caught up with him and he was forced to concede defeat with a time of 4.29.78. Although this was a new p.b. he will hope that next time he can do better and avenge his defeat to Rory.
It was now time for Durham’s first semi final of the weekend, with Tom Knight at 60m. Tom ended up in the fastest of the semis and unfortunately had to be on the harsh end of the small margins between victory and defeat in sprint races. Though despite this disappointment Tom managed to set a new Durham record with a time of 7.13s!!!
Mike Grimes had had all of the day to allow his nerves to build up, though I am not sure as to whether they were because of the competition or the fear that he would get dizzy at some point during the 15 lap 3000m race. After a worryingly slow first kilometre two runners had broken away and Mike found himself in a group competing for third place and with the first 3 in each heat guaranteed a place in Sunday’s final the pressure was on.
After several quicker laps, one of the group managed to pull slightly away and although Mike closed the gap towards the end, he was left with the agonising wait to see if he would make it through as one of the fastest losers. Mike had recorded a p.b. of 8.59.42 (achieving his sub 9 min initial target). In the penultimate heat, the fourth placed runner recorded a time of 9.04.45 which meant that all attention was on the sixth place runner in the final heat to see if his time would be faster than Mike’s. The race went off at a much greater speed than Mike’s so it was not looking good, but after about half way we were able to work out that it was going to be very close either way, which left Mike annoyed at the slow pace which his race had been run at. Eventually the clock passed 9 mins before even the fifth placed runner had crossed the line and Durham had a FINALIST!!!
Day two started in much the same way as the first with Gareth Phillips leading the way in the first 200m heat. With the eventual runner up on the immediate inside, he was always going to have a difficult start to the race, but he held strong to finish with a time of 23.96s in fourth position.
In the fifth heat, Tom Knight was now competing in his favoured event and hoping to build on his record breaking performance of the day before. Tom was drawn in lane two, so he spent the first half of the race closing in on those outside of him before he finished strongly crossing the line in first place, and earning his second semi final appearance of the championships, in a time of 22.69s.
We were then left with several hours of no competition for any Durham runners and were really in need of an inspirational talk from a certain ‘former school cross country captain’. Thankfully he sent in his picks for who would win each race and we had to choose from who was left. Mike was surprisingly good at this, using a complicated formula based on their choice of spikes, which Uni they were competing for and finally their general appearance. At around this time Rory found himself two ladies and disappeared for a while, without exactly saying why…
Suddenly it was time to get serious again as Tom was back on track for his 200m semi. He started strongly and was in the lead coming into the final straight; however he was overtaken at the finish and had to settle for third place with a time of 22.25s which unfortunately was not fast enough to make the final. On the other hand it was a second Durham record of the weekend for him and we all look forward to seeing how he does in BUCS Outdoors and for the rest of the season.
To finish the weekend for DUAXC we had Mike Grimes in the 3000m final. He had set himself the target of 8.45 and had given us strict instructions to constantly tell him whether he was sticking to the 35s splits which would achieve this. As expected the final went off at a lot quicker pace than Mike’s heat though after a couple of laps he found himself in a group that were steadily knocking out laps of about 34-36s. It continued like this for most of the rest of the race with the pace slowing slightly as it reached its conclusion, though Mike pulled out a 30s last lap to finish in tenth place (Durham’s highest of the weekend) with a time of 8.45, which is exactly what he set out to achieve so well done to him for that impressive indoor p.b.
On the train back Rory decided to take a post race nap, unfortunately the camera didn’t pick up the fact that whilst he slept his right arm wouldn’t stop twitching!
That concluded a very successful weekend, which wet our appetites for the season to come, with many impressive debutants. And I would like to finish by saying thank you to Gareth and Alice for organising the trip which went smoothly and was very enjoyable.
Heat 2: 5th: Gareth Phillips 7.66s
Heat 4: 2nd Thomas Knight 7.17s
Semi Final: Heat 3: 7. Thomas Knight 7.13s
Heat 1: 4th: Gareth Phillips 23.96s
Heat 5: 1st: Thomas Knight 22.69s
Semi Finals: Heat 3: 3rd. Thomas Knight: 22.25s
Heat 9: 4th: Matt Williams: 51.93s
Heat 3: 4th: Ed Hickman-Casey: 2:03.18s
Heat 1: 6th: Rory Johnson: 4:22.11s
Heat 5: 7th: Chris Lowe: 4:29.78s
Heat 1: 4th: Michael Grimes 8:59.42 (PB)
Final: 10th: Michael Grimes 8:46.23 (PB)
NB. (By Nick!) Although it's slightly disappointing to see such a small team, and no girls at all, there were some good performances nonetheless. Two club records for Tom Knight, two PB's and a top 10 finish for Mike Grimes, an indoor PB for Gareth, impressive runs from Ed and Rory, and brave, gutsy performances from Matt and Chris dispite illness.
With the big guns such as Alice, Owen, Sarah and others joining this squad for BUCS outdoors next term, we should have a stronger and larger squad which has the potential to do really well.
Well done guys!