Incessant rain and chill winds – mostly blowing into the faces of athletes in the finishing straight – ruled out spectacular performances on the first day of the UK CAU Inter-Counties Championships, incorporating the UK Challenge, at Bedford on Sunday 27 May.
But the gloomy weather could not totally quell the spirits of athletes such as Sydney Olympics fourth-placer Donna Fraser chasing one more summer of success and Zambian-born Gerald Phiri, desperate to become a GB hero before he departs the junior ranks. Here are some of the highlights of Day 1…
100m: Gerald Phiri (City of Sheffield AC), hoping to obtain a GB passport before the European Junior Trials at Bedford on 23-24 June, retained this senior title, clocking 10.66 into a 0.7 metres per second head wind – a far cry from last year when the wind was behind him to the extent of 4.2 metres per second and he clocked 10.24, which remained the fastest time of the year by an Under 20 in the UK. Medals: 1 Gerald Phiri (Yorks) 10.66; 2 Ben Ellis (Hants) 10.74; 3 James Ellington (Kent) 10.74.
400m: Graham Hedman (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) regained the title in a great battle with defending champion Conrad Williams (Kent AC) – and were closely followed by three teenagers aiming for this year’s major age-group championships. Bronze medallist Chris Clarke (Marshall Milton Keynes AC) and Jordan McGrath (Birchfield Harriers) both ran inside the qualifying guideline of 48.50 for the IAAF World Youth Championships while in fifth place Nathan Woodward (Nuneaton Harriers) followed his 400m hurdles PB at the Loughborough International with a fine 48.30. Medallists: 1 Graham Hedman (Essex) 47.05; 2 Conrad Williams (Kent) 47.35; 3 Chris Clarke (Bucks) 47.85.
10,000m: Mark Powell (OWLS) out-sprinted GB marathon international Huw Lobb (Bedford and County AC) over the final 250 metres to win the title in only his second track race over the distance – then lamented he had not taken his PB of 30:06.0 below 30 minutes in the teeming rain on the sodden track. Asked why he has moved from the roads to the track at the age of 28, he said: “My speed isn’t great. I want to have a go because that’s what all runners want to do – run faster on the track – isn’t it?” Medals: 1 Mark Powell (Leics) 30:26.37; 2 Huw Lobb (Beds) 30:29.77; 3 Hywel Care (Merseyside) 30:41.28.
3000m steeplechase: A few hours after current UK No.1 Andrew Lemoncello (Fife AC) won the National Collegiate Athletics Association title in 8:39.02 in sunny Gainesville, Florida, Simon Wurr (Herne Hill Harriers) front-ran to victory in wintry conditions. Medals: 1 Simon Wurr (Warks) 9:01.92; 2 Jon Pepper (Hert) 9:19.11; 3 Chris Sampson (North East) 9:20.05.
110m hurdles: World Juniors finalist Gianni Frankis (Newham and Essex Beagles) continued to make his name among the seniors. Despite the saturated track, he got to within three-hundredths of a second of his PB in winning his first Inter-Counties title. But the drama came in mid-race when Mark Alleyne fell and Dominic Girdler did exceptionally well not only to avoid him but ignore him sufficiently to finish second. Medals (wind: -0.1m/s): 1 Gianni Frankis (Essex) 14.24; 2 Dominic Girdler (Leics) 14.29; 3 Nick Gayle (Staffs) 14.31. Meanwhile William Sharman was Belgrave Harriers’ only event winner at the European Champion Clubs’ Cup in Albufera, Portugal, in 13.90 seconds, which makes him the fourth UK man under the Power of 10 national standard of 13.98 seconds this summer.
High jump: Adam Scarr (Enfield and Haringey AC) won his first Inter-Counties title by clearing 2.15m at the third attempt. After taking two attempts at 2.09m, he trailed Matt Roberts (Newham and Essex Beagles), who looked set for the gold medal when he went over 2.12m at the third attempt. But Scarr gambled by missing 2.12m, going straight to 2.15m – and it paid off. Medals: 1 Adam Scarr (Herts) 2.15; 2 M Roberts (Surrey) 2.12; 3 M Lloyd (Kent) 2.09.
Pole vault: Ten competitors no-heighted – including UK No.1 Junior Luke Cutts (Dearneside AC), who came in at 5.00m (30cm below his winning height at the Loughborough International) as a concession to the weather and still couldn’t beat it. Scottish Under 20 Scott Huggins (Blackheath Harriers and Bromley AC)) won with a first time clearance at 4.70m, the lowest winning height since 1986. Medals: 1 Scott Huggins (Kent) 4.70; 2 Sam Colgate (Surrey) 4.30; 3 Chris Mills (Middlesex) 4.10.
Triple jump: Julian Golley (Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow AC) won a record eighth title. The 1994 Commonwealth Games champion leapt to 15.68m in the fifth round to beat Michael McKernan (Birchfield), who had got to within 3cm of his season’s best in the fourth round. By amazing coincidence, Golley’s winning distance matched his first gold medal effort at this meeting, in 1990. Since then he has won with 16.52m in 1993, 16.18m in 1996, 16.12m in 1997, 16.19m in 1998, 15.77m in 2002 and 16.25m in 2005. Medals: 1 Julian Golley (Middlesex) 15.68; 2 Michael McKernan (Warks) 15.60; 3 Gary White (Warks) 15.53.
Shot: BUSA Champion Kieren Kelly (Sale Harriers Manchester) proved an easy winner. He led from round two (16.44m) and had a fine second half: 16.82m in round four, 16.74m in five and 16.95m finally. The fact that he threw 17.97m for second place at Loughborough seven days earlier illustrates how different the conditions were. Medals: 1 Kieren Kelly (Wilts) 16.95; 2 Les Richards (North East) 16.40; 3 Jamie Williamson (Yorks) 16.09.
Discus: Current UK No.2 Marcus Goldbourne (Sale Harriers Manchesster) won his third title in four years, reaching a best on the (very wet) day of 53.25m in the final round. Conditions were so slippery, he was the only competitor to go beyond 50m. Medals: 1 Marcus Goldbourne (Yorks) 53.25; 2 Les Richards (North East) 48.54; 3 Perris Wilkins (Oxon) 47.40.
200m: Victoria Barr (Rugby and Northampton AC) collected her first Inter-Counties title, clocking 24.02 seconds into a 2.4 metres per second head wind. Donna Fraser (Croydon Harriers) scratched from the final after winning her first round heat in 23.82 (wind: -0.6) and semi-final in 23.58 (wind: -1.2). Her second run revealed so much of ‘the real Donna’ that her coach, Ayo Falola, said: “If the weather had been warmer, she would have been very close to her PB.” Medals: 1 Victoria Barr (North East) 24.02; 2 Helen Pryer (Surrey) 24.26; 3 Joey Duck (Bucks) 24.37.
800m: Vicky Griffiths (Liverpool Harriers) retained the title with a front-running display, working hard to hold off a persistent challenge by Michaela Hutchison (Hillingdon AC), who got to within a quarter of a second of her season’s best. Medals: 1 Vicky Griffiths (Greater Manchester) 2:07.04; 2 Michaela Hutchison (Middlesex) 2:07.50; 3 Rachel Felton (Gloucs) 2:10.09.
5000m: Jo Wilkinson (Bedford and County AC) burst away from the champion of the past two years, Morag McDonnell (Chester le Street AC) with just over two laps to go and won in 16:46.27 to go fifth in this summer’s Power of 10 rankings. McDonnell may be a toughie from the North East, but she was realistic enough to run in gloves. Medals: 1 Jo Wlkinson (Essex) 16:46.27; 2 Morag McDonnell (North East) 17:00.08; 3 Danielle Sale (Essex) 17:02.99.
100m hurdles: Sara McGreavy (Sale Harriers Manchester) dipped under the Power of 10 national standard in winning in 13.45 seconds into a head wind measured at a mere 0.1 metres per second. Medals: 1 Sara McGreavy (Warks) 13.45; 2 Katey Read (Cheshire) 13.86; 3 Alyssa Fullelove (Scot West) 14.10.
Long jump: Becky White (Sale Harriers Manchester) made a victorious start to her new competitive season by reclaiming the title she won in 2005 with a wind-assisted jump of 6.32m. This time 5.96m in the second round was enough to earn gold. Medals: 1 Becky White (Lancs) 5.96; 2 Sarah Rossiter (Gloucs) 5.69; 3 Melissa Carr (North East) 5.69.
Hammer: UK No.1 Zoe Derham (Birchfield Harriers) shattered the Championships Best of 60.39m set by Lyn Sprules in 2002. Gloucestershire’s answer to the retired UK record holder Lorraine Shaw was more than 9 metres ahead of the field in a circle so soggy that Carys Parry suffered three fouls. Given the conditions, Derham’s series of five throws between 62.69m and 64.82m amounted to excellent technique. Medals: 1 Zoe Derham (Gloucs) 64.82; 2 Linda Bennin (Middlesex) 55.78; 3 Sarah Holt (Yorks) 54.80.
Javelin: A week after finishing third in the Loughborough International meeting at which Goldie Sayers set a spectacular UK record, Laura Whittingham (Sale Harriers Manchester) found a season’s best of 49.02m in the fifth round to win a competition she dominated from the moment she reached 48.07 with her first attempt. Medals: 1 Laura Whittingham (Yorks) 49.02; 2 Laura Kerr (NIR) 45.38; 3 Louise Watton (Dorset) 44.28.
And on Day 2...
Juniors James Brewer, Anike Shand-Whittingham and Emma Jackson won their first senior outdoor titles – and Phillips Idowu braved the long jump on Monday 28 May...
200m: Much of the drama came in the second semi-final, long after both wind gauges had broken down under the strain of the high winds and relentless rain: Julian Thomas (Birchfield) pulled up on the bend to save himself further punishment in the icy conditions; Rabah Yusef (Newham and Essex Beagles) won in 20,85, a hundredth ahead of Jeffrey Lawal-Balogun (with 100m champion Gerald Phiri (City of Sheffield) third in 20.92 – the three fastest times in the UK this year. Phiri’s joy turned to agony when he collapsed with a hamstring injury just beyond the finish line but he said: “The physio says it’s only a slight pull. I wanted to run hard in the semi as I didn’t plan on running the final.” Lawal-Balogun paced his effort perfectly in the final, passing early leader Leon Baptiste (Enfield and Haringey) with 50 metres to go and clocking another impressive 20.94. Medals: 1 Jeffrey Lawal-Balogun (Kent) 20.94; 2 Rabah Yusef (North East) 21.07; 3 Leon Baptiste (Middlesex) 21.08.
800m: Junior James Brewer (Cheltenham and County Harriers), confident enough to trundle at the back of the pack for the first lap, moved through the field within another 100 metres and then sped clear with 250 metres to go to score an emphatic victory. Medals: 1 James Brewer (Gloucs) 1:52.97; 2 Paul Bradshaw (Lancs) 1:54.20; 3 Myles Barrett (Staffs) 1:55.71.
1 mile: Bath University student Gareth Balch held off GB international James Thie (Cardiff AAC) to win his first title in his third race in a week. Medals: 1 Gareth Balch (Berks) 4:21.40; 2 James Thie (Wales South) 4:21.84; 3 Michael Skinner (Kent) 4:21.90.
5000m: David Webb broke away with 1km left to win by over 40 metres. Medals: 1 David Webb (Yorks) 14:40.56; 2 Tom Russell (Gloucs) 14:45.63; 3 Phil Hinch (Warks) 14:47.33.
400m hurdles: Rob Lewis (Bedford and County AC) powered to a comfortable victory on his home track. Medals: 1 Robert Lewis (Beds) 53.53; 2 Tom Carey (Cambs) 54.03; 3 Austin Ferns (Surrey) 54.21.
Long jump: Fresh back from warm weather training in California, European Indoor triple jump champion Phillips Idowu (Belgrave Harriers) decided to shake-off the jet-lag by competing in his second-favourite jumps event – and finished seventh with 7.12m. Elliott O’Neill (Cardiff AAC) got to within 1cm of his lifetime best, 7.38m (no wind speed taken) to take the title. Medals: 1 Elliott O’Neill (Cheshire) 7.38; 2 Andre Fernandez (Middlesex) 7.30; 3 JJ Jegede (Essex) 7.28. Idowu, who will open his triple jump campaign at the Norwich Union Glasgow Grand Prix next Sunday, explained: “I wanted to get a few run-ups down. The weather’s awful but I hit the board OK, which was my prime aim. But I also wanted to be first in my training group and I wasn’t: Andre beat me, so I’m going to take some pain on the drive home!”
Hammer: After missing the first BAL match with a back niggle and his county championships with a hamstring tweak, Mike Floyd (Sale Harriers Manchester) bounced back into action by inflicting a rare defeat on Andy Frost (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies). Medals: 1 Mike Floyd (Greater Manchester) 67.74; 2 Andy Frost (Hants) 67.48; 3 Simon Bown (Essex) 66.04.
Javelin: 2001 champion David Parker (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) won with his first round effort of 67.94m. Medals: 1 David Parker (Yorks) 67.94; 2 Neil McLellan (Herts) 67,32; 3 Dorel Greta (Cheshire) 67.13.
3km Walk: Daniel King (Colchester AC) opened a winning gap of almost half a minute over his twin brother Dominic to regain the title he last won in 2002. Medals: 1 Daniel King (Essex) 11:58.50; 2 Dominic King (Essex) 12:26.14; 3 Mark Williams (Staff) 12:46.45.
Men's Match results – Achilles Trophy: 1 Yorks 75; 2 Kent 71; 3 Essex 64; 4 Surrey 55; 5 North East 41; 6 Hants 40; 7 Middlesex 39; 8 Staffs 38; 9 Herts, Beds 32; 11 Scotland East 16; 12 NIR 12. Middlesex/Surrey Trophy: 1 Cheshire 38; 2 Warks 32; 3 Gloucs 26; 4 Gtr Manchester 17; 5 Leics, Avon and Somerset 16; 7 Sussex 15; 8 Cambs 14. Rockingham Trophy: 1 Wales South 25; 2 Oxon 18; 3 Bucks 15; 4 Wilts 12; 5 Mersey 11; 6 Scotland West 7; 7 Derbys, Lincs 6; 9 Notts, Shrops, Cumbria 4; 12 Dorset 3.
100m: Teenager Anike Shand-Whittingham (Blackheath Harriers and Bromley AC) sped to victory in a season’s best of 11.82 seconds as the wind dropped towards the end of the meeting. Medals: 1 Anike Shand-Whittingham (Kent) 11.82; 3 Melinda Cooksey (Worcs) 11.95; 3 Rhiannon Burden (Hants) 12.02.
400m: Kelly Massey (Birchfield Harriers) made a great start to her season, winning impressively ahead of 2005 champion Lesley Owusu (Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow AC). Medals: 1 Kelly Massey (Merey) 54.68; 2 Lesley Owusu (Berks) 55.05; 3 Susan Bovill (Surrey) 55.90.
1500m: Junior Emma Jackson (City of Stoke AC) took a break from 800m racing to sprint to a convincing victory over BUSA silver medallist Hannah England (Oxford City AC). And one of Jackson’s training partners, former GB Junior international Emma Ward continued her return from knee operations by finishing eighth. Medals: 1 Emma Jackson (Staffs) 4:26.63; 2 Hannah England (Oxon) 4:27.63; 3 Kelly Reid (NIR) 4:28.23.
2000m steeplechase: A couple of days after Barbara Parker (City of Norwich AC) won the 3000m steeplechase silver medal in 9:53.23 at the USA’s NCAA East Region Championships in Florida to consolidate her second place in the Power of 10 rankings, the Aqua Pura Women’s Steeplechase Series attracted a field of seven. Celia De Maria (Leeds City AC) stormed to a convincing victory in her first race of the season and got to within a couple of seconds of her PB – some achievement in the conditions. Medals: 1 Celia De Maria (Yorks) 7:05.48; 2 Emily Brown (Ches) 7:21.68; 3 Dani Nimmock (Norfolk) 7:28.
400m hurdles: Just before news arrived that Eilidh Child (had reduced her PB to 58.21 seconds – inside the European Under 23 Championships qualifying standard – in The Hague, Netherlands, this afternoon, Hannah Douglas (Belgrave Harriers) strode to a clear victory in 60.98 seconds to retain the title she first won last year, when she was Miss Stares. But she still trails husband Matt by three titles to two: he won here in 1997, 1998 and 2001 – and spent this weekend competing for Belgrave in Portugal. Medals: 1 Hannah Douglas (Bucks) 60.98; 2 Caryl Granville (Wales West) 61.86; 3 Nicola Martell (Essex) 62.98.
High jump: Susan Moncrieff (Trafford AC) took her sixth Inter-Counties title with her lowest winning height, 1.80m, off a saturated runway and onto a bed that resembled a bath despite the best efforts of the excellent Bedford groundstaff. Medals: 1 Susan Moncrieff (Greater Manchester) 1.80; 2 Vikki Hubbard (Lincs) 1.75; 3 Sharon Heveran (Wales South) 1.70.
Pole vault: The event was postponed because of a dangerous cross-wind and will now be incorporated into the UK Challenge JumpsFest at the Alexander Stadium, Birmingham, on Saturday 30 June.
Triple jump: Gillian Kerr (Edinburgh Southern Harriers) produced the longest leap of her life, 13.20m backed by a massive wind of 6.7 metres per second, to decisively defeat the defending champion, Nadia Williams (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers). Although wind speeds are unavailable, the icy blasts were at the athletes’ backs. Kerr struck with the opening jump of the competition. Williams’ best of 12.80m also came in the first round before the athletes began to freeze-up. Medals: 1 Gillian Kerr (Scotland East) 13.20; 2 Nadia Williams (Middlesex) 12.80; 3 Becky White (Lancs) 12.44.
Shot: Rebecca Peake (Sale Harriers Manchester) won her first Inter-Counties title ahead of top Junior Eden Francis, who picked up her second medal of the day (see the discus). Medals: 1 Rebecca Peake (Derbys) 15.26; 2 Eden Francis (Leics) 14.39; 3 Chloe Edwards (Cambs) 14.16.
Discus: Kirsty Law (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) held off a twin teenage challenge of Eden Francis (Leicester Coritanian) and Shaunagh Brown (Blackheath Harriers and Bromley AC) to strike gold and move up to third in the Power of 10 national rankings for this summer. Medals: 1 Kirsty Law (Scotland West) 50.81; 2 Eden Francis (Leics) 49.73; 3 Shaunagh Brown (Kent) 49.64.
3km Walk: Johanna Jackson (Redcar RWC) completed a hat trick of titles. Medals: 1 Johanna Jackson (North East) 13:22.72; 2 Sophie Hales (Sussex) 13:57.45; 3 Rebecca Mersh (Yorks) 14:53.21.
Women's Match results – Bedford Trophy: 1 Yorks 60; 2 Essex 57; 3, Kent Middlesex 45; 5 Surrey 39; 6 Bucks 29; 7 Sussex 23; 8 NIR 22; 9 Warks 17; 10 Hants 16; 11 Scotland East 14. Essex Shield: 1 North East 43; 2 Cheshire 27; 3 Wales West, Lancs, Staffs 24; 6 Mersey 23; 7 Avon and Somerset 20; 8 Gloucs 19; 9 Scotland West 18; 10 Worcs 17; 11 Leics 15; 12 Berks 14; 13 Wales South 13; 14 Beds 12; 15 Lincs 11; 16 Derbys, Shrops, Norfolk, Cambs, Notts 10.