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Success Through Enjoyment

Lewes & Hayward Heath triumph in the Vets League

The evening of Wednesday 10th July saw the third and final match of the Sussex Vets League, held at our home track. The joint team of Lewes & Haywards Heath men went into this match as firm favourites for the league, having already won both the Eastbourne and Brighton matches. The women were currently lying in 3rd place, (although this was mainly due to a lack of participants rather than lack of ability). Our rivals in this league were Hastings AC, Brighton & Hove, Eastbourne & Hailsham, Arena 80 and Worthing.

Maybe it was because it was our home track, or maybe it was due to my extra effort in trying to drum up support, but we had a brilliant turn-out for this event! Two newcomers, Ciaran Harvey and Matthew Page, ran the 200m (25.8secs & 28.7secs respectively), both coming 2nd in their races. Mark Rahman ran a magnificent 25.7 in the over 50s, coming 1st, (2nd place was over 5 seconds behind him!), and Peter Kennedy ran 31.3 in the over 60s, again coming 1st. Dominic Osman-Allu and Andrew Chitty also ran the 200m as non-scorers. (Andrew won that tussle). Linda Tullett (HH) and Clare Anstee ran the women’s 200m; Clare managing (despite a recent chest infection) 34.1secs, just being pipped to 2nd place by the Eastbourne runner. Jenny Denyer (HH) and Irene Parsley (HH) ran in the over 50s and 60s category respectively.

The 800m saw the ever-reliable Mark McLoughlin (HH) destroy the competition with a time of 2:18. Mark Cage also came 1st in his race with a 2:26. Peter Kennedy came 1st in the over 50s race with an identical time to Mark’s! We had 7 runners who ran the 800m as non-scorers, including Mike Green, Dominic Osman-Allu, and Andrew Chitty. This time Dom just beat Andrew to the finish line. (It’s typical; I spent years trying to get them to come to the Vets League, and that evening I couldn’t keep them off the track!) Linda Tullett & Michelle Holdstock (both HH) ran the women’s 800m, but were up against some stiff competition from Arena 80 and Eastbourne. Andrea Ingram ran the over 50s race in 3:27.

We were lucky to have both Andrew Masters and Chris Gilbert for the 5000m, who both won their races comfortably with 17:15 and 18:04 respectively. Paul Cousins (HH) ran in the over 50s race with a time of 17:34; also coming 1st. Again, we had loads of non-scorers, including Mark Cage (18:47) and Jonathan Burrell (18:56). Andrea Ingham ran for the women’s side, but was up against 3 sub-20minute 5k runners. Carole Walters ran a time of 23:12 in the over 50s, but again was up against the likes of Arena 80’s Caroline Wood.

In the field events, Mike Bale (HH) won the Discus, and Hamilton Thomas scored good points in the over 50s category. Simon Bomford easily won the Javelin with a mighty throw of 30.18m. Ben Radcliffe (HH) and Mark Rahman easily won their individual Triple Jump events. In the women’s field events, Haywards Heath provided the Discus and Shot Put entrants, with Linda Tullett coming 2nd in the Shot, Michelle Holdstock and Jenny Denyer coming 2nd in their Discus events, and Irene Parsley winning the over 60s Discus. Clare Anstee put herself forward for the Long Jump, and earned good points with a jump of over 3 metres. There was not one man entered from any of the teams for the pole vault. (I was coerced into the Pole Vault at an athletics event once, and it is so much tougher than it looks. I cleared the bar every time, but kept taking the pole with me, which knocked the bar off! I then took all the skin off my knees when I landed. Not recommended without some training!). But the women, overall, entered 3 competitors; one being Jenny Denyer (HH) who was joint winner in the over 50s category.

Finally we came to the ever-popular climax to the event; the 4x200m Relays. With an elite team of Page, Cage, Rahman and Harvey, we lead all the way, finishing a full 10 seconds ahead of 2nd place Eastbourne, in a time of 1:49. The women’s team had less fun in their race, finishing in a time of 2:31. However, it was at the end of a long evening, where all the competitors in our relay team had already done plenty of racing.
The upshot of all this is that Lewes & Haywards Heath men won their 3rd of 3 matches, with 116 points. 2nd was Eastbourne with just 68 points. The women’s team finished in a very comfortable 2nd place behind Eastbourne.

Overall in the league, the women finished 3rd, which considering their poor turn-out is a great achievement, and a real credit to those few who competed, spreading themselves over so many events. The men finished in 1st place overall with 351 points, with Eastbourne & Hailsham in 2nd with 285 points. This means Lewes & Haywards Heath and Eastbourne & Hailsham will represent Sussex at the finals in Ashford, Kent, on 1st September. If we can get a team like we had at Lewes on the 10th, we should have a serious chance of troubling the opposition.

For those who have never come along to this league, I strongly recommend it. Talk to any of the people who have competed in the Vets League (listed below) and you will discover they are enjoyable, friendly, no-pressure events, with plenty of camaraderie between the teams. Lewes AC have a great many athletes over the age of 35, so let’s hope more of them come along the Vets League next year. Especially the women – our team needs you!

Finally, a big thank you to all the Lewes AC competitors this year; Andrew Masters, Chris Gilbert, Clare Anstee, Peter Kennedy, Catherine Swinson, Karin Divall, Mike Green, Mark Cage, Mark Rahman, Dominic Osman-Allu, Andrew Chitty, Mat Homewood, Ciaran Harvey, Matthew Page, Hamilton Thomas, Andrea Ingram, Simon Bomford, Jonathan Burrell & Robbie James.

Mathew Homewood