Cheltenham’s Prince of Wales stadium was the venue of the Gloucestershire Amateur Athletics Association 2018 championships (Part 3) and the 490-seated stadium was treated to a fine scattering of Tewkesbury Running Club. Due to the event being held on a Friday evening, the club moved their training session over to Cheltenham for a one-off special treat.
One of the most exciting races to spectate was Sharon Lockley’s first ever track contest. Having selected the Mile event, she knew she would be expected to dig deep to compete against the experienced CLC Striders and Gloucester AC stars of the track. Sharon has already impressed recently with her ability over 10km road courses but 4 laps of an athletics track at race pace is something completely new. From the gun, Shaz slotted into a group with some CLC Striders at 6:30 m/m pace. During the mile event, much like a 1500m event, tenths of seconds are contested so marginal gains like keeping tight to the line and only overtaking on the straight were paramount to keeping the time down, so imagine the outrage when Sharon’s lace became loose – knowing that a close encounter with the all-weather synthetic surface would soon occur, she had seconds to decide to pull-up and redress her footwear. Stopping mid-race would normally mean abandonment, however, with courage our athlete re-joined the race and belted out 2 more laps and crossed the line in 7:20 minutes to comfortably win the W50 title! The CLC Strider group she was pacing with timed 6:45s so Sharon will be targeting that next year.
In the Men’s Mile, Tewkesbury took V50 silver with Jon Mansfield in a baffling 5:44 minutes and Paul Thomas displayed well with 6.14 mins for bronze in the same category. Roy Northcott was 4th place V45 with 6:33 mins.
The volume was then raised for the 100m x 4 relay. With Tewkesbury unable to find 3 more runners to team with Sharon, it was the guys that were handed the baton. Jon, James Head, Paul and Roy finished a close 2nd for silver medals in 62 seconds.
As the flood lighting powered on, the 10,000 meters was the next event on the programme and that was the cue for Andy Hawkins and Neil Evans to join the fun. Andy is no stranger to track athletics and although he was busily assisting the officials on the night, he was focused on performing well. Neil was new to the scene and keenly curious to experience 25 laps of the track. However, from the gun it was James who excelled; running not just an even pace but he tactically shuffled into an excellent silver medal position in the M40 cat. His 36:36 minute run was by far the strongest time of the night for the club. Jon took bronze with 39:52 mins after being pushed during the latter 5km by Andy with his 40:18 for bronze in the V45 cat. Neil, as he always does, performed elegantly and finished with 43:45 mins and 1st V55.
As always, the final event is a relay and it was to be the 400 x 4. A big favourite with the Friday session runners and despite all having earlier races in their legs, Paul, James, Jon and Roy hammered around the track in a total time of 5:03 minutes and win the overall Men’s title and be awarded gold medals each.
Club Captain Roy is keen for next year's GAAA championship to be better supported and we hope to make the fixture one of the club's feature events. By competing in the GAAA annual champs, you have the chance to make history and leave a legacy in Gloucestershire - as we celebrate our 95th birthdays, sitting comfortably in our tenna pants, we can show our grand children our achievements on the GAAA website.