7 teams were competing in the Inter-area challenge this year. James Thie started his “treble” challenge by front-running all the way in the M35 1500m in 4:00.4, his fastest time indoors since his world masters title in 2014 in Budapest. Roy Whitehouse (M50) followed with an excellent personal best of 4:42.1 only narrowly losing out by a second to Larry Mangelshot (a 3:43 runner at his peak).
Richard Marks (M60) took a clear 3rd with a 5:13.5 beginning his own challenging treble of competing in three middle distance races in one day. Finally Gordon Orme, fresh from Swansea’s challenging cross country championships the previous day managed 6:05.9 for 4th although not feeling that he had quite got going properly.
We had no hurdlers and another event kicking off had been the long jump with Robin Wood starting a long day for the M50s with 4.77m taking 3rd place. The final early event was the pole vault where Keith Powell began his multi-event day with a very respectable 2.80 metres for 4th . Dave Gordon was even more impressive winning the M35 pole vault with 3.50 metres even though aged almost 49!
Pete Watkeys (M35) was one of the debutants and clocking a sharp 55.6 seconds in a quality field taking 5th in the 400m. I was happy with 59.8 for 4th in the M50s although happier to survive the race. Richard White in the lane outside me ran full-tilt into an official who was still on the track at the end of the second bend and I had to simultaneously duck under a dangling wire! He had to rerun the race solo later in the meeting to get his time with the whole stadium applauding all the way! There was no M60 400m rep and Barrie Roberts put in a solid 90 seconds effort for 5th.
Next up was the 60 metres and Stuart Pearce (M35) took 6th place in a very classy field, clocking a personal best of 7.93, joining the sub-8 club that only 2 other Welsh masters have bettered in the last couple of years. Keith Powell also took 6th with 8.6 seconds for the M50 and Rod Davies (M60) making his debut took an impressive 3rd in 8.81 seconds, his fastest since 2012. Finally John Evans our 82 year old in the M70s also took 3rd with 10.7 seconds.
Over at the triple jump, Robin Wood stretched to 9.76 metres for 4th and Dave Shields dropping down to the M35s also took 4th with 9.03 metres. The shot put saw Peter Maitland (M35) make a powerful debut with a 13.25 metre throw to win by over a metre. Andy Turner (M50) also had a very strong performance throwing 11.93 metres, but we had no M60 thrower.
James Thie then took on a closer challenge in the 800m having to handle a fast starter who eventually faded, followed by another athlete taking over at the front, however he had enough left to kick away on the back straight and again achieve 1:56.4 his fastest time indoors since his world masters title in 2014 in Budapest. I had a respectable 4th in 2:20.1 for the M50s and Richard Marks impressed with a 2:34.4 2nd place for the M60s. Gordon Orme had only recently found out that due to a misunderstanding it was him not Barrie doing the 800m and he had just had a large lunch. However he felt better for it and finished 3rd in 3:02.7!
Next up was the 200 metres starting with another debutant Jake Morgan (M35) up against a strong field. He took 5th place in 25.78 an indoor pb. Robin Woods notched off another performance in 6th place, wisely deciding to jog in and save himself for the relay after seeing the quality pack thunder past with the slowest of them recording 26.8 seconds! Rod Davies took 5th for the M60s in 30.02 and John Evans also took 5th with 38.8 seconds.
Over in the high jump, our sole jumper Keith Powell leapt 1.25 metres for 3rd. In the 2km walk, Robin Wood popped up again to bag 5th and Dave Gordon with a very relaxed technique enjoyed himself but ultimately the judges took exception to something about his style and disqualified him.
James Thie finished his treble challenge taking on the front-running in the 3000m with a very dogged athlete hanging onto his pace lap after lap and then surging into the lead with a little way to go. James hung on his shoulder and kicked away again to a comfortable win in 8:57.5. Lee Aherne (M50) having only rocked up half an hour or so earlier gave a very strong performance in the 3000 metres but was caught on the last bend, clocking 9:45.7 for second. Still pretty good for his first ever indoor race! Richard Marks dug deep and took 2nd in 11:04.8 for the M60s making this probably our strongest event!
In the long jump Rod Davies grabbed a 4th place with 4.13 metres which John Evans matched with a 3.22 metre jump in the M70s.
Finally the 4*200m relays. The M35 team started with a good leg from Jake Morgan putting us in the mix, then on the back straight Stuart Pearce burst the team into the lead – the Welsh fans picked up the volume! Pete Watkeys sped round holding the lead by a couple of metres. Finally James Thie led briefly then was overtaken by a keen Vets AC athlete. James followed closely then kicked past with a celebration on the line! The Welsh fans erupted!! Next up was the M50 team with Keith Powell getting us off to a good start (He’s also the only one of us who was comfortable doing a blocks start with a baton!) in second place. I took over and closed the gap right down. Roy Whitehouse who had not seemed keen tore round keeping very close to the leader. Robin Wood who was carrying a niggle was on the last leg – could he pull it off? He sat on the leader’s shoulder until the back straight and then simply sprinted away into the lead – the crowd erupted again. But while still out of breath I was informed that we were disqualified, but not due to a handover or lane issue. Keith had a vest which was different from the rest of ours which was apparently against the rules! The crowd really erupted this time and Robin began a sitin strike on the track but we decided against upsetting the officials. Eventually we were told that the issue had been raised to the meeting organiser and the decision came back that because the rule was unclear the result would stand. (The rule just said that you had to wear your area vests, but this was just an old area vest which had some extra colour to the main red). Result! Meanwhile the scratch M60 team of Richard Marks, Barrie Roberts, John Evans and Rod Davies came a creditable 5th against much younger opposition.
Congratulations to the team and commiserations to Ian Broadhurst who travelled up but found his hamstring was too sore to compete on and Jim Morgan who injured himself practising a long jump a few days before the meeting. Get well soon guys.