European Indoor Championships
Torun, Poland. A UNESCO World Heritage city, one of the oldest cities in the country, and birthplace to Copernicus. However, it was one of Harborough AC’s very own who – this past week – was aiming for a place among the stars, and etching her own place in history. Hosting, the European Masters Indoor Championships, the setting benefitted from the same track as used at the Senior European Championships just a few weeks earlier, as well as from the fabulous organisation, scheduling and professionalism. After three days of biding her time, Karen Brooks finally got the chance to lace up her spikes, and take on the very best that Europe has to offer in the Masters ranks. Going into the Championships ranked first in the 800m and second in the 1500m, her task was clear : Two days’ of competition, two medals to win.
Day four saw her first lining up for the four-lap discipline that is the 800m. It also witnessed a defiant show of intent from the very off. As the starting gun fired, so did Brooks – leading from the opening stride, she passed the halfway mark exactly as planned (in 1:15.94), before extending her advantage her lead seemingly with every metre, to finally win in a Season’s best time of 2:32.71. Gold number one secured! However, both her and mentor, Rick Brown, knew that the potentially harder test was still to come – in the shape of World Record holder, Aurora Perez. The experienced Spaniard is a known front-runner, and was anticipated to try and run the speed out of Brooks before the final couple of laps. So when Perez sat in behind Brooks, all prior strategies were rendered null-and-void. Using her racing craft, though, Brooks stuck to her pace and rhythm, before accelerating with some 350m left. There, pulling away steadily, she raced clear to take the title in 5:21.12; becoming a double European Masters FV55 Champion!
Experiencing the National Anthem and top step of the Continental podium for the first time, Brooks was clearly delighted – an emotion shared by Brown, who said: “I am – like all at the Club – incredibly proud of Karen. She has worked so very hard these past few years, to rebound from injury setbacks and disappointments. Sitting here with two gold medals is due reward for all that effort, and she deserves every moment of satisfaction and good feeling that comes with it.”
At Birmingham’s Sutton Park venue, meanwhile, over twenty of the Club’s membership comprised the contingent taking on the best of the Midlands region, at the annual 12- and six-stage road relays, with the objective of securing qualification for the National event in two weeks’ time. A top-25 final classification would do it for the Men, and the Club has enjoyed a mixed history in terms of confirming such qualification in previous years. 2015 would prove to be another positive chapter in the evolution of HAC, as a clocking of 4:50:06 yielded 24th spot – with Adam Eales bringing the squad home. Will Clapp notched the quickest short leg (2.69 Miles), while Sean Fenwick did likewise among those covering the 5.6-mile longer leg.
In the Women’s six-stage, the team of Marise Taylor, Yvonne Scarrott, Sarah Ward, Fiona Alexander, Hannah Eveleigh, and Bev Wilson took 32nd position in the ‘A’ teams’ race, with a time of 2:27:02.
Having taken part in Saturday’s relay events, Matt Driver then decided to run the 10km course of the KMF Newcastle race, which doubled as the Staffordshire county championships, where Driver is a student. There, a time of 36:07 saw him place sixth from in excess of 430 runners, and third in the County ranks.
Also on the roads, and also on Sunday, a quintet sporting the yellow-and-black singlet ran in the Desford ‘six’ – the fourth of the Leicestershire Road Running League Winter series. Neil Smith made the best of the, at-times, treacherous conditions, to lead home the five, in a time of 42:51. Kenny Anderson chased him hard, in 43:50, with Lin Farrow (50:16), Ray Lack (53:20), and Marise Taylor (54:37) concluding the Club’s representation.
Away from the roads, and Ben Smith tackled the 14km route of the Endurer DASH. A tough, obstacle course, traversing incredibly challenging terrain, the ‘DASH’ proves to be anything but that, and leaves little time to admire the scenery of its Peak District setting. Smith, though, is an experienced competitor in such events and that mindset served him well, as he secured an admirable 16th-place return, from over 130 entrants.
Back to the more secure environment of Indoor competition, and it was all about scaling heights – of one sort or another – at the Midlands Open meeting, in Birmingham. For Lianne Brooks, that meant a vault of 2.30m to open her campaign in the Pole Vault. While, for the duo of Sophie Domingo and Charlotte Ellis, it came in the form of multiple barriers, in an array of hurdle events. Domingo – in the Under-17 Women’s age group – generated clockings of 9.46s and 12.46s, in the 60m Hurdles, and 80m Hurdles, respectively. Ellis, meanwhile, recorded times of 9.89s and 12.91s for her 60m Hurdles, and 75m Hurdles, in the Under-15 bracket.