After organizing the superb inaugural TBH Golden Mile Challenge, Chris Graham has even gone and written up the race report. Good going, Chris.
The first race was the fast lads from Group 1, the wise old heads of Kenny Mac and Dave Moir facing the exuberant youth of Shaun Brown, Daryl Davison and Sparrow Morley all of whom have been on fantastic form of late achieving personal bests from 5k up to the marathon. With all five runners capable of breaking the 5-minute barrier all those gathered were set to witness a titanic battle. Club secretary Chris Robson instructed the competitors to stand back from the start line until directed, nothing could break the suspense. Sixty years and 4 days after Banister, Chataway and Brasher broke through the barrier of 4 minutes, Tyne Bridge Harriers were attempting their own battle against the clock and four laps of the track.
The beginning of this journey takes us back to after the great north run 2012 when members of Tyne Bridge Harriers made their way to rendezvous at the Low Lights pub North Shields to celebrate a very successful day in the history of the club. The season was drawing to an end and other than a couple of late autumn marathons the Great North Run represented the final race of the season for the majority of those present before heading to the fields to do battle in cross country over the winter. Typically the conversation turned to what the next year had in store and what each member’s secret formula for success would be. As runners our training is dominated by miles, how many to do each day, week, month? How many reps? What speed and recovery between miles? But the question of the day was how fast could we run just one? And with that the idea for the Golden Mile was born.
With the racing calendar already full of races and the club ever expanding with ambitious and hard training members the first problem was when to fit it in. For this I turned to Harry Wilson, coach of the great Steve Ovett. He had his athletes complete a hard winter of cross country then in spring get onto the track to sharpen up the top end speed to set them up for a good year of competing. From this the idea was born, complete Six weeks of track sessions to prepare for a track attack smack-down at the end. It was to be every member against 4 laps of the track and the clock.
The first event took place the day after the last cross-country race of the season with a fantastic turn out. Despite the howling wind, a constant threat of hail and the cloudy heads of the morning after the night before some fantastic times were achieved in less than satisfactory conditions.
Following this Head Coach Davy Anderson designed six weeks of track sessions that would challenge both the seasoned pro and track novice. Starting with 400m reps we progressed to 800m then finally 1200m. The idea being that your last rep was run at the same speed you completed your first mile in. This proved a challenge with the initial 400m reps but without a doubt the consensus was that the final 1200m sessions were the hardest sessions people had ever attempted. You were basically required to run at your top end speed after already running 5 miles on the track. All credit should go to Davy Anderson for these sessions as they pushed everyone who completed them to the limit. Sinead Coffey continues:
‘I think for me, the biggest thing was the fear of going on the track. I soon overcame that when the training was broken down to sets based on my own time. Each session pushed me so far out of my comfort zone, but of course the further out of your zone you push yourself, the wider your zone becomes. The third lesson I’ve taken from the training is pacing.’
The stage was set for final event with all training completed and the weather was kind compared to the first event but still slightly challenging with a good wind coming down the final bend. The first race was due to go off soon after 11 and with all the athletes warming up and officials busying themselves around the place the track truly was the place to be. Kenny Mac led all the athletes through some simple drills whilst final preparations were completed. Once the time came MC Davy Anderson announced the first race.
The fast lads tore off at break neck speed, there was to be no room for tactics, the rule of the day was go hard or go home and this was confirmed with a 75 second first lap. The pace continued until Daryl made an incisive move at 750 to go. The male club captain commented that he’s gone too early and will surely blow up. How wrong he was and Daryl went from strength to strength opening up a commanding lead stringing out the pack to romp home in the quickest time of the day 4:53.3 followed by Kenny Mac flying home in the fastest V45 mile of the year so far (and joint 31st of all time) followed closely by sparrow making it three athletes below the five minute mark for the day. After that the marathon runners came home in the speedy 5:03.9 for Shaun and 5:06.5 for Dave Moir making him second fastest v40 so far this year.
The second race featured the biggest field of the day with eight athletes set to race. Dave Appleby took off like a whippet and the chasing pack allowed him to creep further and further away until 800m to go when David Anderson took off from the pack with two laps to go catching him then going past to score a hard earned victory. Amongst the rest of the field were a few little battles, myself and Jon Moss exchanging places a few times and Alex Lockwood with Mal Gibson both battling in the final straight pushing each other along soon followed by Dave Antill. The biggest achievement from this race was Leodhais romping home in 5.41.9 to achieve the fastest time for an Under 13 so far this year, at the age of 11, a fine achievement showing great potential.
The third race produced the closest finish of the day with Stuart Dickson just being beaten into second by one tenth of a second with a fast finishing Lucy Matheson, quickly following were Charlotte Carpenter and Lizzy Clamp who achieved great times.
The final race of the day produced the largest margins of improvement for any competitors, all four knocked off around 30 seconds from their times, Jo Wood produced a great victory followed by Sinead Coffey using her strength gained from all those hard training sessions, then Stephanie McFarlane and Alison Habebi to complete the racing for the day.
Amongst the people who completed both races the real success stories came from the final race of the day. The largest improvement was made by Stephanie McFarlane achieving a 6.29% increase followed by Jo Wood with 5.04% and Mal Gibson in third place with 4.47% improvement.
Well done to everyone that took part, according to the results on Power of Ten everyone achieved either a personal or seasons best so we now all have targets to beat and an event to grow so thanks for everyone’s support and I look forward to seeing what we can all do next year.