Most of us have seen events from the Olympics, that are very often hyped up, showcasing the best athletes in the world in fantastic settings and stadiums. You may be forgiven for thinking that those events are only for the most elite athletes.
It’s true that as predominantly distance runners in TBH, you shouldn’t just expect to turn up and be able to throw a javelin to the other end of the stadium or to sprint 100m a second or two slower than Usain Bolt. These disciplines are very often specialised, technical and require the same amount of effort we would put into training for our distance running. That shouldn’t put anyone off though, as the T&F fixtures we compete in are a lot of fun, friendly, a real team effort and a great day out! Many TBH members also officiate for T&F, find out more about this here.
You can learn a lot from track running, that you can then apply to distance running. Things like:
- Sprinters focus so much on running form, it is a very good idea to mimic their movement patterns as best we can.
- Pacing is a skill that is much easier to learn on a very controlled environment such as a running track.
- If you are looking for a fast, flat 5k or 10k then you won’t find a flatter one than on a running track
- Trying other distances may surprise some people, as they may be better adapted to sprints or middle distances.
There are a whole host of other things to try like hurdling, throwing, jumping, and the club will do it’s best to support anyone who is keen on trying something new. In several of the leagues we take part in, the club gains points from athletes participating in all disciplines, so we do encourage people to give things a go. At the NEMAA fixtures for example, you may not have done something since your school days, but if you are willing to give it a go, everyone there (regardless of which club they represent) will encourage and help you as best they can.
Read below to find out more about the different leagues:
North East Senior Development League – NESDL
This is a new league formed in 2024, largely by North East clubs that were formerly members of the Northern Athletics League. It pretty much mirrors the format of the NEYDL (see further down) with 4 fixtures over the course of the season, mostly on the same weekend as the NEYDL fixtures.
There is a full range of events to take part in covering sprinting, hurdling, middle /long distance, jumping and throwing. Each team is allowed a maximum of 4 competitors in each event (both male and female) with the best 2 counting for the competition, but every athlete will get an official time, distance, height etc. that will go onto Power of 10, whether they count in the competition or not.
We may be part of a composite team (several clubs put together to form a joint team), due to the structure of the league and the number of clubs wishing to take part.
North East Grand Prix – NEGP
This is a series of 6 fixtures held throughout the summer (April – August) on Wednesday evenings. You enter these events as an individual (online) and they are often held at Monkton Stadium in Jarrow, with the last one usually being held at Gateshead Stadium.
Events are seeded, so you should hopefully be competing against athletes of a very similar ability, so long as everyone provided realistic and current previous results for the seeders to work with! Each fixture tends to have a different programme of events (you really need to check the listing each year as things do change), as there isn’t time to cover everything over the course of an evening fixture. In general, each event tends to happen at every other fixture so there may be an 1500m for example at fixtures 1,3 and 5 as the middle distance event, then an 800m at fixtures 2,4 and 6.
North East Masters Track & Field Fixtures
If you are over 35 years old, then you can take part in these events. It is worth joining the NEMAA organisation, as they do put a lot of events on over the course of the year (including many championships for Masters athletes), but many people’s main reason for joining is to take part in the T&F league. This is a very well attended league, and all fixtures take place at Monkton stadium in Jarrow. There are 6 fixtures over the summer months held on Monday nights.
You must enter yourself into events and you can do a maximum of 3 events. Events are seeded so you may be competing against men/women in a variety of age classes, but the results are calculated based on your sex and age. You get individual results that go onto Power of 10 and count towards your individual result in this league, but you also earn points for the club that count towards the clubs standing within the league.
North East Youth Development League – NEYDL
TBH have been part of this league since 2022, and have been part of several composite teams over this time. Composite teams are several clubs being put together to form a team and are a necessity, as there aren’t enough places in the league for every club to compete on their own. This doesn’t often restrict TBH athletes wishing to compete, are there are 4 spaces in each discipline, but only 2 counts towards the team total.
This league currently caters for juniors in U13, U15 and U17 age categories and offers a full range of events with age specific considerations, for example hurdle height, weighting and spacing changes depending on the age/sex of the competitors.
Gateshead Indoor T&F Series
If you are at a loose end over the winter and are still keen to take part in T&F, then one option is to look at the indoor meetings at Gateshead Stadium (juniors and seniors) on occasional Wednesdays. In 2023/24, they are being organised by Gateshead club rather than NECAA as in previous years. The events reflect the indoor stadium restrictions – indoor shot but obviously no long throws, high jump and pole vault, long and triple jumps (but only one pit so rarely both on one night), only short (60m) track sprints and hurdles events.