A Mixed Bag at Ashford for HHH Vets Track & Field Team, but we enjoyed it.

                          SundaySunday, 3rd September 2017. A fourth-right effort in the South of England T&F Championships, but not what we were quite hoping for. Nonetheless, a great day out to remind us the competition is ever improving and we need to keep abreast and ahead of that progression. Welcome to newcomers, Farhat Khan and Dion Panambalana now have a year to get their raw talents tuned, whilst Chris Carden continues relearning what he did 30 years ago for HHH, thankfully stimulated for more success. Great effort and great team spirit, which is what we will build on and are good at. Thanks to everyone at Ashford, you did HHH proud. For some, a baptism of fire in ever more competitive circumstances, well done.

Herne Hill’s men set off for the Julie Rose Stadium, Ashford with reasonable optimism. We considered ourselves to have a stronger team than last year, and so it proved, but maybe the portents weren’t quite what we imagined when after 20 minutes driving the coach driver asked the passengers, ‘Does anyone know where we are going?’ and at a later stage of the journey he missed the M26 cut through to the M20 and Ashford. Nonetheless, a little late and rushed the troops assembled for competition.
Settling in at the stadium, Mo Ismail, Jon Key and Tom Conlon placed 3rd, 2nd and 2nd in tactical 800m races for a solid track start.

On the field the weakened throwers squad missed ‘Big Stu’, but Gary Power, Garth Francis and Des Austin gave their all in Hammer and Shot before the morning was out. Paul Marriott leapt to a magnificent M50 victory in the Long Jump, where Giuseppe Minetti stepped in to cover the M35 slot. (Sadly, stultifying our competitive edge, we once again failed to supply pole vaulters scoring zero from a potential 14 points on offer.)

Herne Hill sprinters Giuseppe Minetti, Paul Marriott, Dion Panambalana & Allan Long welcomed new raw recruit Farhat Khan to the squad, and all performed commendably in 100m and 200m where all seven races were faster and more competitive than last year’s final. A controversial very late recall hindered Farhat’s debut 100m run, but despite having just completed the distance he still came 2nd in the retake which gave him so little recovery.

The afternoon’s proceedings had high and lows. Stars of the day, Simon Coombes and Mohammed Ismail, raced their A & B-string M35 1500m/3000m double-double wins. Tom Conlon gamely raced the 1500m despite feeling quite ill, Mike Mann gained a good 3rd in the M60. Whereas Gary Ironmonger probably suffered from the 400m he had just covered, too close to his M50 3000m to respond to the pace of the eventual race winner.

Each of the four 400m races were once again faster and more competitive than last year, and so were our respective athletes, Dan Hallam, Jon Key, Gary Ironmonger and Mike Mann but middle distance men racing long sprint specialists was never going to bring us a favorable outcome in context of team scoring. Great efforts from these lads but it gave our team score insufficient reward. Race walkers Waldy Pauzers and Glen Keegan posted adequate 2nd and 5th places, a minced reward of points, one could say…. .

Back to the field and Triple Jumping, Dave Adam and Chris Carden improved on last year’s HHH performances but did not improve on our latter day team scores. The Javelin was nobly covered by M60 men Garth Francis and Nick Nicola, but both were out of age group to glean the best team points possible. Garth then took on the M60 High Jump getting a good 3rd place, as did Paul Marriott in the M50 category. RAF man Dave Adam kept himself busy and airbourne covering in the M35 High Jump.

Both relays gave us good diversion for cheerful distraction, since by then the chase of competition leaders, and eventual winners, Southampton was beyond practical belief. The 4 x 100m started well with Farhat handing over to Paul Marriott and then to Dion. Despite the team running more than 2 seconds faster than last year, Giuseppe was unable to be in the mix over the final leg. Once again team improvement without team score gain.

Equally enjoyable was the 4 x 400m. A good hard worked start by Dan Hallam gave Jon Key the 2nd leg handing over to Mohammed, his 4th event, with Farhat, also equalling 4 events, happy to close out the team with his very first 400m, a well judged paced run to hold off London Heathside on the run in to the line. A ten second team improvement from 2016, closing in 4m 00.63s but the scoring points remained the same.

This was a great team effort, with positive aspects including new men brought in to see what the top opposition in this competition is like. Individual performances generally improved throughout. Injuries cannot necessarily be helped, but we do need to train and target this next year, and hopefully get athletes specifically for their main events. At this level we remain strong on track at 800m and above but too many stop gaps, (though highly needed and praise for their willingness and efforts) will not get us to compete and challenge at the top table of veterans track and field.

And just for consistency, our coach driver continued to disregard his Sat-Nav on the return journey and took us on a field trip of northern Kent, showing us fields of apples, pears, vines, hops, oast houses and picturesque hamlets with ancient churchyards before reaching the M2 to return to London. As they say, all roads lead to Tooting track. …. .

We did our best, thanks to all. Up the Hill.
MEN: Southampton 238.5, Dartford H 196, Tonbridge 185, HHH 177, Oxford City 172, Hercules Wimbledon 148, London Heathside 124.5
Full results in the following link:

Valdis Pauzers,

Vets Team Manager.

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