WRITTEN FOR THE OCWK WEBSITE
On a cool, blustery evening at Manchester’s SportCity, two-dozen ‘On Camp with Kelly’ athletes took to the track for the opening BMC Grand Prix fixture on Saturday 28 May.
Leading the way by storming to a 15:54.40 lifetime best and European under23 championship qualifier, Emma Pallant (Aldershot Farnham and District) finished fifth in a highly-competitive 5,000m race, where the top eight all dipped under 16-minutes and her younger club-mate Emelia Gorecka took the victory.
The 21-year narrowly improved on her 15:55.18 best from the 2010 season and will
look ahead to the continental event in Ostrava this coming July with confidence.
“I didn’t feel the best but just got on with it and got the qualifying time,”
Pallant explained and she will next compete in the Watford BMC Grand Prix in a fortnight.
Faye Fullerton (Havering Mayesbrook) meanwhile, made her debut in the event and placed 10th in 16:30.19 and Louise Small (AFD) withdrew part way through the race.
Turning 27 on Tuesday this week, Fullerton revealed:
“Unfortunately, it was a bad day in the office but hopefully I can pick myself up and get back up there. Injuries are fine but I needed a kick up the backside to get more training in.”
In the women's ‘A’ 1,500m, Stacey Smith (Gateshead Harriers) made up for a disappointing performance in the ‘A’ 800m earlier in the evening by placing runner-up in 4:14.22 in a hard-fought battle with Jessica Judd, who ran a UK U17 all-time best with 4:14.21.
The 21-year-old Smith passed Judd down the home straight but had to eventually concede defeat to her younger rival and said afterwards:
“It was tough as I ran the 800m 90 minutes before - I decided to run as the 800m was a wasted race because of how slow it was so I didn’t want to waste my day.
“I didn’t cool down or really warm-up for this as well but it was alright and I’m glad I did the 1,500m and cracked on rather than sulk about the night.”
In third place, Stevie Stockton (Vale Royal AC) fell just short of her 4:14.11 personal best from last season with 4:14.58 and Jordan Kinney (Royal Sutton Coldfield) finished in 11th with 4:24.31.
Stockton, 21, almost gained the qualifying time for Ostrava and explained:
“I was a bit annoyed with us going through the first lap in 70 seconds, which was too slow so I started panicking but I came through strongly.”
She will next make her 5,000m debut on the track in Watford and Kinney, too, will compete there but over the shorter 1,500m event:
“I didn’t feel great and wasn’t very relaxed as it was a bit hustly and bustly but to be honest my pacing was fine and there’s a lot to improve on,” the 21-year-old revealed.
“I’ll take that as a first run out but hope to get a better run in Watford.”
In the women’s ‘B’ 1,500m, 21-year-old Lucy Dowsett (Cambridge and Coleridge AC) placed fourth in 4:25.87 and said:
“That was quite good and it was a good competitive race so I’m quite pleased.
“I’ll next run the 800m in Watford, as it’s my favourite event and I’m looking forward to it.”
In the aforementioned women’s ‘A’ 800m, Smith finished second behind Edinburgh’s Lynsey Sharp in a slow 2:06.61.
In a tactical race where no athlete would take charge of the pace, Charlotte Best
(Crawley AC) placed fourth in 2:06.95, Tara Bird (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) finished sixth in 2:07.17 and Vicky Griffiths (Liverpool Harriers) came home in eighth in 2:10.18. Alison Leonard (Blackburn Harriers), meanwhile, pulled out of the race part-way through citing an ongoing foot injury as the cause.
Smith, who will next compete over 1,500m in Spain this week, said afterwards:
“It was horrible, it was so slow and I don’t know what happened.
“My position wasn’t too bad but I just thought it was going to be faster.”
Bird, who contests the Inter-Counties Championship 400m on Monday, echoed her thoughts:
“It was a bit disappointing as it was so slow and no-one wanted to take the pace as it was so windy but we should have tried to.
“The conditions were rubbish but it was fun to have a competitive race despite the slow time.”
Best meanwhile, was frustrated to miss an opportunity in her first event of the year after having only completed seven weeks of training recently since injury:
“It was my first race of the season so I just wanted to get dragged round so it was disappointing that no one wanted to take it on but everyone’s responsible really.”
In the women’s ‘B’ 800m, Claire Tarplee (Solihull and Small Heath) finished third in 2:08.99.
The 22-year-old will next contest the 1500m but is as yet unsure where and explained:
“I had a really bad position and got stuck at the back of the group so had to go wide and never got in it really.
“I lost so much energy so I felt pretty dead.”
In the women’s ‘C’ 800m, 22-year-old Nikki Maddick (Kingston upon Hull) also placed third in 2:10.01 and said afterwards:
“It was ok, I was a bit nervous beforehand as I had a bad year last year but I’m pleased with that to begin with.
“I’ll next run the 400m in the northern league this weekend.”
Finally, proving age really is no barrier, OCWK male athlete supervisor Anthony Whiteman rolled back the years to participate in the men’s ‘B’ 800m, where he finished fifth in a solid 1:52.58.
The 39-year-old Shaftesbury Barnett Harrier, who has a best of 1:45.81 from 2000, will next tackle some pace-making duties in Watford and exclaimed afterwards:
“It was a shock to the system after not having done anything like that for a few months but I tried to run the shortest distance the whole way round, which I have to do nowadays.
“Then, I ran into a bit of a road block but the conditions were tough so it was more like a training run really - overall, I’m pleased though.”
Report by Nicola Bamford