The annual SJ Track Challenge was held at Bracknell Athletics Track and provided a great spectacle as 24 members spread across 6 teams tackled sprint and middle distance races ranging from 100m to the mile.
First up was the 800m where Matt Jones took it up from gun. Sarah Hyatt tracked him closely for the first lap but Matt eased away for a controlled win. Behind Sarah stayed strong to finish in second with a three way battle between Dave Bartlett, Andrea Vincent and Claire Hobson decided on the final lap and wrapped up in that order.
Onto the 1KM race which turned out to be one of the most entertaining of the evening. Matt Johnson closely tracked Fiona Slevin-Brown in the early stages until Fiona eased away on the final lap only to carry on past the finish line and into the distance despite the many shouts of ‘Fiona STOP!!!’ Who knows how fast Fiona would have run if she wasn’t saving herself for the additional lap! It was a blanket finish for the bronze medal with Kirsty Darcy narrowly edging out Jenny and Gloria Long.
Next up it was a commanding performance from Mark Fallowfield-Smith in the 1500m taking the win by 24 seconds from Stuart Mayes and Ian Watson.
The final race in the middle distance category was the blue ribbon event; The Mile. ‘Guest’ runner Graham Robinson took off at the start never to be seen again as those in the Team event took a more cagey approach to the four laps. Jim Laidlaw led for the first two laps before yielding the lead and was then pushed down to third by a surging Dave Breslin on the final half lap. Good runs throughout the field with Mile PBs for Sarah Alexander, Wayne Boardman and Colin Carpenter.
Proceedings moved swiftly onto the sprint events, too fast for three of the competitors who had only just finished the mile race! The 100m provided the biggest drama of the night with a scintillating race between Matt Johnson and ‘Guest’ Carl Bradshaw. A powerful performance from Matt looked to have bagged the win but a hamstring injury in the final 10m saw him pull up in pain. Carl took the win but Matt still claimed maximum points in the team competition as he hobbled over the line in second. A super tight finale saw Wayne Boardman edge out Sarah Alexander and Claire Rowse.
Continuing his recent run of great form Ian Watson dominated the 200m holding off a challenge from Jim Laidlaw in the final 50m to take the win.
The 300m also saw another imperious performance with Staurt Mayes crossing the line 6 seconds ahead of Sarah Hyatt who narrowly edged out Paul Biggs. Behind them a titanic battle ensued with Gloria Long taking 4th by the narrowest of margins from Simon Whillis.
Mark Fallowfield-Smith made it two victories from two outings in the 400m but Matt Jones chased him all the way and ensured it wasn’t an easy win. The battle for the bronze was even closer with Dave Breslin fending off Fiona Slevin-Brown.
As with all major Championships the finale was the two relay events which saw all runners involved.
First up was the 100m and a cracker of a race it was with just 6 seconds covering the first and last finishers. As the final bend unwound it looked like it would be a photo finish between Teams 1, 3 and 6 but a stellar surge from Team 2’s Roy Bentley stole victory on the line and put them into pole position in the points table.
In the 4 x 400m relay there was much strategy involved in working out when to run each runner. Team 2 led from the first leg and were never challenged taking a comfortable win with substitute Carl Bradshaw bringing home the anchor leg to celebrate his 25th Anniversary coaching with Sandhurst Joggers. Meanwhile a gripping pursuit match for the other podium spots between Teams 6 and 1 had the watching crowd rapt. Team 1 held the advantage heading into the final lap but a marauding Mark Fallowfield-Smith overhauled them to take second. Team 1 hung onto third but just 8 seconds separated them and the following three teams.
Team 2 took home the trophies but everyone was a winner on a brilliant night of running. Thanks to Carl Bradshaw for organising and the many years helping members! Thanks also to the team of helpers, timekeepers and starter Jim.
If you’ve never ran at track give the Friday night sessions a go. The sessions are suitable for all abilities, you’ll learn a lot, improve speed, running form, mobility and injury resilience and have a lot of fun in the process!