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Track and Field Competitions: What they are and why take part?

Updated: Feb 25, 2022

Every summer there are four track and field matches for seniors (including vets!), and four competitions for juniors (U17 and younger age groups). These are all held locally, usually on a Sunday but occasionally a Saturday. They are spread out over 4 months: May until August.

There is a senior league and a junior league (NEYDL) for clubs.

Blaydon Harriers AC senior team (men and women) is currently one division below the highest one in our region, after having been promoted in the season before lockdown.

Our senior team is a joint (composite) one with Elswick Harriers. There are a number of these in both leagues, where individual clubs would struggle to field a full team on their own.

Our club, like many others often has difficulty in getting members to turn out for these matches.

Eric Lewis (senior team manager), would like to change attitudes by educating those who don’t perhaps understand why they should be interested in competing.

Junior coaches tend to make it clear to their athletes that when they show promise or potential in their chosen events (sprints, jumps, distance running, hurdles, throws), they may be expected to take part in some competitions. This approach, understandably, does not work with some adults…

All of our coaches give their time for free, to help everyone in the club, seniors and juniors, to get fitter, run faster, run further and generally help them to achieve their goals, whether that is to do a couch to 5k with new friends, or achieve a PB in whatever event they are training for.

These particular club members, gave up an awful lot of their time fighting long and hard with the local council to secure the new track facility we now all enjoy.

In return for the time put in from these volunteers, it would be really helpful to the club as a whole if some of the seniors would be more willing to put themselves out of their comfort zones a little (as they do every week in training!), and at least offer to turn out for one or two of the Track and Field events.

Success in the T&F league is directly related to one thing, and one thing only: “numbers”. The team with the most competitors across all events, usually wins the match.

When we get a poor turnout, it is left to those that are there (including the rapidly ageing team manager…) to compete in the maximum allowable number of events (up to 7 for seniors over the age of 20).

What we would like to see: 1) if you are good enough, and asked by the team manager to compete, that you turn out for at least one (or more if you are able) match every year. This may mean running a shorter (or longer) distance than you usually train for, or even trying a different event altogether, such as a jump, or a throw.

It is not necessary that you are particularly good at field events, if you can manage to reach the sandpit in a long jump, or get a javelin to stick in the ground, you will score points for the club.

Every event (currently up to 5k for men runners, 3k for women on the track) is allowed 2 competitors (an A and a B competitor).

Point scoring works like this:

A String athletes = 11 / 9 / 8 / 7 / 6 / 5 / 4 / 3

B String= 9 / 7 / 6 / 5 / 4 / 3 / 2 / 1

There has NEVER been a match where all clubs have competitors (both A and B) in all events. There are often some events where there are only a couple of entrants, sometimes none at all.

So for example, in women’s javelin, if only 4 clubs put in someone as a B athlete, and ours comes 4th, then they score 4 points. The other clubs who have no entrants, score ZERO points. So hopefully everyone can understand just how important it is to get team members to fill all possible events.

Naturally, we don’t want to put a skinny distance runner in to do shot putt or hammer if at all possible, but somebody has to step up and do it, and up to now it has been down to those team members that are trying to give something back to their club in return for the benefits they get from being part of it.

Those of you willing to take part in one of the remaining 3 matches (all Sundays – 6th June, 4th July, 1st August), please speak to your individual coaches who will get a message to me, or contact me directly if you already have my contact details. You may not be selected if we do already have faster/better athletes, but please keep putting your name forward and please be prepared to step in when we do need you.

I consider it a privilege to be able to turn out and represent Blaydon Harriers in a competition, it would be great if I could find more of you to join those of us who turned out for the first match. So let’s see if we can get a better result in the remaining 3 matches than we did in that one? Please come and talk to me at training.


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