Report from Charlotte’s Dad James.
Leeds City Open Athletics Meeting – Saturday 5th June 2016
After Charlotte had a half decent cross country season for school, I finally decided to get her into some structured training earlier this year and signed her up with Otley AC in February to go to Hugh’s Wednesday night sprint and efficiency classes.
She’s entered a few trail and fell races and also junior parkruns over the last few weeks to put the training into practice but we both thought it might be nice to enter a few track meetings. These are of a high standard but it was just to keep the legs moving over the Summer and also give her some valuable race experience.
Two league meetings at the excellent new track at York where she ran in the 600m and 75m were OK and so she entered the Leeds Open meeting with the normal mix of excitement and fear.
We arrived at the South Leeds stadium to see the impressive crowd of a few hundred in the main stand enjoying some good quality athletics from Under 11s, Under 13s, 15s etc. right up to a few Senior races. Not too phased by it all yet, she walked round with me to the opposite side of the track for her first race, the 600m.
Being the only Black and White there, I thought she might be a bit overawed but she soon relaxed as a couple of girls from City of York who she raced against at previous meetings came to say hello. We’ve changed tactics from being ‘fired-up and raceface on!’ to ‘relaxed’ as it seems to settle her pre-race nerves. Getting in the zone seems to be pointless anyway as the girls soon wander up to one another before a race and end up comparing shoes and chatting about PBs etc….
A late entry wandered up who was around 6 inches taller than Charlotte and, stood on the start line, she looked back at me and mouthed “how old is she?” The race tactic then became no more technical than “just stick to her for as long as you can and then unleash the sprint finish from just before the last bend.”
She did really well to follow these expert instructions and the Leeds City girl led at the bell followed by Charlotte a couple of metres behind. As she came past me at about 300m she looked OK and was tracking her well so I was pretty confident she would give a decent account of herself and hopefully beat her PB of 2 mins 16 secs.
As she came to the last bend, all Hugh’s brutal sprint training kicked in, the crowd started to cheer (probably for the hometown favourite actually, apart from Charlotte’s grandparents!) and she charged past the Leeds girl who had nothing in response. Just one other girl tried to go with Charlotte but could only manage second about 20m behind her.
I realise the club has a strong fell, cross country and road ethos and we don’t really get involved with Track and Field but I’m sure the sight of the Black and White top leaving Leeds City, City of York and Harrogate tops trailing in its wake down the home straight would have raised a cheer from anyone at the club.
When the provisional results were pinned to the window of the officials at the back of the stand, Charlotte had won in an outstanding 2:04.60 – a new PB by 12 seconds and it was off to the podium for the gold medal.
Onwards to York in a couple of weeks and hopefully build on this in the rest of the Summer League.