Sunday, January 28, 2018

2018 Victorian Country Athletics Championships

On the long weekend just gone (January 26 - 28), I competed at the Victorian Country Athletics Championships, which were held this year in Ballarat, a regional city west of Melbourne.  I had entered the triple jump, long jump, 100, 200 and 400 metres, and was also going to be in the relay teams.  A total of 7 events.

Arrived in Ballarat in tome to see a fellow clubmate compete in his 800m event, and checked into my only event - the triple jump, which I had in the evening.  Due to extreme heat forecast for the weekend, the whole program was changed, with events held before 1PM and late afternoon into evening on the first 2 days, and finishing just after 2PM on day 3.

After the morning’s events were run, I went to the caravan park where we were staying, setup my overnight stuff and had a quiet relax in the pool, so I would be ready for the evening session.

In the evening, it was time for the triple jump.  Started off with a jump around the 7.5 metres I have been doing all year, but quickly got over 8 metres.  Best jump was 8.22 metres, enough to take the bronze medal, and my best triple jump for well over a year.

Next morning, I had an early start, with long jump at 9AM.  That meant arriving at the track before 8 to check in.  The event started off a bit shake, with a few jumps around 3.5-3.6 metres.  I finally found my technique on the 6th and final jump at 4.19 metres, a season best, but missing out on a medal by 1 cm.

About 90 minutes later was the 100 metres, one of the events I always look forward to.  Got off to a great start, as good as anyone else in the field.  Finished with a bronze medal in a season best 13.20 time, comparable to last year’s performances.  While my starts are excellent, I’m feeling a bit lacking at high speed.  More to work on. :)

After the long afternoon break, and a stop for pizza on the way back to the track, it was time to settle down and enjoy watching some action before running the 400 metres.  The 400 was run just after 9PM under lights.  This was the first time I ran under lights, and the atmosphere was quite different and exciting.  Got off to another fast start, before settling down into race pace.  A tail wind in the back straight helped maintain pace.  Ran a strong second bend, with some encouragement from clubmates in our tent, then turned to face the wind in the home straight.  The final 80 metres was a struggle, but I finished with a season best 1:04.60, totally spent.  It was 5 minutes before I felt steady on my feet, and another 5 before I felt OK, but it was worth it.  The run resulted in a silver medal.

On the final day, I had one individual event - the 200 metres.  Arrived early again, this time to secure a good car park.  Checked in and made early preparations.  When the 200 came around, I had a minor issue with my right shoe not wanting to bite into the blocks when setting up, but felt a bit more secure when getting ready for the actual start.  Still, I didn’t fel this start was quite as good as the other 2 sprints.  However, I had better acceleration on the bend and entered the straight in first place.  I had hoped to use my acceleration to build enough of a lead to remain there, but one of the other guys - a fast finisher - passed me with 40 or 50 metres to go, and I had to settle for silver.  Still, it was a season best 26.90, and only 0.19 off my all time PB.  Allowing for a year of ageing, these are comparable performances.

After an early lunch and more enjoying the action, it was time to run the 4x100m relay.  I was running the third leg, on the same bend that I ran the 200m on a few hours earlier.  As I was the fastest over 100 metres in the team, I elected to run a little extra distance, around 120 metres, and worked with my teammates to plan our baton changes to make that possible.  I would take the baton as early as possible and hand it off as late as possible.  This would ensure the maximum time with the baton travelling at my higher speed. 

The race went pretty much as planned, and I took the baton near the start of my incoming change zone, then accelerated the final bit to top speed for the trip around the bend, before handing the baton at the last possible second (only had about 1 metre to spare!), giving our last runner, who is more middle distance than a sprinter, the best chance of making it to the line in time.  He finished in 4th position, but one team was disqualified, resulting in a bronze for us.

The final event was the 4x400m relay, a tough event at any time, but especially so in the heat of the afternoon, as the time was approaching 2:30 PM.  Again, I ran the third leg, and our team plan had me run an extra 10 metres, because I would cope best with the conditions.  After the second runner had started his lap, I was marshalled into position by the officials to line up at the changeover box.  As per our team plan, I elected to stay at the start of the box.  Took the baton cleanly (much easier at 400m pace :) ), then accelerated into the first bend.  Took it a bit easier than the previous night’s individual 400m, because of some tightness and the heat, then settled down for the rest of the race.  Surprisingly, I felt better as the leg progressed around the track, and pushed a bit harder into the home straight, now with a tailwind to help.  As planned, I changed with our final runner in the middle of the changeover box, 410 metres after I started.  We finished in 4th, but ran well, given the team members and conditions, as well as miscellaneous niggles between all of us. :)

In summary, 5 season best times, 2 good relay performances, and a final medal count of 2 silver and 3 bronze.  A result I am very happy with.  Next week, it’s back to fire brigade action with a competition at the local track.

- Tony via Tumblr

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