Rain Stopped Play: Steel City Mile 2024

Race Date: Friday 14th June 2024

After being absent in 2023, this popular event returned this year with over fifty Steel City on the start list for a series of five graded heats to be followed by a handicap relay. As it turned out the gradings, based on actual/predicted 5km times, proved to be a little awry but it’s difficult to get these right when few of the competitors actually race on the track. Nevertheless we were provided with some splendid entertainment as in each of the races that we saw the early leader, who had each built up a healthy advantage, was hunted down and put to the sword. It’s no mistake that in championship events, unlike synthetic Diamond League races, the eventual winner is rarely the athlete who takes it on. In middle distance it’s the athlete who is slowing down the least that usually wins for, as ever, the penalty for setting off too quickly can be severe.

A feature of this event was the King and Queen of the Mile where, similar to downhill skiing or the time trial in cycling, the winner of each heat sits in the hot seat until their time is surpassed in a subsequent heat. Some unusual prizes as an alternative to vouchers which will barely cover the cost of a pair of socks set the tone for this fun evening.

Queen and King of the Mile Fran Marshall and Richard Bailey-Jones Photo Helen Royles-Jones

In the first heat, Richard Bailey-Jones (7:05.5) kept his powder dry eventually beating Andrew Woofindin by fifteen seconds, a considerable distance in the mile. The first Queen of the Mile was Fran Marshall (7:32.9) who squeezed past Fran Garrety by less than a second. Heat two saw Kevin Wong take off at a fair lick only for Kevin Haighton (6:29.9) to take charge sprinting down the finish straight in a blaze of glory whilst Catherine McKeown (7:08.2) held off Karen Clark by a mere two seconds. The third heat was initially dominated by Alex Banks who was running at 5:30 pace only to drown in a sea of lactic acid as Matthew Trinder (5:57.7) first closed the substantial gap drawing away to clock our first sub six time of the evening. Meanwhile Bethan Varney (6:07.0) was unchallenged as she took charge of the women.

Outside the comfort zone for a change. Her coach will be delighted. Photo Helen Royles-Jones

Things were hotting up nicely as, with race four just about to get underway and the speedsters in race five going through their final drills, the heavy cloud which had been building up throughout the evening began to discharge lightening. Following an incident last year in which a young footballer nearly lost his life, guidelines in such situations have been tightened and we were advised to retreat from the track and the stand into the main building. The rules are that the area should be free of lightening for at least 30 minutes before activities could resume but with the cloud hanging around (the one time that we wanted some wind!) the decision was taken to cancel the final events. Some very disappointed people after a great evening of races with reports of pb’s aplenty.

Heat Four was so close to getting underway. Photo Helen Royles-Jones

Results appear below. Performances by both Dot Kesterton (7:02.6) and Louise Rowley (7:25.2) would have placed them first and second on the M70 rankings for 2024 but, unfortunately, these won’t appear on Power of 10 as we didn’t have a permit or enough graded officials. There is however a Mile race at the next Run Jump Throw at Woodbourn Road on 3rd July, enter via Sportsoft Race Calendar

Heat 1
Position Name Time
1 Richard Bailey-Jones 07:05.5
2 Andrew Woffindin 07:20.5
3 Andy Telford 07:30.4
4 Fran Marshall 07:32.9
5 Fran Garretty 07:33.4
6 Adrian Good 07:37.3
7 Richard Binks 07:41.1
8 Ruth Tucker 07:56.6
9 Melanie English 07:57.0


Heat 2
Position Name Time
1 Kevin Haighton 06:29.9
2 Kevin Wong 06:41.0
3 Jamie Manton 06:55.2
4 Martin Downham 07:00.2
5 Catherine McKeown 07:08.2
6 Karen Clark 07:10.2
7 Louise Rowley 07:25.2
8 Lisi Briggs 07:45.3
9 Carol Beattie 08:11.9


Heat 3
Position Name Time
1 Matthew Trinder 05:57.7
2 Bethan Varney 06:07.0
3 Alex Banks 06:12.3
4 Jonathan Legon 06:13.0
5 Laura Mella 06:20.8
6 Kathy Liddiard 06:25.0
7 Ash Mellors 06:46.6
8 Victoria Johnson 06:49.7
9 Dot Kesterton 07:02.6

Ruth Tucker and Melanie English battle it out in Heat One earning spot prizes of a banana each for their efforts. Photo Helen Royles-Jones

We must thank Neil Schofield for organising this event together with his team of Judges, Timekeepers and Scorers. Reports are that, apart from Zeus’ meddling, it went well but perhaps things were more like a swan – serene on the surface but paddling away frantically underneath with a de-brief planned. Rumour has it that his next production is to be the 2024/2025 Club Cross Country Championships. There are more excellent photographs by Helen Royles-Jones on Facebook in which anyone not actually running appears to be laughing.

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