The inaugural National Series 2018, North West Regional Championship took place in glorious sunshine this weekend at East Cheshire and Tameside Harriers Athletic track in Ashton-under-Lyne, Tameside.
There were three athletes who had competed before in Target Sprint, including the 2017 National Youth Champion hailing from Ellesmere Port.
Timing, Registration and Results was provided by Crazylegs Events, a Cheshire based company focused on running and multi discipline events. This allowed the event to trial chip timing giving not only the running lap split times, but for the first time the range split times. This enables coaches and athletes to understand where the most significant improvements can be made during training.
Despite the strong sun and heat, some excellent times were posted.
There were three main heats on the day, youth men, a mixed male and a mixed female heat.
The first heat, Youth Men, was won by Harrison Pepper, a regular at Sedgemoor Training days based at TS Regional Centre; Yate Outdoor Sports Complex (YOSC) near Bristol, who posted a time of 05:57, beating his previous PB by 49 seconds and the clear winner. Second place in the heat with an incredible time of 07;44 was Callum Fricker, who is a novice shooter but excelled on the track. One to watch for the future as he develops his rifle shooting skills.
Amongst the athletes racing in Heat 2, the two athletes who promised an exciting tussle to the finish line between the 2017 Champion, George Smith and John Trotman. And an exciting spectacle it was! John, new to the sport, has had a challenging introduction to Target Sprint in 2018 due to the weather conditions (snow!) and growth spurts, preventing him from recording an official race time this spring that reflected his potential and ability. He had a point to prove.
After the first of three 400m running loops and first of two shoot sessions, it was clear where each athletes strengths lay. John posted a 00;57 400m first split compared to George’s 01;09. But then George shooting his 5 knockdown targets in a magnificent 00;28 seconds compared to John’s 00;57 saw George head out of the shooting range into the second 400m with a 17 second lead. However, George suffered mixed fortunes in the second shoot, whilst John remained consistent in both running and shooting, recording the fastest time of the day 05;10. Due to the event being set up on an athletics track, the course conditions were very similar to that of the Regional Centre Championships at YOSC at the beginning of May. John’s time of 05;10 was on a par with the gold medal winning Junior Male performance at YOSC, which bods for an exciting National Final in October.
Andy Burnett from Glossop as our only Senior Male and over 50 years old, posted a credible time of 09;58.
The final Heat was a ladies event, with two late youth male entrants filling the gaps.
This was lined up to be an interesting race, where athletes ages spanned from under 20 to 50 years, but they all had the commonality of being new to the combined sport, yet a wealth of experience as running athlete.
Again the shooting was the critical phase especially as both Senior ladies where new to this aspect. Beth McManus, representing East Cheshire Harriers, posted a time of 01;06 for her first 400m split, versus Patricia Rhodes 01;42. However Patricia gained ground on the first shoot with a time of 01;55 versus 03;07. Both remained incredibly competitive throughout the race, with Patricia recording a Senior Women’s gold medal winning time of 09:18, and Beth 30seconds behind.
If this was the first glimpse of North West Senior Women competing in Target Sprint, then we are in for a treat! This is clear evidence that the NW Region holds great potential in this combined running and shooting event, as they look forward to the development of ongoing training provision.
Doug Pepper, North West Regional Event Coordinator and Coach Educator said; “I am really pleased with how the event has gone today. We have had great support from Scouting, parents and Crazylegs Events on the day. The incredible results on track and sportsman like behaviour off track was fantastic to witness. This regional championships aimed to be an event for all the family, with fun games, refeshments and activities run beside the track. It was great seeing the athletes, friends and family playing ballgames together between heats and having a go at “Nerf and Shoot”!
“It has been a fantastic first event in the North West. I could not have wished for a better day.”
Doug went on to say; “In addition to the great work by the volunteers, without the fantastic support from our sponsors; Graham Burns at Manchester Air Guns, Simon Hartley at Milliken Textiles and John Murphy at East Cheshire Harriers, the event wouldn’t have been possible. We now have a great connection with the athletics club enabling us to support a regional squad and hold national events.
“I am now looking forward to working towards gaining Regional Centre status on behalf of the North West.”
Visiting Athletic and Multi-skills coach Jo Brown from Jo’s Sport Services said; ”It was great to come along and watch this event for the first time. I could see the athletes who take part in this could benefit from developing their running technique and fitness. I also feel it would be a good opportunity for athletes who attend Athletic clubs to train to compete in this event. A great opportunity to get youngsters and adults involved in physical activity.”
Steve Holloway, Greater Manchester East Scout County Commissioner said; “This was a fantastic event that combines physical exercise with high skill levels. This demonstrates examples of the skills for life that young people can learn through scouting.”
The event was rounded off with supporters expressing interest in taking up both shooting and target sprint disciplines for the first time having witnessed the event.
The medals and certificates inviting the top 5 athletes in each age category to the National Final were given to the athletes by Greater Manchester East Scouts County Commissioner Steve Holloway and British Shooting’s 2012 Olympian Gorgs Geikie.
Photography by: Sophia Clegg, Broadoak Explorer Scout