14th September 2009

Official Line

14 September 2009

Article as featured in Athletics Weekly Magazine

Looking back over the season, Jack Miller of the British Athletics Supporters Club shows how following the Aviva GB and NI team can be an endurance task in itself.

Autumn is with us, and so another season of watching athletics draws to a close and it is time to reflect on my travels this year.

It all started with a flight to Glasgow at the end of January. A pleasant meeting starred as often this year with a commanding performance by Mo Farah. The economy of my weekend was ruined when I woke up on Monday morning to find a foot of snow had fallen in the night and the airport was closed. A full cost train ticket to London was needed but at least the trains ran.

A fortnight later to Sheffield for the Indoor National Championships. Mo again was a star, and not for the last time in the year I saw Kate Denison break a British record and get a now rebranded  Aviva cheque. Too early at the Station and so it cost me £30 extra to get an earlier faster train than the one I had booked before meeting times were published.

Having seen the trials I had to go to Turin for the European indoor championships. This involved flying from Gatwick and finding that all the Gatwick Express trains before ten am were cancelled. Two gold medals made the meeting fun. For me the highlight was three British runners running as a team in the final so that Mo’s impressive early season form could be rewarded with a gold medal. It was hard to decide whether Mo or Ian Stewart had the wider grin after that.

It was then a wholly new experience. Cross Country running on the buggy tracks of a golf course in Jordan with a wickedly steep last kilometre was clearly hard work if you are not Kenyan or Ethiopian. Trips to Petra, Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea were a fascinating extension to the trip.

My outdoor domestic season began at Bedford where I really enjoyed the rebranded British Universities and Colleges meeting which featured some really competitive races . It was not hard to work out that Loughborough were winning but I had to wait for AW to get an idea of how the scoring had worked out.

Two weeks later I set out to go to Loughborough, but got no further than St Pancras. No trains to Loughborough before lunch…

My next trip was to Portugal for the European Team Championships. Some things don’t change, Kate Dennison broke the British record and Mo won easily. But other than that it was a bit confusing. With unreserved seats one of the most competitive races was when the gates opened to get seated.

This gave me nearly a month to prepare for the National Trials which I am delighted are back in Birmingham. Lots of old friends to chat to, a good Supporters Club dinner with Paul Dickenson as cabaret. The highlight was Charlene Thomas winning the 1500 metres and then giving a most exuberant interview. 

Another trip into new territory to Serbia for the European Juniors. Two golds from athletes called Clarke  – one called Lawrence, and the latter Chris then producing a relay leg to show that the next generation will preserve our 4 x 400 tradition.

And so to Berlin. Medal predictions exceeded. Massive smiles from Philips Idowu and everyone’s favourite Jess Ennis. But no less from Jenny Meadows in what must have been the pluckiest performance of all. Two relay medals the last one to show that the young 4 x 400 m runners will have to work for team places.

I came home (via Colditz and Dresden) feeling that we are better at athletics than I had thought at the beginning of the year. And I have a whole winter to persuade my bank manager to let me follow the team again next year.