2017 – Another year of records for Dacorum & Tring AC

As the curtain falls on the 2017 athletics season, Dacorum & Tring AC has a lot of reasons to celebrate a stellar year of fine performances – 83 reasons in total, in fact, as members from across all age groups smashed 83 club records in 27 different events. The total tally was the second-highest in club history, after the 91 records achieved last year, and well up on the 49 records broken in 2015.

(Photo credits: Gary Mitchell, Barry Cornelius, Keith Stonehouse)

One again, the girls and women proved to be the most prolific record breakers, posting 69% of all new club bests (57 records in total), although the boys and men made up ground with 26 records, for 31% of the total, up from 26% in 2016. In total, 26 athletes broke records in individual disciplines, while five U13 boys were part of two record-setting 4 x 100m relay teams.

Four club members tied for the most records broken in one season: Ralph Williams (U17 men), Marli Jessop (U15 girls and U17 women), Olive Coles (U20 women) and Kate Rennie (VF40) all set a remarkable seven records apiece!

Other club athletes who notched up multiple records include Malcolm Sergeant (VM70) and Milly Gall (U15 girls) with six records each; Celia Findlay (VF50) with five; and Kristian Imroth (U17 men) with four.

Marli and Ralph set an amazing seven club records each in 2017.

The age group with the most records this year was the U15 girls team, who notched up a whopping 17 records – tying with last year’s U17 girls team, and achieving one more record than their cohort from 2016. Next was the U17 men’s age group, with 12 records, up from only three records in 2016. The VF40 ladies set an astonishing 10 records this season, followed by the U17 women, with nine new club bests.

The senior ladies set six new club records, while the senior men set one – Jack Parslow’s impressive 2.30.54 in the men’s marathon in Valencia. The club’s veteran members (35 years and over for the women and 40 years and over for the men) set a brilliant 25 records in 2017, compared to 12 in 2016, with the vet ladies responsible for 16 of those new bests – proving that age is no barrier when it comes to top performances.

Jack, one of our best-ever cross-country competitors, broke the club record for the men’s marathon in 2017

Two thirds of all club records this year were set on the track (and field), while a third (36%) were set on the road. Fully 10 records (12%) were set by Mike Dunphy’s Middle Distance group in the notoriously hard and competitive track and road middle distance events – an impressive tally given that the squad comprise less than 10% of the total club membership.

Of the 53 track and field records, 18 were set indoors, 18 in various hurdles events, 10 in middle distance (1500m to 5000m), six in the throws, four in jumps, two in relays and three in pentathlon.  The marathon accounted for six of the 30 road racing records, with the half marathon representing a further five. Fully nine new records were set at the 5k road distance.

Paul Burton, who has been keeping our club records for years and whose son Neil was a top-level middle distance runner, remarked that “a few less club records were set this year than last year, but not by many. Therefore one can say that the higher trend noticed over the last few years continues. Although, as previously, the two really vibrant groups of athletes are those below senior level and those above senior level, outstanding congratulations are equally due to the record setters and to the many through all the age groups who have improved personal bests over the past 12 months through better fitness and technique. Their achievements are allowing the club to go from strength to strength and to consolidate its position as a major athletics centre in Hertfordshire. Such progress should logically lead to continuing success in 2018.”

The U15 girls – Our record breaking team

The U15 girls team (a group of U15s pictured above in the main photo) took the crown for both most records set in 2017 and for highest UK rankings achieved across the year. Milly Gall took top honours with six records in an astonishing five different disciplines: the 75m hurdles, the long jump (two records), the shot putt, the pentathlon and the indoor pentathlon.

Her leap of 5.67 at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium in July in the long jump brought her the English Schools crown for the age group, placing her at the top of the UK rankings for 2017, while she was also ranked third overall in indoor pentathlon, sixth in 75m hurdles, seventh overall in pentathlon and 36th in shot putt. Congratulations to Milly, her family and her coaches – and we’re sure the national team selectors will be following you in the years to come.

Milly Gall en route to her English Schools national crown in the U15 girls long jump

Also racking up a host of records and top rankings was Marli Jessop, who achieved six club records as a U15 girl in the first part of the year and a U17 women’s record this month as she moved up an age group. Marli’s U15 records came in long jump, 60m indoors (three records) and 60m indoor hurdles (two records), with her 9.04 best for the hurdles giving her a UK ranking of fourth overall. Her first record (of many, we’re sure) in the U17 women’s category this month, a speedy 8.96 in the 60m indoor hurdles, already has her at 18th in the UK U17 women’s rankings.

Teammate Tia Stonehouse proved once again that she is carving a place for herself as one of the UK’s top throwers – she finished the year ranked third overall in the UK in the javelin (600g), breaking two club records in the process. Her best throw now stands at 41.30 – the furthest throw ever by a Dacorum & Tring female athlete, and she’s only 14!

Tia Stonehouse, D&T’s all-time top javelin thrower – at age 14!

Two other U15 girls also made their way into the 2017 record books: Demi Tuinema broke the 200m record twice, with her fastest time (25.87) placing her 28th in the UK, while Amy Cassidy, a cross country standout, smashed the 5k road record with her 19.43 at Abbots Langley in October.

The U17 men – three athletes, 12 records

The U17 men’s team was the second highest-achieving category, with 12 records, set by only three athletes. Ralph Williams, who has been a first-claim member for just 12 months, broke an impressive seven records in total, all of them in the 60m indoor hurdles. He took his own record of 9.29, set in January, down to 8.75 by December, and finished 34th in the UK in the discipline, in only his first year in the age group.

Kristian Imroth, meanwhile, set a brilliant four records in middle distance events on the track – and if there were records for cross country, he would have set many more, particularly with his superb win in the England National Cross Country Championships in Nottingham in February. On the track, Kristian broke the 3000m record three times, with his best time, 8.55.32, giving him a ranking of 31st in the UK for the age group, while he also smashed the club record for the 1,500m.

Kristian Imroth had a stellar year in both cross-country and on the track

And last but certainly not least, George Dowding broke into the record books with his excellent time of 17.50, set at the Abbots Langley race in October.

The VF40 women – Improving with age!

It was a record-breaking year for Dacorum & Tring AC’s vet athletes, both on the road and on the track, and the tables were topped by the talented VF40 women, who smashed a total of 10 records. Samantha Sullivan led the charge with three records, in the 10k, 10 miles and half marathon, and then Kate Rennie stepped up to the plate after becoming a first-claim member part-way through the year.

Kate has smashed her way into the D&T record books since joining the club this year.

Kate scored an amazing seven club records for the VF40 women – with two of those (5k on the road) qualifying as outright bests for female club athletes. Kate’s 17.51 at the Hatfield 5k series was the eighth best time for a VF40 woman at all 5k road races in the UK, while her 10k time of 37.55 places her 25th overall for UK certified 10k events, and her half marathon time of 1.21.21 at Stevenage was the 14th best time among all VF40 half marathon results in 2017. Furthermore, her parkrun record of 17.58 is the eighth fastest parkrun time for VF40-44 women in the UK this year.

U17 women notch up nine records

Four young women in the U17 age group scored a total of nine new records in 2017: Talia Morton-Kemsley grabbed a new record each in 60m indoor hurdles, long jump and shot, while Amelia Woodnick also took three records: two in the 80m hurdles and one in pentathlon.

Amy Wright achieved two club bests in the U17 women’s hammer with her throw of 47.89 at Peterborough in July, the furthest ever by a D&T women with a 3kg hammer and a mark that pushed her up to 26th in the UK – in only her first year in the age group. Amy is coached by Paul Dickenson, the former Olympic hammer thrower and D&T club president, so she is in good hands for the future.

Amy has thrown the 3kg hammer further than any D&T woman in history.

The final U17 women’s club record – and the first of many for this young lady – was Marli Jessop’s 60m indoor hurdles time of 8.96i, set at Lee Valley earlier this month.

U20 records – a one (wo)man show!

The U20 women’s category boasted a strong tally of seven new club records, which were incidentally all set by the same athlete – 400m flat and hurdles phenomenon Olive Coles. Olive set one record at 400m indoors, two at 400m and four at the 400m hurdles. Her 400m flat record of 56.75 pushed her up to 26th in the UK, while her 61.90 for the 400m hurdles gave her a brilliant ranking of seventh overall in the UK.

Olive is one of the UK’s top-ranked one-lap runners (flat and hurdles) in the U20 category.

Over on the U20 men’s side, Rhys Rowlands  proved tough to beat, setting two new club records for the age group. Rhys is coming into his own as he celebrates nearly a decade training with Mike Dunphy in the Middle Distance squad: he was second overall and first U20 at the Waddeson 5k road race in July, and his new club record of 16.32 is an outright best for the men. In October, Rhys smashed the U20 record for 5 miles on the road with his 28.31 at Hafield, where he finished 19th overall in the men’s race and first U20. In both events, Rhys was the first D&T man across the line.

The over 50s vets show that age is no barrier

Dacorum & Tring AC boasts one of the strongest veteran sections around, with athletes still going strong into their 70s. The VF50 ladies showed they have no intention of slowing down, with Celia Findlay posting five new club records and Catherine Davies one. Celia, who logs an average of 65 miles per week, notched up two VF50 club records at 10 miles and three in the marathon. She ran a total of seven marathons in 2017, posting a new vet PB and club record of 3h36.49 at the San Sebastian marathon in November. That event marked her 95th career marathon, and she’s looking to complete her 100th in 2018; Celia joined D&T as first claim in 2016 and is an integral member of the ladies’ road running and cross country teams – we’re lucky to have her!

Celia chalked up five VF50 club records in 2017 as she looks to complete her 100th marathon in 2018.

Catherine, meanwhile, posted a new VF50 club record of 22.06 for 5k in a road race in Victoria BC, despite being tripped up in the first 400m and crossing the line covered in blood from the knees down!

The vet men also proved their mettle on both the road and the track. New member Jonathan Hoggett achieved a VM40 club best at 5 miles on the road with his lightening fast 29.08 at Hatfield in November, while Phil Pugh (5k road) and David Stears (half marathon) pulled in new club bests in the VM60 age group.

The star of the show in the male vet category has without a doubt been Malcolm Sergeant, who, since moving into the VM70 age group, has set an astonishing six new club bests – four on the track (1500m, 3000m and two in the 5000m) and two on the roads (5k and half marathon). Malcolm’s 25.03.1 for the 5000m on the track leaves him at 16th in the Run Britain road rankings for the VM70 age group, while he ended the year ranked 23rd in the 3000m.

Malcolm Sargeant, an inspiration to all with his six new records set in 2017

Senior ladies shine on track and road

The senior ladies team set a total of six new club records this year on the track and on the road. Who can forget the wonderful start to the year for the club with Phillipa Lowe’s Team GB selection for the European Indoor Championships in the 4 x 400m in March, where the British women won a brilliant silver medal. In the lead-up to the event in Belgrade, Philly scored a new club best for the 800m indoor with a time of 2.07.50i and then sealed her GB place with a superb PB and club record of 52.99i at Sheffield in February.

Phillipa Lowe on the blocks before her record-setting 400m in Sheffield, which sealed her place in Team GB

On the road, teammates Ania Gabb and Samantha Fawcett racked up a further four records for the senior ladies: Ania scored one record in the 20 miles and then broke the club marathon record twice, with her 3h09.50 in London and then 3h07.00 six months later in Dublin. Sam, meanwhile, took time off from her medal-winning multisport pursuits to post a club outright best for the women with her 31.21 at the Hatfield 5 mile road race.

The U13s show that the future is in good hands

The U13 boys and girls team trained hard all year and showed immense progress and dedication at indoor events, cross country, middle distance and EYAL matches throughout the season. 

A total of three U13 records were broken: Olivia Edwards, a standout member of the Middle Distance squad, set a new club best of 5.41.56 in the mile and 5.07.20 in the 1500m – both of those as she worked hard to come back from injury and illness. Meanwhile, the U13 boys 4 x 100m relay team smashed the club record twice, with Paddy Read, Alex Mancey, Jonathan Chiwele and Oscar North posting a time of 55.3 in early July, and then Oscar, Alex, Jonathan and Michael Joyce combining to smash that time with a 54.9 at Ipswich four weeks later.

Olivia showing the form that led to two new middle-distance club records on the track.

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About Catherine Davies

Catherine has been an active member of Dacorum & Tring AC Road Runners since 2007, and her three children have all passed through Mike Dunphy's Middle Distance squad.