Wells City Harriers


As the 2020 event is cancelled it means that there’ll be no photo-finishing at the County Track & Field Championships this year! We look back at the Somerset AA Championships of previous years and some of the records; and also at previous BMC Meets. Plus, we look forward to what, if anything, of the season might be salvaged, considering the latest guidance from England Athletics and some thinking from elsewhere as to whether Athletics might be back later this summer. Please note that until the Club receives written permission from any School or Sports Centre allowing us to resume or start using their facilities, that we should continue to train safe outdoors only in public spaces.


Oliwia Cwienczek wins the u15 girls 100m final at the Somerset County Championships last year (2019) in 13.32



(photofinish photo courtesy of David Cooke, County AA)

Traditionally the Somerset County Track & Field Championships would have been held in mid-May and by now many of the Harriers that compete at the various events would have had at least 6-8 weeks of solid training behind them in preparation for the Championships. Many in past years might have competed at our partner Club’s Spring Open meeting at the Bill Whistlecroft Arena in Yeovil and then maybe had a run out with the joint team (Yeovil Olympiads) at the first of the Season’s Track & Field South West League meetings, or at the traditional early May Bank Holiday British Milers Club middle-distance event held at Millfield track.

u17 Matthew Quarterman storms home to win the County 1500m in 4.15 (2019) with Pete Grist & Robbie Hawkins tucked in behind him (photo by Al)


The Harriers have coached and trained many junior and senior athletes to a good standard at Track & Field events. We first entered our own team, as Wells City Harriers, into the newly expanded South-West League in 1993 – at that time a new Division 3 was established for Clubs new to Track & Field, and, of course, we duly won the Division that year. For many years the Club competed in its own right until a recognition at the end of that decade that we’d be better off competing as part of a combined team with Yeovil Olympiads in order to offer higher level competition for our members and could also offer the Olympiad’s members the chance to compete at a higher Regional (Southern) and National level at Road and Cross-country Championships. The Partnership was born and is now almost 20 years old.


That looks like a young (u15) Ollie Thorner leading in the 800m in 2014 - he finished in 2.17 (photo by Al)



The first Wells City Harrier member to win a County title was former Chairman Clive Thomas when he won the County 3000m race in 1983 and since then many Harriers of all ages have set Championship best performances, right up until the most recent record set by Harrier Elise Thorner (u20) in last year’s 1500m Steeplechase in a time of 4.52.92, beating the previous record set by the Harrier’s Emily Smith of 5.15.03 in 2013. Whilst there are some Championship records dating back to the 1970’s, the oldest record held by a Harrier (that I know of) is that by u20 Amber Gascoigne with her 4.44 for 1500m in 1997.


Selected Track & Field record holders (County Championships) from Yeovil & Wells

U15 girls 300m Sprint Victoria McCabe 42.69 (2015)

U17 mens 400m Sprint Tom Hockedy 49.90 (2004)

U13 boys 800m James Bridge 2.19.76 (2011)

U13 girls 800m Elena Sidman 2.20.04 (2014)

U15 girls 800m Elena Sidman 2.17.31 (2015)

U13 boys 1500m Curtis Stevens 4.48.37 (2008)

U15 boys 3000m Matthew Dickinson 9.38.94 (2010)

U20 Mens 2000m Steeplechase Sam Sommerville 6.25.19 (2015)

Senior Men 3000m Ben Tickner 8.19.80 (2003)

Senior Womens 3000m Laura Parker 9.44.74 (2010)

U13 girls High Jump Roo Black 1.40m (2008)

U17 Mens High Jump John Liddle 1.91m (1998)

 (Note: all of the above records still stand, there will have been other Harriers who set Championship bests but their marks have subsequently been beaten)



Traditionally held on the evening of the early May Bank Holiday Monday (but very recently on the Saturday eve) at the Millfield Track, this Classic night of predominantly Middle-distance racing was one that many junior Harriers (aged 13 and upwards) who had been training with the Club for a season or two were encouraged to enter. Each and every race was seeded based on previous or predicted times with a pace-maker assigned to take the runners through to the three-quarters point of the race at pb pace for that group.


Some years half to two-thirds of junior competitors achieved a pb and with it the early season confidence to take into their training for the rest of the season. It has always been a great two-hour evening of middle distance running and usually, but not always, weather conditions have been good. The Harriers have also provided the pace-makers from time to time. Off the back of this event the Club's  Middle distance runners would then go into the County Championships with renewed endeavour.


u17 Dylan Dukes runs a (then) 1500m pb in 4.28.86 at the 2016 BMC Meeting at Millfield (photo by Al)

aaaDylanDukes BMC2016

Below: Luke Prior runs a (then) 1500m pb at the same BMC meeting in 2016 in 4.04.35 (photo by Al)



You can take a look at the BMC website here and even browse back copies of the BMC News magazine, here.


On Friday (15th May) EA updated its guidance on this. Group training is still not allowed. Whilst you might see groups of cyclists or even runners out and about that’s not permitted unless they are part of the same household. See link here for the latest EA Guidance. When further Guidance is issued by England Athletics, which no doubt will follow on further changes from the UK Govt, we will report it here on the Harrier website.


It’s all very tempting to think that we can go back to training on areas adjacent to, or at, Sports Centres or Schools that we’ve hired in the past. Obviously, these are still out of bounds until we, as a Club, have written permission to recommence hiring and using them. Until then please only use public open space. Schools and Sports Centres will no doubt be reticent to allow outside use until it can be demonstrated that the risks of Covid-19 spreading further have been fully evaluated and taken on board. As a Club we will undoubtedly be asked to carry out our own Risk Assessments over and above any that the Institution to whom the facility belongs has undertaken. When we are able to comply with any undertakings and again able to run coached group training sessions we will report it on the Club website and by email to all Members.


ATHLETICS WEEKLY - An immunology expert view on racing’s return - click here



Many of you will have watched the video of Dave Wottle’s astounding 800m win at the 1972 Munich Olympics – see video link embedded in previous report here. This week we look at a different way of winning with a couple of back-to-back 800m performances by Tom McKean in 1990.

Go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4QebWBKOcM


David Rudisha won Olympic Gold at London 2012 in much the same way.


Have a great week training!

Photos or news for the Harrier website to Paul at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Earlier web articles you may have missed:

Tribute to Brian Beale

Glastonbury Road Run & How Fit are you Really?

Memories of the London Marathon – where the Harriers started from

This time last year (May 2019)

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