Wells City Harriers


aaaaElise April 23

Wells City Harriers have been able to help a number of its athletes excel in various athletic disciplines – 10 have now competed for TeamGB since 1999.(*) A small number have been able to gain athletic scholarships to train in the States – usually on 4 year programmes with their College fees & accommodation all paid, and combining studies with structured training.

There are currently three of the Harriers on athletic scholarships over there and this week’s web posting reports on early season performances as they each strive to gain more TeamGB vests at forthcoming Championships this summer season. U23s Elise & Ollie Thorner are now into their 4th year in the States, whilst Harry Barton is part-way through his 1st year there. All are at different US Universities Elise (above) at New Mexico; Ollie at Washington & Harry at Youngstown, Ohio.

Meanwhile, this coming weekend is the annual Somerset County Athletic Championships and over 20 Harriers from age 9 to senior level will be competing in a variety of events. Who knows if one or two of these will go on to be TeamGB athletes? 9 year old Alfie Beck will be giving it his best shot after recently winning the Somerset Junior Schools Years 3&4 cross country race!


This report also includes a posting on forthcoming road and off-road/fell races that senior members might wish to consider.



Many members will know that the sport of athletics in the USA is primarily College-based, rather than Club-based, and that the Colleges recruit athletes from all over the world in order to develop strong teams to compete against one another. The College coaches operate with a budget of scholarships and scan world rankings for potential students to sign up and I recall receiving a number of letters in the past where the Coaches were looking to make contact to potential recruits from the Harrier membership.

Al Thorner reports:

"This last month, Wells City Harriers twins Ollie and Elise Thorner both opened up their outdoor track and field season in the US, competing at events only 20 mins apart in California over the Easter weekend.

In unseasonably cold weather in mid-April with temperatures similar to the UK at around 12 degrees, Ollie (below) competed in his first Decathlon since the NCAA finals last June, at the Mt Sac Invitational. A solid first four events saw Ollie close out the day with an impressive 400m personal best in 48.99 seconds and finish in third place with a strong day 2 to follow.

A solid performance in the 100m hurdles kicked off the final day of the Decathlon but the onset of wet weather for the discus made for a slippery throwing circle and a mark of 38m some 5m off of his best. More disappointment was to follow with wet conditions and a difficult cross wind in the Pole Vault where Ollie didn't manage to clear his opening height of 4m 60 cm.

However, he bounced back with a 53 meter Javelin only a meter off of his best. Ollie's best event by far was the final event where he led from gun to tape in the 1500m taking 7 seconds off of his PB running 4 mins 18 seconds to win by 13 seconds from his nearest rival and still finish 7th in the Decathlon overall despite only scoring in 9 events.




Meanwhile Elise lined up for her first 3000m steeplechase of the season at the Brian Clay invitational in Azusa, California in the pouring rain. The event which scores high world ranking points had over 140 athletes in the steeplechase alone with Elise lining up in the fastest seeded heat out of seven races.

Ignoring the early pace set by last year's National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) final runner up, she clawed back a 30 meter deficit with 600m remaining finishing strongly to win the race by 5 seconds in a national (current UK) lead ranking time of 9 mins 39 seconds improving on her own meet and stadium record set in 2022. Both will be in action in the coming weeks as they continue their preparations to attempt to qualify again for the collegiate NCAA Track & Field finals in Austin, Texas in mid-June"

Since the report by Al, Ollie has been lowering his pbs further when competing on 29th April at the Fresno State Invitational Meet – achieving pbs in 2 of the events he contested: 13.12m in the Shot Put; 4.11 in the 1500m; and also achieve a 4.75m in the Pole vault at the same meet.


Also competing well early season is U20 Harry Barton - currently part-way through his first year in the States at Youngstown, Ohio. His primary athletic event has been 110H and he was selected to compete for Team Gb as an u18 at that event.

This winter Harry had a useful indoor season and has competed 4 times this early outdoor season – all at 400H. In the past 5 weeks he’s managed to lower his 400H times down: 54.50; 53.59; 52.65; to a new pb of 51.58 this past weekend (7th May). That time sees him 2nd on the UK rankings so far this early season.


One of the lovely things about these three Team GB athletes is that they all started out at our Harrier Monday sessions and have subsequently helped out with the Monday juniors as older athletes. We hope to see them trackside again in late June/early July when they're back in Somerset.



(*) The Potted history of the Club lists out our TeamGB athletes - link here



Alfie Beck wins inter-area XC

Matt reports:

“Alfie backed up a second place in the Mendip Junior XC League with a strong run at the inter-areas race, taking the lead after the first ‘small’ lap and creating a big lead over the second ‘large’ lap and gave a really fast sprint finish! He also led the way for the Mendip area team coming first overall too!

There were a number of other Monday night Harriers also competing and running well - great running.



Looking ahead

Good luck to all those competing next weekend at the Somerset County Track & Field Championships at Yeovil. I know of at least 20 members who will be taking part with over a dozen from our Monday junior sessions including a number for whom this will be their first taste of Championship racing….

& there are a number of senior Harriers competing at the Runaway Train multi-terrain race from Shepton Market Place on Sunday – the course uses the old Somerset & Dorset railway line heading north through Windsor Tunnel. The race is full.

Somerset Series races link here – next race the Town Tree Trail 10k MT (one of my favourites) on 17th May and then on 4th June the Crewkerne 10k Road Race with some wicked little hills!

Fell races: Plan ahead & look out for the following great challenges in magnificent countryside: Sun 11th June Oke Croak; Sat 1st July Charmouth Challenge; Sat & Sun 8th & 9th July Brecon Fans races; South of England Fell Running Championships on the Isle of Wight – 3 races in 2 days – Sat & Sun 9th & 10th Sept. More details as ever from me.


See the Team website tab for details of other races/Championships, incuding the prospectus link for thevarious South of England Track Championships



News Updates for the website?

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