Ryston Runners’ Sportshall youngsters in Norwich.

ATHLETICS: The Norfolk Sportshall League returned on Saturday, following a 19-month break due to Covid. 

The match was at the UEA Sportspark, Norwich, and saw 15 Ryston Runners juniors taking part. 

Aidan Howard, Daniel Gibson-Hill and Rhys Howard made up the u11 boys team and all performed well. Howard won both the two-lap hurdles and the vertical jump, the latter with a personal best of 46cm. 

They joined forces with a member of West Norfolk AC to enter the obstacle relay. 

Ethan Ward was the sole competitor for the u13 boys, putting in strong performances in each event to finish third in the six-lap and second in the shot with a PB of 4.9m. He also combined with a West Norfolk athlete and two from Great Yarmouth AC to create a formidable relay team, which won the 4×2-lap relay.

The u11 girls team of Leah Beagles, Casey Ward, Poppy Hollingsworth, Jessica Lawrence and Dione Britton competed in both the obstacle relay and the 4×1-lap relay, finishing third in both.

Charley Wheatley, Abigail Bransgove, Mia Hollingsworth and Sarah Wright formed a strong u13 team. Bransgove won the six-lap race, came second in the standing long jump and third in the standing triple jump. She also took second place in the eight-lap Paarlauf, teamed with Wheatley. Wheatley was second in the speed bounce and third in the shot. The four girls combined to take third place in the 4×2-lap relay.

Overall, the u11 girls finished third, the u13 girls fourth and the two u15 girls, who compete as individuals, Clarice Cavill and Ruby Smith, were seventh and 10th respectively..

The irrepressible Howard boys were back in action the next day at the Cross Country Grand Prix Series in Shouldham Warren, with Rhys ninth in an u9B event won by Ryston’s Maximus Hawkins, and Aidan leading home a Ryston 1-2-3 in the u11B, with Thomas Simmonds and Leo Wood completing the podium party. 

The feat was repeated in two of the masters categories, with Andrew Simmonds leading home John Hopgood and Daniel Guppy in the M40s and Nicky Roger, Debbie James and Pauline Drewery doing it in the W50s.

There were medal doubles too for outright event winner Callum Stanforth and Robert Simmonds third senior man; Maureen Wolfe first and Pauline Sparrow third W60; and Nic Bensley and Martin Sheldrick second and third M50. 

Archie Rowe and Ethan Ward had already achieved a 1-2 in the junior races. Jessica Lawrence, third u11G, and Owen Hopgood, second u17M, also went home with category medals, as did Owen Jary, first M45, Tony Savage, second M60, Emma Wood, second W35, Emma Thompson, third W40, Elaine Lumley, first W45, and Wendy Fisher, third W55.

Also off-road, Lesley Robins was the second woman and Rob Skillings 15th overall in the Positive Steps Bury to Clare event.

On the roads, Nigel Kenny sought some cross-Channel action and was rewarded with 3:37:37 in the Paris Marathon. Liz Blakie and youngest daughter Becky ran in the Mizuno Amsterdam Half Marathon with Liz (W60) finishing a mere 18 minutes, but 1,040 places behind Becky in 2:32:48.

The biggest road turnout was in Cambridge where almost a dozen Ryston Runners were in a near 10,000 half marathon field. First back was Ben Keele, 1:18:57, with Danny Smith, 1:20:18, and Matthew Thrower, 1:20:25, in close order behind him. 

Jay Belham also dipped under the 90-minute mark with 1:28:34. 

First of the Ryston women was Kirsty Butters in 1:39:57, nipping in ahead of Jack Schmollmann, 1:42:38. Julie Williamson clocked 1:45:04, Justin Walker 1:44:5, Rhiannon Jones 1:52:27, Stuart Durham 1:52:29 and Julia Norman, 2:00:38.