Track and Field History

The history of the track and field section of the club is one very much of evolution thanks too many influences.

Track and Field accommodates all ages and was originally the branch which nurtured and guided the younger members of our Poole Runners.

The earliest evidence in the junior and youth area can be traced back to the mid 80’s when senior members within the club started a Saturday session at St Michael’s School Pamphill for their own children in readiness for the Minithons in Poole Park. Keith Long with his involvement in the Minithons was the initial driver of the training. Children from this “seed” are still to be found involved in our club today as adults.

From that point forward this activity has largely through “Ruperts Bears” as the following Fairy Tale describes.

A FAIRYTALE? A brief history of Ruperts “Bears”.

Once upon a time, Poole Runners junior section did not exist. It was created in July 1995 after one of the club’s youngest members, who we could call Rupert, at the age of 23 and back from university, realised that the club was getting older. He was one of the few people under the age of forty and if things carried on like this, there would soon be no club left.

So he started taking a few of these older peoples’ children for a run – games, relays, sprints, longer runs and so on while the mums and dads were doing their session. These sessions were on a public recreation ground on a Tuesday evening and hurdling dogs and dodging stray footballs were the norm. On the very first week 6 children turned up. Among them were some who are now seniors.

Things remained the same for about a year. Sessions were moved to a Saturday morning to help those who worked on Tuesdays and sometimes there were a dozen and sometimes there were none but those who turned up were getting fitter, faster and were having fun. Back at school, they were telling their friends what fun they were having. They were running in fun runs, and sometimes they were even winning prizes and sometimes they weren’t.

Then in 1996 one of the mum’s, who we could call Mrs Lewis, put an announcement in her daughter’s school newsletter about the club and next Saturday there were dozens of kids there. Suddenly the club was bigger. Parents came along to watch and help and kids started to race amongst themselves.

The children still took part in fun runs, but sometimes they took part in the cross country leagues, and they even entered a few track meetings in the summer and sportshall matches in the winter.

The only problem was that the children were still running on the Recreation ground and when it rained, they got wet. In fact, they usually got wet.

So, a mum, who we may call Mrs Lewis again, went to her son’s school and asked if they could use their facilities, like their gym. The school, which was run by a very nice man who we are going to call Mr Argles, said yes and even said it wouldn’t cost very much. Suddenly, the weather would be no handicap and all year training could take place. Not surprisingly, the numbers who attended in the winter shot up and the club soon started to do well. It entered the local sportshall league in the winter and in the first year there were only 5 under 13 boys in the squad and 7 under 13 girls in the squad but they did OK and they enjoyed it. The club’s youngsters started doing the local cross country league and started doing quite well. In 1998 they even entered the local South West Athletics League and in the first summer came eighth in Division Two, which wasn’t bad out of fourteen.

By now, the club was quite well known in its area and all the boys and girls flocked to it for miles around. Even the best runners and athletes who previously had gone to other nice clubs, decided they would rather go to Poole Runners than the other places. Schools started noticing and told their best athletes to go there and try it. Maybe they might like it, although of course maybe they might not. In fact, even children who had been going to the other clubs in the area started  going to Poole Runners and the numbers kept growing and growing and growing.

By the year 2000, the club was huge and the nice young man who had started the club, (now himself starting to get older and greyer) needed some help. So a sub-committee was formed for the juniors.

A nice mum, who we shall call Mrs Cheney, agreed to do all the memberships and money and things. Another nice mum who could be Mrs Turner would talk to the schools about the club and to the children who liked running about Poole Runners. She became the Schools Liaison Officer, and she was very nice, although she often pretended to be a teacher. Many of the parents who had previously helped agreed to all sit around a table once every two months and talk about things. Of course, the nice parents who had helped teach everyone to run and throw and jump and run continued to teach everyone to do these nice things. They too would sit around a table every now and then and talk. These meetings have produced future plans, Child Care Policies, Codes of Conduct and all sorts of nights out and social “do’s”.

Since then, the Juniors has continued to grow. There are now well over 100 junior members and lots of adults are involved.  The juniors committee now has a chairman, secretary, treasurer, head coach, officials secretary, team managers, and many other roles that are needed to keep the juniors section successful.  But we still keep the ethos of enjoying the athletics, being friendly, and doing the best that you can.

Teams compete successfully in all sorts of events throughout the year, on the track or cross-country or road-running or indoors or indeed any type of athletics event. Some children have been winners at national level either individually or as part of a team, but more importantly all have the encouragement and opportunity to reach their own potential. 

At the conclusion of the year, we have an annual presentation evening, where all our athletes are recognised for what they have done. Whilst we have many talented people who have competed at national level, and some teams or individuals who have won against competition from across the country, we strongly believe that every person is a member of the team and should be given the opportunity to do as well as they can at whatever they choose to do.

Every single junior member who has competed for the club at any event during the year will be congratulated at this evening, as well as special awards for, amongst others, most promising newcomer (male and female). The Young Poole Runner Of The Year award is presented to the club member that the coaches agree has set the best example of what the club stands for, based on such attributes as sportsmanship, team spirit, effort, and so on. We also have a very special award, the Alex Buckley Trophy presented to the athlete who has shown significant determination and effort and the right spirit without necessarily achieving. the best perfomances.

The years have passed and particularly in the 2000’s Youth and Adult participation has greatly increased and this has given added a new dimension to our Athletics base.

With the retirement of Rupert to “grow” a family we are very happy to have had Helen Dyke join our Middle Distance coaching team, she brings with her a new source of knowledge and experience. This is taking the next step in developing middle distance running within Poole Runners, which will result in a natural progression between age groups and abilities.

The other aspects of Track and Field are also moving along nicely with more people completing courses in coaching through England Athletics. The next years look promising in sprinting, throws and jump. We are happy to say that with the length of time the this section of the club has been active in Poole Runners, means we are now seeing a natural progression of those who were previously within the under 18’s coming through into the coaching ranks. This in itself provides these coaches with knowledge that is not taught but learnt through experience.

We look forward to the future knowing that we have knowledge, experience and enthusiasm for this sport.