Heat makes for challenging conditions at Podebrady Race Walks

Spring in the beautiful spa town of Podebrady made an appearance for the European Athletics Race Walking permit meeting on Saturday 7 April resulting in unexpectedly warm weather conditions for the athletes to contend with (early to mid 20 degrees C). A team of five athletes covering age groups U18, U20 and U23 competed, accommpanied by Team Coach Verity Snook.

First up was Ana Garcia (Club: Sheffield & Dearne AC, Coach: Mark Wall) in the Under 18 women's 5km. Ana started the race sensibly, not being drawn into an early pace battle. She went through the first km in 4.48, dropping slightly for her second km with 4.54, maintaining this pace leading a small group with the German Mathilde Frenzl and Ireland’s Emily McHugh. Right at the final lap Mathilde pushed past at 4km, increasing the pace in the final km (24.11). Ana responded by increasing her pace, resulting in a strong personal best performance of 24.20, and finishing in second position, safely inside the UKA U18 European Youth qualification time.

As temperatures rose, so did the atmosphere as the Junior (U20) women's 10km took to the course. Debutant Abigail Jennings (Club: Aldershot, Farnham & District AC, Coach: Verity Snook) sensibly watched the harsh early race spread the racers, she started conservatively with a first km in 5.03 enjoying a battle with France’s Sarah Ali and Italian Martina Casiraghi (who paid for fast early pace). All three settled into a realistic pace up to 5km where Abi achieved a personal best of 26.02. This didn’t unsettle her concentration, but she wasn’t able to maintain this pace for the 2nd half although still finished in a huge PB 53.30 (1 minute under PB) in 15th place. Ireland's Orla O’Connor won in a personal best time of 49.23 - closely followed by Kazakhstan’s Yekaterina Shlykova in a National Record (50.15) and German Julia Richter (50.35).

Twenty minutes into the women's race, the Junior (U20) men took to the 10km course. Temperatures continued to rise, with little breeze or leaf coverage to provide relief for these young athletes. Tom Partington (Club: Manx AC, Coach: Steve Partington) and Chris Snook (Club: Aldershot, Farnham & District AC, Coach: Verity Snook), racing side by side but in a pack of 6-7 athletes, controlled their early pace. Tom was settled into even kilometre splits, 4.21 passing halfway ahead of Chris in 21.53; Tom worked hard, looked confident and moved out of the pack in a sub 44 minute pace, unfortunately picking up a couple of red cards. Responding, he dropped his pace but picked up another red card around 7km resulting in a 1-minute penalty in the pit lane. Tom appeared to recover slightly from this imposed rest finishing strong and placing 18th in 46.28. Chris was less consistent in his pacing; as instructed he started in a controlled early pace, increasing significantly on lap 2 but was unable to sustain the pace although hetried to rally again. This pace was sub 44, and at 5km 22.03 just slipping slightly. Chris did not look comfortable and appeared to be suffering from the increased heat, feeling unwell, and with the slowing pace did not finish (DNF). The medallists were head and shoulders above the rest of the field, all under 43 minutes led by Greek Tzatzimakis Yeoryios in a PB 41.45, Frenchman David Kuster (42.07) and Polish athlete Lukasz Niedzialek (42.14).

The last race of the day was the men's 20km and had Under 23s Cameron Corbishley (Club: Medway & Maidstone, Coach: Andi Drake) and Guy Thomas (Wales) competing. Both started well, controlled their early pace, positioned well in a pack, looked comfortable and in command. Cam settled into a good consistent pacing but at 7km started to look unsettled - technique was holding but pace began to drop. At 10km Cam appeared troubled by the heat, looking quite unwell. He continued working hard, tried to pull back but at 13km was unable to sustain the increased pace resulting in steadily dropping a few seconds each km. Despite this, his technique remained strong, finishing in a disappointing 33rd in a below par 92.47. Conversely, Guy looked strong, racing isolated and using the clock for focus which produced very consistent km splits. Unfortunately, around 13km, he became the attention of the judges - and unable to respond with heat and fatigue impacting most racers was given the red paddle at 16km. The leaders also struggled with pace, all producing below-par performances Germany’s Christopher Link winning in 81.55, 2nd Nava Horacio of Mexico second and team mate Ortiz Ricardo thrd with a time of 82.28.

No home nation athletes contested the women's 20km as they were at the Commonwealth Games.

Click here for full results including all split times