By Scott Mills
With the track season and some huge events fast approaching, training sessions and fine-tuning road races have been coming thick and fast for the Weir Archer Academy, as Jenny Archer MBE prepares the athletes for the 2018 season.
Replacing the Adidas Silverstone Half-Marathon, the Vitality Big Half was the new race in which the Wolfpack would turn their attention to in order to get ready for the London Marathon, Commonwealth Games and various track meets.
Starting on London’s iconic Tower Bridge and finishing in Greenwich, there was doubt whether the event would take place after heavy snow and ice had hit the UK.
However, conditions had improved massively by the time race day rolled around and the academy’s athletes battled it out in the cold and wet conditions, in order to get a time that would show where they were in their training.
With Switzerland’s Marcel Hug taking the race’s first crown, the Academy’s David Weir and club captain JohnBoy Smith placed both second and third respectively to complete the podium.
Whilst Weir (52:17) and Smith (52: 19) will both be frustrated by their second and third placed finishes, they competed well in extremely tough conditions and coach Archer was pleased with how the Brits are looking.
“I’m very proud and pleased to see two of my athletes, David [Weir] and JohnBoy [Smith], from the Academy on the podium at the Vitality Big Half-Marathon,” Archer explained.
“It’s a great start to the season and a great chance to see where we are roughly in terms of our winter training as some of our target races approach us.
“It was a great effort by them both and it is now onwards and upwards from here, so a huge well done to everyone who competed from the team.”
Not only preparing for the Commonwealth Games, Smith is also targeting the London Marathon like his team-mate Weir.
Recently before the Big Half, the Brit was pipped to the Seville Marathon crown by just half a second as Spaniard Jordi Madera took the win despite Smith bagging a new personal best (1:29.58).
Some of the academy’s junior athletes were also put through their paces by senior athlete Mo Jomni during a recent warm weather training camp in Spain.
Morgan Woods, Olivia Gallagher, James Freeman, Jamie Edwards, Eden Rainbow-Cooper and Matt Cooper all trained hard in the Spanish sunshine with many of our junior athletes preparing for the CP Games in Barcelona.
Between the Toyko Marathon and the Big Half, it was also great to see a close friend of the academy, Simon Lawson at the WA fitness and athletics centre training hard alongside the team and giving the athletes some great advice to take forward in their training.
The hard-working Stuart Bloor was also back in the chair as he won the Southport 10,000m road race, as he looks to beat his personal best in Portugal during the Lisbon Half.
With the Commonwealth Games, London Marathon and the new track season all on the horizon, Archer plans to ramps up the intensity of the training sessions which includes a shift of focus to the 2018 Lisbon Half-Marathon followed by a tough training camp in the South of Portugal.
If training and race results so far this year are anything to go by, it could potentially be another great year for the club.