Club night’s first visit to the depths of Cornwall is to the Surfing paradise of Newquay

The two Cornish track and field clubs of Newquay AC and Par AC agreed to cement a long-standing friendly association in 1984 when a joint club was formed, which allowed them to compete at a higher level. Prior to the amalgamation, the two clubs regularly competed against each other in local competitions, held joint “club” championships and were part of an annual competition against German side LG Rheinfront, which alternated between the two countries.

The “home” track at Par, near St Austell on the south Cornish coast, was upgraded from cinder to an all-weather six-lane, eight-lane straight facility with floodlights in 2001, with by a small clubhouse with changing and cafeteria. The grass facilities at Newquay Tretherras school – the home of the Newquay club – are still providing a useful training venue for athletes near the north coast.

Several past internationals include Kevin Toher, one of a very few juniors to compete in three consecutive editions of the World Cross Country Championships and who also competed for GB at steeplechase. Sarah Salmon was another of the club’s junior internationals in the same era and went on to represent Australia in the World Cross, while Neil Caddy made it to the World Cross as a junior in 1994 and went on to senior international level at 1500m.

Background

The amount of success the club has had is all the more remarkable given that the membership is rarely above the low hundreds and the athletes face thousands of miles travelling to competitions each year. After making an impact in the Southern Men’s League over recent years and becoming overall league champions in 2013, the team was invited to take part in the British Athletics League play- off match, which they won with a record points score. Getting a team into the BAL had been the brain-child of former chairman and coach Larry Garnham, together with team manager Clive Marsh.

Current international Jemma Simpson has represented GB at major championships, including the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She was one of a quartet coached by Chris Wooldridge that all won gold medals at the English Schools Championships. Dani Barnes went on to win a gold with the GB junior team at the European Cross.

The club has forged links with the local council and school sports networks, setting up one of the largest junior schools cross- country series in the country. Now in its 16th year, the administration has been taken over by the Mid-Cornwall Sports Partnership and the club is still providing support.

With strong road running clubs at Newquay and more recently at St Austell, Newquay & Par made a concious decision to keep to its track and field roots together with cross country and have forged links with these two clubs. As well as the BAL, the club competes in both Southern Men’s League and Southern Women’s, the South West Athletics League, Westward Winter League and all area and regional championships and it took part in the national cross- country relays for the first time last winter. The club host four track and field competitions through the summer ranging from the 5-star pentathlons, aimed at the younger athletes, through to the acclaimed Last Ditch Throws on the third weekend in September.

Sessions

Training evenings take place at both Par Track and Newquay Tretherras School over the summer months on Tuesday and Thursday with additional training on Sunday and Monday for specialist groups. Over the winter, the Thursday session at Par moves indoors to the St Austell Table Tennis Centre and the Newquay Treviglas School. The club accepts youngsters from the age of eight years, providing a multi-skills training programme before they start moving into more specialist coaching groups.

The club takes advantage of “Flying Coaches” through the England Athletics Midlands and South West programme to expand the knowledge of both coaches and athletes.

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