Aaron Scott, Matt Bowser, Ian Kimpton, Keith Iley. What do all of these names have in common? They all call the city of Lincoln, home. Running fast times is in the DNA of these athletes, but what role has the cathedral city played in their development? In this article, we take an in-depth look at the historic city and how it has aided the lives of so many endurance athletes.
Ask anyone about Lincoln and they will probably reply with ‘where’s that?’ But ask anyone who knows about sport and they will more than likely make a reference to Yarborough athletics track. Based upon a design of Iffley Road, Oxford, the Ermine-based oval has been home to a plethora of famous athletes over the years. Locals still speak in hushed voices at the 1:55 two lap attempt R.Wilson made in the 21st Century at a local Lincs League. Furthermore, pictures in the club hut provide an insight into the glory days of Bowser, Gregory, Bradbury and Strangeway cruising around topless 49’s in the midst of the warmest summer on record in ’03.
More recently, a new breed of athletes have started to call the salubrious setting of Lincoln, home. Straw, Scott, Straw, Robinson, Wilson, Page, Allison and Wilkinson have joined forces with what remains of the Lincoln glory days (Bowser) to set about re-writing the city’s history. Open training sessions have proven a favourite with locals, who often bring their pet animals, to view the well-sculptured young men roll around the cycle track which snakes the tartan track.
And a sign of a return to city’s sporting glory days of Yeo and Battersby, was signalled in the early autumn. Away day trips to Manchester, Birmingham and Sheffield – venues once seen as hostile settings to the soft yellowbellies – yielded positive performances with two victories and a second place finish in the Northern Road, XC and National Relay Championships respectively. The fans returned home happy and season ticket sales soared.
But how has the city helped to support these boys rise to the top?
Spend any real length of time in the city and you will realise just how much of an oasis it is for distance running. From laps around the Bailgate, to wind assisted efforts down the numerous cycle paths which spread out into the Lincolnshire plains. Lincoln has it all. Trails and hills provide suitable alternatives to road and track running – the city caters for every need. There is even a busy high street where one can provide meet and greet opportunities to the city’s raucous distance running fans.
The metropolitan city also provides a wide range of nutritional delights for its athletes. Most of LTC, the clubs premiere distance set-up, can often be seen rehydrating and refuelling in one of the city’s many bars, cafes and restaurants. It has been suggested a sign of Lincoln’s rise to the top as a training venue will be seen in 2018 with many of Europe’s top athletes favouring the city as a training camp over more established places such as Vilamoura, Font Romeu, Teddington and Malia. And who knows, maybe, just maybe, 2019 may see the Diamond League return to England’s eastern county. Watch this space.