I have been fortunate to visit the Birmingham Indoor GP for over a decade. I first began coming to the meets in Birmingham as the guest of Ian Stewart, who was the meet director of all meets British. I had asked him at the Pre one year, what makes British meets special? Now, after having witnessed Ian Stewart’s era and now, Spencer Barden managing the fields at the events, I believe the Birmingham Indoor has athletics magic!
1. The Arena Birmingham track. A highly banked, MONDO 200m track is fast and furious. The 60 meter and 60 meter hurdles are run down the center of the field on a flat, well placed surface. Runways for jumps are well done and no matter where one is seating, there is not a bad seat in the house. I watched the PV, LJ and could stay up with the running events.
2. Great announcing! From Goegg Wightman and Katharine Merry, British fans are quite lucky. At the British Champs, Goeff and Katharine were witty, informative and kept the fans up to date. At the Indoor GP, Katharine was on the track, updating us on events. They do their homework and the fans love them. The management respects the fans and providing them with a good program of informationa is key to keeping them involved.
3. Building the excitement. All things in athletics go back to the local clubs. In the Indoor GP, the meet begins with local club relays under 13, under 16, and the crowds love it. Heats of sprints and hurdles get fans excited. Featuring field events with British stars, in all events is key. And there is a time, when in the last 90 minutes, one event after another are tremendous, until the final events. This is the Stewart rule, always, ALWAYS, finis the meet on a high note with big races with big Brits. This year, a new NR in British 1500/Mile was preceeded by WR of Men’s 1,500m!
4. Building the fields. Spencer Barden spent years working with Ian Stewart, and now, has the amazing job of managing fields at all meets British plus London Marathon. Spencer knows that he has to bring in top Brits, a top American, top World leaders and he does it! The athletes in the men’s 1,500m, for example, Yomif Kejelcha and Samuel Tefera, are at the top of their game. They battled to a WR, breaking the WR that was 21 years old! With Laura Muir, one of the most popular athletes in UK. Laura Muir broke the 1,500m and Mile WR, showing that she is more than ready for European Indoors. In past, the last event was reserved for Mo Farah. The crowd of 7,500 loved it! Spencer Barden put the finest sprint field of the year together in men and only missed Swoboda in 60 meters (who was at Polish Champs). Mr. Barden loves his job, and like his predecessor, knows the enormous importance of building fields to showcase the sport make the meets succeses or failures.
5. Media support. British Athletics knows that they must sell the events to the media. Their team is fantastic. From social media to the best quote pages in the business, the five members of British Athletics media keep peeps like moi informed, and then we can write for hours about how bitchin the meet really is. Creating heroes is what the media team is all about. The stories, the press events, all build the athletes Look for Reece Prescod to shock a few in 2019, a brilliant sprinter with a fantastic sense of humor.
The @runblogrun tour of the IAAF World Indoor Tour, aka Le Tour de Larry, is sponsored by USATF and Nike, reminding you that the 2019 Toyota USATF Indoor Championships are February 22, 23, and 24 at the Ocean Breeze AC, on Staten Island. To purchase tickets, please use this link:
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