Paddock Wood Startrack 2021

Yes, Startrack is back. From Monday 2nd to Friday 6th August this year the track at Putlands will be alive with the sounds of many children (hopefully) laughing with joy at being able to have a go at all the events (except Pole Vault perhaps – and the Marathon!) that will be held at the Olympic Games in Japan this summer.

We have only just begun to get our training back into shape and League matches started after a break of about 14 months which has been a bad time for all of us in athletics but we felt that STARTRACK should be part of the resurgence of our sport.

There is an application form in the Stopwatch Times to print off and we have kept the prices to those of 2019. We could not justify any rise in the price even though we have not fully finished costing the event. Initially, we are trying to keep numbers of attendees to about 60 until we are sure of the number of coaches and helpers we will have available to make this week a success.

As usual, there are a lot of background things to organise apart from the coaches and helpers and we will be working hard to make it go well and be as successful as it has been over the past 30 years. None of us are getting any younger and hopefully we will have got rid of all restrictions due to the Covid crisis by August 2nd.

All applications will receive a letter from me explaining in detail all the procedures and any restrictions there may be by then, as well as what we expect from the children attending (mainly enthusiasm) as well as what they need to bring. Also, we will have to work with Putlands Leisure Centre for toilets so there is liaison to be arranged with them.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Mike Duffin

Startrack Organiser

Paddock Wood STARTRACK

What is STARTRACK? Basically, it is a week of athletics for children where they can learn about most of the events involved in athletics, or try to become better athletes. Paddock Wood Athletic Club has been holding Startrack weeks for around 30 years and is the longest running scheme in the country.

Startrack is aimed at children aged ideally from 11 to 16, but we do take those aged at least 6 years upwards. 6 years is the lowest age we accept (they MUST be 6 on the day they start) and for whom we have special events using different and softer athletics equipment with the events the younger ones doing being tailored to their needs, ability and competence. Coaching is done by our own England Athletics-trained coaches, assisted by teenagers specially selected from our club members. All our staff are background checked.

During the week we try to get the children to become proficient, or better, at Sprinting up to 400metres (including Hurdles and Relays), Middle Distance (800 to 1500metres), Throwing (Javelin, Discus, Shot Put and Hammer), Jumping (Long Jump, Triple Jump and High Jump) and Race Walking. We aim to coach at least three events each day, culminating with a competition at the end of the week with each child attempting a Run/Race Walk, Jump and Throw of their choice. Each child receives a Startrack T-Shirt at the beginning of their time with us and a Goodie Bag on departure. There are trophies and medals to be won.

We are proud to have played host to over 4000 children over this time from many different backgrounds and nations. We have found some remarkable athletes in that time including one young lad who went on to become a GB Junior International Javelin thrower, many who reached the English Schools Athletics Championships and many others who have become Kent County and Kent Schools Athletics Champions.

Startrack is a very good introduction to athletics for children, even though they may get some experience of it at school. Current schools’ timetables have to contend with many different sports and there is very little time to spare on the timetable for athletics, so it usually takes place just before and just after School Sports Day leaving very little chance to spot the stars of the future. This is where an athletics club comes into its own by offering more individual and specialised coaching outside school hours with the coaches helping to hone the athletes’ skills.

Startrack is very popular and everyone gets a chance to have a go at everything we can offer – down to the giant Obstacle Relay on the final afternoon -sometimes ending up in a water fight, so be prepared! Wellies and wetsuits may be advisable for the Friday afternoon!

Here in Paddock Wood many parents are not allowed to book their Summer Holidays until the Startrack dates are known so we aim to get the Gates announced as soon as we can.

Originally, Startrack was sponsored by CICA, the children’s division of Clarkes Shoes. This continued for a number of years and Norwich Union Insurance took up the reins and they were bought by Commercial and General Insurance who retitled to Commercial and General Union Insurance to become CGU. Next came yet another Insurance company who took up the Sponsorship – Aviva – who also became major sponsors of UK Athletics Each sponsor had own branding and ideas and in 2017 Aviva pulled out. Since then Startrack has had no sponsor but has been supported by UK Athletics who oversee the scheme for admin purposes only. We live in hope that a sponsor may want to support Junior Athletics via Startrack. Who knows what the future will bring?

Let’s see if we can find another World Champion locally.

Mike Duffin

Startrack Organiser

Previous year’s results and photos

Please use the links below to view the results and photos from Paddock Wood Startrack.


Comments are closed.