© Copyright – 2013 – Athletics Illustrated

As part of the grand opening of their brand new state-of-the-art Alumni Stadium, Guelph, Ontario’s Speed River Track and Field Club will host a unique, high-performance track meet on May 28th, called the Speed River Inferno. The event will be unusually fast, not just in regards to the pace that the athletes will be burning up the track with, but also in the length-of-time that the entire meet will take to showcase the elite talent that they are expecting to host. The Inferno meet will be just 60-to-90 minutes in length.

For potential spectators and athletes who have previously endured track meets that have persisted for hours on end with laborious delays between events, the Speed River Inferno track meet promises to have action happening throughout the event, enabling the organizers to pack everything into short and sweet 90-minute time frame. “We are going to give our fans the chance to come to a great track meet that will last 60-90 minutes and will have something going on all the time to keep them entertained.  We have a tremendous track and field community here in Guelph,” says meet director Chris Moulton. “Fans are still learning the sport so we view the Inferno as an important step towards developing a fan base for high-end entertaining track and field in this community, he added.”

Truncated and exciting sport entertainment is the new wave for delivering appealing, action-packed events. The boring-as-watching-paint-dry game of cricket – to the uninitiated – has exploded in popularity throughout the world, after the governing body reconfigured the game in a way that makes a palatable affair out of going to the pitch. The new version is called Twenty20 or T20 Cricket.

Invented in 2003, the new game’s length matches that of other mainstream sports such as football, soccer, basketball and hockey. It is an entirely new game, yet an enhancement of the one day game that makes it fast and furious and provides instant gratification; welcome to the new world of sport entertainment.

The game is played on a typical standardised Cricket pitch with traditional one-day rules, with exceptions. In amongst traditional rules that have been tweaked, the teams now have just two 80 minutes innings to get through their 20 overs (per inning). Fifteen minutes is allotted between innings. Also, there are run penalties for each over that is not bowled in the allocated time. A batsman has 90 seconds after the fall of a wicket to get to the crease. This has sped the game up substantially and subsequently filled stadiums like never before.

Rugby sevens, invented in 1885 in England, is a short and fast form of Rugby that didn’t receive inclusion into the Commonwealth Games until the 1998 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Games. Additionally, the Olympics didn’t vote the sport into the movement until 2009 for its inclusion in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.

Rugby sevens is sanctioned by the International Rugby Board (IRB) and is played mostly under the same laws and a pitch of the same standardised size as the traditional 15-player game. While a normal rugby union match lasts at least 80 minutes, a sevens match consists of two halves of seven minutes with a one-minute half-time break. However, a final match in a competition can be played over two halves of ten minutes each, with a half-time break of two minutes. Rugby sevens is often used to introduce potential new players and spectators to a more compact and exciting form of Rugby.

Meet the new brand of exciting and explosive track events. The Inferno is going into its fourth year and is part of the established 401 West Series, which includes meets in London and Windsor, Ontario. All three meets happen in the month of May. In addition to the new format and new track, the Inferno has partnered with New Balance; the naming convention is The Speed River Inferno brought to you by New Balance.
“Our goal this year is to build up our event by giving athletes a chance to run fast and have a great time doing so. Our focus is on middle and long-distance races. We are targeting IAAF World Track and Field Championships A-standard level in two events with two others hopefully being run at World Champs B-standard pace. Our two marquee events are the women’s 1500 and men’s steeplechase. For example, we will have Hilary Stellingwerff committed, she has run as fast as 4:05 in the 1500m,” shared Moulton.

Stellingwerff competed in the 2012 London Olympic Games, as well as once each in the IAAF World Cross Country, World Track and Field and World Indoor Track and Field Championships. Recently Stellingwerff tweeted, “Runners, mark your calendars to be in Guelph May 28 – we’re going to throw down some fast times at our new blazing track!” Stellingwerff is a member of Speed River – currently Canada’s most successful track club.

“We will also have a strong men’s steeple event with Alex Genest and Chris Winter, who own personal bests of 8:19 and 8:28, respectively. We are also hopeful to have strong fields in the women’s steeple and men’s 1500,” said Moulton.

The Speed River club is deep, for example speed-mate, Alex Genest, also competed in the 2012 London Olympics as well as three times in the World Cross Country Championships. Genest also competed in the IAAF World Track and Field Championships. He is a steeple specialist and owns a world-class 8:19.33 personal best time.

Fellow Speed River steeple chaser, Chris Winter, recently competed in the 2012 Canadian Cross Country Championships, finishing a respectable fourth behind two Olympians, Cameron Levins and Mo Ahmed and CIS National Cross Country Champion Kelly Wiebe. Winter also finished well in the North American Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Cross Country Championships finishing eighth to help Team Canada earn their silver medal.  The Inferno won’t stop there; the meet will also offer races up to 5000m in distance.

“We plan to offer all events from 800 to 5000 metres. Ideally we would like to take a run at the Canadian Record in the women’s steeple and showcase a very strong men’s 1500m. We have a great group of athletes based in Guelph and will build on our group with the hopes of attracting athletes from across North America,” Moulton added.

Like the Oxy High Performance Meet, an event that has no prize or appearance fees, but some travel money and treats athletes well, is all about people running fast. “That is our vision for our event, we are going to give athletes the chance to run fast, have a great time and be treated well,”  replied Moulton when asked where the inspiration for the Inferno came from.