It's not just during the match itself that running duties are necessary. International events, such as European/World Championships, require a high level of information be gathered, prior to the main two day event. This helps formulate a teams' approach and gives indications and ideas for further options which can be explored during the weeks' practice sessions. However, come match day these duties revert back to the more specific information requirements.

Vital statistics such as fish count, sizes of bonus fish, bait and feed usage, are gathered and relayed to each respective team member, as well as the management... as and when requested! If the team, or individual do well, the runner in some part has done a good job and can share in the success. Although this is not always the case and disappointments are then shared out in respective proportions. Lee Kerry writes about just such an experience below, with an in-depth time-check of England's multiple world champion, Alan Scotthorne, during Saturday's match on the beautiful River Sava in Slovenia.

Having been asked to run for Alan, it was crucial to keep note of such things happening in his section. Follow my Time-Check feature below, to see how that was accomplished and also just how a five-times world champion got on during day one of the 2009 European Championships.

8.30am: Anglers are allowed into their boxes for the first time, Alan has drawn B15, the first peg in his half of B section. On B14 is Welsh angler Nigel Evans and due to the new points scoring system, his weight counts in Alan’s half of the section, but he gets his points from his section (numbers 1-14). Nigel then provided me with my favourite quote of the championship, “I can beat a world champion... but he can’t beat me!” This goes to show the peculiarity of the new points scoring system. Something I am sure will be looked at sooner, rather than later.

8.45am: There are no easy sections in a European Championship. Alan has former 3x European Champion Guido Nullens two to his left (B17), with Jacopo Falsini on end peg B27. This is the fancied end of the section. Russian star Ilya Yakushin is on B23 and Holland's 'hotshot' Dieter Friederichs on B19, complete what looks to be a very tough sector, Alan will have his work cut-out not to lose too many points to them.

9.00am: Alan has placed his seatbox in position and is starting to tackle up the usual array of equipment that can be seen on display throughout these championships. He comments to me that the water has a little extra flow than yesterday, but that the colour has dropped out dramatically. England have made the decision to focus on just one line of attack today, so this will be the most critical part of Alan's match plan.

9.25am: After plumbing up for at least 15mins Alan has found that the bottom is relatively flat at 13 metres and about 12ft deep. At 11m the bottom has a steady slope, but is a more comfortable 10ft deep. Considering England’s plan is to fish for plenty of small fish, it is important to fish as close as possible to save time.

10.00am: Alan has now carefully plumbed all his rigs and set up:
  • 1gr, 1.5gr and 2gr Rive 105s for 11m. All these rigs have a starting hook length of 0.10mm line to a 18 round bend match hook. The bulk is 18inches away, as in practice, with Alan changing to yellow tips to suit the reflection of the river.
  • 1.5gr, 2gr and 2.5gr Rive 105s for 13m. All these rigs are designed to be fished holding back or easing through for better fish. Interestingly, Alan, nor any of the England team have set up flat floats. They are the only team not to do so, which history shows will come back to haunt them.
  • 4x14 and 4x16 bleak rigs, set up on 4m whips.

10.05am: The bait check has been completed and Alan has 20 litres of groundbait for fishing his main line (above). This consists of Gros Gardons, River and Terre de Riviere, as it has been for most of the week. There's 5 litres for fishing for bleak, which is Lake and Surface mixed 50/50. Completing his bait allocation is 1 litre of joker plus 1 litre of maggots and pinkies combined.









10.25am: Pre-baiting time and Alan feeds eight huge balls of groundbait, right on his pole tip at 11m, these balls contain 250ml of joker and 250ml of pinkies and maggots. Nothing is fed at 13m.

10.35am: It’s a great start for Alan as he gets into a rhythm of feeding a ball a chuck straight in front of him, just short of 11m and catching a small vimba every put in (above). The Belgian angler Guido Nullens has also made a good start two pegs away. Guido is not generally know for his small fish prowess, but you won’t know it judging by the exceptional start he's made.

10.51am: I've made my way up to see the progress of Jacopo Falsini, just as I get there he is landing a better fish, a 'nobhead' of around 500gr (above). The Italian runner tells me he has approximately 20 fish, so it's a great start for the Italian.

11.15am: Alan is still putting small vimba in the net, I have him in 3rd place on fish count, but worryingly, he hasn't had any bonus fish, which makes me think he may be around 5th at this moment in time. Guido is definitely winning the section and the crowd is eagerly awaiting the first hours' fish count.

11.38am: The first hour fish counts are finally being put up. Alan has 30, Guido 39, the Friederichs 31 and the Falsini 36, including a couple of better fish. The worrying thing is Alan hasn’t added to his total yet during this second hour, it's also noticeable that some of the other teams have started to catch better fish on long flat floats. The Slovakian angler on the next peg only has 3 fish, but I think he and Alan are level pegging at the moment as his fish are big.

11.52am: Alan is in deep trouble, the rest of the section to his right is really hard going and the fish seemed to have moved away from him. He's only had a couple more small vimba, and I report to him that big fish are being caught all the time. After a conversation with Mark Downes, Alan makes the decision to feed his 13m line. He cups in three big one-handed groundbait balls, full of dead maggots and pinkies then goes back on his shorter line while it settles.

12.18pm: It is becoming apparent that England’s lack of a 13m line is proving expensive. Alan has gone long for the first time and is straight into a nobhead of around 500gr. It sheds the hook at the net, Alan can’t believe it. Not to be denied, he re-feeds with a one-handed ball of groundbait and is back out with the 2.5gr rig, easing through five bloodworm. The rig disappears again and a bonus roach approaching 700gr is hooked, which this time finds the net. Alan re-feeds and it looks like he could be back in it!

12.46pm: Big fish have been caught throughout the session, with the Russian Ilya Yakushin, in particular, catching big roach, carassio and nobheads on a regular basis. I have Alan as low as 11th in his section, as he's only added 9 fish in the 2nd hour. Although he has found some big fish in the later part of the hour, it's noticeable that the river has more colour filtering in now and as a consequence, the big fish action is really starting to slow up.

1.03pm: The colour is now well dispersed here and the big fish action has almost finished in the section. Alan has no choice but to look for better fish in these final stages, so he re-feeds almost the last of his bait and picks up a few small vimba before a late look on the bonus line.

1.19pm: Alan's flying now. He nets two big roach and a large nobhead in the next 5 minutes, could a recovery be on the cards? Big baits such as bunches of bloodworm and maggots are the key and it's obvious Alan is disappointed that he's missed the best time of the match.

1.30pm: The all-out and Alan hasn’t added anymore fish to his catch. I have him down as 9th, 8th, or even 7th in the section, with Falsini, Guido and the Yakushin fighting it out for the top spot.

2.00pm: Alan has weighed 3.750kg and finished 8th. Had he been one peg to the right he would have been 2nd in that part of the section! It really was that close. Yakushin won the section with his 25 fish catch going 6.340kg, Falsini was 2nd with 5.650kg and the Holland's Friederichs pushing Guido down into 4th, thanks to a near 2 kilo barbel, that I had somehow NOT spotted!!!

After the match, Alan discovered he was to be left out for the second day, after being England’s lowest points scorer. This, as I mentioned earlier, was unlucky, but after all the hard work Darren Cox had put into the practice weeks, he was more than ready and able to take Alan’s place.

A runners lot is not always a happy one, especially when it involves your club team mate having a 'mare'. Nevertheless, having come to terms with the highs, then lows, of my friends match, I managed to catch up with him in the bar that evening and have a chat when he had this to say. “I’m really disappointed with how my match has gone today. We put a lot of effort into that close line, which ultimately caught us out with the big fish feeding in the clearer sections. I have definitely been at the wrong end of my section for small fish, but know that if I had fed the 13m line positively from the start, I could have almost guaranteed finishing in the top three. The clear water also seemed to have unsettled the fish today, with several shedding the hook. This was something we had not experienced all this week, in hindsight it's perhaps something we should have picked up quicker. Hungary have fished an excellent match today, making the most of the conditions. The colour had spread into the venue late today  and I can see England doing brilliantly tomorrow, with a small nobfest on the cards!”

Even after a tough result, Alan had managed to maintain his sense of humour. He was right though, England did catch up on Sunday with the expected 'nobfest'. Although it was a superb performance to register 12pts, Belgium also fished their socks-off and finished just 2pts away, a testament to their small fish ability, which will no doubt come into play again in Holland. Securing a bronze medal against this stiff competition was perhaps not a bad result (if not disappointing). After all, it could have been much worse, the silver lining was Steve Hemingray's superb performance in taking the individual gold medal.