Vikki ‘VV’ Vowles, 1970-2017

Biggleswade Athletic Club has been stunned by the sudden and tragic death of much-loved member Vikki Vowles, who passed away at home on 30 August. A marketing manager at chemistry firm CAS, she was just 47 years old.

Stephen Jones

Despite only having been a member of the club since last summer, having come through BAC’s first ever Couch to 5k programme, Vikki – whose funeral took place on Thursday – impressed from the start. “She had decent turnover and used her arms well,” said club coach Giles Hawthorne. “A coach’s dream – untapped talent.” She took on a host of road races and became renowned for a new-found love of running in the mud when she threw herself – in every sense – into cross country.

Her first outing in the Three Counties XC league last season, at Croyland Park in Wellingborough, has become infamous within the club. “There is a muddy stream crossing – it’s not easy,” Hawthorne added. “By chance I happened to lap Vikki the second time they went through the stream. As I prepared to barrel into it as fast as my legs would carry me, Vikki was basically being manhandled out of the other side. There was a guy on the bank pulling her out by her arms and another in wellies in the stream with both hands on her backside pushing her out. She was covered from head to foot in mud.”

After she crossed the line, officials almost had to squeegee down her race number in order to identify Vikki for results purposes, but despite her muddy mishap, she was thrilled by the experience. Corinne Callligan, a fellow C25k graduate who was running alongside her that day, added: “There are going to be lots of extra BAC members making a very large muddy splash into the Croyland Park brook this year, inspired by Vikki.” Indeed, the forthcoming season kicks off at that venue on 22 October.

Vikki Vowles in cross-country action. Photo by Clive Daniels
Vikki Vowles in cross-country action. Photo by Clive Daniels

Having upped her distances impressively since graduating from the programme, Vikki took on the challenge of preparing herself for a first – now sadly only – half marathon on the anniversary of completing the course this May. “I have never met someone who was more determined and so ambitious to complete anything that she set her mind to,” said Rachel Stott, another in the lineup that day at the Casterbridge Half Marathon. “I absolutely adored that about her.”

“My proudest memory of my friend would be seeing her run past me at mile seven as I supported the team in Dorchester,” added friend and clubmate Jacqui Thompson, “and again at the finishing line with her usual smile.”

 

Vikki proved an inspiration and became a friend to many new runners in and around the club, and allied to this she had recently become a qualified run leader – the first rung members take on the route to becoming a coach.

Helen Steward, another close friend, said: “She was a great mentor and would encourage people to make them believe they can do anything. I ran with Vikki a lot over the last few months of her life and she would always tell me when we came to a hill: ‘Head up and pump those arms.’ Since her passing, when I’m struggling up hills I will always hear her voice making me more determined to finish.

“Vikki was a great friend and always saw good in everyone, she always lit up the room with her beautiful smile. She was a true inspiration to a lot of people – including myself – for how far she had come in her life.”

Alongside her newly found love of running, Vikki was also a highly active and successful member of her local Slimming World group, and aided by her flurry of activity since starting her running journey she lost a whopping five stone. Shortly before her death Vikki was announced as Woman of the Year after a vote by others in her group.

Group leader Joyce Millson said: “Each week in the group she got support with her weight loss journey and shared with us her progress in running. So much so that she encouraged and later mentored many other Slimming World members to take that first step.”

Immediately after news of her passing broke, the club cancelled all training for a day, with coaches and clubmates bereft at their loss. But BAC members regrouped in force 24 hours later to gather for a tribute outing, on Vikki’s favourite place to run – the Route 51 cycle path from Sandy towards Blunham and Willington – and at her training pace of choice: 12 minutes per mile. They then repaired to The King’s Arms pub in Sandy to share memories of their friend.

Tribute run to Vikki, the day after she died
Members came together at short notice for a tribute run on Route 51

Three days after her death Vikki had been due to run the Glorun 5k in Stanwick, Northamptonshire. Originally envisaged as a fun, low-key local race which only a handful of members had entered, organisers were inundated by a barrage of late entries as BAC members suddenly made up over a fifth of the entry list, and they accosted EastEnders and Gavin & Stacey star Larry Lamb – race starter on the day – to join them in a team photo. The club ended the night with three runners in the top 10: Jon Stott was fourth in 20min 33sec, and took the honours for top veteran athlete, while Daniel Steel – making his road racing debut – was eighth in 22:52 and Stuart Goodwin ninth in a personal best 23:35. Lower down the list, a host of her friends had opted to walk the route, drinking to Vikki’s memory with Pimms and Prosecco in celebration of her dual love of competing and the new-found social life she had enjoyed so much with clubmates and running buddies.

Vikki was a dog lover and a frequent sight pounding the streets with three dogs – Scrappy, Marley and Riley – in tow. She spoke at length upon beginning her running journey that she wanted to be able to “run with her hounds”, and had found the experience of finally being able to do so a highly emotional one. In her honour, family and friends will be leading a memorial dog walk around Stewartby Lake at Millennium Country Park in Bedford at 11.30pm on Saturday 21st October.

Her sister, Katrina, said: “Vikki enjoyed her new-found love for running and also the social side where she had made loads of new friends – some very close – and they would go away participating in various adventures. Her three dogs all miss her and will be very well cared for. Vikki was very much loved and respected by so many people, and sadly missed by her two nephews Chris and Michael, her two nieces – Chris’s two girls – me and her mother.”

Many members of the BAC family have already entered next year’s Casterbridge Half Marathon, in tribute to their friend, with some set to tackle the distance for the first time. “The running was important but the friendships she had built were everything to her,” said Hawthorne. “I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time running alone with Vikki chatting, getting to know her, and it was always fun. I’m going to miss her.”

Vikki “VV” Vowles, 1970-2017

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Ups and downs in Letchworth … BAC come together to take Standalone 10k prizes

Biggleswade Athletic Club members emerged from the highly-regarded – and incredibly challenging – Standalone 10k road race with a host of prizes and personal bests on a drizzly morning in Letchworth Garden City.

Jamie Hall in the final km. Photo by Carol Garratt
Jamie Hall in the final kilometre. Photo by Carol Garratt

First home of 38 BAC entrants and taking fifth place overall was Jamie Hall, who finished in 34mins 9secs. Joining him in the prize-winning stakes was Elaine Livera – in her first race over the distance – who took second place in the women’s race and finished in 48th overall with 39:26. Just over a minute behind was Juliet Nayler, with a fine run of 40:41 to top the female veteran age 45 and over rankings and cross the line 75th overall.

Run superbly by North Herts Road Runners, the event – which had 1,353 finishers – is a highlight of the local calendar and is established as BAC’s club championship race over the distance. The club’s championship race results are based on age-gradings, which level the playing field for all competitors by adjusting times for older runners downwards. Based on the recalibrated results, Jamie held on to become the male club champion despite three other runners seeing their marks come down to within 43 seconds of his finishing time, while Juliet’s 40:41 is age-graded down to 37:55 to promote her above Elaine and become the ladies’ champion.

Juliet Nayler in the final km. Photo by Carol Garratt
Juliet Nayler on her way to becoming ladies’ 10km club champion. Photo by Carol Garratt

The course starts on a short downhill before a steep incline in the first kilometre, then a series of downhill sections make for a fast first half to the race. However, the closing stages see the elevation reverse, and a long stretch of leg-sapping hills derailed many race plans and saw a host of PB efforts go out of the window.

Jamie spoke of how preparation from coach Paul Davies – who himself came 47th in 39:13 – served him in good stead: “From the start I stuck to Paul’s gameplan of following the quick runners while ignoring the lightning ones. The first few kilometres passed by fairly smoothly and I had plenty of company to share wind-blocking duties with.

“As the race progressed I eventually pulled away from some of the others and found myself on my own, but I began to flag a fair bit. For the first time ever, I was relieved to see someone come flying past! I managed to stick with him until we reached the turn that took us down the hill where we had begun and I put in everything to get to the finish.”

The Standalone race’s run-in begins with a leg-sapping patch of gravel, and the rainy conditions left the closing grass section fraught with menace. Jamie added: “I did my best twinkle-toes on the gravel trap and then my finest Bambi on ice impression on the mud leading to the finish.”

Elaine Livera in the final km. Photo by Carol Garratt
Elaine Livera in full flight during Standalone’s final kilometre. Photo by Carol Garratt

Local resident Elaine reflected on a successful first outing, saying: “I had no idea how hard the race was going to be! Who knew the south had hills? I was in a stable fourth place for the majority of the race with the girls in second and third a good 200m ahead of me so it was a huge surprise when I found myself slowly catching them after 7km. I waited till the last hill and picked up the pace to move in to 2nd place with 2km to go. I was very, very shocked to have run 39:26 after not believing that I could go under 40 minutes!”

Second BAC athlete home Marcus Davey – his 38:29 for 38th place adjusted to 34:35 in the championship standings – was another to leave with a PB. “Short of being shot – which I would have welcomed during the fifth mile – a PB was a 99% certainty some two years after a badly run and forgettable Flitwick 10k in 2015.

“It’s great to see so many PBs broken and new members completing this race, it shows the training is working. Hats off to the coaches!”

Three places back in 41st overall, Paul Cooke echoed Marcus’s sentiments: “The tough mile 5 put an end to the time I wanted, but I’m still happy with a a PB of 38:35. It’s a great event and well run – I just don’t like hills!”

Runners throughout the field spoke of the great support they experienced from their fellow members at the roadside. Julia Mackay said: “I was slower than last year and 2015 but this year it felt much easier and I stuck to my gameplan. I still love being part of such a great team. The BAC supporters were amazeballs!”

Amy Stamp added: “It was a well organised race with great support from team BAC before, during and afterwards. I’d had a chesty cough all week but somehow managed a significant PB of 53:40, which I was super chuffed with!”

Among others to beat their previous bests were Shani Giddings, who said: “I actually knocked 12mins off my last 10k race in Bedford – I’m one very happy bunny.” Martha Ford, meanwhile, “really enjoyed the course – I smashed by PB!” Among others to come away with personal best times were Jon Stott and Rachel Stott, Charlie Arnold, Malcolm Steward, Andy Deans, Penny Ridler and Louise Hatfield-Pike.

Jon Stott and Rob Morgan shortly after Standalone 10k start. Photo by Corinne Calligan
Jon Stott and Rob Morgan shortly after Standalone 10k start. Photo by Corinne Calligan

Charlie – who competes in the V60 category – saw his age-graded time fly down from a finishing mark of 43:29 to 34:40, which left him second overall in the men’s club championship standings. He said: “The icing on the cake was to see BAC runners taking some of the prizes in what was a very competitive field, but the real joy was to see so many BAC members turning out to run, to cheer and to generally have a good time.”

Another big achiever on the day was Deb Bryant, who left the venue with an age-group club record: “I loved it. I haven’t done it for a few years and was so lovely having the BAC supporters shouting out.” Her time of 45:41 beat Jan Forrester’s V45 mark over the distance, set at Silverstone in 2001.

The club now turn their focus to cross-country season, which begins this month, before the final club championship race of the year, the St Neots half-marathon in November.

BAC entrants after Standalone 10k. Photo by Jacqui Thompson
BAC entrants after finishing the Standalone 10k. Photo by Jacqui Thompson

Standalone 10k results

Position | Runner | Chip time (Age graded result)

5 Jamie Hall 34:09 (34:09) Male club champion
38 Marcus Davey 38:29 (34:45)
41 Paul Cooke 38:35 (36:11)
47 Paul Davies 39:13 (34:51)
48 Elaine Livera 39:26 (39:26)
75 Juliet Nayler 40:41 (37:55) Lady club champion
79 John Stott 40:54 (36:21)
80 Rob Morgan 40:54 (38:22)
135 Charles Arnold 43:29 (34:40)
174 Natalie Morgan 44:49 (43:06)
195 Hannah Broom 45:26 (44:40)
218 Deb Bryant 45:41 (41:18)
243 Damien Pitts 45:58 (45:14)
271 Malcolm Steward 47:05 (44:10)
342 Sarah Stilwell 48:55 (48:48)
386 Andrew Deans 49:18 (44:30)
410 Stuart Goodwin 50:10 (47:46)
437 Sarah Geeson-Orsgood 50:39 (48:43)
568 Martha Ford 53:06 (52:58)
599 Amy Stamp 53:40 (53:32)
697 Vicky Berry 55:22 (46:28)
699 Georgia Barker 55:43 (52:23)
700 Richard Barker 55:43 (50:18)
710 Nicky Double 55:51 (54:03)
740 Simon Strong 56:23 (50:30)
776 Ian Grimwood 58:02 (45:02)
822 Rachel Hallam Stott 57:42 (55:07)
864 Juliet Grimwood 59:06 (50:14)
921 Jane Waters 1:00:27 (46:07)
994 Colin Harries 1:02:42 (45:20)
1091 Paul Weekes 1:04:46 (1:03:01)
1110 Julia Mackay 1:04:54 (55:10)
1165 Louise Pike 1:06:51 (1:04:42)
1174 Roo Goodwin 1:06:36 (1:05:28)
1194 Penny Ridler 1:07:35 (1:06:08)
1221 Shani Giddings 1:09:25 (57:30)
1265 Joanne Ellary 1:11:53 (1:09:58)
1306 Bev Strong 1:17:22 (1:12:06)
1313 Tim Gardiner 1:17:23 (1:10:25)

Girls on top … BAC’s women take top honours at Swineshead 10

Biggleswade Athletic Club’s women’s team took the team prize at the Swineshead 10 Mile race, taking bragging rights from the club’s men, who won the male equivalent award last year.


Club athletes completed 315.5 miles between them on Sunday competing in the Great North Run and across 10 and 5 mile races in Swineshead. Many were running the longer distances for the first time having moved up from the successful Couch to 5k programmes, and turnout was high in Swineshead as the longer race is BAC’s nominated club championship event over the distance. Congratulations to Paul Davies and Isobel Everest, who are the BAC 10 mile club champions for 2017. Full age-graded results can be found here.

In the GNR half marathon, where the elite race was run by Mo Farah, Neil Harvey was the first BAC runner across the line in 1hr 56mins 50secs followed by Kathryn Juty in 1:59:49 to just break the 2hr mark. Ricky Byrne, Corinne Calligan and Claire Smyth were the other BAC finishers to come in for their well earned medals.


In the Swineshead events, Rob Morgan was the first BAC athlete to finish the 10 mile race coming in 14th overall in 62:28. First BAC lady to finish was Isobel Everest 56th overall in 72:29, and with tremendous support from Natalie Morgan (75.00) and Hannah Broom (75.04) Biggleswade took the ladies team prize. Deb Bryant broke the club’s W45 age group record for 10 miles – which has stood since 2001 – by over a minute with a time of 77.32.

Natalie Morgan said: “I last ran Swineshead 10 in 2012 and had a pretty dreadful experience so I was determined to overcome past demons and maybe go for a PB.”Hannah had very kindly offered to run with me and kept me in check all the way. I’m so glad she did as the last couple of miles were absolute killers and I definitely needed to hold something back for them! Crossing the finish line was the best feeling – those demons had been well and truly obliterated and my PB from 2009 bettered by 5 minutes so absolutely overjoyed. It was a blast!”

Hannah added: “I had not pre-entered as I was not sure if I was going to run as I’ve been suffering with a shoulder injury. Coach Paul Davies had told me to put the reins on Nat at the start and not let her set off too quick.

“It was a pretty windy morning with a strong headwind and we did quite a bit of hiding behind other runners as we weaved our way uphill. Damo [chairman Damien Pitts] helped as a windbreak up the big hill at mile 4 where many runners around us just simply disappeared behind us and we had a lovely stretch round mile 5, 6 and 7.

“Mile 9 came – 1 to go, we can do this! Ny shoulder was sore by now and I relaxed to a walk but Nat’s husband Rob shouted at me to get going as we were in for a chance of the girls’ team prize. Nat was striding out in front for the finish looking really strong. As a team player there was only one thing to do – gather myself, put the pain behind and run it out as a if it were a 400m, once round the track. So I set off again and sprinted in as fast as I could. We did it, we won the ladies team – and Nat got her PB!”

In the 5 mile race Malcolm Steward was the first BAC runner home, finishing in 15th overall with a time of 40:45, and Maria Merridan was first lady in 34th place overall (47:19). Over the day, many personal bests were set in what were changeable and sometime difficult conditions. A good turnout again from Biggleswade AC to support local and national events and some excellent results and honours for the club.

Swineshead 10 mile results

14 Rob Morgan 62.28

17 Nick Haworth 63.26

18 Marcus Davey 63.32

20 Paul Davies 64.08

28 Paul Cooke 65.55

41 Jon Stott 69.35

42 Giles Hawthorne 69.39

56 Isobel Everest 72.29

62 Charles Arnold 73.33

64 Damien Pitts 73.56

73 Natalie Morgan 75.00

74 Hannah Broom 75.04

79 Julie Balaam 76.25

82 Deb Bryant 77.32

102 Sarah Geeson-Orsgood 82.13

139 Ian Grimwood 91.43

148 Simon Strong 94.11

168 Juliet Grimwood 105.35

169 Rachel Stott 105.35

Swineshead 5 mile results
15 Malcolm Steward 40.45

34 Maria Merridan 47.19

45 Thomas Goodfellow 50.39

55 Helen Steward 52.19

56 Julia Mackay 52.22

57 Louise Pike 53.05

58 Joanna Hornby 53.17

63 Shani Giddings 54.58

69 Joanne Ellary 57.58

71 Bev Strong 59.35

78 Julie Cooke 66.37

79 Carol Garratt 76.11

Simplyhealth Great North Run 2017 results

10375 Neil Harvey 1:56.50

12383 Kathryn Juty 1:59.49

25053 Ricky Byne 2:21.40

26511 Corinne Calligan 2:24.25

41435 Claire Smyth 2:43.17

The last leg … BAC leave it late to end track & field season with superb victory

Biggleswade Athletic Club took a brilliant victory on a dramatic final day of Southern Athletics League action last weekend. With the scores tight among the top teams in attendance at the fixture in Peterborough, it took the closing relays to decide the outcome.

It was an outstanding team performance against high-quality opposition in the form of Woodford Green With Essex Ladies, the former British Athletics League champions who have boasted a host of Olympians and Team GB internationals over the years including Sally Gunnell, Tiffany Porter and Jeanette Kwakye.

Yet they were undone by both difficult conditions and a litany of BAC victories on the day. Club coach Jamie Webster said: “The day started off slowly but very quickly heated up and we found ourselves in second place after six events.” Helping the cause enormously were wins for Sarah Ridley (13.1sec) and Katie Miles (13.4) in the 100m A and B races respectively. Morgan Webster doubled up to take both the 200m (23.4) and 400m (51.8), while Tristan Rayner won the 400m B race (55.5).

Elaine Livera in SAL action. Photo by Darren Janssen
Elaine Livera in SAL action. Photo by Darren Janssen

Elaine Livera emerged up top in the 3000m (10:57.5) and Hannah Broom won the 800m B race (2:41.8). Daniel Steel (20.7) and Joshua Watson (27.1) took the honours in the A and B 110m hurdles, and Watson added victory in the 400m hurdles B race for good measure, in 66.4sec.

Not to be outdone, Steel won the long jump and triple jump with season’s best performances of 5.97m and 12.36m, and added the win in the high jump B string with 1.55m, while Darren Janssen topped the B standings of the pole vault (2.50m). In the B-string of the triple jump, Alex Ingram won with 11.68m, and the men mopped up in the javelin too thanks to Alex Ingham’s 48.44m in the A string and Nathan Dodds’ 44.05 – making him the second-best thrower on the day and comfortably good enough to take B-string honours.

Backing up brilliantly were a whole host of top three placings from Jamie Hall, Alice Middleton, Jakub Grabowski, Kathryn Juty, Sandra Ingham, Marcus Davey, Paul Davies and both 4x100m teams.

BAC women's relay team won the crucial 4x400m thanks to last leg runner Katie Miles. Photo by Darren Janssen
Katie Miles on the last leg of a crucial 4x400m relay. Photo by Darren Janssen

Special mention must go to the two 4x400m quartets however, as Webster notes: “As the day went on we stayed in second place until the field results went in and we leapfrogged Woodford into first place. The women’s 4x400m team ran out of their skins to finish first by five metres and set up that the men’s team needed to finish ahead of Woodford.

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Hannah Ridley, Alice Middleton, Elaine Livera and Katie Miles celebrate 4x400m victory. Photo by Jamie Webster

“After a close run race it went to the last leg. Peterborough were 80 metres ahead and Woodford and Biggleswade were level. As the race went on Biggleswade went ahead and came home in second place. But most importantly we finished ahead of Woodford and it left us 4 points clear at the end of the day.”

Marcus Davey added: “I did very little, probably the lowest scoring BAC individual of the day! To save face, I was selfishly focused to the one important event of the year, achieving my 2017 goal: a PB in the 1500m in a time of 4:37.6, taking 4.5 seconds off from two years ago.  It also tots up as my 4th V45 club record of 2017!”

He highlighted the huge part teamwork played on a successful day all-round: “I must emphasise I could not have achieved this 1500m PB without all the dedicated coaching from Michael Blunt during the 2017 track season, plus … PLUS some very impressive on the day 1500m race pacing from Jamie Hall who had already run the 800m and a very hard 5,000m!”

BAC’s win marked their first in SAL competition since 2015 and wrapped up an excellent season in the league which has seen a great standard of competition result in dozens of personal bests and a string of club records.

Full results can be found here.


Sophie shows steel on another record-breaking day

Another racking up the records was under-13 athlete Sophie Steele, who continued her fine season in the Eastern Young Athletes League at Bedford on 13 August with two club records and three personal bests.

She won the shot put with a club record 9.08m, came second in the discus with another club best 24.15m, and beat her PB in the javelin thanks with a third-placed throw of 20.29m.

Cameron Rayner won the U15 200m and came second in the 100m, and Nathan Dodds took the U17 javelin honours, while Kareen Davis, Bailey Foster, Alex Matsukatoval, Tristan Rayner, Elliott Swinburne and Alicia Ward also put in strong performances.

Full results can be found here.

Caution! Imaginary crocodiles … BAC’s Ed slays 145-mile epic

Biggleswade Athletic Club’s endurance expert Ed Jones went more than the extra mile at the gruelling Kennet & Avon Canal Race – a 145-mile slog that’s the rough equivalent of five and a half consecutive marathons.

Having warmed up with June’s Norfolk 100k Ultra Marathon – a relative breeze at 62 miles – Ed arrived for a 6am start in Bristol, with 45 hours to complete the course.

“There are checkpoints with food and water every 15-20 miles,” said Ed, “so you only need to carry enough to get you between these. You are not allowed to be stationary for more than 40 minutes, so while you can sit down for a rest, and possibly a very quick nap.”

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And they’re off! Photo courtesy of twitter.com/KACR145

Arriving for the start in grey and blustery conditions alongside 75 other starters, Ed went over his gameplan: “I adopted my usual approach of treating it as a nice run in the countryside, and just to focus on getting to the next checkpoint. I settled into a steady comfortable pace, picking off a few slower runners and chatting to a few others.”

Having left the city centre for the more picturesque Avon Valley, after the initial marathon distance of 26.2 miles Ed was well-placed. “It came up in about four hours, and I was surprised to find myself in ninth place – which suggested I was going too fast!

“I went through Checkpoint 2 and then on to the spectacular Caen Hill Locks – where 29 locks raise the canal 237 feet in two miles. Checkpoint 3 brought us into the Vale of Pewsey, with the downs of Wiltshire rising impressively either side of the canal. My pace was beginning to slow now, with more walking breaks, and my knees getting a little sore at the base of the kneecap, but I was through 50 miles in just over 9 hours, and got a bit of a second wind as I went through halfway in under 15 hours.”

The unique nature of the event made for a great sense of camaraderie among the competitors. “Although it is a ‘race’, for everyone except a few at the sharp end of the field the goal is to finish, and positions are really not that important. People therefore tended to hold gates open for each other, call someone back if they’re seen heading the wrong way, and pause for a chat and to check everything is OK.”

“Beyond halfway Saturday evening was starting to draw in and the drizzle was turning into more persistent rain. We were approaching the outskirts of Reading.” The need for camaraderie also became apparent. “The field was really strung out – I would only see one other runner in the next 10 hours – and my mood was starting to dip. Suddenly in the dusk I caught an electric blue flash, and a kingfisher darted from some trees, and flew along the canal. It was a magical moment, gave me a real boost and made me resolve not to give up.”

Having successfully negotiated Reading’s late-night revellers, Ed picked up the Thames Path, where the gravity of the endeavour started to hit home. “A combination of the darkness and fatigue leads to hallucinations. I always see bridges across the canal which turn out just to be overhanging trees. And the usual suspects are branches and logs that look like snakes or crocodiles.”

At Henley, dawn was breaking and with it came a significant milestone – the 100 mile point. “It was nice to get the scenery back, and this was some of the nicest of the whole race as we followed the river with the wooded slopes of the Chilterns rising steeply on either side, interspersed with picture postcard villages and towns. The pain in my knees was making running difficult now, and I was having to work hard to make myself even do short bursts.

“I arrived at Bray, 110 miles, at about 11am on Saturday morning – just as the crew there were cooking some bacon. They offered scrambled eggs as well. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted anything better.

“I took the opportunity of the food stop to change into some dry shoes and socks, although by now I had pretty much given up on the running. Running wasn’t appreciably faster than my walking pace, hurt a lot, and I was wary of causing more damage – so resigned myself to ‘death marching’ the final marathon and a bit.

Ed Jones at the Kennet & Avon Canal Race (1)
Ed Jones crosses the line after an epic race

“As night fell for the second time in the race we reached Little Venice, and then the right turn into Paddington Basin, and the very low-key finishing line. I summoned a shuffling jog for the last 50 metres, and finally crossed the line at 21:24.”

His finishing time was a superb 39 hours and 24 minutes, and on crossing the line he learned he had come a brilliant 21st, with only 36 completing the gruelling route.

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The finishers’ board. Photo courtesy of twitter.com/KACR145

Ed added: “Having had a few days to recover, I’m perhaps a touch disappointed to be quite a bit slower than a race over similar distance last year. On the other hand I’ve struggled to fit in enough decent long runs, and I’ve now notched up a PB for ‘time on feet’. I just need to decide what to do next!”

The power of 10: runners go down by the Riverside, plus BAC round-up

Four days after the Doug Anderson 5k, 19 Biggleswade athletes took to St Neots for the Riverside Runners 30th Anniversary 10k, taking place on a tough course, described by organisers as “a summer cross country” with a mix on paths and off-road, plus several bridges traversing the Great Ouse.

Paul Cooke was first BAC runner home, thanks to a brilliant 16th place in 39:09, but further down the field the race marked a special moment for five members in particular, who were taking part in their first 10k race since graduating from the club’s Couch to 5k programmes last year. For Jennifer Emanuel (1:08.01) and Julie Cooke (1:20.44) the race was particularly timely, marking precisely a year since they completed the programme.

Riverside 10k, St Neots - BAC squad. Photo by Bev Strong
BAC squad at the Riverside 10k in St Neots. Photo by Bev Strong

Bev Strong (1:15.34), Joanne Hornby (1:15.34) and Ruth King (1:20.44) were graduates from the second course, which ended in November.

Results – Riverside 30th Anniversary 10k

16 Paul Cooke – 39:09
125 Malcolm Steward – 50:14
213 Andrew Deans – 53:35
218 Neil Harvey – 54:01
225 Sarah-Jane Seaman – 54:23
226 Damien Pitts – 54:23
313 Julian Brunt – 58:35
336 Simon Strong – 59:22
354 Richard Barker – 1:00.20
359 Sally Jones – 1:00.28
362 Georgia Barker – 1:00.33
420 Rachel Hallam Stott – 1:04.16
466 Jennifer Emanuel – 1:08.01
467 Helen Steward – 1:08.02
500 Vikki Vowles – 1:12.09
520 Bev Strong – 1:15.34
521 Joanne Hornby – 1:15.34
537 Ruth King – 1:20.44
538 Julie Cooke – 1:20.44


A week earlier, Philip Housden took the trophy as the brilliant winner of the MV65 competition at the Bedfordshire AAA 10k, thanks to a fine time of 47:56. Richard Bevan was the first of BAC’s four runners in the race, finishing 15th overall in 35:54.

Results – Beds AAA 10k

15 Richard Bevan – 35:54
38 Nick Haworth – 38:47
104 Philip Housden – 47:56
122 Christopher Clarke – 50:40


Elsewhere, Biggleswade’s Sophie Steele performed brilliantly representing Bedfordshire in an inter-county competition at Kingsmeadow Stadium in Kingston-upon-Thames. Her throw of 9.06m smashed the club record and gave her a superb third place. Also wearing her county’s colours was Hannah Brunning, who gained a fine PB of 18.43m in the javelin.


At the latest EYAL fixture in Colchester last weekend, Cameron Rayner broke 12 seconds for the first time and broke the club record with a fine 11.7 in the U15 race. Callum Stokes got a PB too in the U17 equivalent, finishing in 11.9.

Leonie Brunning won the U15 high jump with 1.63m, while her sister Hannah Brunning got a PB 800m (3:08.4). Nathan Dodds took the honours in the U17 discus, winning with 37.80m, and also took the win in the javelin with 45.20m.

Madison Ball got PBs in both the U13 800m (2:58.8) and 100m (15.0), Georgie Smith won the U15 300m with her best time of 44.4, and added another PB in the U15 200m (27.3). BAC newbie Alex Matsukatoval ran his first competitive 800m for the club, finishing a fine fourth in the U15 race in 2:29.9. Tristan Rayner’s 4.98m in the U17 long jump was a season’s best. Full results from Colchester are available here.

Record collectors: Veterans sign off in style at final EMAC fixture in Stevenage

Team captain Charlie Arnold writes …

Unfortunate scheduling meant Biggleswade AC’s veterans were depleted for the final match in the Eastern Masters league series at Stevenage stadium, with many regulars competing in the club championship Doug Anderson 5k in Bedford – taking place at the same time. However, those present performed with admirable effort and enthusiasm, stepping out of their usual events and comfort zones to earn points for the club.

The evening on track kicked off with the 2km walk, which sees male and female competitors lining up together. And it was a phenomenal start for BAC as Helen Middleton was the clear class of the field, coming home a comfortable first overall in 11:29.8. Robin Wynde took fifth place for the men.

EMAC - Helen Middleton and Robin Wynde in 2km walk. Photo by Marcus Davey
Helen Middleton and Robin Wynde in action in the 2km walk. Photo by Marcus Davey

Meanwhile, Charles Arnold was competing in the high jump M50 competition where he finished third, clearing 1.25m and setting a club M60 record.

Jon Fediw doubled up in the M35 high jump and javelin, alternating between each discipline as the rounds progressed. He finished fifth in the high jump, matching Charlie’s 1.25m and setting a club record of his own, while he took fourth in the javelin with a throw of 24.43m. Wynde took fifth place in the M50 javelin at 16.52m while Ian Skerratt was fourth in the M60 standings with 15.61m, another club age group record.

On the other side of the stadium, Kathryn Juty (W45) and Sandra Ingham (W50) were competing in the discus, Kathryn coming fourth with 11.73m and Sandra in third with 13.66m.

After the initial events, the yellow vests of Biggleswade were seen rushing across the field to get registered for the next series. The 100m saw Kathryn claiming third in 16.2sec (another club AG record) and Sandra finishing fourth in 22.0s. For the men, Marcus Davey, usually a middle distance runner, competed in the M35 category and produced a tremendous run of 13.9 to finish fifth in a tight race and add to the age-group records bonanza. Ian Skerratt ran in the M50 race coming fourth in 18.0. Next to the 100m, the men’s triple jump was taking place and Arnold represented Biggleswade in M60 finishing second with a jump of 7.43m – yet another AG record.

The track then saw the mile races with Zoe Luscombe running in the W35 finishing a good fourth in 6:46.3 (another AG record). For the men, Davey was at his preferred distance and took M35 third in an AG time of 5:07.5, with Robin Wynde fourth M50 in 7:29.8 and Arnold third M60 in 6:14.5.

In the field events Ingham became the second BAC winner of the night taking the W50 javelin with a throw of 20.37m, while Luscombe went straight from her efforts in the mile to finish fifth in the W35 javelin with 10.12m. Sandra mimicked Fediw by also competing in the high jump taking fourth W50 with Juty also coming fourth in W45. After her win in the javelin, Ingham went straight over to the triple jump with Kathryn, Sandra finishing fourth in W50 jumping 4.57m (AG club record) and Kathryn a very commendable second with a jump of 6.03m. In the men’s discus Fediw was fifth in M35 with 17.30m, Robin Wynde fifth M50 with 16.13m and Ian Skerratt fifth M60 with 9.67m.

The final individual event of the evening was the 400m and Luscombe stepped up to run in W35 taking third in 76.2. For the men Charles Arnold took fourth in M50 (75.7) and Ian Skerratt second in M60 (81.7). This was then followed by the 1200m varied distance relay and David Brown was able to to take a break from officiating to run a blistering first leg to hand over to Skerratt, then Arnold before Davey produced a fantastic race to finish third, so nearly catching the team ahead.

In the end, the women finished fourth on the night and lifted themselves to a creditable fourth overall. The men finished fifth on the night and slipped to fifth overall, but just 3.5 points behind the hosts who were able to field a strong team. Neither team qualified for the finals, but all the athletes who turned out for the four matches gave commitment, effort and enthusiasm, and most of all, made them fun occasions with some success.

A special mention should also be made for the officials that turned out each time – without them there would be no competition.