Biggleswade Athletic Club’s veterans began their track season in fine style at Bedford last week, in a sterling team effort against larger clubs in the region.
The first fixture in the Central Division of the Eastern Masters Athletic Club track and field league saw seven clubs facing off in bitterly cold conditions, but despite the temperatures those turning out put on a highly entertaining mixture of superb individual performances and team-mates mucking in with unfamiliar events.
An early highlight came in the 1km race walk as Helen Middleton, resplendent in electric pink gloves that one observer thought were glow sticks, was a close second in the A race in 5min 39.1sec. In the B string of the same event, former team captain Fiona Wynde was BAC’s only winner of the night thanks to a time of 6:47. Her husband Robin, meanwhile, was agonisingly pipped to second place by just half a second, as he crossed the line third in 6:10.02.
New team captain Charlie Arnold endured a punishing evening, which included a 3,000m just 48 hours after running a half-marathon in Milton Keynes. His efforts in an extremely strong field were rewarded with third place in the men’s over 60s category (12:10.7), and he also took fifth in the pole vault. In the M35-49 3,000m, Marcus Davey recorded 10.25.7 to take an impressive fourth place.
Meanwhile, Neil Harvey’s impressive time of 11:56.4 in the M50-59 standings may stand as a personal best for quite a while. With runners at the front of the field lapping most competitors further down, the bell sounded for one of them as Neil crossed the line, seemingly with two to go. He took the bell as being for him and finished 400m later, having actually only run 2,600m!
Fiona Wynde took fourth place in the women’s 3,000m in 12.25.0, but only after the race was halted after 150m when BAC’s David Brown, doubling up on officiating and competing duties on the night, sprinted up the home straight to stop the runners because the timing system was not ready.
Finish of the night went to Kathryn Juty in the W35-49 400m – entering the home straight well down on those ahead of her, she rallied in Christine Ohuruogo style to make up a huge amount of ground and take an extraordinary third place. This, on the heels of two more third places in both the 100m and shot put, gave her an individual tally of 18 points on the night – the club’s top scorer. Halen Kapur took 13 points thanks to fourth in the W50-59 long jump, and fifth places in both the 100m and 400m.
Stuart Goodwin’s quest to take the club’s track and field age 35-49 shield for the third successive year began with an individual tally of 14 points, headlined by his debut in the hammer, which yielded an unexpected third place. He later added fourth place in the long jump and sixth in the 100m. Robin Wynde’s busy night also added up to 14 points as he took fourth in the M50-59 long jump and sixth in the shot.
Throws specialist Sandra Ingham got her campaign off to a solid start with fourth in the W50-59 shot and fifth in the hammer, Gary Baldwin took sixth in both the M50-59 100m and shot, Colin Harries was fourth in the M60+ 100m and fifth in the long jump and in the same age group Clark Skerratt was fourth in the hammer and fifth in the shot. Couch to 5k graduate Bev Strong returned to track and field for the first time since her schooldays to take fifth in the W35-49 long jump and later offered an impressive leg in the 4x100m relay.
By the time of the closing 4x100m relays, the temperature had dropped still further, putting runners from rival clubs off. Yet BAC ploughed on unperturbed and earned hugely valuable points with third places in both the W35-49 and M50+ races, and fourth in the M35-49 equivalent.
BAC’s tallies of 84 points on the men’s side and 70 points on the women’s gave each team fifth place overall, with fourth place an agonising nine and three points ahead of each respectively. The squad hope to recruit more athletes to the cause for the rest of the season and now focus on the next meeting which takes place in Cambridge on 7 June.
Elsewhere, Julie Balaam continued her phenomenal return to running after having children by taking third place in the women’s standings at the Halstead & Essex Marathon thanks to a brilliant “personal worst” time of 3hr 30min 56sec. After a cold and windy start in the north of the county, the race took in the quiet undulating lanes of the Colne Valley countryside, and by the finish conditions were warming up.
Of her time, Julie said: “It was a huge surprise – I just wanted to get within 3:45. This was my first ever marathon back in 2009 and it was great to be back at this one in particular after a long break from distance running.” Coming hot on the heels of becoming Bedfordshire County 20 mile champion in Oakley last month, her time should comfortably secure her a much-desired Good For Age place at the 2018 London Marathon.