A small team of Biggleswade Athletic Club competitors took away two gold medals and a bronze from the Eastern Area Championships last Saturday. On a pleasantly warm but windy day in Cambridge, competitors of all ages and from all counties in the east of England were in attendance for a high quality competition.
First up for the club was Sarah Ridley in the shot put, who won the event at the Bedfordshire County Championships last month. Despite the blustery conditions and a slow start she roared through the field with a best effort in the fifth round throw to win the event.
After a brief rest she was then on the track for the senior women’s 100m final where she stormed down the track to claim the bronze medal and a PB of 12.74sec.
Sarah’s sister Hannah then took to the track for the women’s 400m final. Facing a tough field she fought hard and came home with a time of 65sec.
Morgan Webster was next on the track in the men’s 400m final. Starting steadily, he cruised down the back straight and entered the final bend in fourth place. With 120m remaining he held his nerve, and started to apply what he had been practising in training, and picked off the three athletes ahead of him in the final 80m to win by two clear metres in a new PB of 51.18. Tom Boggon came home behind with a time of 56.85.
The final Biggleswade AC Athlete to compete was Sophie Forbes-Laird in the Under 13 girls 200m, where she came placed fourth.
Charlie to the power of three: the Colworth Marathon Challenge
BAC’s Charlie Arnold came away with a host of prizes from the Colworth Marathon Challenge last weekend. The event is an annual competition of three races across three days that can be run as one-offs or in combination, with those opting for all three eventually covering the marathon distance of 26.2 miles. Held over testing routes at Sharnbrook near Bedford, the event attracts a strong local field as well as athletes from London and the south-east.
First up last Friday evening was a five mile race, taking in cooler conditions than seen in the daytime recently. A fast and furious race over an undulating course on concrete, stony tracks, public footpaths and woodland walks, Arnold completed it in 35min 17sec to finish 47th out of 345 runners, third in the Over 60s age category.
Lainey Stead also competed for the club in the race, crossing the line in a very commendable 50min 50sec.
The second race was on the Saturday in hot and humid conditions. This was over 8.1 miles of a very hilly cross country route, tackling uncut grass which pulled on the legs, and rutted woodland tracks, baked hard by the recent warm weather, ready to trip or injure the ankle of any runners not watching their footing. Arnold avoided the potential pitfalls to finish in 60min 49sec, 30th out of 225 overall, but the winner of his age category.
The final race on the Sunday morning was a half marathon (13.1 miles) over two laps of a multi-terrain course. Tired legs from the previous two days had to be put into action again to deal with the distance and the sharp inclines, especially in the last couple of miles. Arnold, along with his nearest challengers, found the course very demanding, but he managed to outrun them to finish in 1hr 43mins 59sec to claim another age category prize, and to win the overall Colworth Challenge award for his age with a total time of 3hr 20min 05sec and bring honours back to Biggleswade.
BAC’s highly popular Mini Bees athletics sessions return for the summer, offering fun in a safe environment for six to eight year olds.
Starting on 12th July, the sessions will take place every Wednesday for 12 weeks until 27 September, from 5.30pm-6.30pm. All sessions, helmed by our brilliant coaches, will start with simple athletic drills and finish with an all-important warm down.
Week one is dedicated to short sprints, encouraging youngsters to channel their inner Usain Bolt or Dina Asher-Smith. Week two introduces the long jump, and aspiring Greg Rutherfords will be launching themselves as far as they can into the sand pit at Sandy Track.
Mo Farah fans will enjoy week three, which is dedicated to building a little endurance. No fears of Mo’s distances of 5,000m through to the marathon though – the most anyone runs in one go in 400m, one lap of the track.
Next up, in week four, comes the high jump, with safe soft landings for all. Week five introduces small hurdles, while week six is all about kiddy power as the youngsters chance their arm at throwing the soft shot and discus. Weeks one to six are then repeated for the second run of six weeks, enabling those taking the whole programme to see how far they’ve progressed.
Mini Bees costs £25 for the full 12-week programme, or £2.50 per session.
Please note: Because the ages of those taking part, parents or guardians will be required to be in attendance for the full hour of each session.
Twenty Biggleswade Athletic Club members braved searing hot weather to compete in the Run Bedford 10k last Sunday. With the temperature already ticking upwards from 25C on the start line, things heated up considerably both in terms of conditions and competition out on the course.
First home for BAC was Richard Bevan, who was 31st home overall of 987 finishers on the day, in 37min 6sec. Next up came John Stott, dipping inside the top 100 as he came 99th in 42:58.
Well inside the 50 minute mark came Philip Housden, who crossed the line 247th in 49:34, while Malcolm Steward came creditably close to a personal best time over the distance, but just missed out by 12 seconds with 50:25 to finish 266th.
Stuart Goodwin (468th, 56:13) paid for an ambitiously fast start and wilted in the last 5km. Vicky Berry finished around the same point – with GPS technology tracking her in a time of 56:08 – but technical gremlins mean she is currently cruelly denied a listing in the official results. Simon Strong’s travails were more impressive than most, coming off the back of a string of injuries that forced him out of the London Marathon, but he completed his third race in three days – following on from participation in a 5k race and the Greensand Ridge Relay on the Friday and Saturday – to come in 543rd, well under the hour mark in 58:38.
With the temperature flirting with 30C around the hour mark, runners were thankful for a makeshift extra water station set up a mile from the finish by local residents. “That was a lovely gesture,” said BAC’s Jules Mackay. “It was a nice tour of Bedford and there were surprisingly a lot of supporters along the route considering the temperatures and early start.”
Photos by Nigel Bush
With many planned PBs going out of the window in the conditions, and several competitors dropping out – some even requiring medical attention – it became impressive simply to keep on going and get round in one piece.
Huge credit then to Sally Jones (606th, 1:00.27), Julian Brunt (607th, 1:01.20) and Amy Stamp (611th, 1:01.25) who conceded: “It was too hot – I think that sums it up! A well-organised race though, and a good course.” Rachel Hallam Stott was 644th in 1:01.35, followed by Corinne Calligan (673rd, 1:03.32), Louise Pike (806th, 1:08.09), Rosalyn Bodi (847th, 1:10.38), Helen Steward and Vikki Vowles (876th and 877th, both given 1:12.34) and Mackay and Roo Goodwin (881st and 882nd, both given 1:13.02). Tim Gardiner was 924th in 1:16.16 while Shani Giddings fought to the line in 949th place, in 1:19.43.
Photos by Jo Ellary
Two days earlier at the Marston Forest 5k, a 7.30pm start saw kinder conditions, but with no breeze and dust kicked up from the forest trails, it still posed a significant task to those present. Sarah Geeson-Osgood was 132nd in 24:01, Clark Skerratt 160th in 25:15, Stuart Goodwin 167th in 25:33, Strong began his busy weekend in 27:02 for 186th, and Roo Goodwin battled against an thigh injury to take 281st in 31:33.
Meanwhile, at the England Athletics Under 23 Championships at Bedford International Stadium on Sunday, Alex Ingham took eighth place in the javelin, in an impressively tight and competitive field where positions three to eight were separated by less than seven metres – considerably less than the length of three javelins.
Biggleswade Athletic Club celebrated the reopening of Sandy Track with a club pentathlon event last Saturday. Consisting of the 100m, long jump, javelin, shot put and 800m, the event served as a fantastic occasion for members and their families to try and beat their personal bests or to try out unfamiliar events, helped by invaluable advice from the club’s coaches.
With the club’s photo-finish equipment unfortunately out of action after club treasurer Mark Stead was injured breaking its fall from his officiating seat at a recent, treacherously windy event, accuracy of results gave way to a fun and brilliantly relaxed atmosphere, where first-timers to track and field found their throwing feet, measured their run-ups and tried out starting blocks for the first time.
The event, held in glorious sunshine, also served as a perfect opportunity for the massed club ranks to assemble for a new club photograph, and the club’s president, re-elected North-East Bedfordshire MP Alistair Burt, was on hand to help reveal this year’s charitable contribution from the club’s Sandy 10 road race – £1,000 to Sue Ryder St John’s.
The club’s veteran athletes took to Cambridge for the season’s second Eastern Masters league fixture, and in a fine combined effort BAC took two wins on the night alongside some strong placings. With several team regulars injured or unavailable, it fell on those present to take on extra events, or to try their hand at unfamiliar disciplines for the first time.
One such event was the night’s opener, an unusually eventful 1500m race walk, which saw debuts from Marcus Davey and Stuart Goodwin on the men’s side, while specialist Helen Middleton joined Helen Kapur in the women’s race. Competitors were stunned to see a rival athlete merrily bouncing along the track in a brisk jog, way ahead of the rest of the field and seemingly oblivious to walking rules, which dictate that one foot must be on the track at all times. As a result the first across the line was disqualified, but behind him Davey finished an excellent third in 8min 15.5sec, while Middleton was second in the women’s A standings with 8:33.7. Goodwin became the club’s first winner of the night in the men’s B-race with 10:51, while Kapur took third in the women’s B list with 12:30.4.
Throws specialist Sandra Ingham took the honours in the V50 javelin, with her throw of 20.63m almost four metres clear of the nearest competition, and she added fourth place in the discus thanks to a throw of 13.67m. Kathryn Juty was sixth in the V35 javelin, with 11.56m.
In the 80m hurdles, club coach Zoe Luscombe took a brilliant V35 third place with a clean run of 20.9, while Kapur’s invaluable contributions continued in the V50 race, where her unconventional but highly effective technique thrilled onlookers and earned the team five points for fourth place as she crossed the line in 25.6. Luscombe later added sixth place in the V35 1500m (6:12.3), while Kapur took V50 fifth in 8:25.4.
Helen Kapur in the 80m hurdles. Photo by Stuart Goodwin
Zoe in the 80m hurdles. Photo by Stuart Goodwin
Zoe in the 1500m. Photo by Stuart Goodwin
Davey took sixth in the V35 200m in 29.3sec and fifth in the 1500m in 4:54.9. Juty was fourth in the women’s 200m in 33.9, while in the men’s V60 race, Colin Harries took sixth place (40.9). Team captain Charlie Arnold was just pipped out of second place on the line in the V60 1500m, but took an excellent third with 5:37.9, having earlier taken fifth in the high jump with 1.15m. Juty was fourth in the women’s V35 high jump in 1.12m.
Elsewhere in the field, Goodwin took fourth in the V35 triple jump thanks to a final-round 8.87m in a topsy-turvy competition where most of the field posted best distances with their closing efforts. Simon Strong enjoyed a brace of fifth places in the V35 javelin (14.00m) and discus (13.05m), while Clark Skerratt was another taking four points for fifth in the V60 javelin (11.41m), and Harries joined in too with fifth in the V60 discus (14.23m).
Communications confusions hampered the 4x200m relays, with athletes unclear on where the break point was on the opening leg, allowing runners to leave their lane and make for the inside, while the men’s V50 team were frozen out entirely after failing to hear they were supposed to be lining up in the same race as the V35s.
Luscombe got the women’s team off to a flying start, while Kapur and Bev Strong shored things up for the middle legs against speedier competition, before Juty took the baton home for a fine third place.
In the men’s race, Arnold – still remonstrating with officials for the perceived injustice on the start line – channelled his obvious displeasure to helm a patchwork side for the opening leg, where he lined up against runners 25 years his junior. He handed to Simon Strong, whose fine leg left BAC in a straight fight with Bedford Harriers for fifth place. Goodwin closed the gap still further, before Davey’s brilliant final leg reeled in the competition to take an extra point.
Biggleswade took fifth places in both the men’s and women’s standings, adding up to fifth overall on the night, and the team now turn their attention to match three in Milton Keynes on 5 July.
Alex Ingham flew the flag for BAC in the north-west as he stormed to victory in the javelin at the Northern Athletics Championships at Manchester’s Sportcity. Eligible to compete as he currently lives and studies in York, Ingham’s best throw of 52.35m was over 11m longer than the nearest competition.
Meanwhile at Crystal Palace, Euan Dickson-Earle’s fine season continued in the SEAA Championships. The club’s international sprint hurdler took bronze in unhelpfully windy conditions with 15.48sec, just 0.05sec behind the athlete in second.
A promising day for Tom Boggon ended in injury disappointment however, as he made the final of the Under-20s 400m as one of the fastest losers from the heats, but found himself unable to take the start line. Boggon hopes to recover soon and join Ingham and Dickson-Earle at the England Athletics Championships which take place in Bedford this weekend (17-18 June).
Elsewhere Under-15s athlete Leonie Brunning, a pupil at St Thomas More School in Bedford, has been selected for the Regional Final of the English Schools’ Combined Events Championships, set to take place on 24-25 June in Bedford. The top athletes from the regionals progress to September’s English finals in Boston, Lincolnshire.
Brunning, with a personal best of 1.60m set this season, has also achieved the top-level qualifying height in the high jump for the English Schools’ Championships, which take place at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium on 7 & 8 July.
The 62-mile race, which started at 7am and has a 16-hour time limit, is not for the faint of heart and forms part of a Grand Slam of three events that also includes the Peddars Way Ultra (77km) and the more modest Kings Forest 50km – still substantially more than a marathon.
The Norfolk race began in Castle Acre and moves to Sheringham along the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path, taking in – in Jones’s words – “just about every sort of underfoot conditions from tarmac through to sand dunes”.
Jones, who was using the race as a training outing before he takes on the 145-mile Kennet & Avon Canal Race on 30 July, finished 17th of 47 finishers, with many having dropped out due to the searing heat. He helped along a Redway Runners athlete “who was going through a bad patch” eight miles from the finish. “So,” Jones continued, “I hiked the final eight miles with her, including four miles of shingle beach.” He finished in a time of 13hrs 21min 23sec.
Charlie Arnold and Sally Jones endured more epic undertakings, showing there’s more to the club than just running, jumping and throwing as they lined up alongside almost 5,000 competitors at the Blenheim Palace Triathlon.
After an overcast morning, the sun came out as they plunged into the lake for a 750m swim, followed by a 19.8km cycle on a harsh, very hilly course, finishing up with a 5.4km run which involved further climbing for tired legs.
Sally, taking part in her first triathlon, had been persuaded to take part after competing in a few duathlon (running and cycling) events.
Sally Jones in action. Photos by Poppy Jones
She said: “After a few months of training, involving more cycling, running after cycling and braving the waters at Box End in Bedford, I turned up at Blenheim with the family in tow, a car full of kit and a small sense of anxiety about the impending swim in the lake!”
“Despite a rather amateur attempt at front crawl that ended up a mix of crawl and breast stroke, I completed the 750m swim in 21m 26sec. After negotiating the 400m uphill run to transition whilst trying to wriggle out of the wetsuit, the 20km bike leg was done in 51:53, and then back out for a two lap run of 5.4km in 32:29. A few challenging hills in both kept things interesting. Overall I finished in 1.55.08 which was well under my hopefully anticipated time of two hours.” Sally finished as 995th female overall, and 160th in the age 40-44 age category.
Charlie completed the swim in 18:10, the cycling stint in 48:33 and his run of 25:57 gave him an overall time of 1:44.07 as he crossed the line at 18th male in the age 60-64 category. He said: “The finish line was a welcome sight with the reward of a well earned medal and, from one of the sponsors Erdinger, a pint of (non-alcoholic) beer.”
A depleted junior squad punched well above their combined weights with a fine outing in the Eastern Young Athletics League at Luton.
Leading the way was Leonnie Brunning, whose fabulous clearance of 1.60m in the U15G high jump was a personal best and gave her the win by 15cm. She also added vital points with third in the long jump with 4.14m, and seventh in the 75m hurdles in 13.2sec. Her younger sister Hannah took third in the U13 shot with 6.90m and fourth in the javelin with 12.55m, and sprinted home in the 800m to finish in 3min 11.7sec.
In the boy’s U15 100m, Cameron Rayner earned a PB of 12 seconds exactly to take second place, and he added another runners-up spot in the 200m, in 24.3sec.
BAC’s Mandie Trudgill adds: “Casey Tyler-Woods competed in his first ever shot put competition to earn points for the team. He was a little hesitant and nervous having never thrown before – but he put it out there.” Casey’s 4.34m took sixth place and two points, and he added another sixth place in the 800m in 3:02.8.
“Jacob Gittens had never done long jump competitively either,” Mandie said, “but his leap of 2.63m took sixth place in the U13 standings.” He also took four points for fourth place in the B string of the U15 boy’s 100m, with 13.4sec.
“Bailey Foster took part in his first competition for Biggleswade as a junior, having come up from the club’s Little Bees, and he got a PB of 7.20m in the U13 javelin.” Bailey also added a fifth place in the B string of the 100m, in 16.8.
Daniel Hemming put in a solid run in the U15B 1500m, finishing fifth in 5:42.1. Georgia Smith showed great speed and stamina to take sixth in both her 200m (28.5sec) and 300m (45.8sec) outings.
Tristan Rayner and Callum Stokes showed commitment and dedication to run the 100m immediately before the 400m. Tristan was fifth in both the U17 100m A race (11.9sec) and 400m (55.6), while Callum took fifth in the 100m B (12.1) and it’s 400m equivalent (58.7), and added a fifth place in the 200m (24.3). Tristan also took fourth in the triple jump, thanks to a leap of 10.72m.
Valerie Snowball, in her first competition as an under-15, remained strong against competition up to a year older than her throughout both her 100m and 200m races, taking away times of 14.2 and 29.5 respectively. Sophie Forbes Laird took fourth place in the U13 200m with 29.4 and sixth in the long jump (3.53m), while Kareem Davis achieved great results in the U13 100m (third, 14.1), 200m (fourth, 30.0) and long jump (fifth, 3.59m) – despite forgetting his spikes!
In the U17 competition, Janice Amber took seventh in the 100m in 15.2sec and sixth in the 200m in 31.6.
Mandie adds: “Lastly, but most definitely very important, is a BIG thank you to Bev & Simon Strong, Terry Stokes, Trahern Rayner, Sandra Ingham, Katie Miles, Jakub Grabowski and Carol Brunning, who gave up their time to come and help us out and earn points by officiating our nominated field events.”
A year on from completing Biggleswade Athletic Club’s first ever Couch to 5k programme, five BAC members marked the anniversary in style, challenging themselves at a much longer distance. Corinne Calligan, Helen and Malcolm Steward, Rachel Hallam Stott and Vikki Vowles took on last weekend’s Casterbridge Half in Dorset, a half-marathon race of 13.1 miles which works out well over four times the 5km distance they originally set out to conquer.
Stephen & Helen Jones/Dorsetbays Photography
Stephen & Helen Jones/Dorsetbays Photography
Since completing the programme the quintet have joined BAC and now run three times a week, taking in a mixture of training and social runs including the club’s regular Sunday Coffee and Cake outings across the region. Having started on day one of C25k with a session of 10 x 1 minute runs, the progression to several hours out on hilly terrain has been remarkable and testiment to their commitment and new-found love of running.
The Casterbridge course was not cherrypicked for its ease either, and is certainly not one for the fainthearted as it consists of mile upon mile of beautiful yet very hilly countryside. In humid bank holiday weekend conditions, the runners gamely soldiered on to end the day with excellent times and finishers’ medals to treasure.
First of the five over the line was Malcolm, in an excellent time of 2hr 12min 15sec, closely followed by Vicky Berry (2:12.47), who leads the club’s “improver’s” training group and helps bridge the gap between Couch to 5k and longer distances. Helen and Rachel were next up in 2:40.34 and 2:40.35 respectively, while Corinne and Vikki Vowles had a blast on the course and ended with times of 2:57.12 and 2:57.16.
In the Dorchester Marathon that runs alongside the half, Jon Stott – in his debut over the distance – finished in an outstanding time of 3:39.03 to take 77th place overall, and 30th in the senior men’s category. All runners sent their gratitude to another C25k graduate, Jacqui Thompson, who lent valuable race support along the course.
Club coach Giles Hawthorne, a key figure in getting BAC’s C25k programme off the ground, said of the runners’ achievements: “I think they are a breath of fresh air. These guys are proof that if you run three times a week, and take advantage of all the opportunities that being in a running club offers you – from cross-country to structured training and coaching advice – remarkable things are possible. Health, fitness and mental health can be improved at any age.”
Malcolm Steward. Photo by Jacqui Thompson
Corinne Calligan and Vikki Vowles. Photo by Jacqui Thompson
Photo by Jacqui Thompson
Rachel Stott and Helen Steward. Photo by Jacqui Thompson
He reserved particular mention for Vikki Vowles, who has proved an inspiration to current C25k participants with her story of progressing from being, in her own words, “seriously obese, asthmatic and diabetic” to 5k, cross country races through the winter, and now far beyond.
“Vikki is something special,” Giles said. “She is a fantastic athlete who is only just beginning to explore what she is capable of in her running.
“The other thing that comes out in the photos from the race is you can see the bond of friendship between them. They would never have met each other if it wasn’t for running. The great thing is that this is only the beginning for them.”
Huge thanks from our half-marathon-running C25k graduates to Vicky Berry and Jacqui Thompson for their invaluable support in Dorchester
With the current Couch to 5k programme hitting the halfway mark this week, an enormous thank you to all participants, coaches and mentors, and remember, whatever lies ahead after graduation for the current crop, and indeed for all members of the club, BAC offers a host of training groups and activities to help you reach your goal
Club secretary Broom sweeps up another 26.2 miles
On the same day up in the north-west, BAC club secretary Hannah Broom took on her third 26.2 mile challenge in a month at the Liverpool Rock’n’Roll Marathon, hoping to secure a highly sought after, but notoriously hard to achieve “Good for Age” entry into the 2018 London Marathon.
In search of a time of 3hr 45mins, Hannah set off, accompanied by club coach Paul Davies. “It was always going to be hard with so much in the legs, but I had to know,” she said. “Three marathons in a month is never easy but I had to give it a go.”
“Despite the recent tragedy in Manchester the atmosphere was brilliant – it was a fantastic way to sightsee around the city, with Everton and Anfield on route. The bands playing music on the way round were a real lift. I was bang on the pace and feeling comfortable. The 3:45 pacer was well behind and I had time in the bag, so it was looking like I had it.”
Unfortunately, around five miles from the end, trouble struck. “At mile 21, the wheels started to come off,” Hannah said. “My calves started cramping – something that I had never experienced – and I needed to stop and stretch them. We walked a bit and then tried to run but they cramped up again.”
Ominously, the 3:45 pacer went past, meaning she was now behind schedule. “We decided we were into injury prevention mode and came home slowly – there is always another day.”
“Slowly” being a relative term, Hannah still finished well inside four hours, crossing the line in 3:58.10 – an excellent time, and her third fastest over the distance. She placed 1,052nd overall out of 2,972 finishers, and was the 160th female runner home.
Hannah added: “I had already decided when I entered this race, if for whatever reason it did not go in my favour I would park the marathons for a while and concentrate on half-marathon distance for a while. Massive thanks to Paul for spending the longest ever time on his feet and being my running butler as well as great company!”
BAC – back on track
Away from the roads, Sandy Track reopened last week after a spell of refurbishment, meaning Biggleswade Athletic Club currently boasts the freshest track surface and throwing areas in the UK.
Having originally opened in September 2005, the original track was almost 12 years old and well past its best. The new surface however is stunning, offers athletes a superb training environment, and looks set to prove an excellent facility for future competitions.
Club chairman Damien Pitts said: “The last few months have not been easy for our athletes, with them having to train on different nights and travel further afield in order to continue their training and prepare for competitions.
“It is now great news to have the track resurface work completed, in order for all of athletes to be back to their home track and for them all to be back training with each other once again.
“We have a track in place for at least the next 10 years for us to continue to manage, train and hold competitions on. This helps us to promote the club, but also supports the wider community as this is a facility that they can use as well.”
Veterans, seniors, juniors and the club’s Little Bees (age 8-10) will all be making great use of the fantastic new facilities throughout and summer and far beyond. In a year that features the World Athletics Championships in London, it’s a great time to get involved, and either renew old skills or try your hand at something new. For information regarding club membership and training on the track, visit the club website.