Park life: Biggleswade AC’s huge Couch to 5k class helps breaks record in Bedford

Biggleswade Athletic Club’s third Couch to 5k course was rounded off in sensational style last Saturday, as dozens of new runners crossed the line for their first attempt at the distance. The “graduation” run took place at Bedford Park, at the town’s weekly Saturday morning Parkrun event, which has taken place since June 2011. The 66 BAC C52K graduates on the day ensured the run smashed its attendance record, with 586 recorded finishers an increase of 58 on the previous best.

BAC Couch to 5k graduates, mentors and coaches. Photo by Damien Pitts

A whopping 124 people signed up to the course, and dozens more will be graduating in the coming weeks. The 12-week programme was based at Sandy’s Sunderland Road recreation ground, with weekly Wednesday sessions gradually and manageably ramping up through training in which participants initially ran for one minute at a time, then walking for a minute, repeated 10 times. The amount of running increased each week, with the walking reduced over time to help prepare runners for the 5km (3.1 mile) distance.

Coaches and “mentors” then helped to run two “homework” sessions a week at various locations in the area, to get those involved used to the discipline of running three times a week, a proven way to improve fitness and increase stamina. The improvements in those present were remarkable over the short period that the course took place.

Dave Eggleton was the first graduate over the finish line in Bedford, and said: “I started the course because I needed to get fitter, I wasn’t expecting after a few weeks to actually look forward to putting my running kit on. What started as a 12 week journey to help me get fitter has achieved its goals and made me some good friends along the way.”

Another hugely impressive participant was Sharon Griffiths, who overcame injury problems during the programme to graduate in fine style. She said: “I hated running at school and wasn’t very good at it, but the coaches and mentors have been fantastic with encouragement and praise to everybody. I’m definitely carrying on running now – I love it, which surprises me to say. It’s the best decision I’ve made.”

Andy King, who had “literally never run” before the course, was persuaded to join up by Sharon after mutual friends who took part in one of the previous courses recommended it. “They raved about the support they got,” he said. “The first week was hard and by the third week I was ready to give in. But what kept me going? The constant help from mentors who genuinely understood how you were feeling but would push you just that tiny bit more each session. I’m still astounded I ran 5K on Saturday. My self-esteem is at an all-time high, but without the support of Biggleswade AC, its coaches, mentors, and the other guys running with me, I wouldn’t have come near to finishing the course!”

Karen Soper added: “I needed this because I was so unfit and was not feeling good about myself at all. I feel so much better – I’m liking the way I look and it’s gave me a great feeling about myself. I now get up some morning before work and go for a run which then gives me a fantastic feeling for the rest of the day.”

Another to notice a huge difference is Kirsty Beard, who said: “Twelve weeks ago I was a stone heavier, and couldn’t run when prosecco was on a 2 for 1 deal at the bar 10 feet away! The classes and mentoring sessions inspire you to keep going. You could be the quickest or the slowest on the field, and you got the same encouragement, attention and support – but you also certainly got the same buzz, motivation and ‘can-do’ feeling.”

Many of the graduates have already signed up to Biggleswade AC, sending the club’s membership to an all-time high, and they will benefit from a revamped range of training nights, specifically tailored to help the progression of its freshly minted runners, with sessions taking place on both on the streets of Sandy as well as the recently relaid track. Much more info soon – keep an eye on the club website for more details.

Many thanks to club chairman Damien Pitts for photographs of graduation day

BAC C25k graduate results, Bedford Parkrun, 15 July 2017

David Eggleton 27:06
Brian Woodfield 28:03
Joanne Drummond 28:16
Tanya Edwards 29:56
Sharon Griffiths 30:17
Nick Lester 30:42
John Luff 31:07
Alison Elwood 32:03
Genette Smith 32:06
Tom Greaves 32:07
Jennie Day 32:10
Chris Rowley 32:13
Sarah Gatti 32:17
Tracy Brooks 32:42
Lisa Cobb 32:44
Beverley Ritson 32:53
Sophie Lester 33:00
Julie Spavins 33:16
Christine Crawley 33:31
John Crawley 33:34
Colin Oatley 33:48
Rachel Davies 33:54
Emma Kelly 34:07
Charlotte Larkins 34:08
Karyn Jones 34:17
Sue Whitfield 34:30
Janet Fogg 35:02
Peter Elwood 35:57
Kianna Davis 36:00
Sara Masella 36:05
Louise Oliver 36:05
Karen Soper 36:37
Kirsty Beard 36:38
Laura France 36:39
Sadete Noka 36:57
Katie Bishop 37:43
Polly Swinburne 37:43
Amy Smyth 37:43
Joanne Gray 37:50
Vicky Brettle 38:12
Christine Knowles 38:14
Nicola Summers 38:16
Elaine Oatley Fry 38:43
Kathy Doherty 39:06
Francesca McKiernan 39:08
Alan Shaw 39:39
Graeme Wright 39:39
Vanessa Kaye 40:57
Joanne Bishop 41:03
Nicola Gauge 41:33
James Keane 41:33
Helen Williams 41:33
Nicki Dear 41:57
Faye Eavis 42:00
Sally Burn 42:00
Deborah Cockcroft 43:42
Anita Taylor 45:38
Kirsty Day 46:12
Julie White 46:23
Susan Revels 46:24
Helen Hill 48:20
Sharon Davis 48:24
Timothy Mark Garratt 49:11
Andy King 49:44
Suzanne Chidley 50:27
Michelle Shaw 50:27

Mucking in at Mile End: BAC in SAL action

In round four of the Southern Athletics League, Division Three North, Biggleswade AC took a host of top three placings. In searing conditions – “like a roasting tray”, according to Marcus Davey – several competitors threw themselves into extra events for valuable points. As always at SAL meetings, each team could field two athletes per event, in “A” and “B” strings.

On a typically busy day for multi-event specialist Daniel Steel, he won the 110m hurdles in 19.4sec, and came second in both the pole vault (2.65m) and long jump (5.82m). He also took third in the high jump A string with 1.65m, while Charlie Arnold took third in the B string (1.23m). Charlie added a fine fourth in the B string 800m in 2:29.3, and matched that placing in the B string of the 3000m (11:35.9).

Darren Janssen took second place in the B-strings of both the pole vault (2.05m) and hammer (17.57m), and he added third place in the A-string discus (27.92m) and fourth places in the A shot put (8.60m), javelin (29.40m) and B long jump (4.67m).

BAC new boy John Fedew took third places in the B-string shot (7.63m), javelin (24.44m) and discus (17.70m), and took fourth in the A-string hammer with 19.35m.

In the B string of the 400m, Marcus surprised himself to take fourth in 61.3 – beating Paul Davies’ V45 club record by 4.8secs. He also came fourth in the A-string 1500m with 4:48.9. In the B string of the latter race, Tim Berkery was fourth in 5:30.7. For his part, while Davies was fourth in both the A-string 800m (2:27.1) and 3000m (10:55.3).

Morgan Webster was second in the A-string 400m with 51.7sec and third in the 200m in 23.0. Bradley Strong was fifth in the 100m with 14.5.

In the men’s relays, BAC were fourth in both the 4x100m (54.0) and 4x400m (4:16.9).

On the women’s side, Janice Amber took fourth in both 100m (14.0) and the B string of the 200m (31.4). In the A string of the latter race, Kathryn Juty was fifth with 30.9, and she matched that placing in the 400m with 74.4. Kathryn’s best placing of the day came in the long jump, with second place coming courtesy of a leap of 3.82m.

Hannah Broom took third in the B string of the shot (5.62m), and was sixth in the 800m with 2:47.5. Sandra Ingham took second place in the javelin with 18.67m, and took fourth places in the shot’s A string (6.04m), discus (12.79m) and hammer (9.61m).

Overall, BAC took fifth place on the day with 134 points, and with one fixture remaining of the SAL season they lie in 15th place of 24 clubs.

Thanks to Darren Janssen for photographs

Charlie’s captain’s slog: BAC at EMAC Milton Keynes

Veterans’ team captain Charlie Arnold led the way for BAC on a stunning evening in the sunshine at Milton Keynes. The 61-year-old put in a scintillating performance to win the 300m hurdles. After starting off steadily, he blazed around the bend and cantered through to victory in 61.5sec, fully four seconds clear of his nearest opposition. Charlie then shared first place in the V60 pole vault, clearing 1.70m, alongside an athlete from Cambridge & Coleridge AC.

Charlie Arnold in 300m hurdles. Photo by Roo Goodwin
Charlie in the 300m hurdles. Photo by Roo Goodwin

EMAC debutant Jon “Fedge” Fediw got his veterans’ career off to a sterling start with third place in the V35 hammer in 15.21, while David Brown – balancing officiating and competing duties – took a fine third of his own with third in the V50 400m hurdles.
In the women’s competition, Kathryn Juty took second place in the V35 pole vault with 1.30m, third place in the 200m in 34.8sec and fourth in the long jump in 3.19m.

Throws specialist Sandra Ingham took third in the V50 shot in 7.03m, and fifth in the hammer, and helped another EMAC first-timer, Hannah Broom, have a ball after coaching her to third in the V35 hammer (11.20m). Hannah also took fifth in both the 800m and the shot, and was later beaming at her first experience of veterans’ competition.

Zoe Luscombe also put in a serious shift, taking third place in the 400m in a fine 96.7sec, and going straight from the finish of that event to start the 1 mile walk – still wearing spikes, which adds an extra layer of difficulty to an event where one foot must always be in contact with the track. Tripping and tearing up the track behind her, she took an entertaining fourth place in the B string, treating the Buckinghamshire crowd to some extremely colourful language as she went. In the A string of that race, Helen Kapur finished a fine fifth.

Marcus Davey took fourth in the 800m (2:19.5), fifth in the 200m (28.9sec), and finished his night with a stunning final leg in the 4x400m, timed at 62.3sec.

Marcus Davey in 800m. Photo by Roo Goodwin
Marcus Davey. Photo by Roo Goodwin

On a fruitful night in the long jump, Robin Wynde broke the V55 club record twice in quick succession. Having complained that he all-too-often struggled to judge his run-up and hit the take-off board following his first effort, he proceeded to judge it perfectly with his second, and repeated the feat with his third leap of 3.27m, which added 24cm to John Haines’ mark that had stood since 2012. In the V35 category, Stuart Goodwin earned a personal best of his own with 4.18m to take fifth place in a competition where just 55cm separated first and last place. Helen Kapur, competing in the V50 competition, earlier leaped 2.19m to take both fifth place and a PB.

Robin and Stuart earlier took part in the 1mile walk, each taking fourth places in the A and B string with 10:06.05 and 12:02 respectively. Robin’s busy night also took in the 800m, where he earned fifth place, and the shot put, where he took sixth.

Colin Harries, age 70, was fifth in the V60 shot and sixth in the V50 200m standings. Clark Skerratt took fourth in the V60 800m and fifth in the hammer, while Simon Strong’s 5.98m in the V35 shot earned him fifth place.

Top scoring honours of the night went to Helen Kapur, whose brilliant individual tally of 19 points, accrued in a herculean effort that took in five scoring events, showed what the team competition is all about.

It all ended with the 4x400m relays, and first up the men’s V35s were sent off by an apprehensive Fedge, whose steady leg marked his first foray into one-lap territory since joining the club last month. Upon handing over to Simon Strong, he departed trackside to dry-heave while his unsupportive partner, Hannah Broom, failed to contain her mirth. Simon, eternally recovering from injury, thankfully emerged unscathed and handed off to Stuart Goodwin, who presided over the team being lapped by a very high-quality Bedford & County AC quartet. Goodwin then left the baton with Marcus Davey, whose outstanding final 400m was all the better for having been run almost solo.

The men’s V50+ relay followed, and BAC stormed to third in a club-record time, thanks in no small part to a 65.8sec third leg by David Brown. Captain Arnold, Clark Skerratt and Robin Wynde also played their part.

It was left to the V35 ladies’ squad to close out a busy night of track and field action, and a team of Hannah Broom, Sandra Ingham, Kathryn Juty and Zoe Luscombe took fourth place.

Both teams emerged with superb fourth places out of seven strong teams on the night, with the women extremely unlucky to miss out on third by just four points.

If it wasn’t for you medalling kids: Countback denies Leonie bronze at English Schools’ Championships

Biggleswade Athletic Club high-jumper Leonie Brunning was unlucky to miss out on the junior bronze medal at the English Schools’ Championships in Birmingham last weekend, as she finished fifth despite clearing the same height as two athletes who shared third place.

The 14-year-old, representing Bedfordshire, leaped to a highly impressive 1.63m to earn a National Standard badge, hot on the heels of a 1.67m clearance last week in Peterborough which moved her up to fifth in the UK rankings. However, having entered the competition at 1.44m, and managing a clean roster of jumps up to 1.57m, the countback rule began to tell on failed attempts as the competition heated up.

Supported by the club’s high jump coach Chris Watson, Leonie’s second-time clearance at 1.60m was followed by a last-gasp attempt at 1.63m, but as two rivals representinging Leicestershire and Hampshire managed to clear the latter height at the second time of asking, they shared third place.

Amid an outstanding run of form which has showcased her excellent technique, Leonie’s attention now turns to gaining more consistency above the 1.60m barrier, which will enable her to be fresher at the business end of competitions. Her experience among stiff competition at Alexander Stadium will stand her in fine stead for the rest of the season.

In the junior boys’ 200m, BAC’s Cameron Rayner was another competing for his county, and his 24.17sec, run into a headwind, earned him sixth place in a very high quality heat.

Higher and higher: BAC’s record-breaking Brunning bounds up British rankings

Leonie Brunning starred for Biggleswade Athletic Club on a record-breaking afternoon at the latest Eastern Young Athletes League meeting in Peterborough.

Brunning won with a stunning 1.67m, not just a new Under-15s club record, but fully 4cm clear of the National Championship standard, the benchmark levels for young athletes. It also propelled her from equal 13th in the UK U15 rankings up to fifth outright, and perhaps the most staggering stat of the day was that her performance would have been good enough for the 14-year old to secure a top 10 placing at the senior Team GB trials for August’s World Championships, which were taking place at the same time in Birmingham.

Leonie Brunning in the high jump. Photo by Hannah Brunning
Leonie Brunning in full flight. Photo by Hannah Brunning

“The stadium was in silence watching her,” said BAC’s Mandie Trudgill. “It was just amazing and thrilling to watch. People were coming over to ask all about her as she was jumping, and afterwards she received so many congratulations from strangers.”
Having added 6cm to her previous personal best, Leonie now heads for this weekend’s English Schools’ Championships at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium, the scene of the World Trials, full of confidence.

Another who will be showcasing his talents in the midlands is Cameron Rayner, and he showed he is in great form in equalling his PB of exactly 12sec in the 100m.

Freddie Steele finishing in the 200m. Photo by Mandie Trudgill
Freddie Steele finishing in the 200m. Photo by Mandie Trudgill

Meanwhile there was an outright PB for first-timer Freddie Steele in the shot put (5.32m), fellow debutant Adam Reed posted one of his own in the 800m, as did Stephen Day, while Madison Day earned hers in the two-lap event thanks to a blistering sprint finish. Hannah Brunning was another who demonstrated a brilliant change of pace over the home straight in the event.

More PBs came for Alicia Ward in the long jump (3.87m), Sophie Steele in the javelin (17.63) and Georgia Smith in the 300m. On a day in which BAC amassed an impressive points haul, all of the squad – which also featured Bailey Foster, Kareem Davis, Elliot Swinburne and Daniel Hemming – played their part, and Tristan Rayner in particular showed grit to recover from a sapping effort in the 400m to take the line for the 200m.

Adam Reed in the 800m. Photo by Mandie Trudgill
EYAL debutant Adam Reed in the 800m. Photo by Mandie Trudgill

“He showed true club spirit and what it means to be a member of the mighty blue and yellows!” added Trudgill. “He ran an amazing 400m, albeit doing too much in the first 200, and the boy was spent. As Team GB captain Christine Ohuruogo would say, he definitely left it all out on the track. He had to lay down for a good 20 minutes to recover, and although he was due to do the 200m he really wasn’t in a state to do it.

“But then he heard the running tally of points, and that we were only at that point three points behind Luton AC. ‘Well that’s it,’ he said, grabbing his spikes. ‘I’m running!’ and off he jogged to the start.”

His 200m of 25.0sec was very impressive under the circumstances but events elsewhere went Luton’s way and according to provisional results BAC, among the smallest clubs of the 27 competing in the league, were just pipped to sixth position on the day and now turn their attention to the remaining fixtures at Colchester and Bedford.

The heat is on: Dickson-Earle takes line at Team GB trials

Euan Dickson-Earle once again showcased Biggleswade AC colours live on the BBC but narrowly missed making the final of Team GB’s trials for next month’s World Athletics Championships.

Screengrab: BBC

Euan finished third in his 110m hurdles heat in 14.62sec, two-tenths of a second outside his personal best, whereas the third-finishing athletes in the other two heats progressed due to quicker times. After clipping the first barrier, Euan struggled for rhythm but fought hard to the line to finish a clear third, and overall his time ranked him 12th of the 20 athletes in the competition.

Despite disappointment at failing to make the final, competing well alongside older athletes continues his rapid progression in the senior ranks following a remarkable career at junior level, and experience of the trials environment should prove invaluable.

You can view Euan’s heat on iPlayer for the remainder of July here – the race coverage begins from 19min 15sec.