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.

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.”

And they’re off! Photo courtesy of

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.

The finishers’ board. Photo courtesy of

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.

Jamie and Elaine, sitting in a tree, W-I-N-N-I-N-G: awards galore for BAC at Doug Anderson 5k

Biggleswade Athletic Club athletes put in a sensational performance at the Doug Anderson 5k in Bedford and came away with an unprecedented haul of individual and team honours. The annual fixture at Bedford Park is BAC’s designated club championship race over the distance, with many entrants on a blustery evening also competing for the Bedfordshire county championship honours.

Leading the way was Jamie Hall, in his BAC debut, and he stunned himself with the outright race win thanks to an astonishing run of 16min 33sec. His delight at victory by five seconds from a member of host club Bedford Harriers was multiplied when he turned at the finish to see his partner Elaine Livera emerge as winner of the ladies’ race with a superb 18:51, good enough for 25th place overall.

Paul Davies, Rob Morgan and Elaine Rivera in action. Photo by Jo Ellary
Paul Davies, Rob Morgan and Elaine Rivera in action. Photo by Jo Ellary

Jamie said: “I got to the park very apprehensive about the whole thing.  We set off at what felt like a fairly acceptable pace. I felt myself trying to push ahead but kept remembering coach Paul Davies’ advice to stick behind someone and use them as a barrier against the wind. Much to my surprise I found myself keeping with the group at the front for the rest of the first lap.  I stuck behind the other runners to avoid the worst of the wind coming along the bottom straight. When we got to the top of the park a couple of the guys at the front started to pick up the pace so I tried to keep with them.

“Paul had told me the point I should put everything in for the finish and as soon as I hit it, I gritted my teeth and set off. To my astonishment, I got to the line first!”

In between Jamie and Elaine came Paul Cooke in 18:24 for 18th place and Rob Morgan in 24th, pipping Elaine despite the same time of 18:51. As the top three finishers from each club count in the team standings, the first BAC trio’s cumulative placings added up to 43, which ensured BAC took second place in the men’s competition. Cooke also took the runners-up spot in the men’s veteran over 40 county championship.

Rob Morgan, Jamie Hall and Paul Cooke helped BAC to second place in the team standings. Photo by Bev Strong
Rob Morgan, Jamie Hall and Paul Cooke helped BAC to second place in the team standings. Photo by Bev Strong

On the women’s side, club secretary Hannah Broom retained her female veteran’s over 35 crown with a time of 21:24 and 71st place overall – she was also sixth female finisher overall,  and took the FV35 county championship crown as well as second place in the Bedfordshire Female Open standings.

Just behind was Natalie Morgan, Rob’s wife, who took 19th place in the women’s standings with 22:04. Natalie was third in the FV40 competition, just one second from the runner’s-up spot, and that agonising deficit also kept her from winning the county championship in her age group. Elaine, Hannah and Natalie’s performances gave BAC a stunning second place in the team competition, nine seconds faster overall than the winning team but just missing out on the top spot on combined finishing positions.

Elaine Rivera, Hannah Broom and Natalie Morgan show off their shield. Photo by Bev Strong
Elaine Rivera, Hannah Broom and Natalie Morgan show off their shield. Photo by Bev Strong

BAC’s team results were all the more remarkable as the club had 24 finishers on the day, while the hosts – who topped the standings – fielded a whopping 96. Olney Runners, back in third, had 29.

Hannah said: “Hearing ‘Biggleswade’ over and over in the prize-giving was amazing. For a small club we certainly pack a mean punch! I’m still buzzing for all my BAC team-mates as it certainly is a team effort.”

The brilliant performances on a challenging course continued throughout the field, with Paul Davies second in the MV45 rankings with 18:58, and Bev Strong astonishing herself in her competitive debut for the club by taking 30 seconds off her PB and and finishing in a superb second place in the FV45 county championship standings.

Doug Anderson 5k - BAC squad. Photo by Andrew Deans
BAC entrants at Doug Anderson 5k. Photo by Andrew Deans

Doug Anderson 5k results (age-graded times in brackets)

1 Jamie Hall – 16:33 (16:33)
18 Paul Cooke – 18:24 (17:23)
24 Rob Morgan – 18:51 (17:41)
25 Elaine Livera – 18:51 (18:51)
27 Paul Davies – 18:58 (16:59)
47 John Stott – 19:50 (17:38)
71 Hannah Broom – 21:24 (21:02)
86 Damien Pitts – 21:57 (21:36)
93 Natalie Morgan – 22:04 (21:13)
100 Emma Bailey – 22:22 (21:12)
109 Gary Baldwin – 22:48 (19:28)
133 Malcolm Steward – 23:54 (22:25)
142 Neil Harvey – 24:28 (20:12)
164 Stuart Goodwin – 25:02 (23:50)
172 Amy Stamp – 25:15 (25:11)
180 Ian Grimwood – 25:32 (19:38)
198 Simon Strong – 26:44 (23:57)
233 Rachel Hallam Stott – 29:31 (28:44)
242 Juliet Grimwood – 30:03 (25:33)
256 Julia Mackay – 31:46 (27:00)
268 Helen Steward – 33:22 (30:48)
270 Vikki Vowles – 33:43 (30:49)
273 Bev Strong – 34:01 (31:42)
275 Colin Harries – 34:10 (25:00)

And rearranged into club championship results – ordered by age-graded results (with chip times in brackets) …

1 Jamie Hall – 16:33 (16:33) Male club championship winner
2 Paul Davies – 16:59 (18:58)
3 Paul Cooke – 17:23 (18:24)
4 John Stott – 17:38 (19:50)
5 Robert Morgan – 17:41 (18:51)
6 Elaine Livera – 18:51 (18:51) Female club championship winner
7 Gary Baldwin – 19:28 (22:48)
8 Ian Grimwood – 19:38 (25:32)
9 Neil Harvey – 20:12 (24:28)
10 Hannah Broom – 21:02 (21:24)
11 Emma Bailey – 21:12 (22:22)
12 Natalie Morgan – 21:13 (22:04)
13 Damien Pitts – 21:36 (21:57)
14 Malcolm Steward – 22:25 (23:54)
15 Stuart Goodwin – 23:50 (25:02)
16 Simon Strong – 23:57 (26:44)
17 Colin Harries – 25:00 (34:10)
18 Amy Stamp – 25:11 (25:15)
19 Juliet Grimwood 25:33 (30:03)
20 Julia Mackay – 27:00 (31:46)
21 Rachel Hallam Stott – 28:44 (29:31)
22 Helen Steward – 30:48 (33:22)
23 Vikki Vowles – 30:49 (33:43)
24 Bev Strong – 31:42 (34:01)