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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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)