Biggleswade Athletic Club’s Leonie Brunning kept up her stunning run of form in the high jump with the silver medal at the SIAB Schools’ International at Grangemouth, Scotland.
Making her debut in an England vest, Leonie soared to a brilliant 1.70m to consolidate her recent performances that have propelled her to third in the UK under-17 rankings. Leonie, of St Thomas More School in Bedford, had qualified thanks to a brilliant personal best and club record leap of 1.75m at the English Schools Championships earlier in July.
Competing as one of two athletes representing England in a field of eight against jumpers from Scotland, Wales and Ireland, Leonie entered the competition at 1.51m and cleared at the first time of asking. However, jitters were affecting her performance.
She said: “I was a lot more nervous for this competition than I had been the previous week at English Schools because it was a higher level competition – I was representing England.
Leonie with her silver medal. Photo by Brunnings
“When the competition began it was uneasy wait for my first jump as other athletes started at lower heights. Thankfully I cleared 1.51m on my first go. However, 1.56m was not so easy.” Having seen her fail twice, and despite the height being 19cm down on her personal best, her family feared this would be the height at which she would exit the competition. But Leonie dug in.
“Taking three attempts to clear … it was with relief rather than excitement with which I stepped off the bed as I knew I would have been extremely disappointed with myself to go out so soon.”
A first-time clearance at 1.61m followed, but more drama was to follow at the next height. “The pattern repeated itself on 1.61m and 1.64m – finding 1.61 easy and clearing it first time and then having to take three attempts at 1.64.”
The next height, 1.67m, would be the point that the field of eight thinned down, and with only three of her rival athletes clearing, medals were suddenly in reach. Thankfully, after failing her first attempt, Leonie went clear with her second. She said: “After clearing 1.67m at the second time of asking I found new determination as I had finally put myself in a medalling position. This was the height most struggled with.”
Only two athletes would clear the next mark, and thanks to the determination she had shown at the previous height, Leonie was one of them. “I think it was because of this that I cleared 1.70, also on my second attempt.”
The gold medal height proved to be 1.73m, and although she had bettered this in Birmingham the previous weekend, Leonie exited with three failures while Scotland’s Carmen Neat produced a lifetime best with her first attempt to take the top honours. Leonie’s England teammate Emma Sherwood took the bronze.
“It was a tough competition and I wasn’t entirely satisfied with my performance,” Leonie added. “However, I was delighted to come away with a silver medal!” Her performance helped England sweep the board in the team standings, with the female team comfortably beating Scotland into second place, which the combined male and female squad finished well clear of Ireland. She has been selected to represent the Midlands in the School Games which take place at Loughborough University from 30 August to 2 September.
Ian Roberts, England’s team manager, was full of praise for the whole squad: “I can genuinely say that it was not only one of the strongest teams we have ever been represented by at a SIAB event, but in my experience it was one of the best behaved. In our team meetings at the championships in Birmingham last week, I said that the privilege of competing for your country carries great responsibility, and my point was obviously taken seriously. The conduct of all team members was particularly good at the stadium, and we have received praise from other nations and spectators for the manner in which we supported each other, and how professional, humble and courteous everybody was.”
Biggleswade Athletic Club athletes were out in force in searing hot conditions for the Doug Anderson 5k in Bedford, and were rewarded with another huge 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 also competing for the Bedfordshire county championship honours.
BAC’s ladies team, made up of the top three club finishers on the night, were agonisingly pipped to the title last year, but romped to victory this time around, while it was left to the men’s team to read the small-print after they finished third. Their combined time in fact bettered that of Bedford Harriers in second place by 14 seconds, but their combined score based on placings across the finish line was 1 point worse off than their local rivals.
Leading the way in the overall standings was Jamie Hall, last year’s winner, who was fourth finisher but third in the senior male age group, with an excellent time of 16:58. Jamie also took third in the county championship standings. Two places and eight seconds behind came Steven Baldwin, in 17:06. Nick Haworth rounded off the top three BAC men with a run of 18:53.
Elaine Livera after the finish. Photos by Nick Spavins
Just ahead of Nick, Elaine Livera – who won the ladies’ title on her BAC debut last season – retained it with a stunning run of 18:49. This was remarkably two seconds quicker than her effort last year despite the punishingly humid conditions, and she finished six seconds clear of her nearest competition, and 22nd overall. She also took the county championship crown with 39 seconds to spare.
The course takes in two and a half laps of the park, complete with a steady climb that runners had to tackle three times. Due to the conditions, with the temperature still at 27C come the 7.30pm start, a drinks station was assembled – a rare sight for a 5k race – and most runners taking advantage opted to tip water straight over their heads in an attempt to keep their temperature down rather than drinking it.
Hannah Broom. Photos by Nick Spavins
Keeping her cool, club secretary Hannah Broom once again retained both of her female veteran’s over 35 crowns with a time of 20:19, and 46th place overall – she was also the sixth female finisher overall, and third in the overall county championship standings.
She said: “I was not looking forward to this race, it was always going to be tough in the heat and a healthy dose of competition but we were in with a chance of retaining the girls’ title so the challenge was on. I was struggling in the heat so the pace was slower than I would have liked but I picked off some guys but saw no girls – relief! – so I was hopeful in my race position. After working my way up the mountain of an incline in the last lap I made a dash for the finish managing to help the girls keep the ladies’ title while defending my FV35 title and county medal for the 3rd consecutive year! The support on course definitely kept me going and was very much appreciated!”
Emma Bailey took the FV40 county championship crown with a run of 21:14, just ahead of Natalie Morgan’s 21:37, but each dropped down a place in the main race standings due to a non-county-eligible athlete taking those honours. Emma said: “It was incredibly hot and by the end of 1 mile warm up I was exhausted and dripping – but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone. I couldn’t believe the amount of blue and yellow vests waiting for the off, an amazing turnout. I set off feeling strong but that slow incline got the better of my legs on each lap, but having people supporting and cheering really helped spur me on. I pushed for the finish with everything I had left crossing the line in 21.14 – over a minute faster than last year! I have only been a member of the club for just over a year but have enjoyed running and competing so much and am very grateful for all the training and support.”
Most shocked athlete of the night was Kathryn Juty, in her Doug Anderson debut, who romped to FV45 county honours by well over a minute thanks to a fine run of 24:41. She said: “The great support given by BAC runners and non-runners alike really helped keep my legs going on such a hot, muggy evening – so thanks to all. I’d like to particularly thank Paul Davies for his comment: ‘I can’t believe you got a medal and I didn’t!’ Me either!”
Charlie Arnold. Photos by Nick Spavins
However the performance of the night arguably came from the evergreen Charlie Arnold, competing in the MV60 category, who finished in a brilliant 20:18. Nigel Bush, who recently graduated to the MV70 age group, finished third in those standings with a fine time of 26:26
Charlie’s performance was one of several interesting movements in BAC’s club’s championship race results. These 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, Charlie’s time moves to 16:02, and he ended up victorious by 48 seconds over coach Paul Davies.
Charlie said: “From the entrants list I could see that I was going to be up against fierce rivals whom I had already had some close races with already this season, some won and some lost. The evening was hot and humid, and it was going to be energy sapping needing careful pacing.
“In the closing stages the final incline lay ahead indicating the last 500m. Still feeling strong I pushed up what now felt like a mountain ready to set myself up for the downhill run to the finish and the final sprint. Everything went into the last few meters before relief at crossing the finishing line. I finished in 20:18 which was better than I expected taking account of the warm conditions making breathing difficult. I was especially pleased to find that I had finished 12 secs ahead of my nearest age group rival and even more ahead of another two who had beaten me a few days earlier in the Beds AAA 10km race.
“It was fantastic to see many BAC athletes out competing and scooping up several awards on the evening ahead of some much bigger clubs. Not just runners though, the support from BAC members lining the route and cheering was very welcome and kept me going when the going got tough. All who ran and supported were a credit to the club and illustrated the great team spirit that we have.”
Others placing in the county championship standings were Paul Cooke (3rd, MV40, 19:00), Marcus Davey (3rd, MV45, 18:54), Gary Baldwin (3rd, MV50, 23:05) and Nigel Bush (2nd, MV70, 26:26). BAC fielded an incredible 51 athletes on the night – the most the club have ever fielded in the race – compared to 24 last year, with Jennie Day, Vicki and Janie Highland, Sue Whitfield, Lorraine Emerson, Beverley Ritson and Samatha Thorogood among those making their competitive debuts for the club. Samantha said: “It was my first race in a club vest too and I loved it! The support around the course was very much appreciated.”
An alternative race report from Nick Haworth
As I neared the venue at Bedford Park at 6.45pm, the car thermometer showed a temperature of 28.5C – a fall of a couple of degrees from earlier on, but nevertheless race conditions might be considered challenging by some. Oh, what the hell – if the rest of the club was prepared to endure the race, I’d be a fool not to join them in collective suffering! – So there we all were – all 51 of us gathered like sheep on the grass near the start – all for one – one for all!
A few minutes before the start at 7.30pm, the temperature had cooled slightly to 27C, we walked in small groups, silently down to the start – all one of us dripping with a combination of sweat and nerves – secretly asking ourselves why we had volunteered to run in such an event. But before any whimpers could be uttered the starter horn blasted and we were off – a big swarm of runners all in a desperate bid to make ground – to gain the upper-hand on rivals and to do their best to get the misery done with as soon as possible.
In all our minds – the mantra – “control your breathing, maintain posture, arms up, face forward, focus, focus!!” – Easier said than done and how fast did eagerness wain – initial enthusiasm quickly wilted in the desperate heat as we neared a tough right-hander up-hill section.
Still, we held on, the cheering supporters aiding us along – our running mates spurring us to maintain pace – a nice sweeping section allowed temporary recovery before another blast was required along the home straight – oh was that the finish – not quite – another lap to go laddie!! – just keep going!!
More agony, anguish, and well, down-right pain – panting, lungs bursting, legs weak with fatigue, another incline with a tight bend – but hey is that the final corner ahead? – a meandering right-hander and then a gradual downhill for the final sprint – let’s just hope I’m clear – swoooosh – swiiiiip! – perhaps not – caught unawares – I am beaten in the last 70 yards by an admirable adversary – well run !! – and I’ve been beat – but only just – good race !!
A halt, and then a walk – more like a stumble actually, as we all limp off to collect a medal, and much needed water. A sigh, sweat pours off our faces, our body, and our limbs but no-one cares – as a smile of elation and satisfaction materialises across everyone’s faces – all for one – and one for all!!
And more, from Elaine Livera and Jamie Hall
Elaine’s race: I wasn’t planning on running this race (I was just going to come along and watch) as I was still a little upset that I had missed so much of the 5k training everyone had done during summer. But as it was a nice day, I decided it might actually be a nice day for a run! I went in without expecting anything at all, especially when I saw all the ladies on the start line who were wearing cropped running tops. As I was feeling a little heavy legged from the gym, I started slower than usual and quickly lost positions on the ladies at the start line. However, when I relaxed into the run, my legs loosened up and I realised that it was only 5k, only 20 minutes of pain, I may as well try as hard as I could!
I caught the three women ahead of me quite easily and was surprised when they didn’t stick with me. Thanks to Paul Davies for increasing his pace to run around with me! When we crossed the start line for the third time, I was really starting to struggle and cookie was pulling away from PD and me. It was then that I saw a girl from Marshall’s come up beside me. Where did she sneak up from?!? PD said sternly that I needed to stay with cookie.. which make me feel a little ill as I was already going as quick as I thought I could at the time. We passed 4km to go and the girl was starting to overtake me… Noo, the horror of being beaten in the last km!!
I started to power up the hill in the hope that I could put some distance between us over a hill. When I neared the top, I saw Nick (who had sailed past me easily about 1km ago) and realised I was actually going fairly quick as I said hi and bye within the same breath. All I wanted to do was cross that line in front of the Marshall’s girl! It was a sprint to the end (and that last section takes forever to cover!!)
After I was finished and had recovered, as I felt pretty horrendous at the end of the run, I realised that I had really enjoyed doing that run. It was exciting the whole way round and the winning place was up for grabs by anyone!
It was really lovely to see all the supporters and all the yellow vests all the way around! It feels really nice to be a part of so many outgoing and outdoorsy people! Great running everyone! Keep it up!
Great work to all of the runners not just the prize winners! Everyone who ran and supported deserves a pat on the back! It was a very hot evening but also a very enjoyable one and BAC feels like a big family! Also great great run by Charlie who beat his competition by miles and won the club championship as well as the county championship!!
Jamie’s race: This was my first race for the club for a while, and a chance to have a go at the first race I ever did this time last year. Although I knew it wasn’t going to be as successful as last time around given the injury setbacks I’d had this season, I was looking forward to wearing the club colours and have a go!
After a really sluggish start I managed to stick with fellow club member Steven [Baldwin], given his recent awesome form. I figured if I stuck with him I couldn’t go far wrong. As the race went on we were joined by a couple of guys from Ampthill who helped keep us honest throughout. Working together as a group we reeled in another runner and were making good time.
Going into the final boiling hot half lap I just kept thinking of the tactic coach Paul had given me last year and the point at the top of the “hill” where I had to kick from. As soon as I hit that point I gave it absolutely everything and managed to finish fourth in a time just under 17 minutes, which I was absolutely over the moon with. Although not the result from last year, I was really happy to be part of the mens team which finished 3rd, and part of such a successful club with lots of awards to show for all the hard training. The atmosphere was brilliant with yellow and blue tops everywhere giving each other support and doing the club proud, extra thanks to Steven for the company during the race. Overall a thoroughly enjoyable event!
Doug Anderson 5k results
Overall race position | Name | Chip time | Age graded result 4 | Jamie Hall | 16:58 | 16:58 6 | Steven Baldwin | 17:06 | 17:06 22 | Elaine Livera | 18:49 | 18:49 Lady Club Champion 24 | Nick Haworth | 18:53 | 17:43 25 | Marcus Davey | 18:54 | 16:56 27 | Paul Davies | 18:56 | 16:50 30 | Paul Cooke | 19:00 | 17:49 39 | Robert Morgan | 19:38 | 18:17 42 | John Stott | 19:56 | 17:35 45 | Charles Arnold | 20:18 | 16:02 Male club champion 46 | Hannah Broom | 20:19 | 19:53 56 | Damien Pitts | 21:10 | 20:43 58 | Emma Bailey | 21:14 | 19:58 59 | Giles Hawthorne | 21:17 | 19:31 66 | Natalie Morgan | 21:37 | 20:39 85 | Malcolm Steward | 22:49 | 21:15 92 | Gary Baldwin | 23:05 | 19:32 105 | Richard Barker | 23:46 | 21:27 113 | Neil Harvey | 23:57 | 19:36 130 | Kathryn Juty | 24:41 | 22:04 140 | Stephen Atkins | 25:33 | 19:50 144 | Martha Ford | 25:38 | 25:34 148 | Ian Grimwood | 25:52 | 19:43 150 | Andrew Hedley | 25:57 | 21:47 155 | Simon Strong | 26:09 | 23:15 161 | Nigel Bush | 26:26 | 19:21 170 | Stuart Goodwin | 26:50 | 25:22 187 | Kevin Parker | 27:28 | 24:25 196 | Vicky Berry | 27:55 | 23:07 200 | Juliet Grimwood | 28:12 | 23:40 205 | Julian Brunt | 28:23 | 26:01 212 | Ricky Byrne | 28:50 | 28:22 215 | Georgia Barker | 29:13 | 27:14 218 | Maria Merridan | 29:25 | 26:36 241 | Jennie Day | 31:03 | 27:25 243 | Julie Spavins | 31:18 | 29:40 250 | Julia Mackay | 31:51 | 26:44 258 | Samantha Thorogood | 32:22 | 30:55 259 | Vicki Highland | 32:28 | 32:28 260 | Beverley Ritson | 32:28 | 31:01 270 | Colin Harries | 33:11 | 23:59 271 | Janie Highland | 33:17 | 26:29 273 | Helen Kapur | 33:48 | 27:38 276 | Sue Whitfield | 33:58 | 29:37 280 | Louise Pike | 34:21 | 33:02 281 | Emma Bell | 34:21 | 31:24 283 | Lorraine Emerson | 35:12 | 34:16 285 | Joanne Ellary | 35:43 | 34:34 286 | Tim Gardiner | 35:54 | 32:25 291 | Roo Goodwin | 38:05 | 37:16 293 | Shani Giddings | 38:48 | 31:43
… and reordered into club championship standings order Position | Name | age-graded time | chip time 1 | Charles Arnold | 16:02 | 20:18 Male club champion 2 | Paul Davies | 16:50 | 18:56 3 | Marcus Davey | 16:56 | 18:54 4 | Jamie Hall | 16:58 | 16:58 5 | Steven Baldwin | 17:06 | 17:06 6 | John Stott | 17:35 | 19:56 7 | Nick Haworth | 17:43 | 18:53 8 | Paul Cooke | 17:49 | 19:00 9 | Robert Morgan | 18:17 | 19:38 10 | Elaine Livera | 18:49 | 18:49 Lady Club Champion 11 | Nigel Bush | 19:21 | 26:26 12 | Giles Hawthorne | 19:31 | 21:17 13 | Gary Baldwin | 19:32 | 23:05 14 | Neil Harvey | 19:36 | 23:57 15 | Ian Grimwood | 19:43 | 25:52 16 | Stephen Atkins | 19:50 | 25:33 17 | Hannah Broom | 19:53 | 20:19 18 | Emma Bailey | 19:58 | 21:14 19 | Natalie Morgan | 20:39 | 21:37 20 | Damien Pitts | 20:43 | 21:10 21 | Malcolm Steward | 21:15 | 22:49 22 | Richard Barker | 21:27| 23:46 23 | Andrew Hedley | 21:47 | 25:57 24 | Kathryn Juty | 22:04 | 24:41 25 | Vicky Berry | 23:07 | 27:55 26 | Simon Strong | 23:15 | 26:09 27 | Juliet Grimwood | 23:40 | 28:12 28 | Colin Harries | 23:59 | 33:11 29 | Kevin Parker | 24:25 | 27:28 30 | Stuart Goodwin | 25:22 | 26:50 31 | Martha Ford | 25:34 | 25:38 32 | Julian Brunt | 26:01 | 28:23 33 | Janie Highland | 26:29 | 33:17 34 | Maria Merridan | 26:36 | 29:25 35 | Julia Mackay | 26:44 | 31:51 36 | Georgia Barker | 27:14 | 29:13 37 | Jennie Day | 27:25 | 31:03 38 | Helen Kapur | 27:38 | 33:48 39 | Ricky Byrne | 28:22 | 28:50 40 | Sue Whitfield | 29:37 | 33:58 41 | Julie Spavins | 29:40 | 31:18 42 | Samantha Thorogood | 30:55 | 32:22 43 | Beverley Ritson | 31:01 | 32:28 44 | Emma Bell | 31:24 | 34:21 45 | Shani Giddings | 31:43 | 38:48 46 | Tim Gardiner | 32:25 | 35:54 47 | Vicki Highland | 32:28 | 32:28 48 | Louise Pike | 33:02 | 34:21 49 | Lorraine Emerson | 34:16 | 35:12 50 | Joanne Ellary | 34:34 | 35:43 51 | Roo Goodwin | 37:16 | 38:05