Game on … BAC’s ladies’ team in the hunt to retain Three Counties Cross-Country crown

Biggleswade Athletic Club once again made a splash in the Three Counties Cross-Country season, with the ladies team – defending champions in the league – hauling themselves into contention with an outstanding showing at the notorious Croyland Park event in Wellingborough.

With two key members of last season’s victorious ladies’ squad – Elaine Livera and Juliet Nayler – having moved on to pastures outside BAC, taking a fourth successive Three Counties title always looked a tall order, but after a solid fifth-placed team finish in Dunstable, thanks to scorers Hannah Broom (first female finisher in the race), Emma Bailey, Natalie Morgan and Kathryn Juty, Natalie Garner put in a fine showing in Wellingborough to help BAC to a share of first place alongside the host club.

Though Broom was fourth female this time around, she was soon followed by Morgan in ninth, Bailey 10th and Garner 13th which proved an impossible set of results to beat. However, Wellingborough & District AC’s quartet matched the points tally with finishers in third, fifth, eighth and 20th places. The combined performance, helped ably by those further down the field bump other teams’ scorers down the standings, means BAC’s ladies now sit in third place. They are one point off North Herts Road Runners in second, but four behind Wellingborough who have now taken first two races in succession.

The Croyland Park route has undergone various alterations in recent years but it can always be relied upon for the most challenging water crossings of the season. True to form, many of the runners present found previously smooth progress decimated by a dunking in the icy brook, and even those at the front of the field weren’t immune.

Broom in particular took a wonky stride or two she immediately regretted as she nosedived into the murky depths, before recovering her composure to get her race back on track.

Former club chairman Nigel Bush was another of the unlucky ones, his rival-assisted stumble, fall and borderline bog-snorkel gleefully captured by the safely-layered-up hordes waiting by the bank for muddy action shots. Still, despite now being in his 70s, Bush didn’t beat about, and he was up, out, gritting teeth and back in business almost immediately. In the end he was just three overall positions away from making one of the point-scoring slots himself. He allayed fears about his plight post-race, saying: “I’m OK – it was a very nice early cold bath! All part of the fun of cross-country but I think the Ampthill & Flitwick Flyers runner who ‘took me out’ owes me a beer!”

On the men’s side eight runners score points, and the club’s veterans stoically filled the slots – BAC were one of two clubs to have scorers all aged 35 and over, and the only club to have two over-60s competitors in their top eight. Nick Haworth (48th) was first home, with Rob Morgan (69th), Marcus Davey (76th), Charlie Arnold (120th), Malcolm Steward (144th), club chairman Damien Pitts (155th), Neil Harvey (184th) and Ian Grimwood (210th) taking the squad to 11th place out of 13 clubs – the position they now sit in the league after two races. The combined team – factoring in men’s and women’s results – was eighth on the day, and now lie in sixth place overall.

Letchworth’s Standalone Farm is the next venue for runners to contend with on 16 December, always a reliable source of mud and mayhem for all attendees. As veterans and newcomers attest, cross-country is seriously good fun, tremendous winter training and almost incomprehensively addictive. Keep an eye on the BAC forum and members’ Facebook group for more information, and feel free to ask any questions.

Wellingborough XC results (combined overall standings)

Final position | Name

50 Nick Haworth
71 Robert Morgan
74 Hannah Broom
80 Marcus Davey
114 Natalie Morgan
127 Emma Bailey
130 Charlie Arnold
141 Natalie Garner
163 Malcolm Steward
177 Damien Pitts
217 Kathryn Juty
220 Neil Harvey
272 Ian Grimwood
275 Nigel Bush
297 Simon Strong
317 Jennie Day
335 Juliet Grimwood
363 Gareth Saynor
364 Julie Spavins
(404 runners finished)

Gareth Saynor re-enacts Day of the Dead. Photo by Nick Spavins
Part two of season nine of the Walking Dead will air from 11 February. On-set photo thanks to Nick Spavins (with apologies to Gareth Saynor)
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