He’s the Pitts … BAC salute outgoing chairman Damo

Biggleswade Athletic Club’s committee tonight says thank you to Damien Pitts, who – following Monday’s AGM – is stepping down as chairman and brings an end to over a decade on the club committee.

“Damo” has been a stalwart member of BAC since he was at primary school, aged 11. A talented athlete from a young age, with an easy, languid style many members can now spot from half a mile away, he would often insist on tugging the coat-tails of the seniors to join them for five-mile training runs around Biggleswade. His devotion to the sport and to his club was therefore ingrained from these formative years, and in adulthood he has carried that forward in volunteering his time in so much that the club organises and participates in.

He first joined the committee 13 years ago, under Nigel Bush’s chairmanship. Four years later he became both the men’s road running captain and road secretary.

Damien’s positive outlook and inane grin have annoyed members for several decades

The following year he took the helm for the ever-popular Schools’ Cross Country Relays. Two years on, he progressed to become Nigel’s right-hand man as vice-chairman, before making the leap from apprentice to master as he became chair himself in 2016.

In among all this, he has managed the club’s participation in the Round Norfolk Relay, been senior marshal of the Sandy 10, as well as coaching the senior road-running group (back when it was singular) on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He has organised – and assures members he will continue to organise – the much-loved Fairy Run, and although his handicapping for this festive fixture can leave something to be desired, he has been on steadier ground unpicking the age-graded results for club championship road races.

Former chairman Nigel Bush (right) was a dogged companion during Damo’s flirtations with both transvestism and beard-growing

His organisation of the London Marathon support squad each year is of particular note, with his attention to detail such that BAC members have a table and a cooked breakfast in front of them seemingly microseconds before the queue for now nonexistent seats is out beyond the greasy spoon’s door.

His committee duties in recent years, particularly as chairman, have required him to park his coaching responsibilities, but he has always made it clear that he is extremely keen to get stuck in once more – members will we are sure be delighted to see him back rubbing his hands in glee pre-training before revealing what tortures await.

As is traditional within the Biggleswade Athletic Club family, Damo does not scrub up well

On a sour note, one female member requested we put on record how appalling he is as a dining companion, and warns any lady sharing a table with him to always check their handbags before leaving in case it has sprouted any cutlery. We are happy to do so. The Membership Secretary has sent her apologies for tonight’s AGM, but we understand has a tale to tell of having to go back to one particular establishment to return goods she had unwittingly stolen.

There are plenty more ways in which Mr Pitts has contributed to Biggleswade Athletic Club, and we are sure he will continue to do so as a rank-and-file member – Damo and volunteering appear inseparable. For now, we are enormously grateful for his efforts, his energy, his warmth and his empathy during a spell that was not always smooth sailing for the club, and which indeed has endured some incredibly sad days. Yet he leaves the committee with the club in a great place, and a membership blessed with international up-and-comers, reigning county champions, but – just as importantly – hard-workers, triers and improvers dead set on beating their best marks, whatever their level, and a vibrant crop of youngsters who we can only hope show a fraction of the long-term dedication to the club that he has.

Damo can frequently be found copying numbers from one bit of paper on to another bit of paper

Still only a ridiculously young thing, may his days ahead be filled with all the Lego, rally cars, Airfix models and ice cream money can buy. Many thanks Damo – your committee colleagues, and we are absolute sure the membership at large, salute you.

When club secretary Hannah found Damo after a prolonged search effort, his tongue had been protruding from his mouth for nearly 72 hours

Huge thanks to Jules Mackay for contributing photos for this piece

Reminder: club AGM is TOMORROW – Monday, 7.30pm

All Biggleswade AC members are both welcome and indeed encouraged to attend.

It’s a great opportunity to get a sense of how the club is run and air your views. This year we have committee members both leaving and joining, and among those departing are BAC chairman, Damien Pitts, after an impressively long stint across various committee roles.

Last year’s AGM was sparsely attended, and it would be great to see more faces there this time round – there will be a seat for anyone who wants one! Be there, and be heard.

Monday 25th February, 7.30pm

Theatre Hall, Sandy Upper School (use the gym entrance – it’s straight ahead on the left from there)

Season’s end … BAC athletes finish strong in final Chiltern XC outing

David Brown writes …

On 9 February, at the final cross country league match of the Chiltern Cross-Country League 2018-19, an intrepid group of Biggleswade Athletic Club athletes challenged the very hilly course at Campbell Park in Milton Keynes.

The league has 10 races in each match, with the senior men running around six miles, while under-11s cover just over a mile.

First up for were the U11 girls and Orlagh Brunning and Jessica Hardy took to the race with vigour. After the initial stampede, Orlagh and Jessica settled into their stride and were well placed at the top of the first hill.

Orlagh was just outside the top 10 and Jessica mid-pack from the 100+ athletes in the race. A strong finish from both girls saw Orlagh with her best result of the season in 19th, while Jessica came a creditable 75th which enabled the U11 team to place higher in the final standings.

In the U11 boys race, George Hardy also had a good run and after positioning himself well at the top of the first hill, held his place to finish a strong 14th, which was also his best result from the season. George was joined by Alfie Lawrence, who finished strongly to cross the line in 75th.

Henry Gibb, in the U13 boys’ race, was making his cross-country debut. His race, taking place over a course of around two miles, saw him finish 61st overall. However, with Division 1 and 2 athletes running together, his division 1 and 2 place was a very creditable 13th.

Next up was Elliott Swinburne in the U17 boys’ race, which was over around 5km (just over three miles). With the extended course, Elliott was called upon to run multiple laps – so the hills had to be negotiated more than once! He had a strong race, finishing in 29th position, and placed just outside the medals in Division 2 to place fifth overall.

Finally, in the seniors race, BAC had veteran Paul Swinburne in the senior race, among a mammoth field of almost 400 finishers over the hilly multi-lap course. Paul finished in mid-pack 202nd – another best placing for the five-race season. Broken down more, in Division 2 this was a 64th place finish, and 19th in the V40 category.

In the team scores, the senior men were 21st, veteran men 18th, the U17 men 19th and the U13 boys were 11th.

Treading the boards … BAC athletes earn Eastern Indoors medals

Hannah Ridley writes …

It was a fantastic weekend full of outstanding performances from Biggleswade athletes at the Eastern Indoor Athletics Championships, which were held at Lee Valley Athletics Centre on the 2nd and 3rd of February.

Kicking things off for Biggleswade was Sarah Ridley in the Senior Women’s shot put. Her second-round effort of 9.93m was good enough to see her through to the final three rounds. After the further three attempts, her second round throw proved enough for a spot on the podium, with Sarah winning the bronze medal.

First to go on the track was Iona Newbegin in the U17 Women’s 60m. Iona sailed through both her heat and her semi-final, running a PB of 7.99secs along the way. Despite not getting the best start in her final, she came back at her opponents in the last few metres, and after some debate over a photo finish, Iona was awarded the bronze medal in a time of 8.03.

Sarah was back in action later on Saturday, this time in the 60m. Due to the number of athletes entered, her race became a straight final and she powered out of the blocks, running her way to a brilliant fourth place finish in 8.32. This ended the action for the Saturday, with both athletes plus many more from Biggleswade returning to Lee Valley the following day.

Jessica Cooke toed the start line in the first race of the day, the U17 women’s 300m. Despite not progressing from her heat, Jessica ran a fantastic race and finished in fifth place in 47.6secs. Sophie Forbes-Laird ran in the U15 race, finishing second in her heat, meaning she progressed to the final later on in the day. Sophie’s final was a nail-biting affair, with her going out hard and just managing to hold off the competitor who beat her previously to come home with the silver medal in a personal best performance of 42.69.

Next up were the 200m runners. The U17s were split into three heats, and the second of those saw two Biggleswade athletes walk onto the track, Abi Smith and Molly May. In her first race ever, Abi put in a stellar performance and finished fourth in 28.84, but unfortunately she missed out on a spot in the final by 0.1 seconds. Abi was closely followed by Molly, who finished fifth in her first indoor race with a superb PB of 29.63.

It was Iona’s turn in the third heat and her second place finish saw her automatically qualify for the semi-finals. She repeated that result in the semi and progressed to the final. Six races in two days plus illness seemed to have taken its toll, but Iona still finished in a strong fourth place in 26.92.

The senior women’s 800m was another straight final with Hannah Ridley wearing the yellow vest. She ran on her own for three of the four laps, but unfortunately got pipped on the line for second place, to finish third. However, she still finished with a smile and collected a bronze medal for her performance, taking the total medal tally for the weekend to four. These athletes now look forward to starting the outdoor season at the Bedfordshire Open on the 6th April in Luton, and the first league match in St Ives on the 13th April.

Full results from Lee Valley can be found here

BAC’s Club Person of the Year: Sonia Brown (1965-2018)

Sonia died last July at the age of 53.

Biggleswade Athletic Club paid tribute to their late, lamented coach and official Sonia Brown at their annual awards ceremony in Sandy, with the committee unanimously recognising her immense contribution and naming her as Club Person of the Year.

Sonia, who succumbed to cancer last July at the age of 53, was represented on the night at Garden Court by her son Scott and husband Roger, and Scott was met with an emotional standing ovation from all present as he collected the award on her behalf. Club chairman Damien Pitts also handed the family a book of condolence that club members have been contributing to over recent months.

Scott Brown accepted the Club Person of the Year award on behalf of his mother. Photo by Nick Spavins

Moving from Barbados in her teens, Sonia lived with her aunt in Essex and immediately showed promise in athletics. She was the only black child in her school, and one day the fastest boy unwisely challenged her to a race. Sonia won with ease, and was quickly identified as a promising young talent. She joined up with the successful Essex Ladies club, competing in sprints and the long jump, and was a contemporary of Olympic and world championship gold-medal winning 400m hurdler Sally Gunnell as well as other Team GB internationals including multi-event specialist Kim Hagger and 400m runner Gladys Taylor.

Essex Ladies latterly merged with Woodford Green, and the amalgamated club’s former president Jean Burgess said: “It was such sad news. As she competed in the 1980s she would have been part of the team which won the Southern Women’s League a total of 10 times in 13 years.

“I find it very gratifying that Sonia was inspired by her time in Essex Ladies to take up coaching and officiating with Biggleswade AC.”

And that she very much did. The second chapter of her athletics journey came upon arriving in Bedfordshire, where she attempted to find a venue to help her get on the coaching ladder. After an abortive flirtation with Bedford & County AC, she tried her luck with BAC, and immediately found herself besotted, and a passionate and highly committed advocate of young local talent.

Another club coaching and officiating stalwart, Ken Prior, said: “Rapidly qualifying as a level one coach, she started helping David Brown coach our sprinters. Around the same time, Cassie Prior – who had been coaching our under 11s – was leaving to start a family. Sonia took her place and named and developed the section into the Little Bees. It became so successful that, following the 2012 Olympics, for several months we had to run two sessions on Tuesdays to accommodate all the athletes.”

David said: “We both had the same vision for the younger element – athletics was for all, for fun, and to be enjoyed. People come along and develop at different speeds. Some develop at an early stage, while some don’t until much older, but Sonia always said they should all be treated with respect. She understood that youngsters were the heart of the club and if treated right would be the seniors of tomorrow to help take the club beyond the next phase.”

She would go on to become a committee member, helping to decide the club’s direction, as well as a qualified field official, and both Sonia and former treasurer Mark Stead were regularly to be found trackside and at other venues far and wide as a valuable photo-finish tag-team. With many clubs lacking the equipment and expertise to supply the service themselves, they would call on Sonia and Mark, and part of her legacy can be found in many clubs’ records, results lists and in individual athletes’ personal bests.

Fellow BAC coach Michael Blunt said: “Sonia was a great coach and a huge asset to the club. On a personal level she encouraged me to start coaching and having inherited one of her projects – the ‘Mini Bees’ – my aim has always been to develop a program that Sonia herself would have been proud of. The blend of enthusiasm, enjoyment and knowledge that was clear in all her sessions will be impossible to replicate but well worth aspiring to.”

She was also an inspiration to Bev Strong, who said: “I first met her eight years ago when my son Bradley joined the club in the sprint group. He competed in the Eastern Young Athletes’ League and as his events were quite spread out we were usually there for a long day, so I often helped Sonia, who was officiating the field events. As a complete novice as far as athletics were concerned, she gave me lots of information about the rules and regulations of the various events and after helping her for three or four years she encouraged me to take the field officials course. I then had to perform the various roles within each event and again Sonia was on hand to offer advice and oversee what I was doing.

“Without Sonia by my side I have often felt out of my depth as I could always rely on her to give me an encouraging nod from a distance if I looked towards her. Words cannot express the huge loss she will be to the club and I will carry on officiating in her memory.”

On MC duties in 2013. Photo by Phil Dickson-Earle

Martin Oestreicher was another roped in to help by Sonia: “I first met her when my girls Kira and Heidi joined Little Bees. After helping out informally for a while, Sonia encouraged me to go on the Assistant Coaches course, which led to me helping at the sessions for about 18 months. She was such a pleasure to work with, always full of enthusiasm and praise, always smiling, encouraging and obviously devoted to getting the best out of the sometimes reluctant Little Bees. She taught me a lot about perseverance and endurance – and how to manage a crowd of small children!”

A rare breather at Parliament Hill, 2015. Photo by Andy Lee

Sarah Ridley is a recent addition to the BAC committee, and a former Little Bee who can attest that athletics under Sonia’s wing was not always about the coach cracking the whip: “Little Bees used to be indoors on a Monday night alongside adult circuit training. Sonia led this and each night would end with one big relay of everyone, kids and adults alike. One night she had to join in to make up the numbers and was due to pass the baton over to me. She came in so fast that she nearly took me with her and my seven-year-old legs couldn’t go that fast! We both very nearly ended up in a big heap on the floor but somehow managed to avoid it and win the relay!

“Years later at a EYAL meeting, our team of officials was looking after the long jump. Sonia was leading this team and I was competing. One of my jumps went horribly wrong, and I completely and spectacularly faceplanted in the sand pit. It was a completely legal jump, but didn’t get measured for about five minutes because Sonia was laughing so hard at me that she couldn’t see the tape for the tears in her eyes. She was always very supportive of her athletes, even while laughing at us!”

Trackside with Ken Prior. Photo from Alison Ridley

Even as her illness took hold, she remained stoic, dignified and passionate about BAC. As David said: “I remember calling Sonia every Monday morning until she became very ill to discuss the plan for coaching plans for the week to follow. We’d talk about who had performed well over the weekend, and ask were we getting our coaching right.

“Her husband Roger described me as Sonia’s ‘athletic husband’ – this was initially a surprise but I later realised it was a compliment to the commitment of both Sonia and myself.”

Upon her death, tributes from athletes, friends and colleagues poured in. Club chairman Damien Pitts said: “I will really miss her cheerful nature, as she could make me smile, even if I have had a bad day.” Julia Mackay, a BAC run leader, added: “I always admired her drive and energy – she was such an inspiration to all who knew her.”

Charlotte Sexton: “It was such a pleasure knowing such a wonderful woman – she was always making sure I had a way to get to training!”

Stuart Goodwin: “She made it absolutely clear to us when telling us she was ill – she didn’t wanted to be looked on with pity or as a victim. She was a cool, calm customer to the last who just wanted to live the time she had and spend as much of it drinking in the enthusiasm of the kids she trained.”

Trackside in Sandy, 2015. Photo by Andy Lee

Dan Steel: “I will miss her smile and her positive mental attitude regardless of what came up both on and off the track.”

Scott Parsons: “One of the most enthusiastic and compassionate people I’ve had the pleasure to come across. Her enthusiasm was contagious.”

Peter Lawson: “She was a little ray of positivity that touched many hearts including mine.”

Alison Foster: “All three of my boys were coached by Sonia. She inspired so many. She was a lovely friend and so dedicated to athletics.”

Ricky Byrne: “My kids were devastated. She made a big impression on them both. Thank you for everything you did.”

Helen Middleton: “Every time I saw Sonia she was busy – handing out race numbers, helping with refreshments, coaching … But she always had a smile on her face and time for a chat.”

Louise Cant: “Thank you for giving us Little Bees, and for giving my son the best start at athletics. We will miss you dearly.”

Peterborough 2014. Photo by Phil Dickson-Earle

A forensic planner to the last, she requested that the dress code for her funeral would prominently feature two colours that became synonymous with her identity – the blue and yellow shared by both the Barbadian flag and the Biggleswade Athletic Club vest. At her wake in August, held at Bedford International Stadium, where she had overseen her athletes and officiated so many times, armies of friends and colleagues numbering well into the hundreds gathered to pay their respects.

A new club award, the Sonia Brown Dedication Cup, was introduced in her honour, recognising exceptional commitment to the club and the sport by one of BAC’s Little Bees – Ava Rawlins recently became the first winner of many.

Ken concluded: “She was a visionary with the practical nous to make those visions happen. It was no coincidence that the most successful period in BAC’s history occurred when she was active. She always had new ideas and plans to make them happen.

“With no disrespect to anyone else in the club past or present, David and Sonia have been the two people who have shaped the club most within the last 25 years and I, like many others, will miss her enormously.”

At the club’s 2015 presentation evening. Photo courtesy of Phil Dickson-Earle

Awards time … athletes honoured and a club stalwart mourned at BAC’s presentation night

Biggleswade Athletic Club honoured a host of members at their annual awards presentation night in Sandy late last month.

In the ceremony at Garden Court, athletes, officials and family members gathered for a great night of food and entertainment, as hard winter training was set aside for the night to take stock and reflect on some outstanding performances throughout 2018.

Awards were handed out covering a host of disciplines, including the club championship road events of 5km, 10km, 10 mile and half marathon, while track and field awards were dished out based on performances and points accrued for the club at the Southern Athletics League and Eastern Masters Athletics League.

Hannah Broom and Charlie Arnold. Photo by Nick Spavins

Multiple award-winners included Charlie Arnold, who mopped up a superb five individual accolades, including the Complete Athlete Award. Hannah Broom, following an outstanding breakthrough season on both road and trails, took three – her improvements in 2018 saw her named the most improved female athlete of the year. Daniel Steel was named both Senior Field Athlete of the Year and the most improved male athlete.

Also handed out were various honours earned at the recent County Cross-County Championships. While many awards are purely results-based, however, two are particularly distinguished honours as they are voted for by members.

Bev Strong. Photo by Nick Spavins

The Lonely Pines Trophy, voted for by all club members, was awarded to Bev Strong, who has combined competing for the club with vital organisation, as shown in her fine work ensuring the presentation night went smoothly. Her organisational prowess has underpinned BAC’s brilliant recent successes in the Three Counties Cross Country league, ensuring a timely turnaround of results – this has often involved hurtling from the finish line to race HQ in whatever weathers present themselves.

The Club Person of the Year is handed out following a vote by members of the club’s committee. This year the vote was unanimous, and tinged with sadness, as the committee chose to recognise its former stalwart Sonia Brown, who died last July.

Huge thanks to Scott (pictured) and Roger Brown for being our club’s distinguished guests on the night. Photo by Nick Spavins

The club were incredibly honoured to host both Sonia’s husband Roger and son Scott. All in attendance rose for a standing ovation as Scott collected Sonia’s award, recognising her contributions to the club as official, coach and committee member, and chairman Damien Pitts also handed the family a book of condolence that members have been contributing to over recent months.

Huge thanks from all at the club to chairman Damien Pitts for organising the awards, member Tim Gardiner who did a fine job both as DJ and Bon Jovi superfan, Bev Strong for her sterling organisation, and last but not least the staff at Garden Court who helped ensure everyone was fed and watered.

We would also like to recognise Charlie Arnold’s superb bowtie, and his sterling duck-walking skills, which were particularly prominent during The Proclaimers’ I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles).

2018 award winners

Men’s Charles Arnold
Women’s Elaine Livera

Men’s Charles Arnold
Women’s Hannah Broom

10 Mile
Men’s Charles Arnold
Women’s Natalie Morgan

Half marathon
Men’s Marcus Davey
Women’s Hannah Broom

Complete Athlete Award
Charles Arnold

Endurance Trophy
Nick Haworth

Most Improved Senior Athlete
Daniel Steel
Women’s Hannah Broom

Club Person of the Year (voted for by the club committee)
Sonia Brown

Lonely Pines Trophy – Club Members’ Member of the Year
Bev Strong

Senior Male Track Athlete of the Year
Morgan Webster

Senior Female Track Athlete of the Year
Hannah Ridley

Senior Male Field Athlete of the Year
Daniel Steel

Senior Female Field Athlete of the Year
Sarah Ridley

Veteran Male (Age 35-49)
Simon Strong

Veteran Male (Age 50-59)
Neil Harvey

Veteran Male (Age 60+)
Charles Arnold

Veteran Female (Age 35-49)
Kathryn Juty

Veteran Female (Age 50-59)
Helen Kapur

Veteran Female (Age 60+)
Sandra Ingham

Once more unto the breach … BAC rake in honours as the Three Counties XC season wraps up

First, the highlights…

Biggleswade Athletic Club’s women’s team consolidated third place in the Three Counties league after the fifth and final fixture of the season, while the men took 11th. In combination, this added up to sixth overall.

So sadly, after three straight years of holding the women’s team trophy, BAC relinquish it to North Herts Road Runners, but finishes of fourth, first, first, third and second across the five fixtures are a superb effort and took some beating – no women’s team won more than two fixtures this season, and NHRR and Wellingborough & District AC just pipped our revamped squad with a little bit more consistency at the business end of each race.

Steven Baldwin finished 17th in the overall individual men’s standings, after taking in part in four of the five races, his best result ninth in the final fixture, and he never crossed the line lower than 28th. He was rewarded with second place in the age 25-29 category.

Steven Baldwin on his way to his best finish of the season. Photo by Nick Spavins

Hannah Broom planted her flag as the club’s ladies cross-country runner to beat, after an outstanding season that saw her finish first, fourth, third, fourth and second in the five races. This added up to a fine third place overall.

Hot on her heels were Natalie Morgan (9th), Natalie Garner (10th) and Emma Bailey (11th), while Kathryn Juty’s fine season was rewarded by 29th place overall.

Garner took second spot in the women’s age 25-29 season standings (thanks to three second placings and a third), while Morgan and Bailey took first and second respectively in the V40-44 season results – neither finished outside the top three in their category in any race they competed in this season.

Hannah Broom, Charlie Arnold and Natalie Morgan show off their prizes.
Photo by Nick Spavins

Other age group award-winners were Charlie Arnold, who seared to the V60-64 top spot thanks to a sequence of fifth, third, second, first and first. Ian Grimwood took third in the V65-69 category having finished third in his category three times and fourth in his other outing this season.

An admittedly alcohol-fuelled Nick Haworth writes:

The final race of the 2018-19 Three Counties Cross Country League saw all teams converge for battle at the grounds of Delapre Abbey in Northampton – the site of the Battle of Northampton in 1460, a major battle in the War of the Roses.

The course is a five-mile, two-lap route taking in a mixture of meadow and woodland – and a lot of mud – and though considered by some to be the easiest of the series it would nevertheless test the spirits and resilience of all participants.

The day itself saw clear blue skies but with a bitingly cold north-westerly wind. A good downpour of rain the night before ensured competitors and spectators alike got soggy feet from the outset.

In a change from the previous year, the start consisted of an initial oblong loop round the meadow before a sharp left-hander through a narrow uphill wooded section (rather than just heading straight on to the narrow wooded section). I presume this was to avoid some of the chaos of former years, though needless to say, it didn’t really have the desired effect with competitors running and trampling over each other, cursing themselves and each other, and a few partially disemboweling themselves on the route markers – behaviour not too unlike that back in 1460!

Having survived the meadow and an arduous, long slog up a wooded hill, the course flattened out revealing an excellent view of the A45, before heading twistily downwards though more trees and ankle-deep mud. Several runners were lucky to avoid impalement on unseen tree branches, while some came awry on numerous tree roots seemingly deliberately placed across the path.

A flat straight section on a mixture of tarmac and mud saw the runners proceed alongside a golf course. Thankfully a hedgerow protected the runners from any wayward golf balls and the majority of runners emerged fairly unscathed.

A final left-hand bend saw the runners head through more trees before entering the meadow once more to begin a toilsome and hazardous second lap of the course. The second lap, with even more freshly churned up soil, was arguably even more hazardous than the previous, as exhaustion took hold, speed and coordination of some began to fail. Others meanwhile seemed to literally take it all in their stride and proceeded to gain a few vital scalps.

Against all the odds, most runners completed the race, be it with the occasional missing limb, distended eye socket, or bloodified face. The vast majority finished with smiles on their faces, most with a heavy lacquering of mud on their legs and a few cuts and bruises.

We left the marshals to clear up the mess and proceeded on a long mile and half warm-down back to the race HQ where we were all welcomed back with tea and cakes in the comfort of a nice warm gym of a local school.

All in all, Biggleswade AC had done surprisingly well. In the men’s team, Steven Baldwin finished an admirable ninth place overall – his best performance of the season. Newcomer Alan Kell, though not able to score officially for the team, finished 68th, outsprinting Nick Haworth (63rd) in the last 50 yards himself just ahead of fellow vet Paul Cooke (78th). Behind them came Charlie “Killer” Arnold, securing 91st place and the V60 men’s award, followed by Jon Stott (127th), Neil Harvey (180th), Giles Hawthorne (196th), and Robin Wynde (232nd).

Hannah Broom successfully challenged and beat arch-rival Christine Lathwell from Stopsley Striders coming in third place for the ladies. Natalie Garner finished a commendable 9th just ahead of Natalie Morgan (11th) and Emma Bailey (14th).

Pos. No. First Name Surname
9 514 Steven Baldwin
57 520 Hannah Broom
72 584 Alan Des Kell
73 515 Nick Haworth
78 526 Paul Cooke
97 510 Charlie Arnold
108 578 Natalie Garner
120 554 Natalie Morgan
140 570 John Stott
148 511 Emma Bailey
220 547 Neil Harvey
248 549 Giles Hawthorne
303 530 Jennie Day
326 576 Robin Wynde
332 553 Maria Merridan
363 565 Julie Spavins
379 546 Colin Harries
394 583 Lynn Hill
399 582 Rachel Fox

The men’s team finished the season in 11th place while the women’s team came third, giving a combined position of sixth.

Alan Kell said: “This was my first cross country run for the club and by all accounts I had timed it well as it was the supposably easiest of this seasons courses. Well after that first steady incline on the first lap, I soon realised those other courses must have been tough. This was hard but great fun! Running (or sliding) through the woods and battling against the wind across the open fields. A fantastic event with great support from both the marshals and Bigglesswade team.”

Julie Spavins added: “The final cross country of the season was also the coldest! Despite the freezing conditions we had a good turnout and even some new recruits to the ladies team.

Julie Spavins gives the photographer the eyes. Photo by Nick Spavins

“The course was changed slightly, adding an extra half a mile over the rather draining grassy area, before the slog up the not too steep but neverending hill. The mud was certainly churned by the time I was coming through the woods, but I managed to avoid slipping over, and also managed some overtakes of the runners who were a bit ‘nervous’ of so much mucky stuff, before coming back on to the grassy area and the biting wind blowing in the wrong direction. This year I managed to keep running up the incline on both laps, way better than last year! And despite being half a mile longer, I came in five minutes quicker and like the rest of the season I’m further up the field.

“Our team has performed brilliantly this season, and I’m very proud to have played my very small part in our success.”

Huge thanks to Nick Spavins for his superb photography at Three Counties XC fixtures this season