Hills, heavy rain and funky headwear … the Sandy 10 2018

 

Runners shimmered in rain showers and a long-standing record fell on Sandy’s streets in the latest running of Biggleswade Athletic Club’s showpiece road race. The Sandy 10 once again attracted hundreds of new and experienced runners from across the region, and further afield.

Race winner John Eves. Photo by Stuart Goodwin
Race winner John Eves in the last mile. Photo by Stuart Goodwin

First over the line was John Eves from Bedford & County AC, in a fine time of 53:24. His performance laid down the gauntlet in front of the rest of the field from the first mile, and he stormed round the course, stretching the gap all the time to finish fully three minutes clear of his nearest challenger. Well in the mix at the top of the leaderboard, finishing 13th overall, but more importantly well within the ladies’ course record, Georgia Schwiening from Cambridge & Coleridge AC crossed the line in 1:00:11 to take 16 seconds off a mark set back in 2004. Danielle Sanderson, the former record holder, was an accomplished international marathon runner, and Georgia’s performance shows that it’s only a matter of time before the hour is broken on a course which features a pig of a hill in the early miles.

Rounding out the top three in the men’s standings were Adam Mills of Bedford Harriers (56:24) and East London Runners’ Thomas Grimes (56:26), while Johanna O’Regan of Riverside Runners kept Schwiening in her sights for the duration, to finish just 46secs behind in the ladies’ results with 1:00:57, second in those standings and 16th overall. Third lady finisher was Eleanor Hunt in 1:03:17, and a host of clubs would do well to get in touch with her, as she competed as an unattached runner! She finished in an excellent 26th place overall.

Men’s age group prizes went to Ty Farrer, the fourth-placed finisher overall (Male veteran over 40 prize, 56:39, Huntingdon AC), Jim Morris (MV50, 59:35, Stamford Striders), John Skelton (MV60, 1:03.26, Milton Keynes AC) and Bob Wells (MV70, 1:10.56, Bedford Harriers). In a hotly contested men’s team prize, Riverside Runners emerged victorious over Bedford Harriers.

On the women’s side the LV35 honour was retained by Christine Lathwell (1:07.05, Stopsley Striders). Paula Downing matched her to reclaim the LV45 award (1:08.28, Mablethorpe Running Club), while Veronica Shadbolt took the LV55 prize (1:13:57, Garden City Runners). Taking LV65 honours was the indefatigable Yuko Gordon, a stalwart of Fairlands Valley Spartans, and her outstanding time of 1:13:31 also earned her the Roger Wadeley Trophy for the best age-graded performance of the race. Wadeley, who died in 2010 after a battle with cancer, was a Biggleswade AC stalwart for over three decades, and a talented racer who still holds 11 club records, two of which date back to the 1970s.

The ladies team prize went to Bedford Harriers, and they also took the Erlensee Cup given to the club who enter the most runners – a staggering 77, which accounted for almost a sixth of the total number of runners in the race.

The prize for top local finishers, where only runners from SG18 and SG19 postcodes are eligible, went to unattached athlete Trevor Grace (1:04:38) and Ann Wood of Werrington Joggers (1:17:01). Last year’s winners of these prizes, Jamie Hall and Elaine Livera, have gone on to enjoy an outstanding, prize-filled 12 months in the yellow and blue of BAC.

While excellent conditions for running, keeping runners cool, the rain made spectating a damp undertaking, but marshals, resplendent in a their now-annual selection of weird and wonderful hats, kept the cold at bay with warm encouragement, and their presence ensured smooth and safe running in and around the town, as seasoned competitors rubbed shoulders with charity runners and first-timers. At least one runner got a shock on the day to learn that the race was over 10 miles and not 10 kilometres! The course starts and finishes just off Sunderland Road in Sandy, before looping round Northcroft in a U-shape before beginning the progressive, to some seemingly endless climb through the Sand Lane sandhills before joining Everton Road. From there the runners continue until the “Potton Triangle”, from which they then retrace their steps back towards the hills – kinder on the return – until a breathless hurtle home.

Once again the race was run in support of Sue Ryder, who will benefit from the surplus race proceeds, and organisers were delighted that volunteer Frazer Allison assisted smooth running on the day. For its 2018 running the Sandy 10 received vital sponsorship from Marshalls of Sandy, who helped to fund the provision of souvenir technical T-shirts for all finishers, and the Roger Wadeley Trophy – Roger was a former employee of the company.

Finishers' shirts. Photo by Vicky Berry
Juliet Grimwood, Vicky Berry and Fiona Wynde show off the technical T for all race finishers

The all-important bananas for finishers were contributed by Woodview Farm Shop in Gamlingay, which is a familiar haunt for BAC members on one of their regular Sunday Coffee & Cake routes. Crisps and water were also extremely welcome donations by Asda in Milton Keynes, and the catering team led by Bev Strong did an excellent job keeping runners and spectators warm and hydrated back at race HQ.

Officers from Bedfordshire Police were an invaluable part of the organisation, lending support and a visible source of reassurance to marshals and runners at key points of the route where competitors crossed over open roads.

Once again early feedback from competitors was extremely warm and generous. Steve Round, who finished 12th, said: “It was my first time running the course – it’s a big thumbs up from me! Marshalling was excellent, and I finished 4secs off sub-1hr which is a big PB for me. So I’ll have to come back next year!” Another first timer, Rachel Williams, added: “I have to say I was very impressed – even the rain didn’t dampen spirits. It was a great route with great marshals and support.”

Full results are available here

Many, many more photos from the day available here

Meanwhile, check out Jules’ behind-the-scenes vid from the beginning of race day …

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New Biggleswade AC chat forum … now open!

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The club’s new and improved forum is now online, complete with a dedicated members-only area to discuss everything about the club and more.

It only takes a few seconds to register, so don’t delay – sign up now!

You can find the new forum here

Guests are, of course, still extremely welcome to come along and ask us anything about Biggleswade AC.

Stepping up, slipping over … BAC’s cross-country ladies represent county

Members of Biggleswade AC’s multi-award-winning ladies’ cross-country squad donned the Bedfordshire vest for the Inter-Counties Championships, before promptly splattering it with mud in lamentable conditions at Prestwold Hall in Loughborough. Hannah Broom, Isobel Everest, Elaine Livera and Natalie Morgan were in action for the ladies’ race, having qualified through January’s county championships. Joining them was Elliott Swinburne in the under-15 boys’ race.

Isobel Everest, Elaine Livera, Natalie Morgan and Hannah Broom after the finish. Photo by Jamie Hall
Isobel Everest, Elaine Livera, Natalie Morgan and Hannah Broom after the finish. Photo by Jamie Hall

Hannah, the club’s secretary, said: “I couldn’t believe I was donning the county vest. The place was a bog – it made Glastonbury look positively dry! We looked down the hill and could see nothing but sloppy, slippery, mud.

From the gun there was a stampede. The noise was deafening and – oh my – it was ruthless. There was pushing and shoving – I had not been in a race like this before. I decided to back off slightly and get over to the side to try and stay out of trouble and stay upright! Mud was splattering my face, my arms, my legs. It was not like the Three Counties XC races.”

Elaine, who had arrived carrying an injury, added: “The sound was crazy! I’ve never heard so many people run through so much mud before! Suddenly the wave of runners in front of me parted and I had to dodge a girl who had taken a muddy tumble, almost causing a pile up myself. I thought, surely the whole course isn’t like this? But it definitely was – all 8.5km of the course was a mud bath. It was chaos.”

Elaine Livera. Photo by Jamie Hall
Elaine Livera digs in. Photo by Jamie Hall

Hannah continued: “I literally followed Isobel’s back, she’s an excellent XC runner and picks the best ground to run on so I decided to stick as long as I could with her and copy what she did. The ground was horrendous, my feet had a complete mind of their own, slipping and sliding. On a long drag of a hill I did not really notice it as I was too busy looking where to put my feet. But then round the dogleg corner which was a short sharp down, my feet were sliding and skidding everywhere, I was facing the wrong way, I felt like I was skiing – I thought I was a goner. I braced for the fall but instead I managed to crash into another girl and bounced back. To my absolute amazement I was still on my feet and still in the race.”

Elaine would prove to be the second Bedfordshire runner home, in 39:08 for 117th place. She added: “I would have really loved the hills on the course had there been no mud – I always run best on a hilly course. It was only afterwards, when we were looking through pictures, that we realised that it was actually rather undulating. We were all concentrating so hard on putting one foot in front of the other and staying upright that we didn’t know how many times we had gone uphill.”

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Hannah and Isobel worked together for most of the race. Photo by Jamie Hall

Hannah and Isobel continued to run in close proximity. Hannah said: “The mud became heavier and it was really starting to sap my legs. I heard Rob Morgan and [her partner] Jon Fediw shout ‘It’s the final push!’ so I thought this is it, and tried as much as I could up the muddy uphill finish as fast as I could. I had done it. I only started running in 2014 and never dreamed I would be running at county level, this was a huge personal achievement for me.” Hannah’s 194th place in 42:03 was just behind Isobel (41:57, 190th place).

Isobel Everest. Photo by Jamie Hall
Isobel tries to keep her balance round a boggy corner. Photo by Jamie Hall

Natalie was also finding conditions fraught: “It was a quagmire. There was no firm ground and I struggled to find my footing. It was taking all my concentration and effort to remain upright. By the second lap and some three or so miles in, I was despondent and ready to give up … I had had enough of the sloshing around.

Then I realised I was catching the two runners in front and my competitive spirit returned. I focused on them and ploughed on, managing to eventually reach them and overtake. Buoyed by this, I entered the final section of the course and only a mile left to go. Another runner was now in my sights, and I thought if I could just chase her down too that would get me through to the end. I found I was indeed gaining on her and with less than half a mile to the finish we were side by side. I rounded the corner, overtook her and skidded to the finish line.

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Natalie Morgan. Photo by Jamie Hall

Not my finest, most confident race, but it was a great opportunity to run for Bedfordshire, and an experience I will never forget.” Natalie was rewarded with a placing of 252nd, in 45:51.

In the under-15 boys’ race, run on a shorter, but no less muddy circuit, Elliott managed 301st place in 24:44.

‘A fantastic community club’ … local MP Burt hails BAC at brilliant awards night

North East Bedfordshire MP Alistair Burt hailed “a great night” for “a fantastic community club” as Biggleswade Athletic Club members celebrated a brilliant year of individual and team performances at their annual senior presentation night.

Taking place at Sandy’s Garden Court, the evening kicked off with a series of lighthearted honours delivered by chairman Damien Pitts, including recognition for club secretary Hannah Broom’s cat, who has recently taken to using the gravel around the shot put circle for something other than the intended purpose.

Hannah Broom, Alistair Burt and Marcus Davey. Photo by Stuart Goodwin
Hannah Broom, Alistair Burt and Marcus Davey. Photo by Stuart Goodwin

From there, it was on to the main business, with Mr Burt – himself a keen runner – on hand to dish out a string of prizes. Club championship races, taking place over various distances, had been run throughout the season, and honours were won by Jamie Hall (men’s 5km, 10km and half marathon), Elaine Livera (ladies’ 5km and half marathon) and Juliet Nayler (10km). Paul Davies and Isobel Everest each retained their 10 mile championship crowns, while Juliet Nayler – having completed her final season for the club – bowed out with a ninth successive 10km title. The Endurance Trophy went to Nick Haworth, in recognition of a fine time of 2:57:22 in the Chester Marathon.

The Most Improved Athlete awards deservedly went to John Stott and Natalie Morgan, both of whom enjoyed outstanding seasons, cementing themselves as key members of the club’s distance-running and cross-country squads.

For performances in the Southern Athletics League, Morgan Webster and Sarah Ridley earned male and female Track Athlete of the Year accolades, while multi-event specialist Daniel Steel and throws guru Sandra Ingham took the equivalents in the field.

Alistair Burt with Charlie Arnold. Photo by Stuart Goodwin
Charlie Arnold took two awards on the night. Photo by Stuart Goodwin

Sandra also took honours in the veteran female age 50-59 category, with other golden oldies recognised for their Eastern Masters Athletics exploits including Marcus Davey and Hannah Broom (age 35-49), and Robin Wynde (age 50-59). New veteran track and field team captain Charlie Arnold ended the season as top male in the over 60s category, and his versatility on all surfaces and various disciplines was rewarded with the Complete Athlete award.

The final award of the evening, the Lonely Pines Trophy for Club Members’ Member of the Year, voted for by the whole club, went to the chairman Damien Pitts himself for his deft handling of a challenging season for BAC, which included long-awaited, much-needed and deliriously received refurbishment of the Sandy Track facilities.

Alistair Burt with BAC Chairman Damien Pitts. Photo by Stuart Goodwin
Alistair Burt hands BAC chairman Damien Pitts the Lonely Pines trophy. Photo by Stuart Goodwin

Damien said: “It was great to see so many Biggleswade AC members attend the senior presentation night and a big congratulations to all the award winners. There were good turnouts for each of the club championships last year, and many members did great things in 2017. Everyone receiving an award fully deserves it.”

The club has also awarded lifetime memberships to four individuals whose selfless contributions have been valuable to BAC in recent years. They were: outgoing treasurer Mark Stead, who has bowed out of this vital committee role after an epic 10-year stint. Mark is also part of the club’s photo-finish crew, along with Sonia Edwards, who has also been recognised for her longtime, sterling coaching work with BAC’s youngsters: the Little Bees and Mini Bees. Julia Mackay was another, the former communications coordinator who currently operates as a run leader and oversees the club’s social media. Lastly, Peter Howell’s outstanding work as track manager, maintaining the track and field facilities in Sandy over several years, in all weathers, not only saw him receive a lifetime membership, but after a challenging 2017 which saw the track closed for a lengthy period, it also earned him the mantle of Club Member of the Year.

Damien said: “We were delighted to give this special thank-you to Mark, Sonia, Julia and Peter, four BAC members who have supported the club for numerous years, putting in so many hours to make the club what it is now.”

Reflecting on the presentation night, he added: “A special thank you to Bev Strong for organising another fabulous night – I can’t wait till next year’s event.”

Mr Burt echoed his comments, saying: “What a great night! What struck me most was the sense of encouragement of members for each other. Not all the awards were for excellence of achievement – not everyone can be the fastest. But everyone can improve, and everyone can demonstrate through their effort and commitment, either to their event, or to the club as a whole, what grassroots sport means to all.

Biggleswade AC continues to meet the aspirations of so many of all ages, and of all abilities, and makes everyone feel so welcome. This club and many others are so vital for the health and mental wellbeing of the community – and I pay tribute to each and every Club volunteer who work so hard to inspire others and keep groups active.”

Check out the full list of winners and plenty more pics from the night here

Gongs galore … BAC recognise brilliant year for athletes at annual awards

Huge thanks to Bev Strong and Damien Pitts for the hard work put into a great presentation night at Garden Court in Sandy.

Full report to follow, meanwhile, here’s the full list of honours for 2017:

5km

Men’s Jamie Hall

Women’s Elaine Livera

10km

Men’s Jamie Hall

Women’s Juliet Nayler

10 Mile

Men’s Paul Davies

Women’s Isobel Everest

Half Marathon

Men’s Jamie Hall

Women’s Elaine Livera

Complete Athlete Award Charles Arnold

Endurance Trophy Nick Haworth

Most Improved Senior Athlete

Men’s John Stott

Women’s Natalie Morgan

Club Person of the Year Peter Howell

Lonely Pines Trophy – Club Members Member of the Year Damien Pitts

Senior Awards

Male Track Athlete of the Year Morgan Webster

Female Track Athlete of the Year Sarah Ridley

Male Field Athlete of the Year Daniel Steel

Female Field Athlete of the Year Sandra Ingham

Veteran Awards

Male (35-49) Marcus Davey

Male (50-59) Robin Wynde

Male (60+) Charles Arnold

Female (35-49) Hannah Broom

Female (50-59) Sandra Ingham

More mud in Milton Keynes … Chattering teeth at ice-cold Chiltern XC closer

Four of Biggleswade Athletic Club’s junior athletes contended with pouring rain, bitter cold and uphill slogs in the last leg of this season’s Chiltern Cross Country League last Saturday. Taking place at Campbell Park in Milton Keynes, the quartet of Orlagh Brunning, Nicholas Batterbee, Hannah Brunning and Elliot Swinburne competed superbly to do the blue and yellow vest proud.

Different age groups and categories had different distances to contend with, but the overall course consisted of two laps with the first, smaller lap covering approximately 1.5km – with around the first kilometre consisting of tricky uphills. The second lap of around 3km offered a similar amount of gradient, and with rough, muddy and sodden ground. Despite the variety of challenges on show, conditions were undeniably tough for all competitors in the field.

Jostling for position at the start was the trickier thanks to the hard opening uphill stretch, which immediately tested all the athletes. Thankfully the support crew of BAC members, coaches and family members, including Mandie Trudgill and Michael Blunt, were liberally scattered around the course to offer much-needed cheer and encouragement.

Orlagh, first off in the Under-11 girls’ race, came over the brow of the hill looking strong and determined and fought to a fine 35th-place finish in the “mob” race, which equated to seventh in Division 2. In the boys’ equivalent, Nicholas went one place better, crossing the line in 34th and placing 10th in the Division.

Hannah, in the Under-13 girls’ field, worked hard to a 62nd-place finish in the mob standings, which gave her 25th place in Division 2, while Elliot – running the full 4.5k in the Under-15s boys’ field – saved something for a barnstorming finish, coming in 38th, and 10th in the Division.

At the Love Welwyn 10k last Sunday, five BAC athletes took to the road – and hills – for another challenging course made all the trickier thanks to extremely high winds.

Julie Spavins and Jon Stott. Photo by Nick Spavins
Julie Spavins and Jon Stott cross the line. Photo by Nick Spavins

In spite of this, Julie Spavins, accompanied for the duration by clubmate Jon Stott, was delighted to cross the line in 1:02:30. Roo Goodwin, preparing for next month’s Milton Keynes Festival Of Running race at the same distance, endured 6.22 miles of at times unwelcome “encouragement” from husband Stuart, running alongside her, and finished in 1:09:48. Just behind was Gemma Murrell, in 1:10:36.