The big 10 … BAC decathletes summon up Dutch courage

Two Biggleswade Athletic Club multi-eventers lined up against formidable opponents in the shape of two Dutch internationals at the recent Surrey Combined Events Championships. Dan Steel was competing in his last decathlon in a BAC vest, while Darren Janssen was competing in his first.

Steel said: “This was my chance to have a crack at the outdoor club record from 2015, after breaking the indoor record in January. There was a buzz around the athletes with Trystan de Weerdt and Niels Mijnsbergen in our event – the standard was going to be high. They would be in every single one of my races!”

Day one consisted of the 100m, long jump, shot put, high jump and 400m. Immediately the class of the Dutch athletes told. Steel said: “The 100m went almost as expected – a solid start but I was left for dead by Trystan. Not my quickest time this year, but OK: 12.27sec.”

Janssen was glad of the company from his clubmate. “This was the most nervous I had been for an athletic competition. I started the first of two days cautiously as I battled the nerves, but after the first event was over I soon settled in and started to just enjoy the day.” He put in a solid time of 13.11, while De Weerdt and Mijnsbergen finished in 11.36 and 11.51 respectively.

Dan Steel long jump 2. By Gemma Dixon
Dan Steel in the long jump. Original video by Gemma Dixon

The long jump saw the BAC pair start to find their form. “I started to feed off the energy that the Dutch were giving out,” said Steel. “But 6.12m was still down on my PB from 2015.” Janssen, meanwhile, posted a personal best 5.21m in the event. Then came the shot, and “things started to unravel” for Steel, with 9.03m his worst effort of the season, a metre down on his PB. Janssen was just 4cm further back, with 8.99m.

Darren Janssen long jump. By Gemma Dixon
Darren Janssen in the long jump. Original video by Gemma Dixon

Steel was concerned with his knee during the high jump, an area that had troubled him earlier in the season. He found himself using valuable energy needing three attempts to clear heights that were within him, but rallied to finish with a clearance of 1.68m. Janssen managed 1.50m while the Dutch pair both cleared 1.86m.

The 400m rounded out day one, and any doubts of the class of the opposition were dispelled as Mijnsbergen crossed the line in 51.43, with De Weerdt finishing in 52.72. “After 150m I was chasing thin air and my time suffered as a result,” said Steel, who finished in 57.44, while Janssen lamented his “poorly executed” performance as his “low point” of the day, as he finished outside 63 seconds.

The pair regrouped for day two, with Steel 117 points back from where he hoped to be in order to take on the BAC record. “Not an impossible task, but difficult.” Janssen was managing a “minor niggling hip injury”, but felt well-rested for the competition ahead,

First up was the 110m hurdles. “I had a bad race,” said Steel. “But my time was my third-fastest ever – I’m really not sure how!” His 19.38 and Janssen’s 21.09 were once again thrown into sharp relief by the class around them, as both Dutchmen went well below 16 seconds.

110m hurdles. By Gemma Dixon
Steel and Janssen take on the Dutch pair in the 110m hurdles. Original video by Gemma Dixon

Steel’s run at the club record was almost derailed entirely after two fouls in the discus. “This was very nearly a disaster – two throws outside the sector, one very safe final attempt of 23.04m.” Janssen took the opportunity to get one over on his clubmate, and did so in fine style: “I was able to set a new personal best, finally breaking the 30m mark!” His best effort went out to 30.94m, just 1cm down on Mijnbergen’s mark.

Darren Janssen pole vault. By Gemma Dixon
Janssen in the pole vault. Original video by Gemma Dixon

Janssen continued his resurgence in the pole vault, equalling his PB in the pole vault with a fine effort of 2.60m. Steel was struggling with his knee but rallied to clear 3.10m and suddenly found himself ahead of schedule in his record chase.

Dan Steel pole vault. By Gemma Dixon
Steel in the pole vault. Original video by Gemma Dixon

The penultimate event was the javelin, and Steel “was desperate to create a gap knowing my final event wasn’t going to be quick – so I was hitting the Jav with everything I had”. He sent his best effort out to a fine 37.10m, with Janssen managing 32.19m.

Now all eyes were on Steel’s own club record of 4610 points. “My javelin meant anything under 5:24.5 in the 1500m would do it. I tried staying in touch with the leaders early on but again got isolated. Luckily one of my rivals passed me with 250m to go and it kicked me back into gear. 5:18.53. It was also quick enough to stay ahead of my rival overall Mark Andrews of Holland Sports by five points, he’s beaten me for the last two years so I was delighted to get one back!”

Janssen said he was “let down by my overall fitness and stamina coming into the final event”.  “As a result, I was only able to muster a poor performance in the 1500m as a dragged myself round.” His time of 6:32.52 gave him plenty to build on, and he remarked: “It was a disappointing way to end, and I felt deflated. However, I am determined to use this negative as motivation to improve my overall fitness across the winter months.”

Steel’s final tally was 4641 points. “After 3 years of disappointment trying to break the club record again, it was good to prove to myself that I could get back to the results of 2015.”

Decathletes. By Gemma Dixon

Janssen said of his first experience of decathlon: “The overall event was really challenging, but really fun, and I’m looking forward to competing in another one. I’d like to thank Daniel for mentoring and motivating me, the club coaches – especially Alison Ridley – for helping train me, and BAC for making me feel welcome when I first joined the club. If anyone wants to give athletics a try, it does not matter about age or ability, it’s all about having fun and I encourage anyone to come to Biggleswade AC and give it a go.”

England international high jumper Leonie Brunning was another in multi-event action, competing at the English Schools’ Combined Events Championships in Bedford. In the intermediate girls’ heptathlon, she managed 13.41sec in the 80m hurdles, 1.65m in the high jump, 8.94m in the shot, 29.88sec in the 200m, 4.71m in the long jump, 25.69m in the javelin and 2:49.78 in the 800m. This gave her a score of 3,790 points for a creditable 26th place overall.

Brunning joined Steel at the Eastern Combined Events in Peterborough last weekend. Dan was disappointed to have to withdraw early on due to injury, but Brunning came second in the under-17s womens competition, which took in five events. She managed 13.24sec in the 80m hurdles, 9.35m in the shot, 1.59m in the high jump, 5.08m in the long jump and 2:51.82 in the 800m.

Teagan Blake and Leonie Brunning. NO CREDIT PLEASE
Teagan Blake and Leonie Brunning.

Teagan Blake, competing in her first multi-events competition, lined up in the under-15s field and came an fine 10th with a points total of 1,870. Her performances consisted of 3.55m in the long jump, 14.30sec in the 75m hurdles, 7.24m in the shot, 1.33m in the high jump and 2:54.63.


Silver salvo … Leonie Brunning makes medalling debut in England vest

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.

“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.”

Leonie Brunning in high jump action. Photo by Brunnings
Leonie cleared 1.70m to take the silver medal. Photo by Brunnings

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.

Leonie Brunning with silver medal [2]. Photo by Brunnings
Leonie with her silver medal. Photo by Brunnings
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.”

Searing hot at SAL … match three at Parliament Hill

BAC athletes put in great effort at the third match of this season’s Southern Athletics League. As always many competitors took part in multiple events to earn valuable points for the club, but in spite of the extra strain in the heat at Parliament Hill, the quality of performances remained high.

Among the top placings on the day were Josh Watson in the high jump, his best leap of 1.90m taking top spot by a huge 15cm. He also placed third as the B-string competitor in the pole vault and the 400m hurdles.

SAL - Daniel Steel in the 110m hurdles. Photo by Gemma Dixon
Daniel Steel in the 110m hurdles. Photo by Gemma Dixon

Sarah Ridley went two better, taking first place in three events. Her top spot in the triple jump came with an effort of 10.07m, 80cm clear of her nearest competition, while she also took the spoils in the shot put with a throw of 10.10m. Finishing up an excellent trio of victories was her best discus throw of 27.68m, while she added second place in the 100m (13.1sec) and third in the hammer (21.40m). Both Sarah and Josh earned man of the match awards for their efforts.

Sandra Ingham topped the standings in the B-string hammer with a throw of 13.04m, and she added to this with a fine third in the javelin, thanks to a throw of 21.96m.
Elsewhere, top three placings were rife, with Morgan Webster second in both the 100m (11.6sec) and 200m (23.1sec), ably followed up in the B-string equivalents by Callum Stokes, who took third and second respectively (12.2sec and 24.5sec), and was also runner-up in the B-string long jump (5.19m). Webster also took second place in the triple jump with 11.52m, while Tristan Rayner was hot on his heels in the B-string thanks to a leap of 11.29m to earn another second place.

SAL - Jessica Cooke and Francesca Riley. Photo by Gemma Dixon
Jessica Cooke and Francesca Riley in the 400m. Photo by Gemma Dixon

Bradley Strong took third in the B-string 400m with a time of 61.0sec, and Charlie Arnold’s best placing on a busy day was third in the B-string 800m (2:44.4). Stephen Day just missed the top three in the A-string 800m but was third in the A-string 1500m, just outside the 5min mark with an excellent time of 5:00.4. His B-string back-up in the latter event, Nick Haworth, took second spot with 5:21.5, and added third place as the B competitor in the 5,000m (18:48.5). Hannah Ridley was second in the 100m hurdles with 24.4 sec, to add to her third place in the 800m (2:31.1), while Jessica Cooke was second in the B-string women’s 400m with 67.7sec.

More third places came from Molly May in the B-string 100m (14.9sec) and 200m (30.7sec) and Stephen Baldwin in the A-string 5,000m (16:51.9). Daniel Steel took third spot in the 110m hurdles (19.8sec), and as B-string in all of the high jump (1.60m), shot put (9.39m), hammer (14.20m) and discus (24.45m), and another to place in multiple events was Kathryn Juty, with third in the long jump (3.81m), pole vault (1.70m) and B-string javelin (10.62m). Paul Davies was another third place in the B-string 2,000m steeplechase (9:28.3), Alex Ingham took A-string third in the javelin with 49.57m, while Nathan Dodds took third in the A-string discus (31.75m), as did Francesca Riley in the 400m (63.4sec).

In the relays, the women’s quartets took second places with 54.3sec in the 4x100m and 4:30.4 in the 4x400m, one better than the men – third in both of their races with times of 47.7sec and 3:58.1 respectively. The combined team finished fourth out of six teams in the fixture, showing once again that despite excellent performances, gaps in the squad are holding BAC back. No matter what your level, there are valuable points to be had at SAL fixtures – get in touch with the track and field coaches for more information.

Full results from Parliament Hill can be found here

Rundown of the SAL season so far

Eastern promise … BAC rack up medals in counties championships

Biggleswade Athletic Club athletes struck gold, silver and bronze at the Eastern Counties AA Championships in Peterborough late last month, amid some fantastic results and outstanding personal best efforts.

Eastern Champs - Molly May, Morgan Webster and Francesca Riley. Photo by James Webster
Molly May, Morgan Webster and Francesca Riley. Photo by James Webster

A quartet of BAC competitors were in attendance competing in the Bedfordshire vest, with Morgan Webster leading the way despite having struggled with a hamstring strain that had kept him out of training in the run-up to the event. Yet on the day itself, competing as an under-20 athlete, he took the blocks for the 400m in a combined field of under-20 and senior athletes, and flew round the lap in a new personal best of 50.2 seconds, winning the race against older competitors and taking the gold medal.

Eastern Champs - Morgan Webster. Photo by James Webster (2)
Morgan Webster. Photo by James Webster

Leonie Brunning’s fine form in the high jump continued, and despite her best effort of 1.55m being down on her best, it earned her an under-17s silver medal. She showed her versatility in the jump disciplines by also competing in the long jump, and her leap of 4.89m was good enough for bronze.

Also earning bronze was Francesca Riley, competing in the senior 400m, and her new training schedule paid dividends as she took the third spot on the podium.

Molly May was taking part in her first ever championships, and she didn’t shrink in stepping up to the higher level, indeed she took a huge half a second off her 100m personal best in the under-17 final – a fine time of 14.4sec.

The story so far … Biggleswade’s SAL campaign 2018

As Biggleswade AC competitors prepare for match 3 of this season’s Southern Athletics League campaign, which takes place later today, 23 June, at Parliament Hill, here’s a summary of the season so far, taking in results at Perivale and Peterborough.

A quick reminder to all taking part – do let us know how you get on, and please do flag up any PBs or performances you’re particularly proud of via the forum or the BAC members’ Facebook page. As all the team will attest, there’s still plenty of room in the squad for those willing and able to do their bit – the more gaps that get filled, the higher up the league table BAC will climb. No contribution is too small – every point is massively valuable, and with opposition teams also unable to field full teams, coming “last” is relative – it can still mean huge points.

Huge thanks to Darren Janssen for his photos from the fixtures so far, and good luck to those making the journey today!

Sweatshop Southern Athletics League Division 3 North

BAC results from first two matches

(Seniors and veterans unless otherwise stated)

Match 1
A string 3 Tristan Rayner (U20) 11.7sec
B string 3 Bradley Strong (U20) 12.9
A 1 Sarah Ridley 13.1
B 3 Molly May (U17) 14.9
Non-scorer Janice Amber (U20) 13.9

Match 2
A 4 Tristan Rayner (U20) 12.1
B 3 Cameron Rayner (U17) 12.3
A 1 Sarah Ridley 13.1
B 3 Molly May (U17) 15.0

Match 1
A 2 Morgan Webster (U20) 22.92
B 2 Callum Stokes (U20) 23.61
A 4 Leonie Brunning (U17) 29.1
B 4 Janice Amber (U20) 29.56
Non-scorer Molly May (U17) 31.14

SAL Peterborough Photo 4
Photo by Darren Janssen

Match 2
A 2 Morgan Webster (U20) 22.9
B 3 Cameron Rayner (U17) 24.5
A 4 Francesca Riley 28.8
B 2 Janice Amber (U20) 29.1

Match 1
A 1 Morgan Webster (U20) 51.5
B 1 Callum Stokes (U20) 52.6
A 4 Kathryn Juty 69.9

Match 2
A 2 Morgan Webster (U20) 51.2
B 1 Callum Stokes (U20) 54.1
A 1 Francesca Riley 63.1
B 2 Jessica Cooke (U17) 68.2

Match 1
A 4 Aaron Ball 2:15:22
B 3 Steven Baldwin 2:34:85

SAL Perivale 6
Steven Baldwin. Photo by Darren Janssen

A 2 Elaine Livera 2:28:1
B 1 Hannah Ridley (U23) 2:28:6

SAL Perivale 5
Elaine Livera (right) and Hannah Ridley. Photo by Darren Janssen

Match 2
A 3 Stephen Day (U17) 2:16:7
A 2 Hannah Ridley 2:26:4

Match 1
A 4 Aaron Ball 5:18:15
B 4 John Frost 5:53:36

SAL Perivale 14
John Frost. Photo by Darren Janssen

A 3 Elaine Livera 5:09:3
B 1 Hannah Ridley (U23) 5:39:0

Match 2
A 3 John Frost 5:03.8
B 2 Elliot Swinburne 5:10.0

Match 1
A 2 Elaine Livera 10:54:8

Match 2
A 3 Steven Baldwin 9:44:2
B 2 Paul Davies 10:55:1

5000m (men)
Match 1
A 3 Steven Baldwin 17:19:84
B 4 Paul Davies 18:59:03

110m hurdles (men only)
Match 1
A 2 Josh Watson 18.8
B 1 Daniel Steel 21.9

Match 2
A 2 Josh Watson 17.9
B 1 Daniel Steel 19.3

NB: BAC have had no athletes competing in women’s 100m hurdles so far this season

400m hurdles
Match 1
A 1 Darren Janssen 75.3
B 1 Josh Watson 105.9

Match 2
A 3 Darren Janssen 71.0
B 3 Josh Watson 100.5

NB: BAC have had no athletes competing in women’s 400m hurdles so far this season

2000m steeplechase (match 1 only)
A 3 Giles Hawthorne 9:29:5
B 2 Paul Davies 10:37.8

SAL Perivale 15
Giles Hawthorne. Photo by Darren Janssen

3000m steeplechase (match 2 only)
A 5 Charles Arnold 13:43.7
B 3 Paul Davies 14:29:1

High jump
Match 1
A 1 Josh Watson 1.90m
B 2 Daniel Steel 1.75m
A 2 Leonie Brunning (U17) 1.45m
B 3 Hannah Ridley (U23) 1.15m

Match 2
A 1= Josh Watson 1.88m
B 1= Daniel Steel 1.67m

A 2 Leonie Brunning (U17) 1.53m

Pole vault
Match 1
A 3 Daniel Steel 3.20m
B 2 Darren Janssen 2.40m

A 2 Kathryn Juty 1.60m

Match 2
A 2 Daniel Steel 3.21m
B 2 Darren Janssen 2.60m

Long jump
Match 1
A 2 Daniel Steel 6.20m
B 2 Darren Janssen 4.98m

SAL Perivale 10
Daniel Steel. Photo by Darren Janssen

A 3 Leonie Brunning (U17) 4.74m
B 3 Kathryn Juty 3.83m

SAL Perivale 4
Kathryn Juty. Photo by Darren Janssen

Match 2
A 4 Daniel Steel 5.97m
B 3 Darren Janssen 4.97m

SAL Peterborough Photo 5
Daniel Steel. Photo by Darren Janssen

A 3 Leonie Brunning (U17) 4.75m

Triple jump
Match 1
A 2 Morgan Webster (U20) 11.42m
B 2 Callum Stokes (U20) 10.29m
A 2 Sarah Ridley (U23) 9.35m

Match 2
A 3 Morgan Webster (U20) 10.77m
B 2 Tristan Rayner (U20) 10.60m
A 2 Leonie Brunning (U17) 9.76m

Shot put
Match 1
A 1 Nathan Dodds (U20) 11.07m
B 1 Daniel Steel 10.14m

SAL Perivale 3
Photo by Darren Janssen

A 2 Sarah Ridley (U23) 9.50m
B 4 Sandra Ingham 6.55m

SAL Perivale 9
Sarah Ridley. Photo by Darren Janssen

Match 2
A 5 Daniel Steel 9.43m
B 5 Darren Janssen 8.74m
A 2 Sarah Ridley 9.87m
B 4 Sandra Ingham 6.08m

Match 1
A 1 Nathan Dodds (U20) 32.24m
B 1 Darren Janssen 28.84m

SAL Perivale 24
Darren Janssen. Photo by Nathan Dodds

A 2 Sarah Ridley (U23) 29.97m
B 3 Sandra Ingham 13.81m

SAL Peterborough Photo 9
Sarah Ridley. Photo by Darren Janssen

Match 2
A 5 Nathan Dodds (U17) 30.64m
B 3 Daniel Steel 27.55m
Non-scoring Josh Watson 29.10m
A 2 Sarah Ridley 30.67m
B 4 Sandra Ingham 12.43m

Match 1
A 3 Darren Janssen 18.50m
B 1 Daniel Steel 17.11
A 4 Sandra Ingham 10.51m

Match 2
A 6 Darren Janssen 17.23m
B 4 Daniel Steel 17.04m

Match 1
A 2 Nathan Dodds (U20) 45.58m
B 1 Daniel Steel 38.10m
A 4 Sandra Ingham 19.87m

Match 2
A 1 Nathan Dodds (U17) 42.23m
B 1 Daniel Steel 39.31m
Non-scoring Darren Janssen 31.79

SAL Peterborough Photo 8
Nathan Dodds. Photo by Darren Janssen

A 4 Sandra Ingham 19.39m

4x100m relay
Match 1
Men 3rd 47.0

SAL Perivale 20
BAC’s men’s sprint relay team in action. Photo by Darren Janssen

Women 3rd 56.07

Match 2
Men 2nd 47.3
Women 3rd 55.0

4x400m relay
Match 1
Men 3rd 4:12:8

Match 2
Men 3rd 3:49:2
Women 4rd 4:31.0

Overall match results

Match 1 (Perivale, 14 April)
1 Ealing, Southall & Middlesex 344
2 Biggleswade 279
3 Basildon 271.5
4 Highgate Harriers and Mornington Chasers 191.5
5 Barnet & District 131

Match 2 (Peterborough, 19 May)
1 Peterborough 333.5
2 Luton 289
3 Harlow 250.5
4 Biggleswade 231
5 West Norfolk 93
6 West Suffolk 75

League position after 2 matches: 11th of 23 with 8 league points
Positions 8-10 all have 9 league points, and clubs ranked 5-7 have 10, so it’s still all to play for.
In terms of match points, BAC have 510 for the season – league leaders Dacorum & Tring (12 league points) have racked up 681.

Fun in the forest … BAC take honours and PBs at Marston 5k

Nick Haworth writes …

Biggleswade Athletic Club converged on Millennium Country Park to take individual and team prizes, and a host of personal bests, at the always-lively and runner-friendly Marston 5k last Friday. BAC’s ladies took the team prize – based on results for each club’s first three runners across the line – while the men were just beaten into second place by Dunstable Road Runners. Individually, Hannah Broom was first female finisher aged 35 or over, while the evergreen Charlie Arnold was first male runner over 60, while Richard Bevan was fourth finisher overall and Elaine Livera third in the overall ladies standings.

BAC award-winners at Marston. Photo by Deb Bryant
Elaine Livera, Hannah Broom, Emma Bailey and Charlie Arnold. Photo by Deb Bryant

The latest setting for Ampthill & Flitwick Flyers tri-series of races consisting of a 5k, lap and a bit, round a lake, woodlands, and wetlands reserve. Formerly part of the extensive Stewartby Brickworks, some 61 square miles has been transformed into a community forest aimed at increasing tree cover in the county and increasing awareness of environmental matters. The weather conditions were almost perfect – a calm, sunny and a balmy evening enticing a full turnout of almost 400 runners from around the region including 16 from Biggleswade.

A huge blast of the starter’s horn at 7.30pm heralded a mass charge along tarmac before a sharp right on to a gravel surface. There then followed a short downhill section into the trees, and a flattish middle section, slippery in places with the odd pothole hazard to catch out the unwary. The course is quite narrow in places, leading to some argy-bargy among some of the competitors. The ground, parched in parts, created further hazards in the form of clouds of dust churned up by the front runners, while low-hanging tree branches occasionally offered a cruel whip to the side of the head to those watching their footing without paying attention to their surroundings at head height.

BAC at Marston 5k. Photo by Rachel Stott
BAC at Marston 5k. Photo by Rachel Stott

The tremendous Marston Moretaine scenery passed many competitors by, tearing round, hearts pounding out of chests, legs wobbling with lactic acid, and desperately trying to catch-up or cling-on to the person in front.

A straight, fast, section, followed by a tight left-hander and the athletes were at the 3km point, time to repeat the mantra “maintain breathing, maintain breathing, keep posture up!”. Two right-hand turns later and through a chicane gate, the seemingly endless final kilometre arrived. Suddenly, after what seemed an eternity, a right-hand turn brought the runners to within sight of the finishing line to make, as best they could, a final dignified 150 metre dash to the finish in front of the cheering crowd of supporters.

Bevan’s fourth-placed finish came in a superb personal best time of 17m15sec, followed in short measure by Paul Cooke (17th overall, 18:40), who headed a run of four BAC athletes in 19 seconds, featuring Paul Davies (21st, 18:49), Nick Haworth (22nd, 18:53) and John Stott (18:59). Stott was another to earn a fine PB, his first time under 19 minutes.

Kathryn Juty. Photo by Rachel Stott
Kathryn Juty on her way to a PB. Photo by Rachel Stott

Hot on their heels, Livera – roaring straight back into form after a frustrating spell of injury – headed up the ladies’ team challenge in 19:11 (29th overall) (third lady), followed swiftly afterwards by Hannah Broom, another to earn a benchmark PB on the night with her first ever sub-20min run (37th overall, 5th lady, 19:39) and Emma Bailey, who cracked 21 mins to set a best time of her own (59th, 8th lady, 20:55). Kathryn Juty (138th, 28th lady, 24:14) and Simon Strong’s 24:41 (146th, 114th male finisher) were others to earn brilliant PBs on the night.

Marston 5k Results

Overall | Gender position | Name | Time
4 | 4 | Richard Bevan | 17:15
17 | 16 | Paul Cooke | 18:40
21 | 20 | Paul Davies | 18:49
22 | 21 | Nick Haworth | 18:53
25 | 24 | John Stott | 18:59
29 | 3 | Elaine Livera | 19:11
37 | 5 | Hannah Broom | 19:39
48 | 42 | Charlie Arnold | 20:26
59 | 8 | Emma Bailey | 20:55
67 | 12 | Natalie Morgan | 21:26
68 | 56 | Rob Morgan| 21:26
138 | 28 | Kathryn Juty | 24:14
146 | 114 | Simon Strong | 24:41
148 | 116 | Stephen Atkins | 24:48
164 | 127 | Clark Skerratt | 25:26
330 | 146 | Shani Giddings | 36:09

BUCS action and Brown recognised … news roundup

Elsewhere, two BAC athletes took part in the BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) Championships at Bedford International Stadium. Euan Dickson-Earle, who won the 110m hurdles title for Loughborough University last year, has been hampered by a hip niggle this season, and he was fourth in his heat with a time of 15.32.

In the javelin, Alex Ingham, competing for Nottingham, threw 55.37m in the preliminary round to qualify for the final. There he was unable to match the earlier distance, but his best mark of 49.97m was still good enough for a fine top 10 finish.

BAC were thrilled that club stalwart competitor, coach and official David Brown was recognised at Central Bedfordshire Council’s Cheering Volunteering Awards. Brown, who has coached athletes to county, national and international standard, as well as officiating at a host of levels across the region right up to the prestigious Diamond League meeting at the London Stadium last season, was nominated in the Sports Volunteer of the Year category, where he placed third overall.

Spanish stroll … race-walk master Middleton racks up medals in Alicante

BAC’s race-walking expert Helen Middleton was back in the medals competing for Great Britain at the biennial European Masters Athletics Non-Stadia Championships, taking place this year in Alicante, Spain. The championships, which have been running since 1989, see veteran athletes from across the continent hitting the streets for three days of intense but friendly competition.

Helen Middleton in action

Despite having come away with team silver from the recent European indoor championships, Helen had been downbeat after two fourth places individually, and spent the time in-between knuckling down.

She said: “After the disappointment that was Madrid, but having put in some serious training, the hard surfaced Alicante course was unforgiving and it was hot, but I’m delighted to report that I came third in the 10k, W55 category in 1.02.04.” In addition, in the team standings for race purposes she stepped up a handful of age group categories to form part of the GB W40 squad, alongside Carolyn Derbyshire and Fiona Bishop, and the trio took fine team bronze medals.

As in Madrid, she doubled up. “Twenty hours later I was back on the same start line for the 20k race. With the support of the GB feed station crew and lots of other encouragement I finished second in 2.10.38.” Not content with going one better on the podium individually, Helen also stepped up in the team standings: “This time the declared GB W45 team of Melanie Peddle, Angela Martin and I found ourselves on the podium picking up silver team medals.”

Emerging from the pair of races without any cautions or warnings, which can leave walkers at risk of disqualification even in the closing stages, the training had paid off, best illustrated as Helen found herself overhauling Spanish walker Angeles Noell Guardiola, who had pipped her to two bronze medals in Madrid. On this occasion her rival finished fourth and third respectively. The Italian pairing of Peppina DeMartis and Mirella Patti took gold and silver in the 10k, which Patti took top honours in the 20k.

Clearing the bar … Brunning goes BIG again

Closer to home, BAC’s fast-rising high jumper Leonie Brunning competed brilliantly at the BIG Jumps & Throws Fest in Bedford. Competing as an under-17 athlete against under-20s and seniors, her best clearance of 1.65m was the second-best in her age group, and equal-fourth best of the day – just 2cm off her PB.

Her performance qualifies her for July’s English Schools Championships in Birmingham. At last year’s event she was unfortunate to miss out on a medal, having cleared the same height as the athletes who shared the bronze medal, but dropping down the standings due to failures at lower heights earlier in the competition.