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 …


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.”

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.

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

The great indoors … BAC athletes show promise treading the boards

At the London U13-U17 Games at Lee Valley, Biggleswade Athletic Club hurdler Natasha Ryall was in indoor action. The event, which is now an international open, saw the youngster contending with higher hurdles than last season, having moved up to the under-15 age category.

Arriving with an open mind, her aim for the 60m hurdles competition was to gain experience over the barriers, and looking towards an opportunity to compete at the England Athletics Age-Group Championships in Sheffield later this month.

Natasha’s PB in the event was technically over 12secs, but having improved a great deal since that performance, she was looking to get close to the required mark of 10secs needed to qualify for Sheffield, and had two opportunities in Lee Valley to try and obtain the time.

Natasha Ryall. Photo by Chris Ryall
Natasha Ryall at Lee Valley. Photo by Chris Ryall

In her first outing, she got a good start and was very clean over the barriers. Indeed, with one hurdle to go was in the lead, before two rivals closed in. At the finish you could put a blanket over all three, but the photo finish gave her third place, in a huge personal best time of 10.25secs.

Her performance meant she was promoted to a higher standard of competition for her second outing, and once again she was swiftly out of the blocks, leading going into the final hurdle once more. This time she was pipped out of the first three, crossing the line in fourth with 10.38secs. Still more to do to attain the qualifying standard, but good experience.

Coach David Brown said: “With indoor facilities now open to all, there are now opportunities for competition all year round. This has only been available in the last 10 years with the build of the Lee Valley Athletics Centre at Enfield, which has a complete full indoor athletics competition facility.

“With now such competitions it is good to see where the athlete is in their development and we can adjust training depending on the results off the winter comps and the performances in the summer improve.”

More evidence of this came at the same venue the following weekend, for the London Senior & U20 Games. The popular annual meeting has acquired an international flavour, attracting a great standard of athlete both from the UK – with internationals such as Dwain Chambers and Andrew Robertson as well as athletes from the USA, France, Germany, Ireland and Malta. Joining them on track were BAC’s Euan Dickson-Earle, competing in the senior 60m hurdles, while Bradley Strong took the line for the U20 200m.

First in the blocks was Loughborough University student Euan, and as he progresses in the senior ranks finds himself among some of the best hurdlers in the country. A former World Youth Championships finalist, he lined up against European junior and under-23 medallist Gianni Frankis, coached by 1991 World bronze winner Tony Jarrett, and fellow youth international Khai Riley-Laborde, who was second at last year’s senior British Championships.

Euan approached his first race cautiously, but made a good start to be in contention for the lead over the first hurdle. As the race wore on, with little room for error, he was slightly down on Laborde and Frankis, and despite a blanket finish he was down in fifth place, in 8.08secs

Second time around, against the top four from his first race, Euan was more aggressive and attacked the race from the off. He led over the first two barriers before those chasing reeled him in, and while Laborde and Frankis again took first and second, he came away with fourth spot, equalling his season’s best time of 8.01secs.

Euan now looks forward to the BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) Indoor Championships in Sheffield later this month, where he won the silver medal last year.

Later in the day Bradley lined up in the 200m heats, looking to establish where his fitness is at the is time of the season. Lined up in lane three, a favourable draw as the banking is not as steep in the inside lanes, hegot a good start going into the tight bends. In a good rhythm coming off the turn, he injected more speed and attacked the athletes on his outside.

Keeping his form into the final bend and off the curve, Bradley come home sixth in a new indoor PB of 26.69, his best indoors or out for a couple of seasons. With training going well this early in the season, a target of sub-25secs looks a promising challenge for 2018.

Many thanks to David Brown for contributing to this report

Chiltern chills in Keysoe … juniors take the plunge in more XC action

Mandie Trudgill writes …
Three of BAC’s juniors, Orlagh Brunning, Hannah Brunning and Elliot Swinburne, turned out at the Keysoe Equestrian Centre for the fourth leg of the Chiltern cross-country league.

The course is run over a bona-fide horse cross-country course and incorporates a water jump. This year age group athletes from under-13s and up were given the choice to run through the water or not. I was really proud that although the water was freezing, both Hannah and Elliot chose to brave it.
Orlagh was extremely disappointed that u11 age groups were not given the choice but directed round.

It’s a tough course and all three athletes performed great. Orlagh finished 26th of 58 in her race, Hannah 23rd from 38 and Elliot 12th from 22 in 15:44 – just pipped by one second by the athlete in front.

At the Luton fixture on Stopsley Common last month, Nicholas Batterbee was 25th in the boys’ under-11s race, while Nathan Cant was 48th. Orlagh Brunning was 39th in the girls’ under-11s, while Hannah Brunning was 65th in a busy under-13s equivalent.
Adam Reed pipped Elliot Swinburne in the boys’ under-16s race, as the pair finished 38th and 39th respectively.

Bringing it home … BAC’s ladies team take third successive Three Counties XC title

Biggleswade Athletic Club’s ladies cross-country team capped a dominant season with another match win to seal their third successive Three Counties XC league title. Following last week’s haul of awards at the county championships, the team took the top prize again, as well as a quartet of individual honours.

BAC ladies team. Photo by Bev Strong
BAC ladies team, including prize-winners Elaine Livera, Juliet Nayler, Isobel Everest and Hannah Broom. Photo by Bev Strong

Power-couple Elaine Livera and Jamie Hall capped astonishing debut seasons with brilliant performances on the day, but more was to come in the prize-giving ceremony when Elaine took overall honours for the whole season, while Jamie was second on the men’s side. Across the five fixtures, Elaine was 1st, 3rd, 2nd, 4th and 2nd respectively, while Jamie took three 4th places and a 5th in the four matches he competed in.

Isobel Everest and Juliet Nayler were others to enjoy incredibly consistent seasons, and they took the FV35 and FV40 honours respectively. With team victory on the day meaning they won four of the five fixtures this season, the ladies’ team cantered to the league win.

Out on the course of the “home” fixture at Bedford’s Priory Park, organised and overseen by Juliet, who was a non-runner on the day, wet weather had caused upheaval in the runup, leaving a section of the scheduled course looking less like cross-country and more competitive wading. Thankfully plans had been made and though the rejigged route was slightly shorter, it still posed a unique, sapping, muddy challenge to competitors, with an ice-cold stream crossing to boot.

Following the initial charge from the start line, early exuberance soon gave way to runners criss-crossing the breadth of the course in search of the least treacherous racing line.

The big charge at the start. Photo by Nick Spavins

Marcus Davey said of conditions: “I was expecting a mud-fest but as it turned out it wasn’t all mud – only the second mile was the tricky section with plenty of ‘squidge bogs’. From data collected from our various BAC owned GPS running devices collated on Strava, I have been geeky enough to note the second mile of the run was on average 30 to 45 seconds slower due to the excess of water and mud.” How runners contended with the slower sections would prove critical to final places, with some powering through as others wilted.

With many BAC members standing aside to help with marshalling duties, the club fielded ateam of 27, making the prize-winning achievements all the more impressive. As a comparison, Bedford Harriers, who were runners up in the ladies league had 71, while Ampthill & Flitwick Flyers – top of the men’s table – had 68. North Herts Road Runners, the overall winners of the combined team prize for the season, had a team of 49 competing on the day.

Of his fourth-place run, Jamie Hall said: “I was quite apprehensive before the start; I had foolishly looked at the overall standings after the last event and found that despite never placing higher than fourth, I was in with a chance of finishing second in the series if I had a good run.

Jamie Hall. Photo by Nick Spavins
Jamie Hall, left. Photo by Nick Spavins

“The race got off to a strange start. I had been caught napping at the start of the last few events and missed the horn, so I watched the starter like a hawk. A rather forlorn whimper came from the klaxon canister along with some compressed air, I immediately set off, charging to the front in an eight-second burst as instructed by coach Paul Davies. After a brief spell in the lead alongside Rob, I was soon joined by three others who gradually eased away from me as we approached the water feature.

Jamie Hall and Rob Morgan blast from the start. Photo by Nick Spavins

“I knew I couldn’t keep with the front runners, so I settled into what felt like an appropriate pace and tried to conserve my energy as much as possible over the boggy surface. Having missed the first event and its stream, it was nice to get a proper cross country christening through the brook. As the race progressed we eventually reached a short paved stretch where a runner in trail shoes was able to make up ground. As soon as we hit the grass my spikes started paying off again and I managed to stick with him until we reached the final stretch. I gave it everything I had to push ahead and sprint to finish the race in fourth. With no idea who the runners were ahead of me other than the clear winner of the series, I wouldn’t know my final place until the awards were handed out.”

On the ladies’ side things were clearer cut, with Elaine Livera arriving on the start line with the same number of points as Bedford’s Gill Fullen, meaning a straight shootout between the two for the individual title. From the start, in BAC coach Giles Hawthorne’s words at the finish: “She was awesome today.” Elaine powered round to finish as second lady, but crucially Gill was the fourth lady finisher on the day.

Filling up the ladies’ scoring positions, Isobel Everest was sixth, Hannah Broom seventh and Natalie Morgan ninth, with all having been in and around the top 10 all season.

Elaine said: “I realise that the marshals and organisers usually get thanked at the end of these reports so I wanted to make sure they took priority for once. I thought the course was really good and all the work that went in to organising and setting up the route on the day was awesome. I do realise that if most of you hadn’t have been helping, you would have been running, so I really appreciate you sacrificing your own runs so that we could all participate. Hopefully there will be an event in the future where I will marshal so you guys can run!

“After a fun evening making over 400 rolls with a few members of the BAC team, we had all topped up on some team spirit in preparation for a tough but exciting run the next day. Due to the excellent performance by everyone who had run in the previous races, the women’s team was very close to winning the title! If we all ran well on the day, we knew we could secure it. This pressure was definitely in the forefront of my mind as well as the nerves that came from knowing that I had to place at least one point ahead of the woman I was tied with on points.

“I knew that the calibre of runners who showed up on the morning was high and that they would be really hard to beat. I decided to try the tactic that had worked at Dunstable; just run as hard as you can for as long as you can and hope that ‘as long as you can’ reaches the finish line.

“The route was really good and felt like proper cross country (minus the hills) due to the energy sapping mud that made you feel like you were sliding backwards with every step you did. All I could think about was where I was on the course map and I was watching myself complete the course as if I was seeing it as a Strava flyby.

“I managed to stay with the girl in front quite comfortably in the muddy woods as I was wearing spikes however as we changed terrain and moved onto a short stretch of concrete, she started to increase the distance between us. I was okay with this as I was still in front of the lady I knew I had to beat.

“As I neared the finish I heard Jamie shouting at me to start sprinting and I’m glad I was told because one of the ladies behind me had also started sprinting in the hope of pipping me to the line! Thankfully I managed to hold her off! Phew! Plus, coming second meant that I had won the individual title!”

The men were seventh on the day, meaning the combined team were an excellent fifth for the season. Behind Jamie his fellow scorers were Steven Baldwin (42nd), Rob Morgan (61st), Marcus Davey (66th), Paul Cooke (88th), Nick Haworth (91st), Paul Davies (93rs) and Jon Stott (106th).

The third team title marked the end of a long and prize-filled relationship BAC has enjoyed with Juliet Nayler, and after the race chairman Damien Pitts gathered members around to pay warm tribute to the hard work she put in over the years both as a key part of the squad, and as team captain. Of what comes next, Juliet said: “I’m joining Bedford Harriers to train for triathlons with them. But I will be doing Liverpool half in May with some of the Biggleswade bunch.

“You never know I may be helping the Harriers with their cross-country!”

Jamie added: “Thank you to Jules for organising such a successful event – the course was brilliant. Good luck in your new club, you’ll be missed.

“The team spirit has been incredible, it’s great to see so many people from the club giving it everything over some really tough terrain! Special thanks to Paul Davies for the training sessions as well as the excellent advice and encouragement, all of which were absolutely essential in coming away with an award.”



Position | Name (Gender position)
4 Jamie Hall (4)
43 Steven Baldwin (42)
60 Elaine Livera (2)
66 Rob Morgan (61)
71 Marcus Davey (66)
95 Paul Cooke (88)
98 Nick Haworth (91)
100 Paul Davies (93)
114 Isobel Everest (6)
115 Jon Stott (106)
119 Hannah Broom (7)
123 Natalie Morgan (9)
140 Charlie Arnold (124)
154 Emma Bailey (16)
158 Aaron Ball (139)
242 Stuart Goodwin (188)
245 Nigel Bush (190)
251 Neil Harvey (192)
269 Kathryn Juty (62)
283 Kevin Goody (209)
301 Nicky Double (78)
311 Ian Grimwood (224)
335 Ricky Byrne (238)
340 Georgia Barker (97)
353 Juliet Grimwood (107)
385 Julie Spavins (135)
412 Julie Cooke (160)

Cleaning up at county championships – BAC make off with huge cross-country prize haul

The ladies of Biggleswade Athletic Club continued their astonishing run of off-road success across the region, coming away from the Bedfordshire County Cross Country championships at Shuttleworth College with a host of individual team prizes. Not to be outdone, a couple of the men joined them with gongs of their own.

Hannah Ridley, Isobel Everest, Elaine Livera, Hannah Broom and Natalie Morgan. Photo by Phil Dickson-Earle
Hannah Ridley, Isobel Everest, Elaine Livera, Hannah Broom and Natalie Morgan. Photo by Phil Dickson-Earle

As well as scooping top honours in both the senior/veterans and standalone veterans team standings, Elaine Livera (second across the line overall) was first senior finisher, Isobel Everest (fourth overall) first in the V45 category and Hannah Broom (fifth) was the first V35. In sixth, Natalie Morgan was the second F40 over the line, while 10th-placed Hannah Ridley was just two off making the top three in the seniors rankings. And all this in spite of mild controversy over the length of the course, which caught many competitors off-guard.

Elaine said: “By the time we had completed one lap of the run, I was quite surprised to see that we had already run over 3km – it was at that moment that I heard team-mates warning me that the course was, in fact, about 10km long instead of 8km! It was also at this point that the wind picked up, preventing us from making the most of the only downhill segment) and the rain started up.

Elaine Livera. Photo by Phil Dickson-Earle
Elaine Livera. Photo by Phil Dickson-Earle

“I followed the tips given by coach Paul Davies – run like I ran at the St Neots half-marathon. Don’t get too puffed out in the first half of the run to make sure you can finish the race properly. By this point the girl in first position was quite far ahead, so I focused on catching the two girls about 300m in front of me. By maintaining an OKpace I slowly managed this and overtook the 2nd girl on the 3rd attempt at the killer hill. From here I knew it wasn’t too far to go and counted down the distance by 100m segments. Everyone ran their bums off and it was so worth it! We got a brilliant haul for Biggleswade AC!”

Isobel Everest. Photo by Phil Dickson-Earle
Isobel Everest. Photo by Phil Dickson-Earle

Hannah found herself in a battle for top V35 honours. She said: “I went out hard and got into a good position, keeping Izzy in my sights. Keeping a steady pace I overtook two girls early on in the second lap, and there was now only one girl between me and Izzy, but she was a way off. I kept going as I was and slowly I began to catch her. As I went passed coach Paul he told me I had opened a big gap behind, so I wasn’t under pressure. I was now closing in on the girl in front. It was the final lap, the big hill, and she slowed. I overtook her but I couldn’t push on the down and I heard her chasing, coming back at me. I was powerless as she overtook me as we made a sharp turn to the left.

“I made a plan, she was tiring and hills were not her strength but they are mine, I felt strong and I gathered myself and prepared for a tough finish. I had to push over the next hill and overtake her but then I had to keep pushing at a faster pace for the finish. It was about half a mile of really hard running, across mud and some smaller sharper hills. I launched my attack and overtook her on the hill, I powered down the other side and just kept going, I had no idea if she had come with me! My lungs were on fire, my legs were burning …where was the end?! Finally the finish and I had done it … fifth Bedfordshire female home, I had retained my first FV35 status, we were team champions again. It was the best race of my life to date – I totally loved it. Huge huge thanks to the support crew and marshals, it totally made the difference to me out there.”

On the mens side, Jamie Hall was ninth overall, in 51:09. Meanwhile, bookending the podium in the over-60s races were Charlie Arnold, just under eight minutes clear of the athlete in second place, while Chris Clarke emerged victorious in a close race for third place with a Dunstable Road Runners athlete.

Charlie said: “Tackling the steep slopes and the dash downhill made it impossible to keep a consistent rhythm, but the thought was always to keep pressing on as the legs got heavier and heavier. There was great support from BAC members around the course, and those marshalling helped tremendously and kept my focus on the race. Finally, lap three was finished and my turn to filter towards the finishing line with great relief.”

In the combined senior and veteran womens team standings, which see each club’s first three finishers have their results stacked together, BAC’s trio of Elaine, Hannah and Natalie finished in 2:15:18, over 15 minutes clear of Leighton Buzzard AC in second place.

In the womens veteran team standings, Isobel moved up to first BAC finisher, joined by Hannah and Natalie Morgan, and the combined finish time of 2:19:47 saw Biggleswade finish almost 19 minutes clear of Leighton Buzzard.

In the junior 4k races, Caitlin Allen was fifth under-15s finisher in 19:43, while on the boys side in the same age group Elliott Swinburne was eighth, in exactly 18 minutes. The seniors now move on to the final Three Counties XC match of the season, hosted by BAC at Priory Park in Bedford on Sunday, where the womens team are away and clear in pole position at the top of the league.

Bedfordshire County Cross Country championships Results

Position | Name | Time | Category (where applicable)
Senior and veteran women (“8k”)
2 Elaine Livera 43:44 Senior
4 Isobel Everest 45:33 F45
5 Hannah Broom 46:01 F35
6 Natalie Morgan 48:13 F40
10 Hannah Ridley 51:20 Senior

Senior and veteran men (11k)
9 Jamie Hall 51:09 Senior
32 Paul Cooke 1:02:41 M40
41 Paul Davies 1:07:30 M45

Over 60 men (“8k”)
1 Charlie Arnold 47:52
3 Chris Clarke 56:21

Under 15 girls (4k)
5 Caitlin Allen 19:43

Under 15 boys (4k)
Elliott Swinburne 18:00