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.

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

Cross Country round-up … Chattering teeth at Chiltern XC

Mandie Trudgill and David Brown report …

The conclusion of the Chiltern Cross Country season arrives early next month, and BAC athletes have been doing the vest proud at recent fixtures.

On 1 December, five juniors and a senior trekked over to Stopsley Common on the outskirts of Luton to be given the full cross-country treatment. On a course exposed to the elements, the wind and rain blew across the landscape, but the juniors – Jessica Hardy, George Hardy, Orlagh Brunning, Nicholas Batterbee and Elliot Swinburne – along with Elliot’s father Paul were not to be deterred.

All athletes acquitted themselves admirably over their courses which ranged from 2.5km-10km in distance. In their respective events, Nicholas Batterbee was 21st, George Hardy 25th, Orlagh Brunning 28th, Elliot Swinburne 41st, Jessica Hardy 42nd and Paul Swinburne 56th.

The next leg of the league took place at Keysoe Equestrian Centre on 12th January, on a course that featured two water crossings, Orlagh Brunning and Jessica Hardy were 32nd and 51st respectively in their under-11 girls’ race. Debutant Alfie Lawrence finished a fine 69th in the boys’ equivalent.

In the U13 boys standings, Nicholas Batterbee finished 76th, while Elliot Swinburne was 14th in his U17 race. Finally, Paul Swinburne – running 10km, twice the distance his son had to cover – came in 68th in his Division 2 standings, and 227th in the “mob” race overall.

Next up for athletes: the season finale at Milton Keynes’ Campbell Park.

Youngsters mix it at SEAA indoor champs

At the SEAA indoor champs U13/15/17 held at Lee Valley earlier this month, up-and-coming BAC multi-eventer Teagan Blake competed in two events, the 60m hurdles and shot putt.

In hurdles action on the Saturday, Blake was fourth in her heat and produced a new personal best of 10.80 secs – an impressive 0.3secs outside the national qualifying standard.

On the Sunday, mixing it with the top youngsters in the south of England in the shot put, Blake was disappointed with 6.12m for 14th in the final.

Elsewhere on day two, under-15s athlete Sophie Forbes-Laird was in action in the 300m. Up in the first heat, she had a clean race and came second in a new indoor PB and club record of 43.38secs. She nervously waited on the outcome of the other two heats, with the first finishers and three fastest losers qualifying. Thankfully she was fifth quickest overall from the three heats and made it through.

In the final Sophie put in a brave effort and when the athletes approached the point where they break from their lane and all run in the inside lane, she was second, with approx 120m to go. Yet as they rounded the bend to the finishing straight, she was passed and two girls then fell over the finishing line which forced her to check her stride to avoid the melee. It still added up to creditable fifth place which will means she will experience in the national finals in February at Sheffield.

Counting awards at county champs … BAC athletes rack up cross-country honours

Biggleswade Athletic Club members excelled on the county championship stage against the best of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire in High Wycombe, with both the club’s senior and veteran ladies’ squads taking titles, and Charlie Arnold among several individual honours.

Charlie takes a well-earned breather while the ladies show off their awards. Photo by Beth K Price Williams

On a long day for athletes at Hughenden Park, BAC ladies were defending both the senior and veterans’ titles, with a new-look squad shorn of two of last year’s award-winners. Nevertheless, the prep work that had been put in and recent strong performances from all those taking part put them in a confident mood.

Besides the team events, there were also individual scores to settle and medals to be won. On a cold day, the planned stream crossing had dried out, but that was the only relief offered by a course set over laps of about 1.8 miles featuring two steep climbs. The male veterans 60+ athletes and women ran three laps (400ft of climbing) while the senior men and veterans up to age 59 ran four laps.

First to go were Paul Swinburne and Charlie Arnold, the club’s only representatives in the senior men’s race, which spared them team responsibilities. Swinburne had three large laps to complete, which he did so with gusto, finishing strongly at the seventh V45 competitor, and 32nd place overall, and immediately commenting on how tough the course was.

Arnold, in the MV60 category, had a slightly shorter course to contend with. He ran so fast, the officials believed he still had one lap to do when he was coming in to the finish, and nearly sent him round again. However, he still won his age category and was nearly 10 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor.

He said: “Having completed one lap with enthusiasm, the second time round started to register that the course was tough and the muscles in the calves and thighs were suggesting that this was not such fun after all; by the third lap there were definitely feelings that it may not be such a disgrace to walk up those hills.

“For the final run-in, the funnel peeled off to the left, but the charge for the line was somewhat farcical – an official leapt across to stop me, insisting I had to run another lap. Fortunately, BAC’s David Brown was at the finish line and waved me through, but not without a final aside from the over-officious official!”

On the women’s side, BAC had strong representation from Hannah Broom, Natalie Morgan and Emma Bailey from last year’s team, augmented by Hannah Ridley, Kathryn Juty and Catherine Price Williams, who was making a cross-country debut in her first event for the club.

Hannah, looking like she knows where she’s going. Photo by Beth K Price Williams

Broom’s performances throughout 2018 had been outstanding on road and cross country and she now had the chance to show her progress early in 2019 at county level against tough opposition. Setting off steadily, Hannah B let her rivals set the early pace and concentrated on her own running. As they came by at the end of the first lap, Hannah was in second place, about 10 seconds behind her main rival. Meanwhile, Nat, Hannah R and Emma had placed themselves in good positions for the team event with Kathryn and Catherine also looking strong.

At the end of the second lap, Hannah B had inched closer to the leader and seemed to be biding her time. The message was passed that her opponent was starting to look ragged while Hannah continued to be looking strong. In the third lap, as they came down the steep hill for the last time Hannah had passed her opponent and was in first place and moving further ahead as she came up to the finish with a clear advantage over the second place to win both the overall senior title and the vet 35 medal in a time of 33:22, six seconds ahead of a fast finishing second place. Besides the hard work on her running, Hannah has added race management and it showed in the way she paced herself to be County Champion.

Hannah ignores Rob Morgan, who is furiously doing a toilet in the ditch. Photo by Beth K Price Williams

“For the first 300m or so I wasin the main front pack, trying not to panic that I was so far forward. My main competitor, from Stopley Striders, was just in front of me and I ran in her pocket for the first lap. I allowed myself to drop back 50m, which gave me a chance to calm down and run my own race. I was overtaken by another lady from Leighton Buzzard, which slipped me into third – I kept talking to myself: “Do not panic, run your own race …” Seeing fellow training group-mate Charlie at the start of the third lap, he whispered some wise words to me and this gave me a massive boost.

“I realised I was not going any faster but I was gaining on the ladies in front of me. Now was my chance and I started to turn the screw. There was little response as I passed them along the back part of the course which had a slight incline with the wind against us, followed by a sharp uphill which brought you almost to a walk with lactic leg burn at the top. I was now clear and out in front.

Suddenly I realised I had no one to follow and no idea where I needed to go! The marshals as they hurriedly pointed me in the right direction round a sharp bend to the left, up another slight short incline and a long downhill. Still unclear where the finish is, I see Charlie again, and he points – I’m there, and I have won! Straight away I turned to see my teammates following close behind. It was awesome to see them finishing all so close and in fantastic positions.”

Morgan came in fifth lady in 36:32, followed by an outstanding run from Hannah Ridley, three seconds behind in sixth, and the first trio of BAC athletes home secured the senior team championship. Bailey arrived in eighth, in 37:32, which added the top veterans’ team prize in conjunction with Broom and Morgan’s results. Juty and Price Williams also gave a good account of themselves, finishing in 17th and 23rdrespectively. Morgan took silver and Bailey bronze in the V40 category, while Juty took V45 silver.

Morgan said: “I think we all relieved when we arrived to see the course was relatively dry underfoot and no water to be found at the supposed water crossings. As the women’s race is always towards the end of the race programme the ground can often get churned up and when you add freezing cold water, it makes for what is already hard running, even harder so it was pleasing sight.

The big charge at the start. Photo by Rob Morgan

“The start for me was a bit of blur, but I know I went out too hard and the first mile ended up being way too quick. The next three miles I managed to calm myself down and settled into my pace, finding that I was having a good battle with an Ampthill & Flitwick Flyer runner. She had previously overtaken me at the point where there was a short, sharp hill on the first lap but the next time round I got her on the following downhill section. I managed to stave her off for most of the last lap of the course but I was tiring quickly at that stage and was now paying for my earlier mistake of going out too fast. I could hear her behind me as the finish line drew closer, then she was beside me and then in front but I just didn’t have enough in the tank to come back. I crossed the line a couple of seconds after her, regretting my exuberance at the beginning of the race somewhat – a lesson learned, most definitely!”

In the final race of the day, Elliot Swinburne – son of Paul – ran in the U17s race over two laps, and finished just outside the medals with a run of 23:54 for a commendable fourth place.

Huge thanks to Charlie Arnold, Hannah Broom, Hannah Ridley and David Brown for contributing to this report

Crawling to the finish … BAC’s Fairy Run returns

Just before Christmas, Biggleswade Athletic Club’s annual Fairy Run made an epic return as club members new and old embarked on a time-trial around The Lodge, many in costumes not noted for their wicking properties.

“Michaela” Blunt enjoys his bespoke, seam-free running outfit’s wicking properties. Photo by Nick Spavins

The seasonal staple sees members take up wands and strap on fairy wings, with honours available for both the First Fairy Home and Best Dressed Fairy. Chairman Damien Pitts allotted a handicap start time to each competitor, based on performances over the year, with the intent of levelling the playing field.

As always, those witnessing clubmates storming by them on Stratford Road mumbled variously unkind things about the quality of the handicapping. With the closing stages taking in the steep trek uphill at the end of The Lodge near Biggleswade Common, work nights out caught up with several entrants.

Best Dressed honours went to Kathryn Juty, whose Poison Ivy ensemble was voted the best during a lengthy post-run debrief at The King’s Arms pub on Sandy’s London Road. First Fairy Home was BAC run leader Jules Mackay.

Heads everywhere were turned as runners assembled for the pre-run group photo, when suddenly a string of enormous fairy lights bounded round the corner, to the bemusement and astonishment of several Lodge visitors. It was a triumph of coordination and planning, scuppered slightly by the fact that the costumes were at times too wide for the pavement alongside Potton Road, and a reminder to all that inflation can go down as well as up.

The day also saw the big reveal of the club’s winning London Marathon applicants. A big day in April awaits for Sally Jones and Sarah Geeson-Orsgood – huge congratulations and happy training to both.

After The King’s Arms, the run gradually became a crawl as members showcased ever-deteriorating costumes and make-up in a host of pubs in the local area. Andy Hedley updated Facebook into the earlier hours with news that himself, chairman Pitts and Rob Morgan were the last three standing. Their reward: iffy heads on the Sunday.


The Fairy Run tradition dates back to the early 1990s, with roots even further black, as former BAC chairman Nigel Bush explains: “The 3-mile Christmas handicap around the RSPB loop started in the 1980s and originally started and finished along Stratford Road near the cemetery – extended to just over the full lap to make it three miles!

In 1991 Roger Wadeley and I had London Marathon entries but both had injury problems during training so we decided to dress in fancy dress as we were not in shape for PBs. A tutu, wig and wand seemed like a good idea as these outfits didn’t restrict the running action. Our aim was to run together, enjoy the event, try to break three hours and be the first fancy dress runners to finish. Things didn’t quite go to plan. A green dragon passed us at 24 miles and we finished in 3hrs 0mins 25sec. I’ve still got the finish line photo hanging on my wall as a memory of Rog.

The following Christmas we decided to run the handicap in our fairy costumes and the whole thing caught on from there!”

BAC, as always, thank the RSPB for their support of what is always one of the club social highlights of the year. Thanks also to all the hostelries of Sandy and Potton for their hospitality/tolerance of our fairies this year. They won’t trouble you for another 12 months, we promise.

Members can find many more photos of the day in the Biggleswade AC Members’ Facebook group. Huge thanks to Nick Spavins, Jules Mackay and Rachel Stott for their pics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wellingborough XC results (combined overall standings)

Final position | Name

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

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

Four to the floor … BAC hit roads in pursuit of club championship honours

Biggleswade Athletic Club athletes lined up to take one another on at two recent races, with the Fen 10 in Wisbech and St Neots Half Marathon doubling up as club championship events and yielding four different names for the trophy engraver.

Finishing times for club championships are recalibrated based on age-gradings, which serve to level the playing field across the various age groups, and in some cases seeing some enormous leaps up the standings for those in the veterans’ categories. As a result, despite Rob Morgan being first BAC finisher at the Fen 10 in a superb 1:03:36 (22nd overall), he is young enough to be Charlie Arnold’s son, and so the evergreen Arnold (59th overall) saw his finish time of 1:10:02 heaved down to an age-graded mark of 55:29, meaning he took the title by over two minutes. In fact Marcus Davey (24th overall), who finished 10 seconds behind Rob, was also promoted ahead of him due to his comparative lack of youth.

Chris Clarke and Charlie Arnold in St Neots. Photo by Rachel Stott
Charlie Arnold, pictured right alongside Chris Clarke in St Neots, took the 10-mile club title in Wisbech. Photo by Rachel Stott

The Morgan household had plenty of cause to cheer in the women’s standings however as Natalie was first BAC female home, finishing in 89th position overall and taking a new personal best of 1:14:02. She said: “This race was a new one for me. I had heard from other club members who had experience of the race previously the course was a fast, flat one but quite open and could be quite blustery. The first few miles I took steady, working on maintaining my pace and conscious to keep a bit in reserve for the last potentially windy section.

“I made good progress throughout and for the most part felt reasonably comfortable. Before I knew it I was at mile nine and began to up the pace for the finish. Although not still, the weather on the whole was rather kind, with the strong winds never really materialising in the end. As such, a good race with a new PB of 1:13:45 and a finishing position of ninth woman overall.”

Attendance at the 10-mile race was slightly scuppered as it had been a late substitute for the club’s traditional championship race, the Swineshead 10, which announced it would no longer be taking place from 2018. Happily, the club’s 13.1 challenge in St Neots went ahead as planned, though runners would perhaps have preferred a degree or two more on the thermometer and markedly fewer icy crosswinds on the various sections of open landscape.

Hannah Broom. Photo by Rachel Stott
Hannah Broom in the St Neots half. Photo by Rachel Stott

Despite feeling under the weather, Hannah Broom backed up her stunning recent form from the Great Eastern Half-Marathon, where she took 13 minutes off her personal best to break the much-desired 1:30 barrier by nearly three-and-a-half minutes. In St Neots, she was just 17 seconds outside her new PB, and took the title of club champion.

Though unable to overhaul Hannah, Natalie was thrilled with her showing, as 1:35:30 marked her own milestone: “The St Neots Half Marathon is most definitely my favourite half, in fact I’d say it’s my favourite race of all the differing distances I’ve taken part in over the years. The course is undulating in parts and I like the challenge it brings, but most of all I like the last three miles – it’s downhill so helps those tired legs! My approach was to simply enjoy it, no pressure and no expectations. Added to this, the weather conditions were perfect and the BAC support crew were on top form, with cheers aplenty.

“All-in-all things really did come together on the day for me, I made sure to keep focused and be strong to the end and, yes, I did come away rather enjoying it. The icing on the cake – bettering my PB from 10 years ago by over two minutes with a finish time of 1:35:30!”

Marcus Davey. Photo by Rachel Stott
Marcus Davey on his way to the club champs’ crown in St Neots. Photo by Rachel Stott

Davey took the men’s crown, his 1:23:02 leapfrogging first BAC finisher Steven Baldwin’s 1:18:56 once age was factored in, while Arnold was unlucky not to double up on 10-mile and half-marathon titles as his grading took him just 16 seconds outside Marcus’s.

Green Thumb Fen 10 results

Position | Name | Time (Age-graded result)
22 | Robert Morgan | 01:03:36 (00:59:45)
24 | Marcus Davey | 01:03:46 (00:57:34)
45 | John Stott | 01:08:21 (01:02:42)
59 | Charles Arnold | 01:10:02 (00:55:29) Male Club Champion
89 | Natalie Morgan | 01:14:02 (01:10:43) Lady Club Champion
173 | Clark Skerratt | 01:21:53 (01:01:15)
197 | Ian Grimwood | 01:24:14 (01:04:15)
287 | Maria Merridan | 01:35:19 (01:26:10)
303 | Juliet Grimwood | 01:38:44 (01:22:51)
(359 finishers in total)

St Neots Half Marathon results

Position | Name | Time (Age-graded result)
23 | Steven Baldwin | 01:18:56 (01:18:56)
53 | Marcus Davey | 01:23:02 (01:15:19) Male Club Champion
71 | Paul Cooke | 01:24:16 (01:19:37)
82 | Nick Haworth | 01:25:42 (01:20:58)
92 | Hannah Broom | 01:26:50 (01:23:59) Lady Club Champion
120 | John Stott | 01:28:52 (01:19:16)
186 | Chris Watson | 01:33:14 (01:21:03)
217 | Charles Arnold | 01:35:12 (01:15:35)
227 | Natalie Morgan | 01:35:30 (01:31:13)
228 | Robert Morgan | 01:35:31 (01:30:15)
420 | Malcolm Steward | 01:42:34 (01:36:54)
455 | Damien Pitts | 01:43:42 (01:42:55)
529 | Robin Lewis | 01:46:50 (01:34:29)
547 | Kevin Goody | 01:48:12 (01:27:32)
577 | Neil Harvey | 01:48:37 (01:29:31)
613 | Andrew Bruce | 01:49:52 (01:33:51)
641 | Sarah Geeson-Orsgood | 01:50:56 (01:45:57)
645 | Clark Skerratt | 01:51:45 (01:23:39)
839 | Ian Grimwood | 01:57:15 (01:29:33)
842 | Frank Mcloughlin | 01:57:20 (01:38:28)
850 | Stephen Atkins | 01:57:28 (01:31:29)
898 | Andrew Hedley | 01:59:18 (01:40:07)
986 | Ian Clayton | 02:03:56 (01:47:44)
1013 | Sally Jones | 02:05:08 (01:58:37)
1016 | Juliet Grimwood | 02:05:14 (01:45:06)
1017 | Vicky Berry | 02:05:15 (01:45:07)
1049 | Maria Merridan | 02:07:25 (01:55:11)
1210 | Simon Strong | 02:16:31 (02:02:48)
1246 | Matthew Lewis | 02:19:25 (02:19:21)
1307 | Ros Bodi | 02:26:59 (02:03:21)
(1384 finishers total)