Steven Baldwin writes …
My first couple of triathlons of the year hadn’t quite gone to plan, I’d failed to perform at the level I’d hoped I was capable of. But I’d then backed those up with a second place finish at Hitchin Sprint Tri and sixth place at “Calfman” Triathlon in Olney so I knew my fitness levels were in a good place. I was determined to use that fitness to complete a last block of training, a final push towards one more big performance.
It had been pointed out the final St Neots standard distance triathlon on 2nd September was a qualifier for the 2019 European Triathlon Union (ETU) championship in Weert, Netherlands. I had completed the first St Neots Tri back in May (Although the venue was changed to Grafham Water) and it had been a disaster; the water was still freezing so I was shivering with cold, I had a mechanical issue on the bike and by the time I hit the run, I’d completely run out of energy and motivation.
Refusing to be put off by my previous experience, I decided it would be an opportunity to test myself against a high-calibre field so signed up at the beginning of August and paid the £10 fee to register my interest in ETU qualification.
The race was based at Riverside Park, St Neots and I had been to the event registration the day before to collect my goody bag (timing chip, race numbers and swim hat). This gave me peace of mind that on race day I’d have very little to do other than dump my bike in transition and get to the swim start. Walking around transition is always an intimidating experience, seasoned triathletes tinkering with their time-trial bikes costing more than most would spend on a car. Although I largely block them out and focus on my own race it’s worth being nosey, you may pick up a few little time-savers.
Swimming has always been my achilles heel. Although I had basic swim lessons as a kid, it never went any further than that. Since starting triathlon at the tail-end of 2016, I’ve taught myself front crawl and gradually improved. To begin with, I could barely swim a pool length without feeling out of breath and having to stop.
The St Neots swim was a one lap course up and down the Great Ouse, setting off in multiple waves of approximately 100 competitors per wave. The race starts with the usual chaos as everybody jostles for position, limbs getting thrown all over the place. I always choose to start wide and steer clear of the scrap to avoid getting pummelled. Thankfully the river current was minimal although it definitely felt tough when making the turn to head back upstream. Unlike previous races, I didn’t push myself too hard and just focused on not letting my form drop. As you can’t read your watch while swimming, it’s difficult to know the pace you’re going until you exit the water. I was astonished when I stopped my watch to see a swim time of 27:04, almost 5 minutes quicker than I had managed at Grafham Water!
I quickly stripped off my wetsuit, put helmet on and on to the bike, all in the space of 57 seconds. Getting transitions right is key and a great chance to make up time on fellow competitors. In the lead-up to a race, I’ll always get a few practice transitions in to ensure it goes as slick as possible.
St Neots has a fantastic bike course and they’re roads I’m very familiar with. It’s a not-hilly-but-not-flat loop out through the Staughtons which you complete two laps of for a distance of 45km (5km more than normal standard triathlon). As it was an ETU qualifier, the event was sold out and this really showed on the bike leg. In the early stages it was very difficult to find space on the road and stay clear of peoples’ slipstreams. Following a fellow competitor too closely is known as drafting and can lead to time penalties and even disqualification if you’re caught doing it.
Those who follow my training on Strava will know I do a majority of my bike training indoors on a turbo trainer using the online application Zwift. This allows me to get a much more structured workout than if I was to just go out for a ride. It’ll tell me the power I need to produce and for how long, all from the comfort of my own home without any worrying about traffic, etc. It helps me understand how hard I can push on the bike but still at a sustainable effort. Since I started using Zwift, I’ve seen my bike speeds go up and up. I covered the bike course in 1:13:41 which equates to 22.6mph (or 36.4kmph) average, an approximate 1mph improvement on Grafham (approx 3 mins faster).
51 seconds after climbing off the bike, I was out on to the run course. The course comprises of four laps round Riverside Park, very flat but with long sections of grass. The previous weeks training with “BAC fast” had been aimed at locking into the target race pace, Paul Davies suspected this would be somewhere around 6:05-6:10 per mile. This target turned out to be bang on, without even looking at the watch I found myself running in this range. It was a largely uneventful run, just holding the target pace, passing plenty of slower runners with only one person overtaking me in return. I completed the 9km course (1km short of official distance) in 34:55, giving me an overall time of 2:17:50. It is difficult to compare triathlon performances because courses are rarely accurately measured but I feel this was comfortably my best to date and a fantastic end to my season.
The ETU qualification process is quite complex and would put anybody to sleep. Long story short, I didn’t get any automatic spot as I was outside the top four in my age group. However, as my time was so near to the age group winner, I was able to get a rolldown (or fastest loser) place. So next June I will have the honour of pulling on a GB tri-suit and competing at the European championships as an Age-Grouper (amateur).
I hope by sharing my experience, anybody considering getting involved in Triathlon will act on it give it a go. It took me a long time to pluck up the courage to enter an event and I haven’t looked back since. For me it all started with a 29:14 Parkrun in 2015 and now I get to represent Great Britain as a triathlete, it’s actually crazy! You never know where you might end up.
A team of 17 Biggleswade Athletic Club runners, along with a group of dedicated supporters and back-up crew, headed to the east to take part in the annual Round Norfolk Relay last weekend. This was the 14th year for the club taking part in the 17-stage, multi-distance and varied terrain race around the Norfolk border, which covers over 197 miles.
With dozens of teams from around the country, the relay begins on the Saturday morning at Kings Lynn, goes along the Norfolk coast line to Great Yarmouth and then heads inland, all the way back around to Kings Lynn, where the relay finishes on the Sunday morning after several overnight stages. After torrential rain, headwinds and mud last year, competitors were relieved to find kinder conditions to contend with.
BAC’s treasurer Ian Grimwood was left doing maths of a different kind, calculating how early he needed to get up to be fully fuelled and ready for stage one’s 6am start. With wife Juliet taking the final stage, they bookended the race stoically. Ian’s 16.32 mile leg took in sunrise and fine early-morning scenery on the way to Hunstanton, where he handed over to Charlie Arnold.
Charlie’s stage offered a wide variety of underfoot challenges, with sand, mud, grass, tarmac, wooden sleepers and corn fields all playing a part. Yet he battled brilliantly on the 13.75 miles to the hamlet of Burnham Overy Staithe, finishing a superb five minutes quicker than planned. His time was 22nd best of those in attendance, with the 21 ahead of him – and a great many behind him – being substantially younger than his 62 years.
There he handed over to Deb Bryant, whose shorter stage of 5.76 miles was offset by the fact that a huge chunk took place on leg-sapping sand en route to Wells-next-the-Sea. In spite of this her time of 47:13 was extremely strong – 27th best overall – but she was extremely glad to see the stage four changeover, where she handed the baton over to Chris Watson.
Andrew Hedley has run stage four for the last few years and is famed for his love of the llamas visible on the route, but although he was disappointed not to run the stage this time around, he was happy that Chris got to see them. For his part, Chris put in a superb performance on the 11.14 miles to Cley, ending with the eighth-best time overall.
Stage five was Andrew’s llama-free destiny this year, notoriously the most challenging of all the stages, as it starts with a few miles of a shingle beach and then throws in a few monstrous hills towards the end for good measure. In spite of his, he manfully withstood everything the 10.81 miles to Cromer, and still managed a smile at the end.
There he met Gary Baldwin, who took the baton for the 7.9 miles of stage six towards Mundersley. He narrowly missed making it into the top half of the stage standings, but his efforts made up some valuable time for the team.
In Mundersley BAC turned to the substitutes bench, as club chairman, team captain and timekeeper Damien Pitts was called into action for stage seven to Lessingham. With teams having to supply stage time estimates before the race, and prizes handed out for adhering closely to these (and a wooden spoon handed out to the team with the most inaccurate estimate), reserve runners cannot veer too wildly from those already submitted. Happily, this proved an opportunity to make up some time, and Damien controlled his pace to make up over five minutes for the team.
It has been a few years since the team has made it to Horsey Mill in the daylight hours, so everyone was taking the opportunity to take in the views, before cheering on Robin Wynde, who arrived to hand over the baton to Neil Harvey. Robin really enjoyed the stage, a touch over 7.5 miles, and both made up over four minutes while wishing there had been an extra half to play with so he could have caught the next runner.
Neil started his leg off in the daylight but finished in Belton in the dark. Although he had slowed over the stage, he was happy with his efforts over the 16.6 miles and thoroughly enjoyed the stage.
Famed navigator Nick Haworth took on stage 10 from Belton to Earsham. Prior to running the stage, he dropped his car off at the end of the 18.13 stage and got a lift back to the start. In theory the stage is a nice straight road, but somehow Nick he managed to guide Charlie to Lowestoft, over 11 miles out of the way, and indeed out of Norfolk altogether. Charlie even said that Nick was pointing out things that he passes on his stage, on the way to Lowersoft, which is even more worrying!!
Happily, once he had baton in hand Nick had slightly better bearings, and his 15th place on the stage made up five minutes for the team, before he passed on the baton to Paul Cooke to run to Scole. There, Paul’s superb run over the 12.45 miles was good enough for ninth place overall on the stage.
John Stott took on the 19.67-mile stage 12 last year, and was back on duty for the relay’s longest stage once again. The straight, long drag from Scole to Thetford is a real challenge, yet John managed to be four minutes quicker this year than last year to finish just outside two and a half hours.
Frank McLoughlin took on stage 13 again this year, just over half-marathon distance from Thetford to Feltwell, and he broke the two-hour barrier for the stage supported on a bike by Neil Harvey, who cut an interesting figure on two wheels thanks to his choice of headwear that looked more suited to an ice-hockey match than a cycle ride.
Vicky Berry took on a new stage this year, running the 7.27 miles from Feltwell to Wissington. Normally daylight appears on this stage, but this year it was saved for stage 15 for Julian Brunt, his first time at the relay. Although the start and finish of the 10.59-mile leg towards Downham Market are not the most scenic, there are some lovely views on the route.
For the penultimate stage, the shortest of the race, Ian Skerratt was another fresh from the reserves, called up to the team two days before the relay. In spite of this he ate up the 5.49 miles superbly, and made up a couple of minutes on expected time too.
The final 11.73 miles were then in Juliet’s hands, along with fears of bulls in one of the fields she had to traverse between Stowbridge and the finish back at Kings Lynn. Mercifully, they had moved on, leaving her free to enjoy her run. Overall the team finished in 27 hours and 53 minutes, just over 11 minutes slower than their predicted time for the event. This placed them 49th overall, with 60 teams finishing the full race.
Biggleswade Athletic Club athletes were out in force in searing hot conditions for the Doug Anderson 5k in Bedford, and were rewarded with another huge haul of individual and team honours. The annual fixture at Bedford Park is BAC’s designated club championship race over the distance, with many entrants also competing for the Bedfordshire county championship honours.
BAC’s ladies team, made up of the top three club finishers on the night, were agonisingly pipped to the title last year, but romped to victory this time around, while it was left to the men’s team to read the small-print after they finished third. Their combined time in fact bettered that of Bedford Harriers in second place by 14 seconds, but their combined score based on placings across the finish line was 1 point worse off than their local rivals.
Leading the way in the overall standings was Jamie Hall, last year’s winner, who was fourth finisher but third in the senior male age group, with an excellent time of 16:58. Jamie also took third in the county championship standings. Two places and eight seconds behind came Steven Baldwin, in 17:06. Nick Haworth rounded off the top three BAC men with a run of 18:53.
Elaine Livera after the finish. Photos by Nick Spavins
Just ahead of Nick, Elaine Livera – who won the ladies’ title on her BAC debut last season – retained it with a stunning run of 18:49. This was remarkably two seconds quicker than her effort last year despite the punishingly humid conditions, and she finished six seconds clear of her nearest competition, and 22nd overall. She also took the county championship crown with 39 seconds to spare.
The course takes in two and a half laps of the park, complete with a steady climb that runners had to tackle three times. Due to the conditions, with the temperature still at 27C come the 7.30pm start, a drinks station was assembled – a rare sight for a 5k race – and most runners taking advantage opted to tip water straight over their heads in an attempt to keep their temperature down rather than drinking it.
Hannah Broom. Photos by Nick Spavins
Keeping her cool, club secretary Hannah Broom once again retained both of her female veteran’s over 35 crowns with a time of 20:19, and 46th place overall – she was also the sixth female finisher overall, and third in the overall county championship standings.
She said: “I was not looking forward to this race, it was always going to be tough in the heat and a healthy dose of competition but we were in with a chance of retaining the girls’ title so the challenge was on. I was struggling in the heat so the pace was slower than I would have liked but I picked off some guys but saw no girls – relief! – so I was hopeful in my race position. After working my way up the mountain of an incline in the last lap I made a dash for the finish managing to help the girls keep the ladies’ title while defending my FV35 title and county medal for the 3rd consecutive year! The support on course definitely kept me going and was very much appreciated!”
Emma Bailey took the FV40 county championship crown with a run of 21:14, just ahead of Natalie Morgan’s 21:37, but each dropped down a place in the main race standings due to a non-county-eligible athlete taking those honours. Emma said: “It was incredibly hot and by the end of 1 mile warm up I was exhausted and dripping – but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone. I couldn’t believe the amount of blue and yellow vests waiting for the off, an amazing turnout. I set off feeling strong but that slow incline got the better of my legs on each lap, but having people supporting and cheering really helped spur me on. I pushed for the finish with everything I had left crossing the line in 21.14 – over a minute faster than last year! I have only been a member of the club for just over a year but have enjoyed running and competing so much and am very grateful for all the training and support.”
Most shocked athlete of the night was Kathryn Juty, in her Doug Anderson debut, who romped to FV45 county honours by well over a minute thanks to a fine run of 24:41. She said: “The great support given by BAC runners and non-runners alike really helped keep my legs going on such a hot, muggy evening – so thanks to all. I’d like to particularly thank Paul Davies for his comment: ‘I can’t believe you got a medal and I didn’t!’ Me either!”
Charlie Arnold. Photos by Nick Spavins
However the performance of the night arguably came from the evergreen Charlie Arnold, competing in the MV60 category, who finished in a brilliant 20:18. Nigel Bush, who recently graduated to the MV70 age group, finished third in those standings with a fine time of 26:26
Charlie’s performance was one of several interesting movements in BAC’s club’s championship race results. These are based on age-gradings, which level the playing field for all competitors by adjusting times for older runners downwards. Based on the recalibrated results, Charlie’s time moves to 16:02, and he ended up victorious by 48 seconds over coach Paul Davies.
Charlie said: “From the entrants list I could see that I was going to be up against fierce rivals whom I had already had some close races with already this season, some won and some lost. The evening was hot and humid, and it was going to be energy sapping needing careful pacing.
“In the closing stages the final incline lay ahead indicating the last 500m. Still feeling strong I pushed up what now felt like a mountain ready to set myself up for the downhill run to the finish and the final sprint. Everything went into the last few meters before relief at crossing the finishing line. I finished in 20:18 which was better than I expected taking account of the warm conditions making breathing difficult. I was especially pleased to find that I had finished 12 secs ahead of my nearest age group rival and even more ahead of another two who had beaten me a few days earlier in the Beds AAA 10km race.
“It was fantastic to see many BAC athletes out competing and scooping up several awards on the evening ahead of some much bigger clubs. Not just runners though, the support from BAC members lining the route and cheering was very welcome and kept me going when the going got tough. All who ran and supported were a credit to the club and illustrated the great team spirit that we have.”
Others placing in the county championship standings were Paul Cooke (3rd, MV40, 19:00), Marcus Davey (3rd, MV45, 18:54), Gary Baldwin (3rd, MV50, 23:05) and Nigel Bush (2nd, MV70, 26:26). BAC fielded an incredible 51 athletes on the night – the most the club have ever fielded in the race – compared to 24 last year, with Jennie Day, Vicki and Janie Highland, Sue Whitfield, Lorraine Emerson, Beverley Ritson and Samatha Thorogood among those making their competitive debuts for the club. Samantha said: “It was my first race in a club vest too and I loved it! The support around the course was very much appreciated.”
An alternative race report from Nick Haworth
As I neared the venue at Bedford Park at 6.45pm, the car thermometer showed a temperature of 28.5C – a fall of a couple of degrees from earlier on, but nevertheless race conditions might be considered challenging by some. Oh, what the hell – if the rest of the club was prepared to endure the race, I’d be a fool not to join them in collective suffering! – So there we all were – all 51 of us gathered like sheep on the grass near the start – all for one – one for all!
A few minutes before the start at 7.30pm, the temperature had cooled slightly to 27C, we walked in small groups, silently down to the start – all one of us dripping with a combination of sweat and nerves – secretly asking ourselves why we had volunteered to run in such an event. But before any whimpers could be uttered the starter horn blasted and we were off – a big swarm of runners all in a desperate bid to make ground – to gain the upper-hand on rivals and to do their best to get the misery done with as soon as possible.
In all our minds – the mantra – “control your breathing, maintain posture, arms up, face forward, focus, focus!!” – Easier said than done and how fast did eagerness wain – initial enthusiasm quickly wilted in the desperate heat as we neared a tough right-hander up-hill section.
Still, we held on, the cheering supporters aiding us along – our running mates spurring us to maintain pace – a nice sweeping section allowed temporary recovery before another blast was required along the home straight – oh was that the finish – not quite – another lap to go laddie!! – just keep going!!
More agony, anguish, and well, down-right pain – panting, lungs bursting, legs weak with fatigue, another incline with a tight bend – but hey is that the final corner ahead? – a meandering right-hander and then a gradual downhill for the final sprint – let’s just hope I’m clear – swoooosh – swiiiiip! – perhaps not – caught unawares – I am beaten in the last 70 yards by an admirable adversary – well run !! – and I’ve been beat – but only just – good race !!
A halt, and then a walk – more like a stumble actually, as we all limp off to collect a medal, and much needed water. A sigh, sweat pours off our faces, our body, and our limbs but no-one cares – as a smile of elation and satisfaction materialises across everyone’s faces – all for one – and one for all!!
And more, from Elaine Livera and Jamie Hall
Elaine’s race: I wasn’t planning on running this race (I was just going to come along and watch) as I was still a little upset that I had missed so much of the 5k training everyone had done during summer. But as it was a nice day, I decided it might actually be a nice day for a run! I went in without expecting anything at all, especially when I saw all the ladies on the start line who were wearing cropped running tops. As I was feeling a little heavy legged from the gym, I started slower than usual and quickly lost positions on the ladies at the start line. However, when I relaxed into the run, my legs loosened up and I realised that it was only 5k, only 20 minutes of pain, I may as well try as hard as I could!
I caught the three women ahead of me quite easily and was surprised when they didn’t stick with me. Thanks to Paul Davies for increasing his pace to run around with me! When we crossed the start line for the third time, I was really starting to struggle and cookie was pulling away from PD and me. It was then that I saw a girl from Marshall’s come up beside me. Where did she sneak up from?!? PD said sternly that I needed to stay with cookie.. which make me feel a little ill as I was already going as quick as I thought I could at the time. We passed 4km to go and the girl was starting to overtake me… Noo, the horror of being beaten in the last km!!
I started to power up the hill in the hope that I could put some distance between us over a hill. When I neared the top, I saw Nick (who had sailed past me easily about 1km ago) and realised I was actually going fairly quick as I said hi and bye within the same breath. All I wanted to do was cross that line in front of the Marshall’s girl! It was a sprint to the end (and that last section takes forever to cover!!)
After I was finished and had recovered, as I felt pretty horrendous at the end of the run, I realised that I had really enjoyed doing that run. It was exciting the whole way round and the winning place was up for grabs by anyone!
It was really lovely to see all the supporters and all the yellow vests all the way around! It feels really nice to be a part of so many outgoing and outdoorsy people! Great running everyone! Keep it up!
Great work to all of the runners not just the prize winners! Everyone who ran and supported deserves a pat on the back! It was a very hot evening but also a very enjoyable one and BAC feels like a big family! Also great great run by Charlie who beat his competition by miles and won the club championship as well as the county championship!!
Jamie’s race: This was my first race for the club for a while, and a chance to have a go at the first race I ever did this time last year. Although I knew it wasn’t going to be as successful as last time around given the injury setbacks I’d had this season, I was looking forward to wearing the club colours and have a go!
After a really sluggish start I managed to stick with fellow club member Steven [Baldwin], given his recent awesome form. I figured if I stuck with him I couldn’t go far wrong. As the race went on we were joined by a couple of guys from Ampthill who helped keep us honest throughout. Working together as a group we reeled in another runner and were making good time.
Going into the final boiling hot half lap I just kept thinking of the tactic coach Paul had given me last year and the point at the top of the “hill” where I had to kick from. As soon as I hit that point I gave it absolutely everything and managed to finish fourth in a time just under 17 minutes, which I was absolutely over the moon with. Although not the result from last year, I was really happy to be part of the mens team which finished 3rd, and part of such a successful club with lots of awards to show for all the hard training. The atmosphere was brilliant with yellow and blue tops everywhere giving each other support and doing the club proud, extra thanks to Steven for the company during the race. Overall a thoroughly enjoyable event!
Doug Anderson 5k results
Overall race position | Name | Chip time | Age graded result 4 | Jamie Hall | 16:58 | 16:58 6 | Steven Baldwin | 17:06 | 17:06 22 | Elaine Livera | 18:49 | 18:49 Lady Club Champion 24 | Nick Haworth | 18:53 | 17:43 25 | Marcus Davey | 18:54 | 16:56 27 | Paul Davies | 18:56 | 16:50 30 | Paul Cooke | 19:00 | 17:49 39 | Robert Morgan | 19:38 | 18:17 42 | John Stott | 19:56 | 17:35 45 | Charles Arnold | 20:18 | 16:02 Male club champion 46 | Hannah Broom | 20:19 | 19:53 56 | Damien Pitts | 21:10 | 20:43 58 | Emma Bailey | 21:14 | 19:58 59 | Giles Hawthorne | 21:17 | 19:31 66 | Natalie Morgan | 21:37 | 20:39 85 | Malcolm Steward | 22:49 | 21:15 92 | Gary Baldwin | 23:05 | 19:32 105 | Richard Barker | 23:46 | 21:27 113 | Neil Harvey | 23:57 | 19:36 130 | Kathryn Juty | 24:41 | 22:04 140 | Stephen Atkins | 25:33 | 19:50 144 | Martha Ford | 25:38 | 25:34 148 | Ian Grimwood | 25:52 | 19:43 150 | Andrew Hedley | 25:57 | 21:47 155 | Simon Strong | 26:09 | 23:15 161 | Nigel Bush | 26:26 | 19:21 170 | Stuart Goodwin | 26:50 | 25:22 187 | Kevin Parker | 27:28 | 24:25 196 | Vicky Berry | 27:55 | 23:07 200 | Juliet Grimwood | 28:12 | 23:40 205 | Julian Brunt | 28:23 | 26:01 212 | Ricky Byrne | 28:50 | 28:22 215 | Georgia Barker | 29:13 | 27:14 218 | Maria Merridan | 29:25 | 26:36 241 | Jennie Day | 31:03 | 27:25 243 | Julie Spavins | 31:18 | 29:40 250 | Julia Mackay | 31:51 | 26:44 258 | Samantha Thorogood | 32:22 | 30:55 259 | Vicki Highland | 32:28 | 32:28 260 | Beverley Ritson | 32:28 | 31:01 270 | Colin Harries | 33:11 | 23:59 271 | Janie Highland | 33:17 | 26:29 273 | Helen Kapur | 33:48 | 27:38 276 | Sue Whitfield | 33:58 | 29:37 280 | Louise Pike | 34:21 | 33:02 281 | Emma Bell | 34:21 | 31:24 283 | Lorraine Emerson | 35:12 | 34:16 285 | Joanne Ellary | 35:43 | 34:34 286 | Tim Gardiner | 35:54 | 32:25 291 | Roo Goodwin | 38:05 | 37:16 293 | Shani Giddings | 38:48 | 31:43
… and reordered into club championship standings order Position | Name | age-graded time | chip time 1 | Charles Arnold | 16:02 | 20:18 Male club champion 2 | Paul Davies | 16:50 | 18:56 3 | Marcus Davey | 16:56 | 18:54 4 | Jamie Hall | 16:58 | 16:58 5 | Steven Baldwin | 17:06 | 17:06 6 | John Stott | 17:35 | 19:56 7 | Nick Haworth | 17:43 | 18:53 8 | Paul Cooke | 17:49 | 19:00 9 | Robert Morgan | 18:17 | 19:38 10 | Elaine Livera | 18:49 | 18:49 Lady Club Champion 11 | Nigel Bush | 19:21 | 26:26 12 | Giles Hawthorne | 19:31 | 21:17 13 | Gary Baldwin | 19:32 | 23:05 14 | Neil Harvey | 19:36 | 23:57 15 | Ian Grimwood | 19:43 | 25:52 16 | Stephen Atkins | 19:50 | 25:33 17 | Hannah Broom | 19:53 | 20:19 18 | Emma Bailey | 19:58 | 21:14 19 | Natalie Morgan | 20:39 | 21:37 20 | Damien Pitts | 20:43 | 21:10 21 | Malcolm Steward | 21:15 | 22:49 22 | Richard Barker | 21:27| 23:46 23 | Andrew Hedley | 21:47 | 25:57 24 | Kathryn Juty | 22:04 | 24:41 25 | Vicky Berry | 23:07 | 27:55 26 | Simon Strong | 23:15 | 26:09 27 | Juliet Grimwood | 23:40 | 28:12 28 | Colin Harries | 23:59 | 33:11 29 | Kevin Parker | 24:25 | 27:28 30 | Stuart Goodwin | 25:22 | 26:50 31 | Martha Ford | 25:34 | 25:38 32 | Julian Brunt | 26:01 | 28:23 33 | Janie Highland | 26:29 | 33:17 34 | Maria Merridan | 26:36 | 29:25 35 | Julia Mackay | 26:44 | 31:51 36 | Georgia Barker | 27:14 | 29:13 37 | Jennie Day | 27:25 | 31:03 38 | Helen Kapur | 27:38 | 33:48 39 | Ricky Byrne | 28:22 | 28:50 40 | Sue Whitfield | 29:37 | 33:58 41 | Julie Spavins | 29:40 | 31:18 42 | Samantha Thorogood | 30:55 | 32:22 43 | Beverley Ritson | 31:01 | 32:28 44 | Emma Bell | 31:24 | 34:21 45 | Shani Giddings | 31:43 | 38:48 46 | Tim Gardiner | 32:25 | 35:54 47 | Vicki Highland | 32:28 | 32:28 48 | Louise Pike | 33:02 | 34:21 49 | Lorraine Emerson | 34:16 | 35:12 50 | Joanne Ellary | 34:34 | 35:43 51 | Roo Goodwin | 37:16 | 38:05
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.
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.
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.
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.
A contingent of 19 runners from Biggleswade Athletic Club headed to Dorset to compete in a punishingly hot Casterbridge Half Marathon last Sunday. For several this was their first attempt at 13.1 miles, pushing themselves as a tribute to beloved member Vikki Vowles, who competed in last year’s race – her first and only half – but passed away in August at the age of 47.
All the first-timers had only started running through the club’s Couch to 5K programmes within the last two years, and for the step up to half marathon distance they found themselves on an extremely challenging course, with testing uphill sections far outweighing any downhills, exacerbated by the hot and humid conditions on the day where temperatures had reached 25 degrees by mid-morning.
Paul Cooke led the Biggleswade team home in 27th position with a chip time of 1.37:28 and was followed by Marcus Davey in 59th position with a time 1.43:36. First lady home was Vicky Berry with a time of 2.17:51. Out of the runners competing in their first half, Jo Hornby was first home with a time of 2.52:00 closely followed by Jackie Warren with a time of 2.53:50 and Emma Bell in 2.54:02. Unfortunately Helen Steward had to pull out early on due to a recurrence of an injury.
Biggleswade’s men came third in the team award standings, with Cooke, Davey and Malcom Steward being the first three club men home.
The runners were all cheered on by a small support team from the club who had entered the event but were unable to compete due to injury. The event, hosted by White Star Running, added a bit of fun by having a “Love Station” just after the halfway point where athletes are given a welcome hug and a cool down with a wet sponge. There was also the added bonus of a small beer and snacks to help them through the final stages.
Rachel Stott, who finished in exactly 2:52, said: “It was a beautiful day, a little warm but this did not stop the smiles and the BAC buzz. I knew that this was a hilly course from last year, but I had forgotten how relentless some of them were … it seemed that every conceivable hill in Dorset had been put on the route just for fun. Despite this I just wanted to enjoy the run and remember the great times that we all had last year, celebrating our first half with great friends, especially Vikki. There were a few tears of sadness and joy along the way as we remembered her.”
Jacqui Thompson crossed the line in 3:50:59 and added: “I personally ran this event just for Vikki and knew for a tortoise like myself it would be tough. I had heard all about the hills, especially the last killer hill, but round every bend you were met with a climb and some of them were beasts.
“As I knew this would be my only ever half marathon – lots say this, but it definitely will be – I decided to make mine a sponsored event using DKMS as my chosen charity raising £1122.50. I am very proud to have completed this in Vikki’s memory and also proud of all the others who took part, especially Helen for attempting the run even though she was injured. Julie Cooke did her run for charity raising a substantial amount for Ataxia, Malcolm Steward for knocking off about 20 minutes from his last years time and for Corinne Calligan who flew back for a few days from Peru, interrupting eight months travelling, purely to take part in this with us, again for Vikki. A fitting tribute to a truly inspirational and much missed friend.”
Julie Cooke added: “I expected it to be tough … however, it was much harder than I thought, and hot too. In all my training I rarely walked but I needed to walk the hills. This, however, made it harder as the walking interrupted my stride and flow.
“Having said that, I am over the moon having completed it. I ran this for the charity Ataxia UK and raised over £720 (+ gift aid) and this alone kept me going as I remembered all the comments from the donations. This charity is close to my heart as we have a hereditary condition in my family. The memory of Vikki also kept me going on the day and in training.”
Vicky Berry highlighted the importance of the “amazing” support crew along the course: “They were originally planning on running it themselves, but when they found that they couldn’t due to illness or injury they still made the long journey and turned out in force to support the rest of us. I felt very proud being part of team BAC.
“I was absolutely wiped with barely enough in the tank to get me over the line, but I came round the corner, saw the finish gantry and was staggering towards it. Then I heard the cheering, waving, whooping, clapping, shouts of my name, generally making me feel incredibly privileged to be part of a very special club. Thanks guys, you were fabulous!”
One of the support crew, Carol Garratt, said: “As a spectator it was bittersweet, having entered to run but unable to. However the enormous sense of pride seeing the Biggleswade AC team blue and gold come through was emotional and joyous.
“There is an expectation of the experienced runners to take something like this in their stride but even for them, this was a big ask in the heat and the type of hills we cannot comprehend in our flat county! But kudos goes to the first timers who two years ago were doing the C25K, they all brought in close to their expected times with sheer grit and determination and a few tears of pride were shed for them.”
Team lineup pre-race. Photo by Bev Strong
Marcus Davey heads for the finish. Photo by Dorsetbays
Giles Hawthorne. Photo by Helen Jones for Dorsetbays
Emma Bell made her debut in club colours, and did them proud with a fine performance. She said: “I was unsure about wearing a vest, mostly worried the added pressure that may come with it while out there as a representative of the club. Anyway having now got through have realised that it is not quite like that! It wasn’t a race and to be a part of it along with the fabulous support can be symbolised by the vest.”
Marcus said: “Vikki inspired and is likely to continue to inspire others to give it a go, proving anything is possible. I can see why this event appealed to her. Certainly not because it’s a ridiculously difficult first half marathon, for there are hills, more hills and one mother of a hill at mile 10! I’m sure it appealed to Vikki because of the intimate, relaxed and informal atmosphere, everyone had a smile on their face and the event was very well organised. Despite being almost rural the scenic route was fairly well supported by the cheering public, particularly through the village of Puddletown. At mile seven there was the ‘Love Station’ where not only was the water flowing but also fruit, cake, beer, hugs and kisses – all very chaotic but fun!
“Well done to all that trained for this event and ran or could not run for whatever reason, particularly those completing in their first half marathon. Remember, a half marathon isn’t just for a holiday weekend, it’s for life, so I hope all off those that ran will continue to enjoy future events.
“Just try some flatter ones, OK?”
Elsewhere on the UK’s roads, Julian Brunt competed in his first full marathon as part of the Edinburgh Marathon Festival over the bank holiday weekend, and despite more warm weather he crossed the line in a fine 5:17:24.
Last Sunday morning saw Biggleswade Athletic Club well represented in the 30th running of the prestigious Flitwick 10k organised by Ampthill and Flitwick Flyers, a race that attracts not just local clubs but runners from far and wide. In contrast to the uncomfortable heat of the previous week’s Virgin Money London Marathon, athletes were faced with overcast and cool conditions; almost perfect for running. The course, on scenic roads around Flitwick, was undulating with testing hills to try the stamina of even the most experienced of runners.
Biggleswade’s women have been making a name for themselves in recent months at cross country, winning the league over the winter and being crowned county champions in January, so expectations were high in both the individual and team events, and they did not disappoint. Hannah Broom led the team home with a strong and well-judged run coming in 5th female in a sensational time of 41m 16s which also won her the Vets35 women’s award. Hannah was ably backed by Natalie Morgan (9th female, 43m 55s) and Emma Bailey (10th female, 44m 07s), all three coming in with massive personal bests and another title for Biggleswade’s women.
Hannah said: “Coach Paul Davies had kindly agreed to pace me as I was trying for an ambitious personal best time. When going for a personal best time, I find it really helpful to have someone running with me that can give me racing advice round the course, tell me when to slightly ease back or when to push the pace, how to use other runners to my advantage by tucking in out of the wind and when to take recovery. I find it settles my nervous and gives me the opportunity to just concentrate on me and not think about what speed I am going as that is his job as pacer! Also having someone beside you that knows the course really well is great as they can tell you when to ‘gather yourself’ for a hard steep hill or relax over the flatter ground. Running with my coach, who knows my capabilities far better then I do at times, is a great confidence giver too.
“At halfway I was thinking we could be in for a prize, so keep pushing on. There was a bit of twisting and turning through a nice wooded section and a welcome downhill ending, but then the surface changed from road to grass! The grass was very wet and slippery but my cross-country legs came into play and I made a good sprint for the finish. I had no idea how I had done until I saw the clock as I crossed over the finish displaying 41:16 – I was delighted, I’d been trying for a 42:00 and thought I was going to struggle to hit that so to go below was a complete surprise to me!”
Charlie Arnold and Hannah Broom
Hannah, Emma and Natalie
Charlie with his award. Thanks to Hannah for the photos
Biggleswade’s men were led home by Paul Cooke, one week after running the London Marathon, in a time of 39m 41s followed by John Stott in 40m 20s and Paul Davies in 41m 20s. Charlie Arnold was next in 41m 58s, and he won the Vets60+ award with a personal best time to break BAC women’s monopoly on award-winning, and close behind was Adam Murphy with a pb of 43m 24s. Other Biggleswade finishers were Rob Morgan (43m 55s), Robin Lewis (48m 20s, pb), Neil Harvey (49m 22s), Sarah Stilwell (50m 36s), Clark Skerratt (54m 58s), Vicky Berry (57m 40s) and Colin Harries (65m 22s).
Once again, a well organised and well marshalled, friendly event with a strong and competitive turnout. Biggleswade AC once more showing their strength in local athletics against much bigger clubs.
Elsewhere last weekend, following the disappointment of having to drop out of the London Marathon at mile 15 after struggling with the heat, Simon Strong has refocused on improving his speed endurance, and accompanied by coach Giles Hawthorne on a time-trial in Willington, he romped to a new 5k personal best of 24:42.
Thanks to Charlie and Hannah for their reports from Flitwick
Athletes from Biggleswade Athletic Club fought against searing heat for last weekend’s London Marathon, in a race where times across the board suffered, and runners by the thousand fell by the wayside in the hottest conditions the race has ever seen.
With temperatures recorded as 24.1C, but even hotter on the course itself due to the heat absorbed by the London roads and generated by the massed runners, many found themselves throwing race plans out of the window and simply clinging on. On Monday it was announced that 29-year-old Matt Campbell, an experienced distance runner from Cumbria, died in hospital after collapsing near the 22-mile mark.
So for BAC’s competitors, taking the start line was no mean feat, running any kind of distance on the day was commendable, and finishing suddenly became a serious achievement.
First home was Paul Cooke, one of the club’s best and most experienced distance runners, and it was a measure of the heat that his hopes of a sub-3hr finish were recalibrated mid-race to factor in the conditions, as he crossed the line in a still-impressive 3:23:22. Shortly behind was the first of Biggleswade’s female runners, Isobel Everest, in 3:37:01.
Further back, BAC’s athletes were suffering, and at 15 miles Simon Strong wisely called it a day as the heat became too much. Having suffered appalling luck with injuries in the last year – his entry in the race was in fact deferred from 12 months ago as niggles disrupted his preparation for 2017’s race – it was another cruel blow, but hopefully his training in recent months will stand him in good stead for other challenges this season.
Stuart Goodwin took the line having undergone treatment for a knee injury, which flared up during a recent half-marathon. Despite finishing that race, he was aware it was unlikely to keep itself to itself for 26.2 miles. “It flared up in the first 15 minutes – the second mile,” he said. “My training had been geared to try and break 4 hours, my PB is 4:21 set last year, but due to missed training and the conditions on the day, that went out of the window fairly early on.” During mile 12, his knee seized and he found himself slowing almost to a walk.
“Such a horrible feeling – you don’t want to stop, everyone’s chanting your name from the front of your vest, you’ve got 15 miles still to go, and even if you do stop you’re in the middle of nowhere and your bank card’s on the back of a truck at the finish. I kind of felt obliged to carry on, almost against my better judgment. I’ve found myself run/walking bits of marathons before when injury or fatigue has hit, but never anywhere near that far, and certainly in nothing like those kind of conditions.
“I knew how bad it was going when a guy sailed by with a washing machine strapped across his shoulders. People were on their backs all over the place, completely done – it was unbelievably brutal.”
He went on to finish in 5:14:44 – “The 44’s important. I did a very dicky sprint at the end to ensure I was inside my ‘personal worst’ marathon time. I got there with 14 seconds to spare! So glad I toughed it out – lord only knows how long it would have taken me without encouragement from the crowd.”
BAC are provided with two club places to the race each year, which are allocated after eligible athletes enter a ballot. Goodwin took one place, and the other one went to Cat Marriott – she was the next BAC competitor home in 5:30:26, with her eyecatchingly tall headwear offering an additional challenge in the face of the heat.
Next up was Ricky Byrne, originally aiming for 4:30, which he soon realised wasn’t on given the heat, but he still had plenty of wiggle room to snare a personal best time. Up to halfway, all was going well, and he even allowed himself time to enjoy the celebration station with his chosen charity – Ambitious About Autism. Soon after, however, as the temperature continued to climb, he also began to struggle. “That first half had taken its toll and there was no way i could keep it up in the heat for the remaining miles,” he said. “At 19 miles I hit the wall and sobbed my heart out – I’d seen people fainting and convulsing.”
In spite of this, and with some timely hugs and encouragement, he dug deep for the remainder and made it round, crossing the line in a PB of 5:46:08. He raised a superb £2176.20 for charity. Nicola Perrin was another running for charity, raising money and awareness for Phab Kids, and she stopped the clock at 6:48:30 to fulfil a lifelong ambition of taking part in the race.
Support crews from the club were stationed at miles 14, 21 and 22, and they enjoyed a great day out supporting all competitors, including the elite athletes, seeing David Weir on his way to winning the men’s wheelchair race, and Mo Farah breaking through into world-class marathon-running by taking the long-standing British record.
“People bang on about the London Marathon, about its unrivalled atmosphere, and the power you get from the crowds, and to be honest I was sceptical,” Goodwin said. “But it’s not hyperbole – it absolutely lived up to the hype. I hated every second, but loved every minute – I was muttering when the pain was at its worst that I never want to put myself through anything like that again, but as soon as I crossed the line I was looking to see when entries for the 2019 ballot open. I’ve done a lot of races, but it’s unlike anything else.”