Breaking 1:30 … Broom bursts through barrier at Great Eastern Run

Nine BAC runners took to Peterborough in mid-October to compete in the Perkins Great Eastern Run, a day which turned out to be particularly fruitful for the club secretary.

Hannah Broom writes:

It was absolutely chucking it down with rain on a Sunday morning – yep it was race day! I was going to try to beak 1hr30mins for a half marathon. I have been training really hard for a few months, being careful what I have been eating, weight training in the gym to recover from my shoulder injury and sticking like glue to a personalised training plan written specifically for me by Coach Paul Davies at Biggleswade Athletic Club and this was a good test as to where I was and if my ambitious time was possible. What the hell, I would still have to run a long run today even if I did not take part and I had already paid for this privilege, and you get a nice T-shirt so I was going to Peterborough no matter the weather.

Paul Cooke made me start near the front, sliding in behind the elites and fast guys, I did not want to, I was too far forward, we almost had a fall out, I was nervous, I should not be this far in the pack, but Paul insisted I should be there due to my recent performances … We were off.

The start is a little bumpy, it is narrow and twisty, you just have to go with it, through the town and out the other side. I got in with a group of guys and hung on to them, let them take the bumps and set the pace. A quick look down at the watch, no good, I did not believe it, the buildings in the town were messing with the GPS so I decided to run to feel and stay with the small pack I was in. Out the town, away from the buildings, a quick check, oops too fast, so I drop back a little and settle down and settle in to what felt like a good steady pace that was manageable. I had forgotten about the rain.

I was having a great run, I felt comfortable, I was chatting to other runners, I high-fived the kids and had a little boogie with the Heart FM stand, we were half way and I felt great. I was ignoring my watch, it said I was going too fast, I thought the rain was messing with it.

At 10 miles, the pack I was with started to make a surge, I decided to go too, we all moved on, it was quit twisty, up and down curbs trying to maintain the racing line and then I spot her, a girl, the competitor in me is out, I realise I am gaining, I got nearer and realise there are three girls. This is no longer a training race for me, it is now a race. The competitor is out, that is three female places I can move up so I overtake all three in quick succession, I am moving way too quick and way too early but what the hell, lets see what happens, I felt good and it is good to test the boundaries sometimes.

The course comes off the road and twists and turns through what feels like the longest footpath in the world. 400m to go reads the sign, one lap of the track, I can do this, I keep pushing and then I can see it and it is a sprint finish for the line, I overtake another three men on my charge for the finish. I absolutely cannot believe that I have broken my goal not by a few seconds but by 4 minutes, giving me a finishing time of 1hr 26 mins! Turns out watches are right after all!

I had beaten my previous personal best by 13 minutes, I was 20th female finisher (including the elites) and yes I am still smiling to myself!

Results

180 Paul Cooke 1:25:10
204 Hannah Broom 1:26:33
438 Charles Arnold 1:34:36
1027 Kathryn Juty 1:46:59
1494 Andrew Bruce 1:56:00
1742 Stephen Atkins 1:56:41
2116 Sally Jones 2:03:59
2614 Vicky Berry 2:19:26
3059 Rosalyn Bodi 2:26:34

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Ups on the Downs … Hannah hoovers up at opening Three Counties cross country

Biggleswade Athletic Club kicked off another Three Counties Cross-Country season in fine style, with Hannah Broom – a key member of the club’s award-winning women’s team of recent years – coming away rewarded as first female finisher.

Dunstable was the setting for race one of five for the 2018-19 campaign. With two other members of last season’s squad – Elaine Livera and Juliet Nayler – having moved on to pastures outside BAC, it was a new-look scoring quartet in the points for their club. Hannah took the reins in superb style, showcasing the results of her recent hard work and intensive training under the gaze of coach Paul Davies. Her first place in the women’s standings was followed in the team-scoring stakes by Emma Bailey (11th female), Natalie Morgan (14th) and Kathryn Juty (53rd) as the team finished fifth.

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Hannah Broom digs in. Photo by Nick Spavins

On the men’s side, where the first eight runners over the line score for their teams, Steven Baldwin was first home for BAC in 22nd place, followed by Marcus Davey (66th male finisher), Rob Morgan (72nd), Nick Haworth (75th), Paul Cooke (86th), John Stott (124th), Charlie Arnold (129th) and Neil Harvey (214th). The team came 10th of 13 clubs.

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Steven Baldwin, first BAC finisher. Photo by Nick Spavins

Hannah said: “Last year we did the course the other way round. I actually really liked it – I was just in a lot of pain with my arm so did not have a great run … so this course owed me! So this year, we were off down ‘Heartbreak Hill’ to start. My recent performances have given me some confidence so I put myself quite far forward. It is a narrow start so a good position is key.

“The field opened up a bit and I could see a lady from another club a little way in front. She is a good runner, better than me, so I decided if I keep her in sight then I am doing well – so I pressed on.

“A steep uphill … round some more twists and turns, some steep sharp up and downs and then I realise I am gaining on her … Another steep hill, somehow I am now right behind her, step for step …. how did this happen?

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Team BAC have their game faces on. Photo by Nick Spavins

“I have forgotten the hill we are climbing, I just concentrate on her. Another turn and into a field, another hill, somehow I am passing her and I realise there is not one but two girls and somehow I am passing them both … how? These are very good runners. I panic a little I think I am moving too fast, we cross a field and round a burnt out car, it feels surreal, there is one guy in front a little way off otherwise I would not be sure where I was going! I know I need to keep pressing, those ladies will be trying to maintain their position, they know I shouldn’t really be this far forward and I will most probably start to lose pace soon as the lactic acid builds in my tired legs.

“I have no idea how far back the other ladies are but I just keep pushing, a guy from another club lets me pass, encouraging me, what a champ. I can hear the finish, where the devil are you? We break through the trees, I can see it, I am now praying that they do not overtake me now, keep pushing, my god there is nothing in these legs, I cross the line! I have won my first race and I am delighted! Giles, Bev, Rachel and Stephen are there to congratulate me! People are pointing at me and saying that was the First Lady as I walk past, I feel like a celebrity. I am now off to cheer in my other teammates!”

Maria Merridan wasn’t just a debutant in the Three Counties league: “This was my 1st cross-country! I placed myself at the back of the pack thinking I might disappear down a ditch never to return. I’ve run quite a lot off-road, but racing this terrain was a much tougher proposition. I was mighty pleased to see the finish line with legs beginning to give up rather than my heart. Looking forward to going through the ordeal again soon!”

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Gareth Saynor ‘enjoys’ the Dunstable scenery. Photo by Nick Spavins

Gareth Saynor, who hit the big 5-0 this month, was philosophical about his chances beforehand: “I was press-ganged into running this and to be honest, mud and me don’t really get on! At the start I felt a bit of a fraud surrounded by the elite runners of the club and slightly overdressed.

“It started off really well and I felt strong, even after the first few hills and the dreaded mud and water didn’t materialise. However about halfway the big hill swept into view and I had to walk. I managed to struggle to the top and enjoyed the downhill stretch, only to be met by another hill, then another, by now I was mostly walking.

“Then I saw the finish line with the rest of BAC shouting encouragement and managed a sprint finish.” He was rewarded with 442nd place overall. “Now, for some reason I am looking forward to the next one!”

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Julie Spavins poses for her photographer husband. Photo by Nick Spavins

Just four places back was Julie Spavins, having her second taste of XC action in Dunstable. “My aim was to finish further up the field since I’ll never make it to the front!” she said. “Even in reverse this was a tough course with what felt like more ups than downs. The hills just kept appearing around corners and everyone around me joined in a united ‘groan’ …And even though I was last BAC in, I did manage to be considerably further up the field, and on my own timings I was over five minutes quicker than last year. So a real sense of achievement for me!

BAC next take to the infamous Croyland Park in Wellingborough this Sunday, 25 November, for race two of the season, scene of many flying leaps over water hazards, and muddied heads, shoulders, knees and toes over recent seasons.

Dunstable XC results

22 Steven Baldwin
51 Hannah Broom (1st female)
70 Marcus Davey
76 Rob Morgan
79 Nick Haworth
91 Paul Cooke
133 John Stott
138 Charlie Arnold
143 Emma Bailey
155 Natalie Morgan
267 Kathryn Juty
269 Neil Harvey
302 Nigel Bush
339 Ian Grimwood
354 Simon Strong
356 Robin Wynde
389 Juliet Grimwood
395 Jennie Day
407 Maria Merridan
442 Gareth Saynor
446 Julie Spavins
(483 finishers)

Race rewind: Magnificent Seven tear up trails in Ampthill

Nick Haworth writes:

Blue skies and a somewhat unseasonably warm October morning was the setting for the annual Ampthill Trophy cross country race at Ampthill Park.

The Ampthill Trophy is the third and final event organised by Ampthill Flyers – the other two being the Flitwick 10k held back in April and Marston Forest 5k held back in early June.

Having previously managed to secure the ladies team prize for both races, the ladies team were determined to make it a hat-trick.

Killer and Hannah at start
Hannah and Charlie at the start.

Dating back in one form or another since 1974, the venue has seen a number of distinguished athletes compete including former Biggleswade runner Rodger Wadeley (winner in 1986 and 1987) and Sir Mo Farah (winner of U15 in 1997). Dave Brown and Ken Prior were also known to be regular competitors in the race in their earlier years.

Representing the club this year were seven brave athletes aiming to emulate their forebears along with almost 300 other athletes from all across the home counties.

The course itself is made up of two and half circuits of open grassland and meadow with some thickly wooded sections and steep inclines – a total of 10k but unusually for a cross country had a water station – just as well as it did seem rather warm.

Underfoot the conditions were dry causing runners some concern as to whether to risk running in trial shoes or opt for the lighter but less comfortable spikes. In the end nether choice really seem to matter as a combination of occasional damp ground favoured some whereas the spiky chestnut casings benefited those in harder trial shoes.

The start was a downhill charge.

While Emma Bailey and Natalie Morgan battled with each other over the entire course some of the Biggleswade runners seemed to positively enjoy the experience – despite the obvious discomfort of fellow athletes.

Hannah Broom said “the hills were brutal – all I could do was hold on and try for the best – the end could not come soon enough for me and I was pleased to cross the finish line in 4th female position and was delighted to see my team mates in close succession meaning we secured the ladies prize again – a hat-trick was secured.

Ever more competitive and following on from her super effort at the Great Eastern half marathon was Hannah Broom who managed to scoop the Female V35 award. This performance combined with efforts from Emma and Natalie managed to win them the Ladies Team award ahead of Flitwick Flyers and Bedford Harriers.

ladies medal time
Hannah, Natalie and Emma take their team awards.

Emma summed up her experience as “relentless hills and unseasonably warm for cross country – but wanted to give it my all for the girls team, which we all did! So proud to be in the running club and looking back I even enjoyed it a tiny bit.”

Results
19th
Rob Morgan 43.20
25th Hannah Broom 44:25 (V35 champion, 4th lady)
45th John Stott 47:17
48th Charlie Arnold 47:24
57th Emma Bailey 47:57
58th Natalie Morgan 48:00
184th Ian Clark Skerratt 61:58

Tri-hard … BAC’s Baldwin grinds to earn GB vest in St Neots season-closer

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.

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Steven’s suited up and ready to go. Photo by Sally-Ann Baldwin

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.

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Triathletes take to the Ouse. Photo by Sally-Ann Baldwin

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!

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Photo courtesy of Nice-Tri

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.

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Steven during the bike stage. Photo by Sally-Ann Baldwin

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.

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Steven fights to the finish. Photo courtesy of Nice-Tri

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.

Roll on Weert 2019!

Llamas, bulls and batons … BAC’s team of 17 take on the Round Norfolk Relay

Damien Pitts writes …

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.

Ian Grimwood prepares for stage one
Ian Grimwood awaits the big 6am start

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.

Gary Baldwin on stage 6
Gary Baldwin chauffered along stage six by Deb Bryant

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.

Ian Skerratt on stage 17
Supersub Ian Skerratt on stage 17, aided by Robin Wynde

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.

Juliet Grimwood on a bull-free final stage
Juliet Grimwood on a bull-free final stage

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.

Full results and stage breakdowns can be found on the official site here

Stage

Mileage

Runner

Time (hrs:mins:secs)

1

16.81

Ian Grimwood

02:43:18

2

14.06

Charlie Arnold

01:44:22

3

5.76

Deb Bryant

00:47:13

4

11.14

Chris Watson

01:20:19

5

10.81

Andrew Hedley

01:55:23

6

7.90

Gary Baldwin

01:04:42

7

9.24

Damien Pitts

01:14:39

8

7.52

Robin Wynde

01:04:16

9

16.60

Neil Harvey

02:23:42

10

18.13

Nick Haworth

02:04:56

11

12.45

Paul Cooke

01:23:32

12

19.67

John Stott

02:30:35

13

13.25

Frank McLoughlin

01:59:44

14

7.27

Vicky Berry

01:06:37

15

10.59

Julian Brunt

01:43:38

16

5.49

Ian Skerratt

00:47:14

17

11.73

Juliet Grimwood

02:00:33

Beating the heat in Bedford … awards galore as BAC root for 51 at Doug Anderson 5k

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 female team plus Kathryn Juty at Doug Anderson 5k. Photo by Stuart Goodwin
Kathryn Juty, Elaine Livera, Hannah Broom and Emma Bailey. Photo by Stuart Goodwin

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.

Jamie Hall, Steven Baldwin just behind. Photo by Nick Spavins
Jamie Hall just ahead of Steven Baldwin. Photo by Nick Spavins

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.

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.

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. Photo by Nick Spavins
Emma Bailey. Photo by Nick Spavins

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.”

Kathryn Juty. Photo by Nick Spavins
Kathryn Juty. Photo by Nick Spavins

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!”

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.

BAC mens team plus Charlie Arnold at Doug Anderson 5k. Photo by Stuart Goodwin
Jamie Hall, Nick Haworth, Charlie Arnold and Steven Baldwin. Photo by Stuart Goodwin

“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.”

bac-award-winners-at-doug-anderson-5k-photo-by-stuart-goodwin.jpg
BAC’s award-winners. Photo by Stuart Goodwin

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.

Marcus Davey and Nick Haworth. Photo by Nick Spavins
Nick Haworth, tracked by Marcus Davey. Photo by Nick Spavins

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

Hundreds more of Nick Spavins’s brilliant race pics can be found in BAC’s members-only Facebook group

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

Nick Haworth writes …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marston 5k Results

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


BUCS action and Brown recognised … news roundup

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

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

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