Record collectors: Veterans sign off in style at final EMAC fixture in Stevenage

Team captain Charlie Arnold writes …

Unfortunate scheduling meant Biggleswade AC’s veterans were depleted for the final match in the Eastern Masters league series at Stevenage stadium, with many regulars competing in the club championship Doug Anderson 5k in Bedford – taking place at the same time. However, those present performed with admirable effort and enthusiasm, stepping out of their usual events and comfort zones to earn points for the club.

The evening on track kicked off with the 2km walk, which sees male and female competitors lining up together. And it was a phenomenal start for BAC as Helen Middleton was the clear class of the field, coming home a comfortable first overall in 11:29.8. Robin Wynde took fifth place for the men.

EMAC - Helen Middleton and Robin Wynde in 2km walk. Photo by Marcus Davey
Helen Middleton and Robin Wynde in action in the 2km walk. Photo by Marcus Davey

Meanwhile, Charles Arnold was competing in the high jump M50 competition where he finished third, clearing 1.25m and setting a club M60 record.

Jon Fediw doubled up in the M35 high jump and javelin, alternating between each discipline as the rounds progressed. He finished fifth in the high jump, matching Charlie’s 1.25m and setting a club record of his own, while he took fourth in the javelin with a throw of 24.43m. Wynde took fifth place in the M50 javelin at 16.52m while Ian Skerratt was fourth in the M60 standings with 15.61m, another club age group record.

On the other side of the stadium, Kathryn Juty (W45) and Sandra Ingham (W50) were competing in the discus, Kathryn coming fourth with 11.73m and Sandra in third with 13.66m.

After the initial events, the yellow vests of Biggleswade were seen rushing across the field to get registered for the next series. The 100m saw Kathryn claiming third in 16.2sec (another club AG record) and Sandra finishing fourth in 22.0s. For the men, Marcus Davey, usually a middle distance runner, competed in the M35 category and produced a tremendous run of 13.9 to finish fifth in a tight race and add to the age-group records bonanza. Ian Skerratt ran in the M50 race coming fourth in 18.0. Next to the 100m, the men’s triple jump was taking place and Arnold represented Biggleswade in M60 finishing second with a jump of 7.43m – yet another AG record.

The track then saw the mile races with Zoe Luscombe running in the W35 finishing a good fourth in 6:46.3 (another AG record). For the men, Davey was at his preferred distance and took M35 third in an AG time of 5:07.5, with Robin Wynde fourth M50 in 7:29.8 and Arnold third M60 in 6:14.5.

In the field events Ingham became the second BAC winner of the night taking the W50 javelin with a throw of 20.37m, while Luscombe went straight from her efforts in the mile to finish fifth in the W35 javelin with 10.12m. Sandra mimicked Fediw by also competing in the high jump taking fourth W50 with Juty also coming fourth in W45. After her win in the javelin, Ingham went straight over to the triple jump with Kathryn, Sandra finishing fourth in W50 jumping 4.57m (AG club record) and Kathryn a very commendable second with a jump of 6.03m. In the men’s discus Fediw was fifth in M35 with 17.30m, Robin Wynde fifth M50 with 16.13m and Ian Skerratt fifth M60 with 9.67m.

The final individual event of the evening was the 400m and Luscombe stepped up to run in W35 taking third in 76.2. For the men Charles Arnold took fourth in M50 (75.7) and Ian Skerratt second in M60 (81.7). This was then followed by the 1200m varied distance relay and David Brown was able to to take a break from officiating to run a blistering first leg to hand over to Skerratt, then Arnold before Davey produced a fantastic race to finish third, so nearly catching the team ahead.

In the end, the women finished fourth on the night and lifted themselves to a creditable fourth overall. The men finished fifth on the night and slipped to fifth overall, but just 3.5 points behind the hosts who were able to field a strong team. Neither team qualified for the finals, but all the athletes who turned out for the four matches gave commitment, effort and enthusiasm, and most of all, made them fun occasions with some success.

A special mention should also be made for the officials that turned out each time – without them there would be no competition.

Park life: Biggleswade AC’s huge Couch to 5k class helps breaks record in Bedford

Biggleswade Athletic Club’s third Couch to 5k course was rounded off in sensational style last Saturday, as dozens of new runners crossed the line for their first attempt at the distance. The “graduation” run took place at Bedford Park, at the town’s weekly Saturday morning Parkrun event, which has taken place since June 2011. The 66 BAC C52K graduates on the day ensured the run smashed its attendance record, with 586 recorded finishers an increase of 58 on the previous best.

BAC Couch to 5k graduates, mentors and coaches. Photo by Damien Pitts

A whopping 124 people signed up to the course, and dozens more will be graduating in the coming weeks. The 12-week programme was based at Sandy’s Sunderland Road recreation ground, with weekly Wednesday sessions gradually and manageably ramping up through training in which participants initially ran for one minute at a time, then walking for a minute, repeated 10 times. The amount of running increased each week, with the walking reduced over time to help prepare runners for the 5km (3.1 mile) distance.

Coaches and “mentors” then helped to run two “homework” sessions a week at various locations in the area, to get those involved used to the discipline of running three times a week, a proven way to improve fitness and increase stamina. The improvements in those present were remarkable over the short period that the course took place.

Dave Eggleton was the first graduate over the finish line in Bedford, and said: “I started the course because I needed to get fitter, I wasn’t expecting after a few weeks to actually look forward to putting my running kit on. What started as a 12 week journey to help me get fitter has achieved its goals and made me some good friends along the way.”

Another hugely impressive participant was Sharon Griffiths, who overcame injury problems during the programme to graduate in fine style. She said: “I hated running at school and wasn’t very good at it, but the coaches and mentors have been fantastic with encouragement and praise to everybody. I’m definitely carrying on running now – I love it, which surprises me to say. It’s the best decision I’ve made.”

Andy King, who had “literally never run” before the course, was persuaded to join up by Sharon after mutual friends who took part in one of the previous courses recommended it. “They raved about the support they got,” he said. “The first week was hard and by the third week I was ready to give in. But what kept me going? The constant help from mentors who genuinely understood how you were feeling but would push you just that tiny bit more each session. I’m still astounded I ran 5K on Saturday. My self-esteem is at an all-time high, but without the support of Biggleswade AC, its coaches, mentors, and the other guys running with me, I wouldn’t have come near to finishing the course!”

Karen Soper added: “I needed this because I was so unfit and was not feeling good about myself at all. I feel so much better – I’m liking the way I look and it’s gave me a great feeling about myself. I now get up some morning before work and go for a run which then gives me a fantastic feeling for the rest of the day.”

Another to notice a huge difference is Kirsty Beard, who said: “Twelve weeks ago I was a stone heavier, and couldn’t run when prosecco was on a 2 for 1 deal at the bar 10 feet away! The classes and mentoring sessions inspire you to keep going. You could be the quickest or the slowest on the field, and you got the same encouragement, attention and support – but you also certainly got the same buzz, motivation and ‘can-do’ feeling.”

Many of the graduates have already signed up to Biggleswade AC, sending the club’s membership to an all-time high, and they will benefit from a revamped range of training nights, specifically tailored to help the progression of its freshly minted runners, with sessions taking place on both on the streets of Sandy as well as the recently relaid track. Much more info soon – keep an eye on the club website for more details.

Many thanks to club chairman Damien Pitts for photographs of graduation day

BAC C25k graduate results, Bedford Parkrun, 15 July 2017

David Eggleton 27:06
Brian Woodfield 28:03
Joanne Drummond 28:16
Tanya Edwards 29:56
Sharon Griffiths 30:17
Nick Lester 30:42
John Luff 31:07
Alison Elwood 32:03
Genette Smith 32:06
Tom Greaves 32:07
Jennie Day 32:10
Chris Rowley 32:13
Sarah Gatti 32:17
Tracy Brooks 32:42
Lisa Cobb 32:44
Beverley Ritson 32:53
Sophie Lester 33:00
Julie Spavins 33:16
Christine Crawley 33:31
John Crawley 33:34
Colin Oatley 33:48
Rachel Davies 33:54
Emma Kelly 34:07
Charlotte Larkins 34:08
Karyn Jones 34:17
Sue Whitfield 34:30
Janet Fogg 35:02
Peter Elwood 35:57
Kianna Davis 36:00
Sara Masella 36:05
Louise Oliver 36:05
Karen Soper 36:37
Kirsty Beard 36:38
Laura France 36:39
Sadete Noka 36:57
Katie Bishop 37:43
Polly Swinburne 37:43
Amy Smyth 37:43
Joanne Gray 37:50
Vicky Brettle 38:12
Christine Knowles 38:14
Nicola Summers 38:16
Elaine Oatley Fry 38:43
Kathy Doherty 39:06
Francesca McKiernan 39:08
Alan Shaw 39:39
Graeme Wright 39:39
Vanessa Kaye 40:57
Joanne Bishop 41:03
Nicola Gauge 41:33
James Keane 41:33
Helen Williams 41:33
Nicki Dear 41:57
Faye Eavis 42:00
Sally Burn 42:00
Deborah Cockcroft 43:42
Anita Taylor 45:38
Kirsty Day 46:12
Julie White 46:23
Susan Revels 46:24
Helen Hill 48:20
Sharon Davis 48:24
Timothy Mark Garratt 49:11
Andy King 49:44
Suzanne Chidley 50:27
Michelle Shaw 50:27

Charlie’s captain’s slog: BAC at EMAC Milton Keynes

Veterans’ team captain Charlie Arnold led the way for BAC on a stunning evening in the sunshine at Milton Keynes. The 61-year-old put in a scintillating performance to win the 300m hurdles. After starting off steadily, he blazed around the bend and cantered through to victory in 61.5sec, fully four seconds clear of his nearest opposition. Charlie then shared first place in the V60 pole vault, clearing 1.70m, alongside an athlete from Cambridge & Coleridge AC.

Charlie Arnold in 300m hurdles. Photo by Roo Goodwin
Charlie in the 300m hurdles. Photo by Roo Goodwin

EMAC debutant Jon “Fedge” Fediw got his veterans’ career off to a sterling start with third place in the V35 hammer in 15.21, while David Brown – balancing officiating and competing duties – took a fine third of his own with third in the V50 400m hurdles.
In the women’s competition, Kathryn Juty took second place in the V35 pole vault with 1.30m, third place in the 200m in 34.8sec and fourth in the long jump in 3.19m.

Throws specialist Sandra Ingham took third in the V50 shot in 7.03m, and fifth in the hammer, and helped another EMAC first-timer, Hannah Broom, have a ball after coaching her to third in the V35 hammer (11.20m). Hannah also took fifth in both the 800m and the shot, and was later beaming at her first experience of veterans’ competition.

Zoe Luscombe also put in a serious shift, taking third place in the 400m in a fine 96.7sec, and going straight from the finish of that event to start the 1 mile walk – still wearing spikes, which adds an extra layer of difficulty to an event where one foot must always be in contact with the track. Tripping and tearing up the track behind her, she took an entertaining fourth place in the B string, treating the Buckinghamshire crowd to some extremely colourful language as she went. In the A string of that race, Helen Kapur finished a fine fifth.

Marcus Davey took fourth in the 800m (2:19.5), fifth in the 200m (28.9sec), and finished his night with a stunning final leg in the 4x400m, timed at 62.3sec.

Marcus Davey in 800m. Photo by Roo Goodwin
Marcus Davey. Photo by Roo Goodwin

On a fruitful night in the long jump, Robin Wynde broke the V55 club record twice in quick succession. Having complained that he all-too-often struggled to judge his run-up and hit the take-off board following his first effort, he proceeded to judge it perfectly with his second, and repeated the feat with his third leap of 3.27m, which added 24cm to John Haines’ mark that had stood since 2012. In the V35 category, Stuart Goodwin earned a personal best of his own with 4.18m to take fifth place in a competition where just 55cm separated first and last place. Helen Kapur, competing in the V50 competition, earlier leaped 2.19m to take both fifth place and a PB.

Robin and Stuart earlier took part in the 1mile walk, each taking fourth places in the A and B string with 10:06.05 and 12:02 respectively. Robin’s busy night also took in the 800m, where he earned fifth place, and the shot put, where he took sixth.

Colin Harries, age 70, was fifth in the V60 shot and sixth in the V50 200m standings. Clark Skerratt took fourth in the V60 800m and fifth in the hammer, while Simon Strong’s 5.98m in the V35 shot earned him fifth place.

Top scoring honours of the night went to Helen Kapur, whose brilliant individual tally of 19 points, accrued in a herculean effort that took in five scoring events, showed what the team competition is all about.

It all ended with the 4x400m relays, and first up the men’s V35s were sent off by an apprehensive Fedge, whose steady leg marked his first foray into one-lap territory since joining the club last month. Upon handing over to Simon Strong, he departed trackside to dry-heave while his unsupportive partner, Hannah Broom, failed to contain her mirth. Simon, eternally recovering from injury, thankfully emerged unscathed and handed off to Stuart Goodwin, who presided over the team being lapped by a very high-quality Bedford & County AC quartet. Goodwin then left the baton with Marcus Davey, whose outstanding final 400m was all the better for having been run almost solo.

The men’s V50+ relay followed, and BAC stormed to third in a club-record time, thanks in no small part to a 65.8sec third leg by David Brown. Captain Arnold, Clark Skerratt and Robin Wynde also played their part.

It was left to the V35 ladies’ squad to close out a busy night of track and field action, and a team of Hannah Broom, Sandra Ingham, Kathryn Juty and Zoe Luscombe took fourth place.

Both teams emerged with superb fourth places out of seven strong teams on the night, with the women extremely unlucky to miss out on third by just four points.

If it wasn’t for you medalling kids: Countback denies Leonie bronze at English Schools’ Championships

Biggleswade Athletic Club high-jumper Leonie Brunning was unlucky to miss out on the junior bronze medal at the English Schools’ Championships in Birmingham last weekend, as she finished fifth despite clearing the same height as two athletes who shared third place.

The 14-year-old, representing Bedfordshire, leaped to a highly impressive 1.63m to earn a National Standard badge, hot on the heels of a 1.67m clearance last week in Peterborough which moved her up to fifth in the UK rankings. However, having entered the competition at 1.44m, and managing a clean roster of jumps up to 1.57m, the countback rule began to tell on failed attempts as the competition heated up.

Supported by the club’s high jump coach Chris Watson, Leonie’s second-time clearance at 1.60m was followed by a last-gasp attempt at 1.63m, but as two rivals representinging Leicestershire and Hampshire managed to clear the latter height at the second time of asking, they shared third place.

Amid an outstanding run of form which has showcased her excellent technique, Leonie’s attention now turns to gaining more consistency above the 1.60m barrier, which will enable her to be fresher at the business end of competitions. Her experience among stiff competition at Alexander Stadium will stand her in fine stead for the rest of the season.

In the junior boys’ 200m, BAC’s Cameron Rayner was another competing for his county, and his 24.17sec, run into a headwind, earned him sixth place in a very high quality heat.

Higher and higher: BAC’s record-breaking Brunning bounds up British rankings

Leonie Brunning starred for Biggleswade Athletic Club on a record-breaking afternoon at the latest Eastern Young Athletes League meeting in Peterborough.

Brunning won with a stunning 1.67m, not just a new Under-15s club record, but fully 4cm clear of the National Championship standard, the benchmark levels for young athletes. It also propelled her from equal 13th in the UK U15 rankings up to fifth outright, and perhaps the most staggering stat of the day was that her performance would have been good enough for the 14-year old to secure a top 10 placing at the senior Team GB trials for August’s World Championships, which were taking place at the same time in Birmingham.

Leonie Brunning in the high jump. Photo by Hannah Brunning
Leonie Brunning in full flight. Photo by Hannah Brunning

“The stadium was in silence watching her,” said BAC’s Mandie Trudgill. “It was just amazing and thrilling to watch. People were coming over to ask all about her as she was jumping, and afterwards she received so many congratulations from strangers.”
Having added 6cm to her previous personal best, Leonie now heads for this weekend’s English Schools’ Championships at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium, the scene of the World Trials, full of confidence.

Another who will be showcasing his talents in the midlands is Cameron Rayner, and he showed he is in great form in equalling his PB of exactly 12sec in the 100m.

Freddie Steele finishing in the 200m. Photo by Mandie Trudgill
Freddie Steele finishing in the 200m. Photo by Mandie Trudgill

Meanwhile there was an outright PB for first-timer Freddie Steele in the shot put (5.32m), fellow debutant Adam Reed posted one of his own in the 800m, as did Stephen Day, while Madison Day earned hers in the two-lap event thanks to a blistering sprint finish. Hannah Brunning was another who demonstrated a brilliant change of pace over the home straight in the event.

More PBs came for Alicia Ward in the long jump (3.87m), Sophie Steele in the javelin (17.63) and Georgia Smith in the 300m. On a day in which BAC amassed an impressive points haul, all of the squad – which also featured Bailey Foster, Kareem Davis, Elliot Swinburne and Daniel Hemming – played their part, and Tristan Rayner in particular showed grit to recover from a sapping effort in the 400m to take the line for the 200m.

Adam Reed in the 800m. Photo by Mandie Trudgill
EYAL debutant Adam Reed in the 800m. Photo by Mandie Trudgill

“He showed true club spirit and what it means to be a member of the mighty blue and yellows!” added Trudgill. “He ran an amazing 400m, albeit doing too much in the first 200, and the boy was spent. As Team GB captain Christine Ohuruogo would say, he definitely left it all out on the track. He had to lay down for a good 20 minutes to recover, and although he was due to do the 200m he really wasn’t in a state to do it.

“But then he heard the running tally of points, and that we were only at that point three points behind Luton AC. ‘Well that’s it,’ he said, grabbing his spikes. ‘I’m running!’ and off he jogged to the start.”

His 200m of 25.0sec was very impressive under the circumstances but events elsewhere went Luton’s way and according to provisional results BAC, among the smallest clubs of the 27 competing in the league, were just pipped to sixth position on the day and now turn their attention to the remaining fixtures at Colchester and Bedford.

The heat is on: Dickson-Earle takes line at Team GB trials

Euan Dickson-Earle once again showcased Biggleswade AC colours live on the BBC but narrowly missed making the final of Team GB’s trials for next month’s World Athletics Championships.

Screengrab: BBC

Euan finished third in his 110m hurdles heat in 14.62sec, two-tenths of a second outside his personal best, whereas the third-finishing athletes in the other two heats progressed due to quicker times. After clipping the first barrier, Euan struggled for rhythm but fought hard to the line to finish a clear third, and overall his time ranked him 12th of the 20 athletes in the competition.

Despite disappointment at failing to make the final, competing well alongside older athletes continues his rapid progression in the senior ranks following a remarkable career at junior level, and experience of the trials environment should prove invaluable.

You can view Euan’s heat on iPlayer for the remainder of July here – the race coverage begins from 19min 15sec.

Eastern promise: BAC rack up three medals at Area Championships

A small team of Biggleswade Athletic Club competitors took away two gold medals and a bronze from the Eastern Area Championships last Saturday. On a pleasantly warm but windy day in Cambridge, competitors of all ages and from all counties in the east of England were in attendance for a high quality competition.

Sarah Ridley. Photo by Alison Ridley
Sarah Ridley shows off her bling. Photo by Alison Ridley

First up for the club was Sarah Ridley in the shot put, who won the event at the Bedfordshire County Championships last month. Despite the blustery conditions and a slow start she roared through the field with a best effort in the fifth round throw to win the event.

After a brief rest she was then on the track for the senior women’s 100m final where she stormed down the track to claim the bronze medal and a PB of 12.74sec.
Sarah’s sister Hannah then took to the track for the women’s 400m final. Facing a tough field she fought hard and came home with a time of 65sec.

Morgan Webster was next on the track in the men’s 400m final. Starting steadily, he cruised down the back straight and entered the final bend in fourth place. With 120m remaining he held his nerve, and started to apply what he had been practising in training, and picked off the three athletes ahead of him in the final 80m to win by two clear metres in a new PB of 51.18. Tom Boggon came home behind with a time of 56.85.

The final Biggleswade AC Athlete to compete was Sophie Forbes-Laird in the Under 13 girls 200m, where she came placed fourth.

Charlie to the power of three: the Colworth Marathon Challenge

Charlie Arnold. No credit needed

BAC’s Charlie Arnold came away with a host of prizes from the Colworth Marathon Challenge last weekend. The event is an annual competition of three races across three days that can be run as one-offs or in combination, with those opting for all three eventually covering the marathon distance of 26.2 miles. Held over testing routes at Sharnbrook near Bedford, the event attracts a strong local field as well as athletes from London and the south-east.

First up last Friday evening was a five mile race, taking in cooler conditions than seen in the daytime recently. A fast and furious race over an undulating course on concrete, stony tracks, public footpaths and woodland walks, Arnold completed it in 35min 17sec to finish 47th out of 345 runners, third in the Over 60s age category.

Lainey Stead also competed for the club in the race, crossing the line in a very commendable 50min 50sec.

The second race was on the Saturday in hot and humid conditions. This was over 8.1 miles of a very hilly cross country route, tackling uncut grass which pulled on the legs, and rutted woodland tracks, baked hard by the recent warm weather, ready to trip or injure the ankle of any runners not watching their footing. Arnold avoided the potential pitfalls to finish in 60min 49sec, 30th out of 225 overall, but the winner of his age category.

The final race on the Sunday morning was a half marathon (13.1 miles) over two laps of a multi-terrain course. Tired legs from the previous two days had to be put into action again to deal with the distance and the sharp inclines, especially in the last couple of miles. Arnold, along with his nearest challengers, found the course very demanding, but he managed to outrun them to finish in 1hr 43mins 59sec to claim another age category prize, and to win the overall Colworth Challenge award for his age with a total time of 3hr 20min 05sec and bring honours back to Biggleswade.

The heat is on: BAC blaze in the sunshine at Run Bedford 10k

Twenty Biggleswade Athletic Club members braved searing hot weather to compete in the Run Bedford 10k last Sunday. With the temperature already ticking upwards from 25C on the start line, things heated up considerably both in terms of conditions and competition out on the course.

BAC runners. Photo by Jo Ellary
Photo by Jo Ellary

First home for BAC was Richard Bevan, who was 31st home overall of 987 finishers on the day, in 37min 6sec. Next up came John Stott, dipping inside the top 100 as he came 99th in 42:58.

Well inside the 50 minute mark came Philip Housden, who crossed the line 247th in 49:34, while Malcolm Steward came creditably close to a personal best time over the distance, but just missed out by 12 seconds with 50:25 to finish 266th.

Stuart Goodwin (468th, 56:13) paid for an ambitiously fast start and wilted in the last 5km. Vicky Berry finished around the same point – with GPS technology tracking her in a time of 56:08 – but technical gremlins mean she is currently cruelly denied a listing in the official results. Simon Strong’s travails were more impressive than most, coming off the back of a string of injuries that forced him out of the London Marathon, but he completed his third race in three days – following on from participation in a 5k race and the Greensand Ridge Relay on the Friday and Saturday – to come in 543rd, well under the hour mark in 58:38.

With the temperature flirting with 30C around the hour mark, runners were thankful for a makeshift extra water station set up a mile from the finish by local residents. “That was a lovely gesture,” said BAC’s Jules Mackay. “It was a nice tour of Bedford and there were surprisingly a lot of supporters along the route considering the temperatures and early start.”

With many planned PBs going out of the window in the conditions, and several competitors dropping out – some even requiring medical attention – it became impressive simply to keep on going and get round in one piece.

Huge credit then to Sally Jones (606th, 1:00.27), Julian Brunt (607th, 1:01.20) and Amy Stamp (611th, 1:01.25) who conceded: “It was too hot – I think that sums it up! A well-organised race though, and a good course.” Rachel Hallam Stott was 644th in 1:01.35, followed by Corinne Calligan (673rd, 1:03.32), Louise Pike (806th, 1:08.09), Rosalyn Bodi (847th, 1:10.38), Helen Steward and Vikki Vowles (876th and 877th, both given 1:12.34) and Mackay and Roo Goodwin (881st and 882nd, both given 1:13.02). Tim Gardiner was 924th in 1:16.16 while Shani Giddings fought to the line in 949th place, in 1:19.43.

Two days earlier at the Marston Forest 5k, a 7.30pm start saw kinder conditions, but with no breeze and dust kicked up from the forest trails, it still posed a significant task to those present. Sarah Geeson-Osgood was 132nd in 24:01, Clark Skerratt 160th in 25:15, Stuart Goodwin 167th in 25:33, Strong began his busy weekend in 27:02 for 186th, and Roo Goodwin battled against an thigh injury to take 281st in 31:33.

Meanwhile, at the England Athletics Under 23 Championships at Bedford International Stadium on Sunday, Alex Ingham took eighth place in the javelin, in an impressively tight and competitive field where positions three to eight were separated by less than seven metres – considerably less than the length of three javelins.

The club were