BAC 2.6 Challenge raises £2,000 for Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice

You may remember that nearly 4 weeks ago, on 26th April, Biggleswade AC members donned their club vests and rose to the 2.6 Challenge, all in aid of the Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice at Moggerhanger.

Sue Ryder support people through the most difficult times of their lives. Whether that’s a terminal illness, the loss of a loved one or a neurological condition. Their doctors, nurses and carers give people the compassion and expert care they need to help them live the best life they possibly can.

And so, after some last minute donations, we are extremely proud to say that we have raised an astounding total of £2,000, a massive 2000% of our original fundraising target!!

We would like to, once again, thank all those who took part in the challenge and to those who donated, allowing us to make such a fantastic donation to a hugely worthwhile local charity

Thank you!

Biggleswade AC rises to 2.6 Challenge

60 members of Biggleswade AC have, today, raised an amazing £1,631 (at the time of posting) for the Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice at Moggerhanger by taking part in the 2.6 Challenge to raise money for the charities who would have benefited from the many fundraising events that have since been postponed or cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

One of those events is the Sandy 10 road race, organised by the club, for which the St John’s Hospice receives the proceeds. The race, usually held early April, is now rescheduled for Sunday 13th September.

The London Marathon is a major event in many runners’ diaries and a number of Biggleswade AC members would either be running the 26.2 miles or cheering on their club mates and so, today, members donned their club vests and took to the roads, streets and trails close to their homes (even their own back gardens), to take part in the 2.6 Challenge to run, walk, cycle (even hobble) for 2.6 miles, 26.2 furlongs, 26 mins, a combination of 2.6 miles, or a 26 rep workout.

We would like to thank all those who wore their vests with pride today and took up the #BACTwoPointSixChallenge (you are all amazing), and to everyone who donated to our fundraising page. We are absolutely bowled over by the response.

Thank you so much.

***CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) UPDATE*** 25/03/2020

A message from our Chairman:

Following the further restrictions on movement put in place by the UK Government last nightUKA and the Home Country Athletics Federations have made the following updates to the previous statement issued on 17 March:

  1. Extending the suspension of all athletics activity in England to the 31 May. . This suspension includes all organised athletics activity in the UK, including all competitions, formal club activities, running groups, and all Education activity (coach, official, teacher).
  2. Strengthening our position on coaching activity – We are now mandating that all physical coaching ceases, and only be conducted via virtual means during this period. Bringing groups of people together to train, however small, can no longer be permitted under the strict ‘Stay at home’ measures implemented by the UK Government.

The full statement can be found on the below link and we will advise of any further statement.

https://www.englandathletics.org/athletics-and-running/news/coronavirus-statement/

Regards and take care of yourselves

Trevor

***CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) UPDATE*** 17/03/2020

A message from our Chairman Trevor,

Due to the current situation with the Corona Virus England Athletics (please see below link) have advised that all face-to-face activity such as club training sessions, events, competitions, club committee and face-to-face meetings, athlete camps, running groups and social events should be suspended until at least the end of April. As a result the committee have had to suspend all activities/events involving Biggleswade AC and the track from today until the end of April at the earliest.

This is a highly unusual step but it is clear that in the current circumstances we have a responsibility to ensure that we do all we can to reduce the risk to all of our athletes, volunteers, members and parents. We will of course keep everyone updated in relation to both training and competition through the website and Facebook page. Any questions though please do not hesitate to get in touch with the committee.

Many thanks for your understanding and support.

https://www.englandathletics.org/athletics-and-running/news/coronavirus-statement/

***CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) UPDATE***

Biggleswade AC are following guidelines set out by EA and UKA. Our priority is to ensure the health and safety of all of our members.Whilst there are currently no planned changes to any training sessions, we are aware of the announcements made today by the UK Government and continue to monitor the situation.

For more information, please follow the links below:

https://www.englandathletics.org/athletics-and-running/news/coronavirus-statement/

https://www.uka.org.uk/media/news/2020-news-page/march-2020/10-03-2020-uka-statement-on-coronavirus/

**IMPORTANT SANDY 10 ANNOUNCEMENT**

Dear runners,

We regret to announce that the Sandy 10 and 3km fun run, scheduled for 5 April, have been postponed.

With the coronavirus pandemic causing widespread concern among the general public, and measures set to be tightened where gatherings of people in the UK are concerned, the last thing any of us want to do is feel we are putting our runners and volunteers at risk, or adding to anyone’s sense of unease.

One of the following options will be available to all entrants:
• Deferment to the new race date (date TBC)
• Withdrawal from the field and donation of entry fee to our charity, Sue Ryder St John’s
OR
• FULL refund for those unable to make the new date

We will be in touch very soon to begin these processes and you will have plenty of time to decide which option you’d prefer.

Our races pride themselves on being among the sporting highlights of the local calendar, and we don’t want our community to feel that a 600-strong field running in their streets is anything to be frightened of.
Instead this course of action and the options above are our way of showing those around us that we put them first – we are certainly mindful of the financial pressures some families will face in the coming weeks and months.

The race committee is now exploring dates later in the year, using the rescheduled London Marathon on 4 October as a pointer.
Each year many of our runners use the Sandy 10 as a key part of their training for London, and we would love to be a part of that once more.

Moving our events to later in the year does however raise many logistical headaches, not least slotting into an already packed athletics calendar.
We will move quickly to re-book our suppliers, many of whom rely on races such as ours for their income – it is not lost on us that it is an extremely stressful time to be in the events business.

We will also liaise with our neighbouring clubs to try our utmost to ensure we do not clash with events of their own.
It is not a straightforward task – please bear with us and we will update you once progress has been made.

This is an extraordinary situation for race organisers everywhere, but the health of our runners and volunteers, and by extension that of the wider public, comes way before the importance of our events.
Still, we at the Sandy 10 are extremely sorry for any stress and inconvenience that these race postponements add during these difficult times.

Once we are able to, we fully intend to make it up to you.

Many thanks for your understanding.

Stuart Goodwin
Race director, Sandy 10

Biggleswade AC Sportshall Athletics Challenge – Report and Results

14th March 2020 – Stratton Upper School, Biggleswade

Sportshall athletics is an introduction to athletics in a familiar indoor sportshall environment with a fun and lively atmosphere. Emphasis is put on team spirit and the running races are in teams of two or four. Often this event provides young athletes with their first competitive experience.

Many of today’s top GB international athletes started in sportshall athletics, such as Katarina Johnson-Thompson who has gone on to become a multi events athlete and world champion heptathlete. The young athletes at Biggleswade AC’s 20th Annual Sportshall Athletics Challenge could be on their way to international fame!

Biggleswade AC’s athletes (U9s, U11s and U13s) were up against local rival teams Bedford and County and Leighton Buzzard. With a mixture of running races – 4 x 1 laps, 4 x 2 laps, obstacle 4 x 1 lap (forward roll, speed bounce, high stepper, hurdles), Grand Prix; and field events – standing long jump, shot, vertical jump and a 20 second speed bounce; Biggleswade triumphed amassing a fantastic 84 points! Bedford and County came second with 51 points and Leighton Buzzard came in with a respectable 41 points.

The event finished off with a mass pursuit relay (similar to a cycle pursuit), with each team member running a lap of the sportshall. The teams start on opposite sides of the sportshall and have to catch the opposition. As you can imagine, this is a very noisy and exciting event with the teams all supporting and encouraging each of their athletes. Thankfully this ended in another victory for the Biggleswade team.

Congratulations to all those who took part and helped to make the event a success.

Treading the boards … BAC athletes earn Eastern Indoors medals

Hannah Ridley writes …

It was a fantastic weekend full of outstanding performances from Biggleswade athletes at the Eastern Indoor Athletics Championships, which were held at Lee Valley Athletics Centre on the 2nd and 3rd of February.

Kicking things off for Biggleswade was Sarah Ridley in the Senior Women’s shot put. Her second-round effort of 9.93m was good enough to see her through to the final three rounds. After the further three attempts, her second round throw proved enough for a spot on the podium, with Sarah winning the bronze medal.

First to go on the track was Iona Newbegin in the U17 Women’s 60m. Iona sailed through both her heat and her semi-final, running a PB of 7.99secs along the way. Despite not getting the best start in her final, she came back at her opponents in the last few metres, and after some debate over a photo finish, Iona was awarded the bronze medal in a time of 8.03.

Sarah was back in action later on Saturday, this time in the 60m. Due to the number of athletes entered, her race became a straight final and she powered out of the blocks, running her way to a brilliant fourth place finish in 8.32. This ended the action for the Saturday, with both athletes plus many more from Biggleswade returning to Lee Valley the following day.

Jessica Cooke toed the start line in the first race of the day, the U17 women’s 300m. Despite not progressing from her heat, Jessica ran a fantastic race and finished in fifth place in 47.6secs. Sophie Forbes-Laird ran in the U15 race, finishing second in her heat, meaning she progressed to the final later on in the day. Sophie’s final was a nail-biting affair, with her going out hard and just managing to hold off the competitor who beat her previously to come home with the silver medal in a personal best performance of 42.69.

Next up were the 200m runners. The U17s were split into three heats, and the second of those saw two Biggleswade athletes walk onto the track, Abi Smith and Molly May. In her first race ever, Abi put in a stellar performance and finished fourth in 28.84, but unfortunately she missed out on a spot in the final by 0.1 seconds. Abi was closely followed by Molly, who finished fifth in her first indoor race with a superb PB of 29.63.

It was Iona’s turn in the third heat and her second place finish saw her automatically qualify for the semi-finals. She repeated that result in the semi and progressed to the final. Six races in two days plus illness seemed to have taken its toll, but Iona still finished in a strong fourth place in 26.92.

The senior women’s 800m was another straight final with Hannah Ridley wearing the yellow vest. She ran on her own for three of the four laps, but unfortunately got pipped on the line for second place, to finish third. However, she still finished with a smile and collected a bronze medal for her performance, taking the total medal tally for the weekend to four. These athletes now look forward to starting the outdoor season at the Bedfordshire Open on the 6th April in Luton, and the first league match in St Ives on the 13th April.

Full results from Lee Valley can be found here

BAC’s Club Person of the Year: Sonia Brown (1965-2018)

Sonia died last July at the age of 53.

Biggleswade Athletic Club paid tribute to their late, lamented coach and official Sonia Brown at their annual awards ceremony in Sandy, with the committee unanimously recognising her immense contribution and naming her as Club Person of the Year.

Sonia, who succumbed to cancer last July at the age of 53, was represented on the night at Garden Court by her son Scott and husband Roger, and Scott was met with an emotional standing ovation from all present as he collected the award on her behalf. Club chairman Damien Pitts also handed the family a book of condolence that club members have been contributing to over recent months.

Scott Brown accepted the Club Person of the Year award on behalf of his mother. Photo by Nick Spavins

Moving from Barbados in her teens, Sonia lived with her aunt in Essex and immediately showed promise in athletics. She was the only black child in her school, and one day the fastest boy unwisely challenged her to a race. Sonia won with ease, and was quickly identified as a promising young talent. She joined up with the successful Essex Ladies club, competing in sprints and the long jump, and was a contemporary of Olympic and world championship gold-medal winning 400m hurdler Sally Gunnell as well as other Team GB internationals including multi-event specialist Kim Hagger and 400m runner Gladys Taylor.

Essex Ladies latterly merged with Woodford Green, and the amalgamated club’s former president Jean Burgess said: “It was such sad news. As she competed in the 1980s she would have been part of the team which won the Southern Women’s League a total of 10 times in 13 years.

“I find it very gratifying that Sonia was inspired by her time in Essex Ladies to take up coaching and officiating with Biggleswade AC.”

And that she very much did. The second chapter of her athletics journey came upon arriving in Bedfordshire, where she attempted to find a venue to help her get on the coaching ladder. After an abortive flirtation with Bedford & County AC, she tried her luck with BAC, and immediately found herself besotted, and a passionate and highly committed advocate of young local talent.

Another club coaching and officiating stalwart, Ken Prior, said: “Rapidly qualifying as a level one coach, she started helping David Brown coach our sprinters. Around the same time, Cassie Prior – who had been coaching our under 11s – was leaving to start a family. Sonia took her place and named and developed the section into the Little Bees. It became so successful that, following the 2012 Olympics, for several months we had to run two sessions on Tuesdays to accommodate all the athletes.”

David said: “We both had the same vision for the younger element – athletics was for all, for fun, and to be enjoyed. People come along and develop at different speeds. Some develop at an early stage, while some don’t until much older, but Sonia always said they should all be treated with respect. She understood that youngsters were the heart of the club and if treated right would be the seniors of tomorrow to help take the club beyond the next phase.”

She would go on to become a committee member, helping to decide the club’s direction, as well as a qualified field official, and both Sonia and former treasurer Mark Stead were regularly to be found trackside and at other venues far and wide as a valuable photo-finish tag-team. With many clubs lacking the equipment and expertise to supply the service themselves, they would call on Sonia and Mark, and part of her legacy can be found in many clubs’ records, results lists and in individual athletes’ personal bests.

Fellow BAC coach Michael Blunt said: “Sonia was a great coach and a huge asset to the club. On a personal level she encouraged me to start coaching and having inherited one of her projects – the ‘Mini Bees’ – my aim has always been to develop a program that Sonia herself would have been proud of. The blend of enthusiasm, enjoyment and knowledge that was clear in all her sessions will be impossible to replicate but well worth aspiring to.”

She was also an inspiration to Bev Strong, who said: “I first met her eight years ago when my son Bradley joined the club in the sprint group. He competed in the Eastern Young Athletes’ League and as his events were quite spread out we were usually there for a long day, so I often helped Sonia, who was officiating the field events. As a complete novice as far as athletics were concerned, she gave me lots of information about the rules and regulations of the various events and after helping her for three or four years she encouraged me to take the field officials course. I then had to perform the various roles within each event and again Sonia was on hand to offer advice and oversee what I was doing.

“Without Sonia by my side I have often felt out of my depth as I could always rely on her to give me an encouraging nod from a distance if I looked towards her. Words cannot express the huge loss she will be to the club and I will carry on officiating in her memory.”

On MC duties in 2013. Photo by Phil Dickson-Earle

Martin Oestreicher was another roped in to help by Sonia: “I first met her when my girls Kira and Heidi joined Little Bees. After helping out informally for a while, Sonia encouraged me to go on the Assistant Coaches course, which led to me helping at the sessions for about 18 months. She was such a pleasure to work with, always full of enthusiasm and praise, always smiling, encouraging and obviously devoted to getting the best out of the sometimes reluctant Little Bees. She taught me a lot about perseverance and endurance – and how to manage a crowd of small children!”

A rare breather at Parliament Hill, 2015. Photo by Andy Lee

Sarah Ridley is a recent addition to the BAC committee, and a former Little Bee who can attest that athletics under Sonia’s wing was not always about the coach cracking the whip: “Little Bees used to be indoors on a Monday night alongside adult circuit training. Sonia led this and each night would end with one big relay of everyone, kids and adults alike. One night she had to join in to make up the numbers and was due to pass the baton over to me. She came in so fast that she nearly took me with her and my seven-year-old legs couldn’t go that fast! We both very nearly ended up in a big heap on the floor but somehow managed to avoid it and win the relay!

“Years later at a EYAL meeting, our team of officials was looking after the long jump. Sonia was leading this team and I was competing. One of my jumps went horribly wrong, and I completely and spectacularly faceplanted in the sand pit. It was a completely legal jump, but didn’t get measured for about five minutes because Sonia was laughing so hard at me that she couldn’t see the tape for the tears in her eyes. She was always very supportive of her athletes, even while laughing at us!”

Trackside with Ken Prior. Photo from Alison Ridley

Even as her illness took hold, she remained stoic, dignified and passionate about BAC. As David said: “I remember calling Sonia every Monday morning until she became very ill to discuss the plan for coaching plans for the week to follow. We’d talk about who had performed well over the weekend, and ask were we getting our coaching right.

“Her husband Roger described me as Sonia’s ‘athletic husband’ – this was initially a surprise but I later realised it was a compliment to the commitment of both Sonia and myself.”

Upon her death, tributes from athletes, friends and colleagues poured in. Club chairman Damien Pitts said: “I will really miss her cheerful nature, as she could make me smile, even if I have had a bad day.” Julia Mackay, a BAC run leader, added: “I always admired her drive and energy – she was such an inspiration to all who knew her.”

Charlotte Sexton: “It was such a pleasure knowing such a wonderful woman – she was always making sure I had a way to get to training!”

Stuart Goodwin: “She made it absolutely clear to us when telling us she was ill – she didn’t wanted to be looked on with pity or as a victim. She was a cool, calm customer to the last who just wanted to live the time she had and spend as much of it drinking in the enthusiasm of the kids she trained.”

Trackside in Sandy, 2015. Photo by Andy Lee

Dan Steel: “I will miss her smile and her positive mental attitude regardless of what came up both on and off the track.”

Scott Parsons: “One of the most enthusiastic and compassionate people I’ve had the pleasure to come across. Her enthusiasm was contagious.”

Peter Lawson: “She was a little ray of positivity that touched many hearts including mine.”

Alison Foster: “All three of my boys were coached by Sonia. She inspired so many. She was a lovely friend and so dedicated to athletics.”

Ricky Byrne: “My kids were devastated. She made a big impression on them both. Thank you for everything you did.”

Helen Middleton: “Every time I saw Sonia she was busy – handing out race numbers, helping with refreshments, coaching … But she always had a smile on her face and time for a chat.”

Louise Cant: “Thank you for giving us Little Bees, and for giving my son the best start at athletics. We will miss you dearly.”

Peterborough 2014. Photo by Phil Dickson-Earle

A forensic planner to the last, she requested that the dress code for her funeral would prominently feature two colours that became synonymous with her identity – the blue and yellow shared by both the Barbadian flag and the Biggleswade Athletic Club vest. At her wake in August, held at Bedford International Stadium, where she had overseen her athletes and officiated so many times, armies of friends and colleagues numbering well into the hundreds gathered to pay their respects.

A new club award, the Sonia Brown Dedication Cup, was introduced in her honour, recognising exceptional commitment to the club and the sport by one of BAC’s Little Bees – Ava Rawlins recently became the first winner of many.

Ken concluded: “She was a visionary with the practical nous to make those visions happen. It was no coincidence that the most successful period in BAC’s history occurred when she was active. She always had new ideas and plans to make them happen.

“With no disrespect to anyone else in the club past or present, David and Sonia have been the two people who have shaped the club most within the last 25 years and I, like many others, will miss her enormously.”

At the club’s 2015 presentation evening. Photo courtesy of Phil Dickson-Earle

Awards time … athletes honoured and a club stalwart mourned at BAC’s presentation night

Biggleswade Athletic Club honoured a host of members at their annual awards presentation night in Sandy late last month.

In the ceremony at Garden Court, athletes, officials and family members gathered for a great night of food and entertainment, as hard winter training was set aside for the night to take stock and reflect on some outstanding performances throughout 2018.

Awards were handed out covering a host of disciplines, including the club championship road events of 5km, 10km, 10 mile and half marathon, while track and field awards were dished out based on performances and points accrued for the club at the Southern Athletics League and Eastern Masters Athletics League.

Hannah Broom and Charlie Arnold. Photo by Nick Spavins

Multiple award-winners included Charlie Arnold, who mopped up a superb five individual accolades, including the Complete Athlete Award. Hannah Broom, following an outstanding breakthrough season on both road and trails, took three – her improvements in 2018 saw her named the most improved female athlete of the year. Daniel Steel was named both Senior Field Athlete of the Year and the most improved male athlete.

Also handed out were various honours earned at the recent County Cross-County Championships. While many awards are purely results-based, however, two are particularly distinguished honours as they are voted for by members.

Bev Strong. Photo by Nick Spavins

The Lonely Pines Trophy, voted for by all club members, was awarded to Bev Strong, who has combined competing for the club with vital organisation, as shown in her fine work ensuring the presentation night went smoothly. Her organisational prowess has underpinned BAC’s brilliant recent successes in the Three Counties Cross Country league, ensuring a timely turnaround of results – this has often involved hurtling from the finish line to race HQ in whatever weathers present themselves.

The Club Person of the Year is handed out following a vote by members of the club’s committee. This year the vote was unanimous, and tinged with sadness, as the committee chose to recognise its former stalwart Sonia Brown, who died last July.

Huge thanks to Scott (pictured) and Roger Brown for being our club’s distinguished guests on the night. Photo by Nick Spavins

The club were incredibly honoured to host both Sonia’s husband Roger and son Scott. All in attendance rose for a standing ovation as Scott collected Sonia’s award, recognising her contributions to the club as official, coach and committee member, and chairman Damien Pitts also handed the family a book of condolence that members have been contributing to over recent months.

Huge thanks from all at the club to chairman Damien Pitts for organising the awards, member Tim Gardiner who did a fine job both as DJ and Bon Jovi superfan, Bev Strong for her sterling organisation, and last but not least the staff at Garden Court who helped ensure everyone was fed and watered.

We would also like to recognise Charlie Arnold’s superb bowtie, and his sterling duck-walking skills, which were particularly prominent during The Proclaimers’ I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles).

2018 award winners

5km
Men’s Charles Arnold
Women’s Elaine Livera

10km
Men’s Charles Arnold
Women’s Hannah Broom

10 Mile
Men’s Charles Arnold
Women’s Natalie Morgan

Half marathon
Men’s Marcus Davey
Women’s Hannah Broom

Complete Athlete Award
Charles Arnold

Endurance Trophy
Nick Haworth

Most Improved Senior Athlete
Men’s
Daniel Steel
Women’s Hannah Broom

Club Person of the Year (voted for by the club committee)
Sonia Brown

Lonely Pines Trophy – Club Members’ Member of the Year
Bev Strong

Senior Male Track Athlete of the Year
Morgan Webster

Senior Female Track Athlete of the Year
Hannah Ridley

Senior Male Field Athlete of the Year
Daniel Steel

Senior Female Field Athlete of the Year
Sarah Ridley

Veteran Male (Age 35-49)
Simon Strong

Veteran Male (Age 50-59)
Neil Harvey

Veteran Male (Age 60+)
Charles Arnold

Veteran Female (Age 35-49)
Kathryn Juty

Veteran Female (Age 50-59)
Helen Kapur

Veteran Female (Age 60+)
Sandra Ingham