Digging in at Delapre Abbey … BAC’s ladies retain Three Counties XC top spot

Biggleswade Athletic Club put in another excellent team performance at the second Three Counties Cross Country race of the season, with Jamie Hall finishing an brilliant fifth overall and the women’s squad combining superbly to retain top spot in the league despite stiff challenges from both rival clubs and fiendish conditions.

Jamie Hall. Photo by Mark Garratt
Jamie Hall on his way to fifth place. Photo by Mark Garratt

On a bitterly cold morning in Northampton, athletes contended with a challenging and deceptively awkward course around Delapre Park, consisting of two multi-terrain laps taking in tricky uphills, breakneck downward sections and hundreds of hidden tree roots ready to catch runners unaware. The long finish section, run twice into the wind on a boggy hill thick with grass, proved a viciously cruel and sapping test for the legs that derailed many runners’ challenges in the closing stages.

With the first eight men and first four ladies from each club counted towards the team totals, finishing positions were key. So three top 10 placings in the women’s standings, from Elaine Livera (3rd), Juliet Nayler (8th) and Isobel Everest (9th), plus the fourth scoring runner – Hannah Broom – placing 12th enabled BAC to take second on the day, just pipped by Bedford Harriers. Holding on to the stop spot after two events of five is all the more impressive as Biggleswade’s squad of 30 was dwarfed on the day by the likes of Bedford and Ampthill & Flitwick Flyers – who topped the men’s standings – with those clubs able to field 66 and 63 runners respectively.

Elaine, who was first female over the line in race one, reflected on another fine top three finish: “I managed to stick just behind one of the girls for half of the first loop when, out of nowhere, another girl passed us so quickly I hardly saw her. She was able to make the most of the twisty turns in the section through the forest. One bit which was definitely worth mentioning was a downhill muddy section which ended with a sharp right turn. Both times I almost ended up going straight down the hill. I think I definitely lost some time there!”

On the men’s side, Jamie celebrated his 28th birthday with a superb first senior cross-country outing. With coach Paul Davies also joining him among the scoring runners, he expressed surprise at the gameplan: “I was slightly taken aback when the plan involved a sprint off the start line to avoid getting stuck out of place. I gave it everything for the first few seconds to get myself into position for the narrow first uphill section. This paid off as there was no way I could have made up ground if I had ended up too far back.”

He echoed Elaine’s thoughts on the downhill section: “I stuck with the race leaders going up the hill but completely lost them going back down through the woods. I have no idea how anyone can move that quick round such tight corners and between the trees.

“Having struggled across the open field past the start line for the second lap, I was pushed back into sixth half way up the first hill but managed to keep the guy ahead in sight. I did everything I could to make sure I didn’t fall any further back but found the constant change of pace due to the twists and turns hard work. When we finally got to the marker for the last 400m I tried to claw back as much distance as I could. Thanks to the fantastic support from those cheering at the finish line I managed to put in a sprint at the end to just edge my way into a respectable fifth place finish.”

Paul Davies, Isobel Everest and Hannah Broom. Photo by Mark Garratt
Paul Davies, Isobel Everest and Hannah Broom. Photo by Mark Garratt

In Jamie’s wake were Rob Morgan (24th), Marcus Davey (76th), Nick Haworth (79th), Paul Davies (107th), John Stott (121st), club chairman Damien Pitts (129th) and Charlie Arnold (134th). Their points total left them eighth of 13 clubs on the day, and following a sixth place finish at race one, they lie seventh overall for the season.

Marcus was one of several to find themselves running wary of the various hazards: “Running uphill and avoiding tree roots I can deal with – running downhill on slippy mud is another thing. A lot of concentration was required on that twisty muddy downhill section! Second time round on that very section of the course an Ampthill athlete I was running next to fell flat on his face.”

Marcus Davey, right. Photo by Roo Goodwin
Marcus Davey, right, makes his way through the woods. Photo by Roo Goodwin

Charlie also found a neighbouring runner come a cropper, and he found himself running cautiously: “Mud puddles, rabbit holes and tree stumps added to the dangers to be avoided as we twisted and turned round the trees on an undulating path before finally getting respite downhill. Not being a great one for running down, especially with the difficult terrain, I had to give way as others ran by me.

“Clubmates passed, to whom I was happy to concede position, before, finally, I reached the end to my great relief. Not a run to be proud of and not one that I can say I enjoyed, but these things happen and I did score for the team which made it all worthwhile.”

Deb Bryant, 31st female finisher, returned to the course for the first time in over a decade, nervous having left last time around with unhappy memories. “I hadn’t done it since around 2006 -I didn’t complete it that year as I tripped over a tree root and twisted my ankle. It took me out of running for a while. However once I got going past that section the day was all good. It’s a lovely course, the sun was out and it was a great race.”

Action at the start with Emma Bailey (482) and Deb Bryant (490). Photo by Roo Goodwin
Action at the start with Emma Bailey (482) and Deb Bryant (490). Photo by Roo Goodwin

Club secretary Hannah returned after an injury-plagued spell to round off the ladies’ scoring. She said: “I had one strategy – go out hard and try to hold on.That field and hill was a little much and I had to drop off the pace. Two girls passed me and I was furious with myself, I needed to get back in the game. I hunted the first down and overtook her then started to hunt the second. She had a male team-mate running with her, and through the trees there was no room to pass. I tried this way and that but her team-mate blocked my efforts. My legs were done – the finish was metres away but I did not manage it. I’ll get her next time!”

Start of race with Charlie Arnold and Hannah Broom. Photo by Roo Goodwin
Charlie Arnold and Hannah Broom in the stampede at the start. Photo by Roo Goodwin

Throughout the morning all BAC competitors enjoyed fantastic support from a tireless support crew, who braved the biting cold, and many finishers stuck around to cheer their team-mates over the line. One who enjoyed a particularly warm welcome was Carol Garratt, one of the club’s Couch to 5k graduates, and Marcus rejoined the course after finishing to act as a windbreak for her the closing stages, as conditions worsened. She said: “It was my first cross-country run ever! The grass sapped my legs before the killer hill. I loved the woods but did the ‘gentlemanly‘ thing, pulling over to let the front-runners pass, so I lost a bit of time but that was never really going to make a big difference.

At the end of the first lap I really wanted to give up, but I thought ‘No! You have to take one for the team, grit your teeth and dig in.’ It didn’t make that hill any easier but at least I had a clear run back through the woods. To my superhero Marcus, who was the ‘Wind beneath my wings’, as he ran me home, a special thank you! Will I do it again? Well, my number is on the mantelpiece. Did I enjoy it? Actually, I think I did!”

The combined team scores mean Biggleswade now lie a clear fifth in the standings overall. With many runners in the lineup for the St Neots Riverside Half-Marathon this Sunday – BAC’s club championship race over the distance – preparations immediately turn to race three of the season which takes place in Dunstable’s Green Lanes, Tottenhoe Knolls and the Maidenbower on 26 November.

Wootton cross country results

Overall position | Name (gender position)
5 Jamie Hall (5)
24 Rob Morgan (24)
72 Elaine Livera (3)
82 Marcus Davey (76)
85 Nick Haworth (79)
107 Juliet Nayler (8)
116 Isobel Everest (9)
117 Paul Davies (107)
131 Hannah Broom (12)
135 John Stott (121)
143 Damien Pitts (129)
148 Charlie Arnold (134)
155 Natalie Morgan (15)
191 Emma Bailey (25)
211 Deb Bryant (31)
264 Neil Harvey (207)
268 Kathryn Juty (58)
273 Stuart Goodwin (211)
280 Gary Baldwin (214)
303 Robin Wynde (224)
343 Simon Strong (244)
347 Ian Grimwood (246)
377 Georgia Barker (119)
379 Jess Godfrey (121)
389 Ricky Byrne (254)
394 Juliet Grimwood (134)
426 Helen Kapur (160)
431 Julie Spavins (163)
449 Ruth King (179)
450 Carol Garratt (180)


Steaming through the stream … BAC ladies take top Three Counties XC honours

Biggleswade Athletic Club enjoyed a marvellously muddy return to cross-country action in windy Wellingborough last weekend, as Elaine Livera continued her brilliant year in crossing the line as first female on her debut in the Three Counties XC league. Better was to follow as she was followed soon after by a stream of clubmates as BAC comfortably took the ladies’ team honours.

The main event was preceded by an impeccably observed minute’s silence and rapturous applause for Vikki Vowles, who passed away in August. Vikki made her bow in cross-country at the same venue last October, and endured a muddy dunking and faceplant at its hazardous stream crossing for her troubles. Despite this she loved the experience and several fellow Couch to 5k graduates were among the startlist, competing in tribute to their friend.

Massed runners near the start. Visible BAC’s Rob Morgan (523), Paul Davies (493). Photo by Roo Goodwin

The newbies were spared the notorious crossing this year on a revamped Croyland Park course, but still had to make their way across Swanspool Brook in whichever way best suited. At the first attempt, taking off from a slightly elevated bank, it was just about jumpable for some competitors, and several successfully leaped to the far bank, but most opted to make a splash and wade through, either by jumping in, or easing their way in gently. On the way back however, after hundreds of running spikes and trail studs had carved up the ground – coupled with some fiendish impromptu re-landscaping from nearby marshals – it was a completely different proposition, and mud and water was almost waist high for many, with little respite ahead on the far bank as a mile of steep hills remained before the finish.

The first eight men and first four ladies from each club counted towards the team totals, and it proved a tough proposition, with even experienced cross-country competitors acknowledging that the course it was tougher than in previous years. Charlie Arnold said: “We passed through the brook, some to splash through, some to jump, some to not quite make it much to the amusement of cheering onlookers. Then, round a long stretch of inclines and banks, made more difficult by running up them at a difficult angle. The field of runners spread out as they take a long circuit before crossing the brook again, which did involve some face planting in the mud in my, and one or two others’, cases.”

Elaine Livera. No credit needed
Elaine Livera recovers from a suboptimal landing on the far bank after her first crossing

Even those at the top of the leaderboard experienced muddy mishaps. Elaine said: “When we reached the river crossing the two girls leading showed off their grace by clearing the ditch. I said to myself: ‘I’ve jumped fairly far before, I’m sure if they can clear it, I might be able to, I’m the same height…’ Oh how wrong I was. It was a very convincing face plant and I was soaked through! That made the next 800m running into the wind pretty chilly. But at least I had provided the newbie entertainment factor for the supporters!”

Elaine Livera on her second crossing. Photo by Roo Goodwin
Elaine Livera on crossing two. Photo by Roo Goodwin

Marcus Davey added: “The course really sapped my legs – I suppose that makes the event a success! There were plenty of undulations, steep hills and tricky cambers that tested my Mudclaw running shoes to the limit. The ditch crossings went well for me with only one of my claws getting a proper soaking to the skin.

“It was a fabulous BAC turnout, a great competitive and social day and I have no doubt XC is going to improve athletic endurance and performance for everyone involved, whatever ability and running goals they may have.”

Coach Giles Hawthorne epitomised the team spirit on display, and as well as being among the points-scoring finishers for the men’s team, he ran alongside Natalie Morgan, offering encouragement and a helping hand at the stream crossings to help her shave off valuable seconds. He praised the “strength in depth” of the ladies team, where even non-scorers played their part by relegating rival club runners further down the standings, with lower placings equating to fewer points.

Juliet Nayler came in as sixth lady, and with Natalie ninth and Isobel Everest 11th, it proved an unbeatable team score, relegating North Herts Road Runners to second and Bedford Harriers a point further back in third.

On the men’s side, Rich Bevan was the first BAC athlete home in an excellent 13th place overall, with Rob Morgan 22nd, and the rest of the points scoring coming from Nick Haworth (57th), Marcus (59th), Paul Cooke (68th), Paul Davies (73rd), John Stott (97th) and Giles (110th). This equated to a men’s team finish of a mid-table sixth from 13 teams, while the overall combined result, incorporating all scoring runners in the positions they crossed the line irrespective of gender, meant the club were in a very creditable 5th position.

Club secretary Hannah Broom was unable to compete due to injury, but was part of a fine turnout of supporters offering vocal support at key points. She said: “It was a fantastic day for Biggleswade AC who were out in absolute force with a record number of competitors!”

Elaine added: “To my surprise I found myself overtaking the two girls in front of me with three hills to go. All I could hear was Hannah telling me to “Look up! Look up! Pound up that hill – you’re almost home!” The huge support I received in the last 300m helped me power through.

“It was the most fun I’ve ever had while running a race and it was made even better when all of the women in the club came in so quickly after me which all helped make us the winning team. The whole atmosphere was great, and I was laughing out loud at my phone when looking through all the ‘ditch-jump’ pictures!”

Malcolm Steward had looked in tremendous form in the early stages, but he succumbed to a calf injury on a steep downhill section. All other BAC athletes, including the first-timers, emerged muddied but unscathed, with many already looking forward to race two of the season at Delapré Abbey near Northampton on 12 November.

Four hit the streets for Town and Gown

Town and Gown runners show off their bling

On the same morning, four BAC athletes took to the streets of Cambridge for the Town and Gown 10k race.

On a flat course, sheltered from the bulk of the blustery winds in the region on the day, Julian Brunt was first of the quartet home, beating the hour mark to finish in 59min 20sec for 116th in the MV40 standings and 1028th overall. Louise Pike (1:05.26, 138th FV35, 1285 overall) and Shani Giddings (1:05.59 , 38th in the FV55 category and 1300th overall) were delighted with personal bests, as was Carol Garratt, whose debut race at the distance yielded a time of 1:26.58 (57th FV55, 1529 overall), over seven minutes quicker than a trial run the previous week.

Results – Three Counties XC race 1, Wellingborough
Overall | name (gender position) – *indicates team scorer

13 Rich Bevan (13)*
22 Rob Morgan (22)*
54 Elaine Livera (1)*
60 Nick Haworth (57)*
62 Marcus Davey (59)*
73 Paul Cooke (68)*
78 Paul Davies (73)*
87 Juliet Nayler (6)*
97 John Stott (104)*
118 Natalie Morgan (9)*
119 Giles Hawthorne (110)*
125 Isobel Everest (11)*
127 Charlie Arnold (116)
129 Aaron Ball (117)
138 Damien Pitts (125)
163 Emma Bailey (18)
212 Gary Baldwin (176)
219 Stuart Goodwin (182)
231 Nigel Bush (189)
238 Neil Harvey (192)
245 James Rastrick (196)
258 Kathryn Juty (59)
265 Robin Wynde (203)
278 Ian Grimwood (210)
279 Richard Dilley (211)
290 Nicky Double (77)
307 Juliet Grimwood (90)
330 Ricky Byrne (221)
334 Julie Spavins (112)
335 Helen Kapur (113)
343 Ruth King (121)
344 Julie Cooke (122)
DNF Malcolm Steward (calf injury)

Miles better … BAC athletes go the distance in Peterborough, Chester and Wimpole

Biggleswade Athletic Club athletes enjoyed a successful day on the streets of Peterborough, as several runners returned from the Perkins Great Eastern Run with personal best times.

Jamie Hall excelled in only his second half-marathon. Photo by Robyn Hall

Renowned as one of the flattest half marathons within easy reach of the club’s base in Sandy, the race starts and finishes in the town centre before taking a tour around residential areas. Jamie Hall – in only his second attempt at the distance – was among those to reap the benefits, and up against high-quality opposition he crossed the line in a superb 18th place, with a time of 1:14.06 indicating that Roger Wadeley’s club record 1:11.15 (set back in 1988) could soon be under threat.

Jamie said: “It was a perfect day for it, the sun was shining and the air was very still. The race started well enough, I managed to stay pretty consistent but found myself isolated between two groups of runners. Fortunately at about mile three I was joined by a couple of others who I ended up sticking with for most of the race.”

“It was all going quite well – it felt tough but not unbearable. I was just counting down the time until the next marker. That was until I managed to misread the mile 8 marker as a 9. Seeing the 9 marker come up again when I was expecting the 10 really set me back, I was really looking forward to only having 5k left to go! It was a real ‘should have gone to a well known high street chain of opticians’ moment.

From this point onward it was a real struggle to keep going. Were it not for the locals who had come out in force to cheer the runners on, it would have been easy to just shuffle the last few miles. I knocked three minutes off my only other half marathon time from earlier in the year, set just before I joined the club. All thanks to the fantastic support from the coaches and all the members of BAC!”

Marcus Davey, No2222, was stunned to run exactly the same time as last year. Paul Cooke, No4709, sadly did not finish due to injury. Photo by Robyn Hall

Next home was Marcus Davey, who had arrived on the start line hopeful of finding the kind of consistency that would reward him with a PB. Yet the outcome, after finishing 151st, was somewhat unusual. He said: “I set myself to run each mile of the race at 6min 20sec. For the first 10 miles I hit the goal with beautiful regularity and was feeling fine until the heart started going in to overdrive. As usual I picked up my legs for the final 100s, always looking to overtake someone in an attempt to find some glory on the line. And my finishing glory and final time? I was gobsmacked – I exactly matched my PB from last year’s race!”

Elaine Livera was 14th female finisher, 231nd overall, and first BAC lady home in 1:27.57, and she was joined in the sub-90 minute club by John Stott, who subjected himself to a “self-beasting” on his way to 258th in a brilliant PB of 1:28.50.

Elaine Livera was 14th female finisher overall. Photo by Robyn Hall

The evergreen Charlie Arnold, competing in the over 60s age category, arrived aiming to repeat a performance earlier in the year when he broke the 100 mins barrier (1hr 40). He said: “With the Peterborough race hailed as a ‘flat, good for PB’ course, the pressure was on to improve on my May run. More great coaching and track work through the summer with a great team of athletes at BAC, and the work was done.

Charlie Arnold, left, took third spot in the V60 rankings. Photo by Robyn Hall

“The support was magnificent from young and old alike and although I was very much in the zone, I could appreciate the cheering and, even better, the calling of my name which I had on the front of my vest. As the end approached and I could start counting down the metres, I checked my watch and calculated I was on for that new PB.” Charlie’s 1:37.18 was also good enough for third spot in the over-60 rankings. Running alongside him in the early stages, Aaron Ball – in his BAC race debut – acquitted himself superbly and finished just six seconds back in a PB 1:37.24.

Amy Stamp narrowly missed breaking the two-hour barrier in her first race at half-marathon distance. Photo by Robyn Hall

On the day 25 BAC runners took the start line, but Paul Cooke and Helen Steward were forced out mid-race with injuries. However, Helen’s husband Malcolm helped himself to a huge PB of 1:54.00, while Amy Stamp hailed the “great atmosphere” and was delighted with her debut at the distance, finishing just outside two hours in 2:00.28.

Rachel Stott joined husband John in the PB stakes with a 2:14.06, and she paid tribute to her clubmates for helping her overcome race day nerves. “Everything was going well and we were sticking to our pace … until mile 10,” she said. “The wheels started to wobble and fall off slightly. I so, so wanted to stick to the plan but things were not going accordingly. It is great thanks to Vicky Berry who got me through the last 3 miles and more importantly through the last 400m, where I was seriously wanting to fall in a heap.” Vicky joined her across the line in the same time.

In the MBNA Chester Marathon, Nick Haworth finished in an excellent 2:57.22, while Rob Morgan agonisingly missed out on breaking the three-hour barrier, but his 3:00.18 is still an outstanding achievement, over 24 minutes faster than his last outing over the distance.

Meanwhile, in the Wimpole Hoohaah races, Deb Bryant and Julie Balaam were in hilly and muddy 10 mile and half-marathon action respectively. Deb was sixth in the V40 age group, and ninth lady overall, in the shorter race with a fine 1:21.06, while Julie overcame shoe-related adversity to take second place in the V40 category and seventh place in the ladies standings with an excellent 1:44.32. “The poor girl stepped out of her car and her trainer lace broke,” Deb said. “She managed to buy one off a stall but wouldn’t fit through so she tied it all the way around her trainer – very Blue Peter, but it lasted!” Julie added: “Thanks to Deb for keeping me calm. It was a fantastic course – hilly, muddy, with beautiful autumn views – and good training for the forthcoming cross-country season.”

The Three Counties cross-country league kicks off on Sunday in Wellingborough for the notoriously muddy Croyland Park race, and then on 19 November BAC athletes will take their distance running exploits to St Neots for the final club championship race of the season – the Riverside Half Marathon.

Perkins Great Eastern Run 2017 results

gun position | name | chip time

18 Jamie Hall 1:14.06
151 Marcus Davey 1:23.58
231 Elaine Livera 1:27.57
258 John Stott 1:28.50
541 Charlie Arnold 1:37.18
574 Aaron Ball 1:37.24
775 Andy Bruce 1:40.31
778 Hannah Broom 1:42.25
1552 Malcolm Steward 1:54.00
1555 Clark Skerratt 1:56.32
1722 Neil Harvey 1:56.06
1745 Richard Dilley 1:56.19
1759 Kathryn Juty 1:57.37
1916 Amy Stamp 2:00.28
2100 Stephen Atkins 1:58.51 (NB: started further back in field, hence quicker chip time but lower gun placing than Amy)
2359 Nicky Double 2:06.22
2489 Joanne Drummond 2:10.01
2601 Maria Merridan 2:12.12
2603 Giles Hawthorne 2:12.13
2727 Vicky Berry 2:14.06
2728 Rachel Hallam-Stott 2:14.06
3796 Nicola Perrin 2:38.26
4100 Lorraine Emerson 2:58.15

Vikki ‘VV’ Vowles, 1970-2017

Biggleswade Athletic Club has been stunned by the sudden and tragic death of much-loved member Vikki Vowles, who passed away at home on 30 August. A marketing manager at chemistry firm CAS, she was just 47 years old.

Stephen Jones

Despite only having been a member of the club since last summer, having come through BAC’s first ever Couch to 5k programme, Vikki – whose funeral took place on Thursday – impressed from the start. “She had decent turnover and used her arms well,” said club coach Giles Hawthorne. “A coach’s dream – untapped talent.” She took on a host of road races and became renowned for a new-found love of running in the mud when she threw herself – in every sense – into cross country.

Her first outing in the Three Counties XC league last season, at Croyland Park in Wellingborough, has become infamous within the club. “There is a muddy stream crossing – it’s not easy,” Hawthorne added. “By chance I happened to lap Vikki the second time they went through the stream. As I prepared to barrel into it as fast as my legs would carry me, Vikki was basically being manhandled out of the other side. There was a guy on the bank pulling her out by her arms and another in wellies in the stream with both hands on her backside pushing her out. She was covered from head to foot in mud.”

After she crossed the line, officials almost had to squeegee down her race number in order to identify Vikki for results purposes, but despite her muddy mishap, she was thrilled by the experience. Corinne Callligan, a fellow C25k graduate who was running alongside her that day, added: “There are going to be lots of extra BAC members making a very large muddy splash into the Croyland Park brook this year, inspired by Vikki.” Indeed, the forthcoming season kicks off at that venue on 22 October.

Vikki Vowles in cross-country action. Photo by Clive Daniels
Vikki Vowles in cross-country action. Photo by Clive Daniels

Having upped her distances impressively since graduating from the programme, Vikki took on the challenge of preparing herself for a first – now sadly only – half marathon on the anniversary of completing the course this May. “I have never met someone who was more determined and so ambitious to complete anything that she set her mind to,” said Rachel Stott, another in the lineup that day at the Casterbridge Half Marathon. “I absolutely adored that about her.”

“My proudest memory of my friend would be seeing her run past me at mile seven as I supported the team in Dorchester,” added friend and clubmate Jacqui Thompson, “and again at the finishing line with her usual smile.”


Vikki proved an inspiration and became a friend to many new runners in and around the club, and allied to this she had recently become a qualified run leader – the first rung members take on the route to becoming a coach.

Helen Steward, another close friend, said: “She was a great mentor and would encourage people to make them believe they can do anything. I ran with Vikki a lot over the last few months of her life and she would always tell me when we came to a hill: ‘Head up and pump those arms.’ Since her passing, when I’m struggling up hills I will always hear her voice making me more determined to finish.

“Vikki was a great friend and always saw good in everyone, she always lit up the room with her beautiful smile. She was a true inspiration to a lot of people – including myself – for how far she had come in her life.”

Alongside her newly found love of running, Vikki was also a highly active and successful member of her local Slimming World group, and aided by her flurry of activity since starting her running journey she lost a whopping five stone. Shortly before her death Vikki was announced as Woman of the Year after a vote by others in her group.

Group leader Joyce Millson said: “Each week in the group she got support with her weight loss journey and shared with us her progress in running. So much so that she encouraged and later mentored many other Slimming World members to take that first step.”

Immediately after news of her passing broke, the club cancelled all training for a day, with coaches and clubmates bereft at their loss. But BAC members regrouped in force 24 hours later to gather for a tribute outing, on Vikki’s favourite place to run – the Route 51 cycle path from Sandy towards Blunham and Willington – and at her training pace of choice: 12 minutes per mile. They then repaired to The King’s Arms pub in Sandy to share memories of their friend.

Tribute run to Vikki, the day after she died
Members came together at short notice for a tribute run on Route 51

Three days after her death Vikki had been due to run the Glorun 5k in Stanwick, Northamptonshire. Originally envisaged as a fun, low-key local race which only a handful of members had entered, organisers were inundated by a barrage of late entries as BAC members suddenly made up over a fifth of the entry list, and they accosted EastEnders and Gavin & Stacey star Larry Lamb – race starter on the day – to join them in a team photo. The club ended the night with three runners in the top 10: Jon Stott was fourth in 20min 33sec, and took the honours for top veteran athlete, while Daniel Steel – making his road racing debut – was eighth in 22:52 and Stuart Goodwin ninth in a personal best 23:35. Lower down the list, a host of her friends had opted to walk the route, drinking to Vikki’s memory with Pimms and Prosecco in celebration of her dual love of competing and the new-found social life she had enjoyed so much with clubmates and running buddies.

Vikki was a dog lover and a frequent sight pounding the streets with three dogs – Scrappy, Marley and Riley – in tow. She spoke at length upon beginning her running journey that she wanted to be able to “run with her hounds”, and had found the experience of finally being able to do so a highly emotional one. In her honour, family and friends will be leading a memorial dog walk around Stewartby Lake at Millennium Country Park in Bedford at 11.30pm on Saturday 21st October.

Her sister, Katrina, said: “Vikki enjoyed her new-found love for running and also the social side where she had made loads of new friends – some very close – and they would go away participating in various adventures. Her three dogs all miss her and will be very well cared for. Vikki was very much loved and respected by so many people, and sadly missed by her two nephews Chris and Michael, her two nieces – Chris’s two girls – me and her mother.”

Many members of the BAC family have already entered next year’s Casterbridge Half Marathon, in tribute to their friend, with some set to tackle the distance for the first time. “The running was important but the friendships she had built were everything to her,” said Hawthorne. “I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time running alone with Vikki chatting, getting to know her, and it was always fun. I’m going to miss her.”

Vikki “VV” Vowles, 1970-2017

Ups and downs in Letchworth … BAC come together to take Standalone 10k prizes

Biggleswade Athletic Club members emerged from the highly-regarded – and incredibly challenging – Standalone 10k road race with a host of prizes and personal bests on a drizzly morning in Letchworth Garden City.

Jamie Hall in the final km. Photo by Carol Garratt
Jamie Hall in the final kilometre. Photo by Carol Garratt

First home of 38 BAC entrants and taking fifth place overall was Jamie Hall, who finished in 34mins 9secs. Joining him in the prize-winning stakes was Elaine Livera – in her first race over the distance – who took second place in the women’s race and finished in 48th overall with 39:26. Just over a minute behind was Juliet Nayler, with a fine run of 40:41 to top the female veteran age 45 and over rankings and cross the line 75th overall.

Run superbly by North Herts Road Runners, the event – which had 1,353 finishers – is a highlight of the local calendar and is established as BAC’s club championship race over the distance. The club’s championship race results 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, Jamie held on to become the male club champion despite three other runners seeing their marks come down to within 43 seconds of his finishing time, while Juliet’s 40:41 is age-graded down to 37:55 to promote her above Elaine and become the ladies’ champion.

Juliet Nayler in the final km. Photo by Carol Garratt
Juliet Nayler on her way to becoming ladies’ 10km club champion. Photo by Carol Garratt

The course starts on a short downhill before a steep incline in the first kilometre, then a series of downhill sections make for a fast first half to the race. However, the closing stages see the elevation reverse, and a long stretch of leg-sapping hills derailed many race plans and saw a host of PB efforts go out of the window.

Jamie spoke of how preparation from coach Paul Davies – who himself came 47th in 39:13 – served him in good stead: “From the start I stuck to Paul’s gameplan of following the quick runners while ignoring the lightning ones. The first few kilometres passed by fairly smoothly and I had plenty of company to share wind-blocking duties with.

“As the race progressed I eventually pulled away from some of the others and found myself on my own, but I began to flag a fair bit. For the first time ever, I was relieved to see someone come flying past! I managed to stick with him until we reached the turn that took us down the hill where we had begun and I put in everything to get to the finish.”

The Standalone race’s run-in begins with a leg-sapping patch of gravel, and the rainy conditions left the closing grass section fraught with menace. Jamie added: “I did my best twinkle-toes on the gravel trap and then my finest Bambi on ice impression on the mud leading to the finish.”

Elaine Livera in the final km. Photo by Carol Garratt
Elaine Livera in full flight during Standalone’s final kilometre. Photo by Carol Garratt

Local resident Elaine reflected on a successful first outing, saying: “I had no idea how hard the race was going to be! Who knew the south had hills? I was in a stable fourth place for the majority of the race with the girls in second and third a good 200m ahead of me so it was a huge surprise when I found myself slowly catching them after 7km. I waited till the last hill and picked up the pace to move in to 2nd place with 2km to go. I was very, very shocked to have run 39:26 after not believing that I could go under 40 minutes!”

Second BAC athlete home Marcus Davey – his 38:29 for 38th place adjusted to 34:35 in the championship standings – was another to leave with a PB. “Short of being shot – which I would have welcomed during the fifth mile – a PB was a 99% certainty some two years after a badly run and forgettable Flitwick 10k in 2015.

“It’s great to see so many PBs broken and new members completing this race, it shows the training is working. Hats off to the coaches!”

Three places back in 41st overall, Paul Cooke echoed Marcus’s sentiments: “The tough mile 5 put an end to the time I wanted, but I’m still happy with a a PB of 38:35. It’s a great event and well run – I just don’t like hills!”

Runners throughout the field spoke of the great support they experienced from their fellow members at the roadside. Julia Mackay said: “I was slower than last year and 2015 but this year it felt much easier and I stuck to my gameplan. I still love being part of such a great team. The BAC supporters were amazeballs!”

Amy Stamp added: “It was a well organised race with great support from team BAC before, during and afterwards. I’d had a chesty cough all week but somehow managed a significant PB of 53:40, which I was super chuffed with!”

Among others to beat their previous bests were Shani Giddings, who said: “I actually knocked 12mins off my last 10k race in Bedford – I’m one very happy bunny.” Martha Ford, meanwhile, “really enjoyed the course – I smashed by PB!” Among others to come away with personal best times were Jon Stott and Rachel Stott, Charlie Arnold, Malcolm Steward, Andy Deans, Penny Ridler and Louise Hatfield-Pike.

Jon Stott and Rob Morgan shortly after Standalone 10k start. Photo by Corinne Calligan
Jon Stott and Rob Morgan shortly after Standalone 10k start. Photo by Corinne Calligan

Charlie – who competes in the V60 category – saw his age-graded time fly down from a finishing mark of 43:29 to 34:40, which left him second overall in the men’s club championship standings. He said: “The icing on the cake was to see BAC runners taking some of the prizes in what was a very competitive field, but the real joy was to see so many BAC members turning out to run, to cheer and to generally have a good time.”

Another big achiever on the day was Deb Bryant, who left the venue with an age-group club record: “I loved it. I haven’t done it for a few years and was so lovely having the BAC supporters shouting out.” Her time of 45:41 beat Jan Forrester’s V45 mark over the distance, set at Silverstone in 2001.

The club now turn their focus to cross-country season, which begins this month, before the final club championship race of the year, the St Neots half-marathon in November.

BAC entrants after Standalone 10k. Photo by Jacqui Thompson
BAC entrants after finishing the Standalone 10k. Photo by Jacqui Thompson

Standalone 10k results

Position | Runner | Chip time (Age graded result)

5 Jamie Hall 34:09 (34:09) Male club champion
38 Marcus Davey 38:29 (34:45)
41 Paul Cooke 38:35 (36:11)
47 Paul Davies 39:13 (34:51)
48 Elaine Livera 39:26 (39:26)
75 Juliet Nayler 40:41 (37:55) Lady club champion
79 John Stott 40:54 (36:21)
80 Rob Morgan 40:54 (38:22)
135 Charles Arnold 43:29 (34:40)
174 Natalie Morgan 44:49 (43:06)
195 Hannah Broom 45:26 (44:40)
218 Deb Bryant 45:41 (41:18)
243 Damien Pitts 45:58 (45:14)
271 Malcolm Steward 47:05 (44:10)
342 Sarah Stilwell 48:55 (48:48)
386 Andrew Deans 49:18 (44:30)
410 Stuart Goodwin 50:10 (47:46)
437 Sarah Geeson-Orsgood 50:39 (48:43)
568 Martha Ford 53:06 (52:58)
599 Amy Stamp 53:40 (53:32)
697 Vicky Berry 55:22 (46:28)
699 Georgia Barker 55:43 (52:23)
700 Richard Barker 55:43 (50:18)
710 Nicky Double 55:51 (54:03)
740 Simon Strong 56:23 (50:30)
776 Ian Grimwood 58:02 (45:02)
822 Rachel Hallam Stott 57:42 (55:07)
864 Juliet Grimwood 59:06 (50:14)
921 Jane Waters 1:00:27 (46:07)
994 Colin Harries 1:02:42 (45:20)
1091 Paul Weekes 1:04:46 (1:03:01)
1110 Julia Mackay 1:04:54 (55:10)
1165 Louise Pike 1:06:51 (1:04:42)
1174 Roo Goodwin 1:06:36 (1:05:28)
1194 Penny Ridler 1:07:35 (1:06:08)
1221 Shani Giddings 1:09:25 (57:30)
1265 Joanne Ellary 1:11:53 (1:09:58)
1306 Bev Strong 1:17:22 (1:12:06)
1313 Tim Gardiner 1:17:23 (1:10:25)

Girls on top … BAC’s women take top honours at Swineshead 10

Biggleswade Athletic Club’s women’s team took the team prize at the Swineshead 10 Mile race, taking bragging rights from the club’s men, who won the male equivalent award last year.

Club athletes completed 315.5 miles between them on Sunday competing in the Great North Run and across 10 and 5 mile races in Swineshead. Many were running the longer distances for the first time having moved up from the successful Couch to 5k programmes, and turnout was high in Swineshead as the longer race is BAC’s nominated club championship event over the distance. Congratulations to Paul Davies and Isobel Everest, who are the BAC 10 mile club champions for 2017. Full age-graded results can be found here.

In the GNR half marathon, where the elite race was run by Mo Farah, Neil Harvey was the first BAC runner across the line in 1hr 56mins 50secs followed by Kathryn Juty in 1:59:49 to just break the 2hr mark. Ricky Byrne, Corinne Calligan and Claire Smyth were the other BAC finishers to come in for their well earned medals.

In the Swineshead events, Rob Morgan was the first BAC athlete to finish the 10 mile race coming in 14th overall in 62:28. First BAC lady to finish was Isobel Everest 56th overall in 72:29, and with tremendous support from Natalie Morgan (75.00) and Hannah Broom (75.04) Biggleswade took the ladies team prize. Deb Bryant broke the club’s W45 age group record for 10 miles – which has stood since 2001 – by over a minute with a time of 77.32.

Natalie Morgan said: “I last ran Swineshead 10 in 2012 and had a pretty dreadful experience so I was determined to overcome past demons and maybe go for a PB.”Hannah had very kindly offered to run with me and kept me in check all the way. I’m so glad she did as the last couple of miles were absolute killers and I definitely needed to hold something back for them! Crossing the finish line was the best feeling – those demons had been well and truly obliterated and my PB from 2009 bettered by 5 minutes so absolutely overjoyed. It was a blast!”

Hannah added: “I had not pre-entered as I was not sure if I was going to run as I’ve been suffering with a shoulder injury. Coach Paul Davies had told me to put the reins on Nat at the start and not let her set off too quick.

“It was a pretty windy morning with a strong headwind and we did quite a bit of hiding behind other runners as we weaved our way uphill. Damo [chairman Damien Pitts] helped as a windbreak up the big hill at mile 4 where many runners around us just simply disappeared behind us and we had a lovely stretch round mile 5, 6 and 7.

“Mile 9 came – 1 to go, we can do this! Ny shoulder was sore by now and I relaxed to a walk but Nat’s husband Rob shouted at me to get going as we were in for a chance of the girls’ team prize. Nat was striding out in front for the finish looking really strong. As a team player there was only one thing to do – gather myself, put the pain behind and run it out as a if it were a 400m, once round the track. So I set off again and sprinted in as fast as I could. We did it, we won the ladies team – and Nat got her PB!”

In the 5 mile race Malcolm Steward was the first BAC runner home, finishing in 15th overall with a time of 40:45, and Maria Merridan was first lady in 34th place overall (47:19). Over the day, many personal bests were set in what were changeable and sometime difficult conditions. A good turnout again from Biggleswade AC to support local and national events and some excellent results and honours for the club.

Swineshead 10 mile results

14 Rob Morgan 62.28

17 Nick Haworth 63.26

18 Marcus Davey 63.32

20 Paul Davies 64.08

28 Paul Cooke 65.55

41 Jon Stott 69.35

42 Giles Hawthorne 69.39

56 Isobel Everest 72.29

62 Charles Arnold 73.33

64 Damien Pitts 73.56

73 Natalie Morgan 75.00

74 Hannah Broom 75.04

79 Julie Balaam 76.25

82 Deb Bryant 77.32

102 Sarah Geeson-Orsgood 82.13

139 Ian Grimwood 91.43

148 Simon Strong 94.11

168 Juliet Grimwood 105.35

169 Rachel Stott 105.35

Swineshead 5 mile results
15 Malcolm Steward 40.45

34 Maria Merridan 47.19

45 Thomas Goodfellow 50.39

55 Helen Steward 52.19

56 Julia Mackay 52.22

57 Louise Pike 53.05

58 Joanna Hornby 53.17

63 Shani Giddings 54.58

69 Joanne Ellary 57.58

71 Bev Strong 59.35

78 Julie Cooke 66.37

79 Carol Garratt 76.11

Simplyhealth Great North Run 2017 results

10375 Neil Harvey 1:56.50

12383 Kathryn Juty 1:59.49

25053 Ricky Byne 2:21.40

26511 Corinne Calligan 2:24.25

41435 Claire Smyth 2:43.17

The last leg … BAC leave it late to end track & field season with superb victory

Biggleswade Athletic Club took a brilliant victory on a dramatic final day of Southern Athletics League action last weekend. With the scores tight among the top teams in attendance at the fixture in Peterborough, it took the closing relays to decide the outcome.

It was an outstanding team performance against high-quality opposition in the form of Woodford Green With Essex Ladies, the former British Athletics League champions who have boasted a host of Olympians and Team GB internationals over the years including Sally Gunnell, Tiffany Porter and Jeanette Kwakye.

Yet they were undone by both difficult conditions and a litany of BAC victories on the day. Club coach Jamie Webster said: “The day started off slowly but very quickly heated up and we found ourselves in second place after six events.” Helping the cause enormously were wins for Sarah Ridley (13.1sec) and Katie Miles (13.4) in the 100m A and B races respectively. Morgan Webster doubled up to take both the 200m (23.4) and 400m (51.8), while Tristan Rayner won the 400m B race (55.5).

Elaine Livera in SAL action. Photo by Darren Janssen
Elaine Livera in SAL action. Photo by Darren Janssen

Elaine Livera emerged up top in the 3000m (10:57.5) and Hannah Broom won the 800m B race (2:41.8). Daniel Steel (20.7) and Joshua Watson (27.1) took the honours in the A and B 110m hurdles, and Watson added victory in the 400m hurdles B race for good measure, in 66.4sec.

Not to be outdone, Steel won the long jump and triple jump with season’s best performances of 5.97m and 12.36m, and added the win in the high jump B string with 1.55m, while Darren Janssen topped the B standings of the pole vault (2.50m). In the B-string of the triple jump, Alex Ingram won with 11.68m, and the men mopped up in the javelin too thanks to Alex Ingham’s 48.44m in the A string and Nathan Dodds’ 44.05 – making him the second-best thrower on the day and comfortably good enough to take B-string honours.

Backing up brilliantly were a whole host of top three placings from Jamie Hall, Alice Middleton, Jakub Grabowski, Kathryn Juty, Sandra Ingham, Marcus Davey, Paul Davies and both 4x100m teams.

BAC women's relay team won the crucial 4x400m thanks to last leg runner Katie Miles. Photo by Darren Janssen
Katie Miles on the last leg of a crucial 4x400m relay. Photo by Darren Janssen

Special mention must go to the two 4x400m quartets however, as Webster notes: “As the day went on we stayed in second place until the field results went in and we leapfrogged Woodford into first place. The women’s 4x400m team ran out of their skins to finish first by five metres and set up that the men’s team needed to finish ahead of Woodford.

Hannah Ridley, Alice Middleton, Elaine Livera and Katie Miles celebrate 4x400m victory. Photo by Jamie Webster

“After a close run race it went to the last leg. Peterborough were 80 metres ahead and Woodford and Biggleswade were level. As the race went on Biggleswade went ahead and came home in second place. But most importantly we finished ahead of Woodford and it left us 4 points clear at the end of the day.”

Marcus Davey added: “I did very little, probably the lowest scoring BAC individual of the day! To save face, I was selfishly focused to the one important event of the year, achieving my 2017 goal: a PB in the 1500m in a time of 4:37.6, taking 4.5 seconds off from two years ago.  It also tots up as my 4th V45 club record of 2017!”

He highlighted the huge part teamwork played on a successful day all-round: “I must emphasise I could not have achieved this 1500m PB without all the dedicated coaching from Michael Blunt during the 2017 track season, plus … PLUS some very impressive on the day 1500m race pacing from Jamie Hall who had already run the 800m and a very hard 5,000m!”

BAC’s win marked their first in SAL competition since 2015 and wrapped up an excellent season in the league which has seen a great standard of competition result in dozens of personal bests and a string of club records.

Full results can be found here.

Sophie shows steel on another record-breaking day

Another racking up the records was under-13 athlete Sophie Steele, who continued her fine season in the Eastern Young Athletes League at Bedford on 13 August with two club records and three personal bests.

She won the shot put with a club record 9.08m, came second in the discus with another club best 24.15m, and beat her PB in the javelin thanks with a third-placed throw of 20.29m.

Cameron Rayner won the U15 200m and came second in the 100m, and Nathan Dodds took the U17 javelin honours, while Kareen Davis, Bailey Foster, Alex Matsukatoval, Tristan Rayner, Elliott Swinburne and Alicia Ward also put in strong performances.

Full results can be found here.