Bringing it home … BAC third as SAL returns to Sandy

Report by Hannah Ridley

Josh Watson, Morgan Webster, Cameron Rayner, Sarah Ridley and Dan Steel took first places in the latest round of the Southern Athletics League, which took place at Biggleswade AC’s track at Sandy. Their victories formed part of another excellent team performance, which saw the victorious men’s 4x400m squad also broke a club record that has stood for a quarter of a century.

Darren Janssen was the first to take to the track in the 400m hurdles A string, finishing in 73.4 secs. Both him and Josh Watson in the B string finished in excellent fourth places. Darren and Josh then went on to do a variety of events over the course of the day, with Josh leaping over 1.78m to claim first in the men’s high jump as well as the 110m hurdles, and Darren taking fourth place in the discus with a throw of 29.30m and second place in the B-string shot put with 9.12m, on his way to competing in all four throwing events.
Up next on the track was the 800m.

Sarah Ridley in SAL shot. Photo by Hannah Ridley
Sarah Ridley in the shot. Photo by Hannah Ridley

In the women’s race, Hannah Ridley clocked in at 2:28.5 on her way to second place in the A string, while Emma Bailey, in her first track race for the club, came in at 2:44.7 to claim second place in the B string. The same pairing was seen a couple of hours later in the 1500m, with both athletes taking third place in their respective strings. Hannah finished in 5:30.3, while Emma stopped the clock at 5:42.0.

In the men’s 800m, Stephen Day had a great run in the A string to claim a PB and fourth place, coming in at 2:15.8. Marcus Davey filled the B string spot, coming in strongly at 2:39.0.

Next it was the turn of the sprinters. In a hotly contested 100m, Sarah Ridley was awarded second place, despite being given the same time as the first-place athlete of 13.1secs. In the B string, Molly May yet again equalled her PB of 14.5secs on her way to fourth place. Janice Amber, running as a non-scorer, also clocked the same time.
Both Molly and Janice were in action again in the 200m, but this time they were joined by Francesca Riley in the A string, who ran an excellent race and finished third in 27.9secs. Janice, who was running in the B string this time, came in at 29.5, which was good enough for third place, while Molly, as a non-scorer, also broke the 30 second barrier. In the men’s A string 100m, Morgan Webster stormed down the straight to cross the line first in 11.3secs. In the B string, Cameron Rayner finished strongly, beating athletes who were several years older than him to take second place in 12.1secs. In the 200m, Morgan streaked ahead and finished a good few metres ahead of the rest of the field to claim another first place in 22.7 seconds, which was also a PB. Cameron, not to be outdone, also finished first in the B string with a time of 24.3secs.

In the field, Sarah Ridley appeared in five events which included the shot put, where she won rather convincingly, with her throw of 9.63m being exactly 50cm ahead of her next competitor. She also took second place in the discus, launching it to 28.64m. She was joined in the throws by Sandra Ingham, who competed in all four disciplines and came away with fourth in the B string discus with a throw of 15.25m and 4th in the A string of the javelin competition with 20.08m.

Another athlete who had a busy day was Kathryn Juty. She ran in the 100m hurdles along with Hannah Ridley and both athletes came away with respectable third place finishes. She claimed valuable points for the team by coming fourth in the B string long jump, leaping 3.45m and fourth again in the B-string triple jump, with a distance of 6.67m.
Daniel Steel was just as busy in the men’s competitions, taking part in seven different field events. He jumped over 6m in the long jump, but unfortunately it was called as a no jump. His leap of 5.93m was, however, still good enough to take first place. Toby Foster nearly crossed the 5m barrier with a jump of 4.96m, which placed second in the B string. Dan also claimed first place in the B string high jump, clearing 1.78m and on the track, ran a personal best in the B-string 110m hurdles of 19.2secs to take yet another first position.

There were also some very strong performances in both the men’s and women’s 400m. Francesca Riley ran in the A string and came away with 3rd place in 62.7secs. Jessica Cooke led the B race from the start but just got overtaken with 50m to go. She still finished in 3rd place and knocked over a second off of her PB, clocking 66.2 seconds.
Callum Stokes was the Biggleswade representative in the men’s A race. He held off the other competitors down the home straight and finished in a deserved second place in 53.1 seconds. In the B string, Tristan Rayner looked strong throughout the race and came home in 56.0secs, which earned him second place as well.

Sandy 11

The male distance runners were out in force, with Stephen Baldwin and John Frost in the A and B strings of the 1500m. Stephen, minutes after running his way to third place and 9:38.1 in the 3000m, looked relaxed throughout the race and cruised into second place in a time of 4:36.9. John showed off his sprint finish to come in third place in 5.08.5. They were joined in the race by Marcus Davey and Elliot Swinburne as non-scorers, who both put in a valiant effort to finish just behind John. Paul Davies joined Stephen in the 3000m and finished second in the B string 11:08.5.

The last event on the track, the relays, saw some of the best performances of the day. The women’s 4x100m team of Molly May, Francesca Riley, Janice Amber and Sarah Ridley got the baton round in 53.2secs, less than half a second outside the club record, and again were awarded second place despite having the same time as the winners. The men then held on to second place in their race and finished in 46.4secs. In the 4x400m, the women finished a credible third, while Stephen Baldwin, Dan Steel, Callum Stokes and Morgan Webster put in a blinding performance to finish first in 3.42.2 and break the club record by one-tenth of a second, which had stood since 1993.

The Biggleswade team finished third overall on the day, a great result considering they were competing against some much larger teams. They hope to better that result at the final league match of the season, which will take place in Woodford on 18th August.


Searing hot at SAL … match three at Parliament Hill

BAC athletes put in great effort at the third match of this season’s Southern Athletics League. As always many competitors took part in multiple events to earn valuable points for the club, but in spite of the extra strain in the heat at Parliament Hill, the quality of performances remained high.

Among the top placings on the day were Josh Watson in the high jump, his best leap of 1.90m taking top spot by a huge 15cm. He also placed third as the B-string competitor in the pole vault and the 400m hurdles.

SAL - Daniel Steel in the 110m hurdles. Photo by Gemma Dixon
Daniel Steel in the 110m hurdles. Photo by Gemma Dixon

Sarah Ridley went two better, taking first place in three events. Her top spot in the triple jump came with an effort of 10.07m, 80cm clear of her nearest competition, while she also took the spoils in the shot put with a throw of 10.10m. Finishing up an excellent trio of victories was her best discus throw of 27.68m, while she added second place in the 100m (13.1sec) and third in the hammer (21.40m). Both Sarah and Josh earned man of the match awards for their efforts.

Sandra Ingham topped the standings in the B-string hammer with a throw of 13.04m, and she added to this with a fine third in the javelin, thanks to a throw of 21.96m.
Elsewhere, top three placings were rife, with Morgan Webster second in both the 100m (11.6sec) and 200m (23.1sec), ably followed up in the B-string equivalents by Callum Stokes, who took third and second respectively (12.2sec and 24.5sec), and was also runner-up in the B-string long jump (5.19m). Webster also took second place in the triple jump with 11.52m, while Tristan Rayner was hot on his heels in the B-string thanks to a leap of 11.29m to earn another second place.

SAL - Jessica Cooke and Francesca Riley. Photo by Gemma Dixon
Jessica Cooke and Francesca Riley in the 400m. Photo by Gemma Dixon

Bradley Strong took third in the B-string 400m with a time of 61.0sec, and Charlie Arnold’s best placing on a busy day was third in the B-string 800m (2:44.4). Stephen Day just missed the top three in the A-string 800m but was third in the A-string 1500m, just outside the 5min mark with an excellent time of 5:00.4. His B-string back-up in the latter event, Nick Haworth, took second spot with 5:21.5, and added third place as the B competitor in the 5,000m (18:48.5). Hannah Ridley was second in the 100m hurdles with 24.4 sec, to add to her third place in the 800m (2:31.1), while Jessica Cooke was second in the B-string women’s 400m with 67.7sec.

More third places came from Molly May in the B-string 100m (14.9sec) and 200m (30.7sec) and Stephen Baldwin in the A-string 5,000m (16:51.9). Daniel Steel took third spot in the 110m hurdles (19.8sec), and as B-string in all of the high jump (1.60m), shot put (9.39m), hammer (14.20m) and discus (24.45m), and another to place in multiple events was Kathryn Juty, with third in the long jump (3.81m), pole vault (1.70m) and B-string javelin (10.62m). Paul Davies was another third place in the B-string 2,000m steeplechase (9:28.3), Alex Ingham took A-string third in the javelin with 49.57m, while Nathan Dodds took third in the A-string discus (31.75m), as did Francesca Riley in the 400m (63.4sec).

In the relays, the women’s quartets took second places with 54.3sec in the 4x100m and 4:30.4 in the 4x400m, one better than the men – third in both of their races with times of 47.7sec and 3:58.1 respectively. The combined team finished fourth out of six teams in the fixture, showing once again that despite excellent performances, gaps in the squad are holding BAC back. No matter what your level, there are valuable points to be had at SAL fixtures – get in touch with the track and field coaches for more information.

Full results from Parliament Hill can be found here

Rundown of the SAL season so far

Eastern promise … BAC rack up medals in counties championships

Biggleswade Athletic Club athletes struck gold, silver and bronze at the Eastern Counties AA Championships in Peterborough late last month, amid some fantastic results and outstanding personal best efforts.

Eastern Champs - Molly May, Morgan Webster and Francesca Riley. Photo by James Webster
Molly May, Morgan Webster and Francesca Riley. Photo by James Webster

A quartet of BAC competitors were in attendance competing in the Bedfordshire vest, with Morgan Webster leading the way despite having struggled with a hamstring strain that had kept him out of training in the run-up to the event. Yet on the day itself, competing as an under-20 athlete, he took the blocks for the 400m in a combined field of under-20 and senior athletes, and flew round the lap in a new personal best of 50.2 seconds, winning the race against older competitors and taking the gold medal.

Eastern Champs - Morgan Webster. Photo by James Webster (2)
Morgan Webster. Photo by James Webster

Leonie Brunning’s fine form in the high jump continued, and despite her best effort of 1.55m being down on her best, it earned her an under-17s silver medal. She showed her versatility in the jump disciplines by also competing in the long jump, and her leap of 4.89m was good enough for bronze.

Also earning bronze was Francesca Riley, competing in the senior 400m, and her new training schedule paid dividends as she took the third spot on the podium.

Molly May was taking part in her first ever championships, and she didn’t shrink in stepping up to the higher level, indeed she took a huge half a second off her 100m personal best in the under-17 final – a fine time of 14.4sec.

BAC’s Sonia Brown, 1965-2018

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Chairman Damien Pitts writes:

We have received the very sad news that Sonia Brown passed away this morning. Sonia was an inspiration for many of our athletes, from her running career, the creation of the Little Bees section of the club, coaching and for the effort that she put in to support/promote the club. I will really miss Sonia’s smile and cheerful nature, as she could make me smile, even if I have had a bad day.

Sonia is a big loss to the club and she will be sadly missed by our members.

Prior to the first race at the Biggleswade AC Track Fest tonight (6.30pm), we will be holding a minutes silence for Sonia at the Athletic Track. A card and book of condolences are being arranged for members to sign/complete and will be available on club nights.

As and when more details are released concerning the funeral and we can share these details with you, we will.

Our thoughts are with Sonia’s family at this sad time.

A full club tribute will appear in this blog at a future time. If you would like to contribute, please email the press team with your memories of Sonia

The story so far … Biggleswade’s SAL campaign 2018

As Biggleswade AC competitors prepare for match 3 of this season’s Southern Athletics League campaign, which takes place later today, 23 June, at Parliament Hill, here’s a summary of the season so far, taking in results at Perivale and Peterborough.

A quick reminder to all taking part – do let us know how you get on, and please do flag up any PBs or performances you’re particularly proud of via the forum or the BAC members’ Facebook page. As all the team will attest, there’s still plenty of room in the squad for those willing and able to do their bit – the more gaps that get filled, the higher up the league table BAC will climb. No contribution is too small – every point is massively valuable, and with opposition teams also unable to field full teams, coming “last” is relative – it can still mean huge points.

Huge thanks to Darren Janssen for his photos from the fixtures so far, and good luck to those making the journey today!

Sweatshop Southern Athletics League Division 3 North

BAC results from first two matches

(Seniors and veterans unless otherwise stated)

Match 1
A string 3 Tristan Rayner (U20) 11.7sec
B string 3 Bradley Strong (U20) 12.9
A 1 Sarah Ridley 13.1
B 3 Molly May (U17) 14.9
Non-scorer Janice Amber (U20) 13.9

Match 2
A 4 Tristan Rayner (U20) 12.1
B 3 Cameron Rayner (U17) 12.3
A 1 Sarah Ridley 13.1
B 3 Molly May (U17) 15.0

Match 1
A 2 Morgan Webster (U20) 22.92
B 2 Callum Stokes (U20) 23.61
A 4 Leonie Brunning (U17) 29.1
B 4 Janice Amber (U20) 29.56
Non-scorer Molly May (U17) 31.14

SAL Peterborough Photo 4
Photo by Darren Janssen

Match 2
A 2 Morgan Webster (U20) 22.9
B 3 Cameron Rayner (U17) 24.5
A 4 Francesca Riley 28.8
B 2 Janice Amber (U20) 29.1

Match 1
A 1 Morgan Webster (U20) 51.5
B 1 Callum Stokes (U20) 52.6
A 4 Kathryn Juty 69.9

Match 2
A 2 Morgan Webster (U20) 51.2
B 1 Callum Stokes (U20) 54.1
A 1 Francesca Riley 63.1
B 2 Jessica Cooke (U17) 68.2

Match 1
A 4 Aaron Ball 2:15:22
B 3 Steven Baldwin 2:34:85

SAL Perivale 6
Steven Baldwin. Photo by Darren Janssen

A 2 Elaine Livera 2:28:1
B 1 Hannah Ridley (U23) 2:28:6

SAL Perivale 5
Elaine Livera (right) and Hannah Ridley. Photo by Darren Janssen

Match 2
A 3 Stephen Day (U17) 2:16:7
A 2 Hannah Ridley 2:26:4

Match 1
A 4 Aaron Ball 5:18:15
B 4 John Frost 5:53:36

SAL Perivale 14
John Frost. Photo by Darren Janssen

A 3 Elaine Livera 5:09:3
B 1 Hannah Ridley (U23) 5:39:0

Match 2
A 3 John Frost 5:03.8
B 2 Elliot Swinburne 5:10.0

Match 1
A 2 Elaine Livera 10:54:8

Match 2
A 3 Steven Baldwin 9:44:2
B 2 Paul Davies 10:55:1

5000m (men)
Match 1
A 3 Steven Baldwin 17:19:84
B 4 Paul Davies 18:59:03

110m hurdles (men only)
Match 1
A 2 Josh Watson 18.8
B 1 Daniel Steel 21.9

Match 2
A 2 Josh Watson 17.9
B 1 Daniel Steel 19.3

NB: BAC have had no athletes competing in women’s 100m hurdles so far this season

400m hurdles
Match 1
A 1 Darren Janssen 75.3
B 1 Josh Watson 105.9

Match 2
A 3 Darren Janssen 71.0
B 3 Josh Watson 100.5

NB: BAC have had no athletes competing in women’s 400m hurdles so far this season

2000m steeplechase (match 1 only)
A 3 Giles Hawthorne 9:29:5
B 2 Paul Davies 10:37.8

SAL Perivale 15
Giles Hawthorne. Photo by Darren Janssen

3000m steeplechase (match 2 only)
A 5 Charles Arnold 13:43.7
B 3 Paul Davies 14:29:1

High jump
Match 1
A 1 Josh Watson 1.90m
B 2 Daniel Steel 1.75m
A 2 Leonie Brunning (U17) 1.45m
B 3 Hannah Ridley (U23) 1.15m

Match 2
A 1= Josh Watson 1.88m
B 1= Daniel Steel 1.67m

A 2 Leonie Brunning (U17) 1.53m

Pole vault
Match 1
A 3 Daniel Steel 3.20m
B 2 Darren Janssen 2.40m

A 2 Kathryn Juty 1.60m

Match 2
A 2 Daniel Steel 3.21m
B 2 Darren Janssen 2.60m

Long jump
Match 1
A 2 Daniel Steel 6.20m
B 2 Darren Janssen 4.98m

SAL Perivale 10
Daniel Steel. Photo by Darren Janssen

A 3 Leonie Brunning (U17) 4.74m
B 3 Kathryn Juty 3.83m

SAL Perivale 4
Kathryn Juty. Photo by Darren Janssen

Match 2
A 4 Daniel Steel 5.97m
B 3 Darren Janssen 4.97m

SAL Peterborough Photo 5
Daniel Steel. Photo by Darren Janssen

A 3 Leonie Brunning (U17) 4.75m

Triple jump
Match 1
A 2 Morgan Webster (U20) 11.42m
B 2 Callum Stokes (U20) 10.29m
A 2 Sarah Ridley (U23) 9.35m

Match 2
A 3 Morgan Webster (U20) 10.77m
B 2 Tristan Rayner (U20) 10.60m
A 2 Leonie Brunning (U17) 9.76m

Shot put
Match 1
A 1 Nathan Dodds (U20) 11.07m
B 1 Daniel Steel 10.14m

SAL Perivale 3
Photo by Darren Janssen

A 2 Sarah Ridley (U23) 9.50m
B 4 Sandra Ingham 6.55m

SAL Perivale 9
Sarah Ridley. Photo by Darren Janssen

Match 2
A 5 Daniel Steel 9.43m
B 5 Darren Janssen 8.74m
A 2 Sarah Ridley 9.87m
B 4 Sandra Ingham 6.08m

Match 1
A 1 Nathan Dodds (U20) 32.24m
B 1 Darren Janssen 28.84m

SAL Perivale 24
Darren Janssen. Photo by Nathan Dodds

A 2 Sarah Ridley (U23) 29.97m
B 3 Sandra Ingham 13.81m

SAL Peterborough Photo 9
Sarah Ridley. Photo by Darren Janssen

Match 2
A 5 Nathan Dodds (U17) 30.64m
B 3 Daniel Steel 27.55m
Non-scoring Josh Watson 29.10m
A 2 Sarah Ridley 30.67m
B 4 Sandra Ingham 12.43m

Match 1
A 3 Darren Janssen 18.50m
B 1 Daniel Steel 17.11
A 4 Sandra Ingham 10.51m

Match 2
A 6 Darren Janssen 17.23m
B 4 Daniel Steel 17.04m

Match 1
A 2 Nathan Dodds (U20) 45.58m
B 1 Daniel Steel 38.10m
A 4 Sandra Ingham 19.87m

Match 2
A 1 Nathan Dodds (U17) 42.23m
B 1 Daniel Steel 39.31m
Non-scoring Darren Janssen 31.79

SAL Peterborough Photo 8
Nathan Dodds. Photo by Darren Janssen

A 4 Sandra Ingham 19.39m

4x100m relay
Match 1
Men 3rd 47.0

SAL Perivale 20
BAC’s men’s sprint relay team in action. Photo by Darren Janssen

Women 3rd 56.07

Match 2
Men 2nd 47.3
Women 3rd 55.0

4x400m relay
Match 1
Men 3rd 4:12:8

Match 2
Men 3rd 3:49:2
Women 4rd 4:31.0

Overall match results

Match 1 (Perivale, 14 April)
1 Ealing, Southall & Middlesex 344
2 Biggleswade 279
3 Basildon 271.5
4 Highgate Harriers and Mornington Chasers 191.5
5 Barnet & District 131

Match 2 (Peterborough, 19 May)
1 Peterborough 333.5
2 Luton 289
3 Harlow 250.5
4 Biggleswade 231
5 West Norfolk 93
6 West Suffolk 75

League position after 2 matches: 11th of 23 with 8 league points
Positions 8-10 all have 9 league points, and clubs ranked 5-7 have 10, so it’s still all to play for.
In terms of match points, BAC have 510 for the season – league leaders Dacorum & Tring (12 league points) have racked up 681.

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

Nick Haworth writes …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marston 5k Results

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

BUCS action and Brown recognised … news roundup

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

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

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

Commemorations at Casterbridge … BAC athletes run for fallen heroine Vikki

Bev Strong writes:

A contingent of 19 runners from Biggleswade Athletic Club headed to Dorset to compete in a punishingly hot Casterbridge Half Marathon last Sunday. For several this was their first attempt at 13.1 miles, pushing themselves as a tribute to beloved member Vikki Vowles, who competed in last year’s race – her first and only half – but passed away in August at the age of 47.

All the first-timers had only started running through the club’s Couch to 5K programmes within the last two years, and for the step up to half marathon distance they found themselves on an extremely challenging course, with testing uphill sections far outweighing any downhills, exacerbated by the hot and humid conditions on the day where temperatures had reached 25 degrees by mid-morning.

Paul Cooke at the finish. Photo by Dorsetbays
Paul Cooke closes in on the finish. Photo by Dorsetbays

Paul Cooke led the Biggleswade team home in 27th position with a chip time of 1.37:28 and was followed by Marcus Davey in 59th position with a time 1.43:36. First lady home was Vicky Berry with a time of 2.17:51. Out of the runners competing in their first half, Jo Hornby was first home with a time of 2.52:00 closely followed by Jackie Warren with a time of 2.53:50 and Emma Bell in 2.54:02. Unfortunately Helen Steward had to pull out early on due to a recurrence of an injury.

Biggleswade’s men came third in the team award standings, with Cooke, Davey and Malcom Steward being the first three club men home.

John Stott, Malcolm Steward and, behind, Giles Hawthorne. Photo by Dorsetbays

The runners were all cheered on by a small support team from the club who had entered the event but were unable to compete due to injury. The event, hosted by White Star Running, added a bit of fun by having a “Love Station” just after the halfway point where athletes are given a welcome hug and a cool down with a wet sponge. There was also the added bonus of a small beer and snacks to help them through the final stages.

Rachel Stott, who finished in exactly 2:52, said: “It was a beautiful day, a little warm but this did not stop the smiles and the BAC buzz. I knew that this was a hilly course from last year, but I had forgotten how relentless some of them were … it seemed that every conceivable hill in Dorset had been put on the route just for fun. Despite this I just wanted to enjoy the run and remember the great times that we all had last year, celebrating our first half with great friends, especially Vikki. There were a few tears of sadness and joy along the way as we remembered her.”

Corinne Calligan, Helen Steward and Rachel Stott. Photo by Helen Jones of Dorsetbays
Corinne Calligan, Helen Steward and Rachel Stott. Photo by Helen Jones of Dorsetbays

Jacqui Thompson crossed the line in 3:50:59 and added: “I personally ran this event just for Vikki and knew for a tortoise like myself it would be tough. I had heard all about the hills, especially the last killer hill, but round every bend you were met with a climb and some of them were beasts.

“As I knew this would be my only ever half marathon – lots say this, but it definitely will be – I decided to make mine a sponsored event using DKMS as my chosen charity raising £1122.50. I am very proud to have completed this in Vikki’s memory and also proud of all the others who took part, especially Helen for attempting the run even though she was injured. Julie Cooke did her run for charity raising a substantial amount for Ataxia, Malcolm Steward for knocking off about 20 minutes from his last years time and for Corinne Calligan who flew back for a few days from Peru, interrupting eight months travelling, purely to take part in this with us, again for Vikki. A fitting tribute to a truly inspirational and much missed friend.”

Julie Cooke and Jacqui Thompson. Photo by Helen Jones of Dorsetbays
Julie Cooke and Jacqui Thompson. Photo by Helen Jones of Dorsetbays

Julie Cooke added: “I expected it to be tough … however, it was much harder than I thought, and hot too. In all my training I rarely walked but I needed to walk the hills. This, however, made it harder as the walking interrupted my stride and flow.

“Having said that, I am over the moon having completed it. I ran this for the charity Ataxia UK and raised over £720 (+ gift aid) and this alone kept me going as I remembered all the comments from the donations. This charity is close to my heart as we have a hereditary condition in my family. The memory of Vikki also kept me going on the day and in training.”

Vicky Berry highlighted the importance of the “amazing” support crew along the course: “They were originally planning on running it themselves, but when they found that they couldn’t due to illness or injury they still made the long journey and turned out in force to support the rest of us. I felt very proud being part of team BAC.

“I was absolutely wiped with barely enough in the tank to get me over the line, but I came round the corner, saw the finish gantry and was staggering towards it. Then I heard the cheering, waving, whooping, clapping, shouts of my name, generally making me feel incredibly privileged to be part of a very special club. Thanks guys, you were fabulous!”

One of the support crew, Carol Garratt, said: “As a spectator it was bittersweet, having entered to run but unable to. However the enormous sense of pride seeing the Biggleswade AC team blue and gold come through was emotional and joyous.

“There is an expectation of the experienced runners to take something like this in their stride but even for them, this was a big ask in the heat and the type of hills we cannot comprehend in our flat county! But kudos goes to the first timers who two years ago were doing the C25K, they all brought in close to their expected times with sheer grit and determination and a few tears of pride were shed for them.”

Emma Bell made her debut in club colours, and did them proud with a fine performance. She said: “I was unsure about wearing a vest, mostly worried the added pressure that may come with it while out there as a representative of the club. Anyway having now got through have realised that it is not quite like that! It wasn’t a race and to be a part of it along with the fabulous support can be symbolised by the vest.”

Marcus said: “Vikki inspired and is likely to continue to inspire others to give it a go, proving anything is possible. I can see why this event appealed to her. Certainly not because it’s a ridiculously difficult first half marathon, for there are hills, more hills and one mother of a hill at mile 10! I’m sure it appealed to Vikki because of the intimate, relaxed and informal atmosphere, everyone had a smile on their face and the event was very well organised. Despite being almost rural the scenic route was fairly well supported by the cheering public, particularly through the village of Puddletown. At mile seven there was the ‘Love Station’ where not only was the water flowing but also fruit, cake, beer, hugs and kisses – all very chaotic but fun!

“Well done to all that trained for this event and ran or could not run for whatever reason, particularly those completing in their first half marathon. Remember, a half marathon isn’t just for a holiday weekend, it’s for life, so I hope all off those that ran will continue to enjoy future events.

“Just try some flatter ones, OK?”

Elsewhere on the UK’s roads, Julian Brunt competed in his first full marathon as part of the Edinburgh Marathon Festival over the bank holiday weekend, and despite more warm weather he crossed the line in a fine 5:17:24.

Casterbridge Half Marathon results
Position | Name | Category | Cat Pos | Chip Time
27 | Paul Cooke | Male 40+ | 9 | 01:37:28
59 | Marcus Davey | Male 40+ | 15 | 01:42:36
126 | Malcolm Steward | Male 40+ | 31 | 01:51:35
127 | John Stott | Male 40+ | 32 | 01:51:30
129 | Giles Hawthorne | Male 40+ | 33 | 01:52:26
468 | Vicky Berry | Female 50+ | 30 | 02:17:51
510 | Simon Strong | Male 40+ | 103 | 02:22:12
540 | Maria Merridan | Female 40+ | 63 | 02:23:55
837 | Rachel Hallam Stott | Female 40+ | 142 | 02:52:00
840 | Joanne Hornby | Female 40+ | 143 | 02:52:21
852 | Jackie Warren | Female 50+ | 86 | 02:53:50
853 | Emma Bell | Female 40+ | 150 | 02:54:02
897 | Corinne Calligan | Female Open | 178 | 02:59:22
963 | Gareth Saynor | Male 40+ | 145 | 03:11:32
984 | Sara Masella | Female 40+ | 185 | 03:26:42
989 | Lucy Rands | Female 40+ | 188 | 03:33:24
990 | Julie Cooke | Female Open | 199 | 03:34:09
1004 | Jacqui Thompson | Female 50+ | 119 | 03:50:59
DNF Helen Steward

Vikki Vowles at last year's event. Photo by Stephen Jones
Vikki Vowles at last year’s event. Photo by Stephen Jones