Biggleswade AC runners collected another huge honours haul in searing hot conditions for the Doug Anderson 5k in Bedford.
The annual fixture at Bedford Park is BAC’s designated club championship race over the distance, with many entrants competing for the county championship honours.
BAC’s ladies team romped to victory while it was left to the men’s team to read the small-print after they finished third. Their combined time bettered that of Bedford Harriers in second by 14 seconds, but their combined score based on placings across the finish line was a point worse off than their rivals.
Jamie Hall, last year’s winner, was fourth finisher but third in the senior male age group, with an excellent time of 16:58. Jamie also took third in the county championship standings. Two places and eight seconds behind came Steven Baldwin, in 17:06. Nick Haworth rounded off the top three BAC men with 18:53.
Elaine Livera – who won the ladies’ title on her BAC debut last season – retained it with a stunning run of 18:49. This was remarkably two seconds quicker than her effort last year despite the punishingly humid conditions, and she finished six seconds clear of her nearest competition, and 22nd overall. She also took the county championship crown with 39 seconds to spare.
The course takes in two and a half laps of the park, complete with a steady climb that runners had to tackle three times. Due to the conditions, with the temperature still at 27C come the 7.30pm start, a drinks station was assembled – a rare sight for a 5k race – and most runners taking advantage opted to tip water straight over their heads in an attempt to keep their temperature down rather than drinking it.
Club secretary Hannah Broom once again retained both of her female veteran’s over 35 crowns with a time of 20:19, and 46th place overall – she was also the sixth female finisher overall, and third in the overall county championship standings.
She said: “I was struggling in the heat so the pace was slower than I would have liked but I picked off some guys but saw no girls – relief! – so I was hopeful in my race position. After working my way up the mountain of an incline in the last lap I made a dash for the finish managing to help the girls keep the ladies’ title while defending my FV35 title and county medal for the third consecutive year!”
Emma Bailey took the FV40 county championship crown with a run of 21:14, just ahead of Natalie Morgan’s 21:37. Emma said: “It was incredibly hot and by the end of the one mile warm up I was exhausted and dripping – but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone. I set off feeling strong but that slow incline got the better of my legs on each lap, but having people supporting really helped spur me on.”
Most shocked athlete of the night was Kathryn Juty, in her Doug Anderson debut, who romped to FV45 county honours by well over a minute thanks to a fine run of 24:41. She said: “The great support given by BAC runners and non-runners alike really helped keep my legs going on such a hot, muggy evening – so thanks to all. I’d like to particularly thank Paul Davies for his comment: ‘I can’t believe you got a medal and I didn’t!’ Me either!”
However the performance of the night arguably came from the evergreen Charlie Arnold, competing in the MV60 category, who finished in 20:18. Nigel Bush, who recently graduated to the MV70 age group, finished third in those standings with a fine time of 26:26
Charlie’s performance was one of several interesting movements in BAC’s club’s championship race results. These are based on age-gradings, which level the playing field for all competitors by adjusting times for older runners downwards. Based on the recalibrated results, Charlie’s time moves to 16:02, and he ended up victorious by 48 seconds over coach Paul Davies.
Charlie said: “In the closing stages the final incline lay ahead indicating the last 500m. Still feeling strong I pushed up what now felt like a mountain ready to set myself up for the downhill run to the finish and the final sprint. Everything went into the last few metres before relief at crossing the finishing line. I finished in 20:18 which was better than I expected taking account of the warm conditions making breathing difficult.
“It was fantastic to see many BAC athletes out competing and scooping up several awards on the evening ahead of some much bigger clubs.”
Others placing in the county championship standings were Paul Cooke (3rd, MV40, 19:00), Marcus Davey (3rd, MV45, 18:54), Gary Baldwin (3rd, MV50, 23:05) and Nigel Bush (2nd, MV70, 26:26). BAC fielded an incredible 51 athletes on the night, compared to 24 last year, with Jennie Day, Vicki and Janie Highland, Sue Whitfield, Lorraine Emerson, Beverley Ritson and Samantha Thorogood among those making their competitive debuts for the club.