There were some excellent results for Bedford and County athletes in the Bedfordshire AAA Virtual 10 K race that was held between 13th and 19th July.

Rebecca Murray won the ladies race in 37:41 and was fourth fastest overall, whilst Sue Bosher was second in the ladies race and the faster F35 in 39:52.  Penelope Francis was the fastest Under 20 Woman in 55:47.  Emma Coombes completed the course in 52:41, Maddie Brodie ran 54:50, and Claire Perusko (47:08) was the fastest F50.

A big well done to Darren Deed, who came first in the M40 category in the England Athletics Virtual 5k Road Running Championships in a time of 14:48.  Darren also finished in 13th place overall in a field of over 1700 runners.  Ewan Wilson also had a good run, finishing 19th in the M45 category in 17:01.  The event took place between 11th and 13th July.  All competitors ran solo on their chosen 5k route, recording and submitting their times electronically.

If this had been a normal year, the English Schools Championships would have taken place in Birmingham between 10th and 11th July.  Sadly, the Coronavirus crisis forced the cancellation of that event, like so many others.  However, the English Schools Athletics Association gave youngsters the chance to compete in a virtual version of the championships - throwing, running and jumping, solo at local tracks, with their coaches or teachers adjudicating their efforts.  Five Bedford and County athletes took part, and there were some fine performances.  The results are:

We are extremely sad to hear of the passing of Peter Radcliffe, former chairman of Bedford and County AC who through his dedication and hard work helped many people within the club and wider athletics community. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.

Bedford and County AC’s Senior Men finished in fourth spot in the Virtual National Road Relays, and the club’s Age Graded team finished one place higher to take third.

The ingenious virtual road relays were the brainchild of club member, Massi Dendani, who tweeted the main distance-running coach at rivals Tonbridge AC to see if they wanted to go head-to-head.  Things then snowballed – over 5000 runners across the UK entered, with around 130 men’s teams and 125 women’s teams taking part.

The virtual relays were fully compliant with social distancing regulations.  Each leg had to be run solo between Saturday 4th April and Wednesday 8th April.  Competitors were told not to drive anywhere to run, and were instructed to avoid busy places and park run routes.  Nearly all runners these days have GPS running watches made by the likes of Garmin and Tom Tom.  Each athlete had to find their own 5 kilometre course close to home, record their leg on their watch, upload it to the popular Strava or Garmin websites, and send a link to the organizers via the Open Track athletics website, which collated the results.  There were even time penalties for significant negative elevation (defined as 30 feet or more in the course of the leg).  The virtual relays also raised over £9,000 for NHS staff and volunteers caring for Covid-19 patients, as competitors supported linked JustGiving appeal in aid of the Association of NHS Charities.

The Bedford and County Men’s A team finished fourth with a collective time of 2:58.45, narrowly missing out by only ten seconds to rivals Tonbridge, who took third place.  The scorers were in finishing order: Daniel Jarvis (4th), Matt Leach (25th), Aaron Scott (31st), John Eves (57th), Darren Deed (91st), Ben Alcock (98th), Alfred Yabsley (116th), Ben Davies (119th), Jack Goodwin (127th), Ed Blythman (169th), Andrew Headley (176th), and William Mullins (232nd).

The Men’s B team finished a respectable 38th, recording 3:17:56.  The scorers were: Paul Mizon (239th), Harry Brodie (260th), Matt Bray (277th), James Minter (412th), Michael Harrison (471st), Will Mackay (491st), Craig Emmerson (634th), Charlie Palmer (685th), Richard Laursen (753rd), Jamie Webster (1025th), Erwan Weber (1047th), and Ewan Wilson (1306th).

The Women’s A team finished in 15th spot in the six to score competition with an overall time of 1:53:29: The scorers were Rebecca Murray (702nd), Alice Burgin (1552nd), Sue Bosher (1831st), Natasha Peters-Cooper (1900th), Ellie Still (1976th), and Tia Wilson (2286th).

The virtual nature of the event also encouraged the organizers innovate by calculating the clubs with the best age-graded team.  Age grading works by allocating a percentage score to each athlete based on how close their performance is to the world-best for their age.  On this measure, Bedford and County AC finished third – the age graded team had an average of 88.43%.  The scorers were Daniel Jarvis, Darren Deed, John Eves, Aaron Scott, Matt Leach, Rebecca Murray, Ben Alcock, Alfred Yabsley, Ben Davies,  Jack Goodwin,  Ed Blythman, and Andrew Headley.

Dan Jarvis was the top-ranked individual Bedford athlete, finishing fourth fastest overall with a wonderful time of 13:47, and an age grading of 94.2 %.  Rebecca Murray was the 10th fastest Senior Woman in 16:43.  Matt Leach (25th fastest in 14:28), and Aaron Scott (29th fastest in 14:33) also made the overall top 50.Other notable individual performance included:

  • John Eves (14:44)- 5thin the M35 category.
  • Darren Deed (14:58) - 2ndin the M40 category.
  • Alfred Yabsley (15:03), Ed Blythman (15:16), Harry Brodie (15:33) and James Minter (16:00) came 13th, 20thand 26th and 43rd respectively in the M20 category.
  • Charlie Palmer (16:42) came 50thin the M40 category.
  • Sue Bosher (19:08) was the 18th fastest W35.
  • Tia Wilson (20:18) was the 20thUnder 20 woman.

The virtual relays enabled competitive sport to blossom, raised money for the indispensable NHS, and fully complied with all social distancing regulations.

Unfortunately, in light of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, there have been further cancellations of events beyond the official suspension of athletics competition (currently set at 30th June).

The cancellations are:

  • The last remaining Southern Athletics League matches of the 2020 season - in July and August - have now been cancelled.  Sadly, this means that there will be no Southern Athletics League matches this year.  
  • All Eastern Masters Athletics Club (EMAC) League matches, including the September Final at Bedford.
  • The British Masters Athletics Championships that were due to take place at Bedford in mid-August.
  • The July National Athletics League match.

In more positive news:
• The August and September EMAC League dates are being held for open meetings, should circumstances allow.
• A number of virtual races are taking place in June (see the article about upcoming virtual races in June 2020 for more information.)

 

In addition to the fixtures metioned previously, the fixtures below have also been cancelled. We will update this section with the latest fixture cancellations due to Coronavirus when we get them.

  • Southern Athletics League match on 7th June has been cancelled.  
  • The English Schools Championships, which was scheduled for 11th and 12th July has been cancelled, ESAAstatement.

It Isn’t All About Cancellations

For anybody wanting ideas about what to do, the England Athletics, Athletics @ Home website is worth a look: https://www.englandathletics.org/about-us/athletics-at-home/

Based on England Athletics instructions, and for the safety of all involved, all Athletics League fixtures and all other club fixtures, including road relays, cross country races, the Southern Athletics League, the National Athletics League, the Eastern Young Athletes League, the Youth Development League, the Eastern Master League, all championships and all other competitions have now been cancelled through to the end of May, and the National Athletics League match on 14th June has also been cancelled.  Other fixtures due in June must also be in considerable doubt.  

English Athletics Coronavirus statement

Following the announcement by the government on the 16th March there will be no training at Bedford International Athletic Stadium until further notice. 

The advice from England athletics is as follows:England Athletics advises 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. Statements from the Southern and National Athelitics Leagues on upcoming events are below.

Southern Athletics League

Following the guidance from England Athletics this morning, suspending all athletics activity until the end of April, the Southern Athletics League has decided to cancel all activity during this period. The May fixtures must also be in considerable doubt, but the Southern League awaits will await further guidance and clarification before cancelling the May fixtures.This means that sadly, the Southern Athletics League home fixture that was due to take place on 18th April has been cancelled.The guidance from England Athletics is available at: https://www.englandathletics.org/athletics-and-running/news/coronavirus-statement/

National Athletics League

Following discussions with Board Members it has been agreed that the 1st NAL fixtures due to have taken place at various venues over the weekend on Saturday & Sunday 3rd & 4th May 2020 are now all CANCELLED. The decision is in line with guidance provided by the UK Government, UK Athletics and the National Governing bodies of England, Scotland and Wales. The NAL will continue to monitor and review government advice and provide updates on its likely impact on the League’s activities in the months ahead. The Board is mindful that this will be a disappointing decision for some but everyone should understand that the sole reason for this decision is the threat the Coronavirus poses to the health of athletes, officials, members, team managers & coaches, volunteers, supporters and sports centre staff whose safety and well-being are our paramount concern.

Promising young high jumper, Gracie Wall, added another national title to her collection at the England Athletics Under 15 Championships in Sheffield on 22nd February.  Gracie, who is coached by Barry Johnson, went into the championships top of the 2020 national rankings, having leapt higher than any other under 15 girl so far this year.  Her jump of 1 metre 62 centimetres claimed victory against nineteen competitors who had travelled from as far afield as Glasgow, Cardiff and Norwich for a shot at the national gold.  Gracie’s indoor success during the winter should give her confidence as she prepares for the summer season. 

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