As the Lockdown League wrapped up towards the end of June, it seemed only fitting that July saw the return of many to the track. With pilot events occurring at the beginning of the month, and the very first full events at the end, a return to some form of normality was appreciated by all.
Lockdown League Event 5
Taking plenty of the athletes back to their Sports Hall days, event 5 of the Lockdown League was the Speedbounce. With very few athletes having access to a regulation Sports Hall board to jump over, the competition had an added lockdown flair, with a stack of toilet rolls taking the place of the usual corrugated plastic.
The men's contest was once again hotly contested, with four athletes within eight bounces of the podium.
In the bronze position was former SIAB winner Jack Goddard. Taking part in a much more illustrious competition, the Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow athlete was credited with 111 bounces within the minute.
In second place was event organiser Jonny Currie, adding fuel to the fire of suspicion that he had curated some of the events to suit his eclectic sporting abilities. The Tynedale Harrier managed 113 bounces, just two more than Goddard, taking his first podium of the competition.
Astride the top spot was Tom Mackman, ending the 'always the bridesmaid' nature of his competition involvement. A clear 13 bounces ahead of Jonny, he secured the maximum 50 points to join Harry Halford at the joint top of the scoreboard with one event remaining, tied on 176 points apiece.
In the women's competition, Natalie Connor made her first entry onto the podium with 88 bounces, putting Shaftesbury Barnet colours onto the third spot.
Yasmin Austridge managed triple figures in her effort, squeezing 103 into her allotted minute. Her second place gave her her fourth podium of the competition, a consistency not shown by any other athlete, and placing her second overall on 125 points, just ahead of Louisa Whittingham's 122.
The person leading her in the overall classification, however, was Laura Zialor, who secured a second event win after her week one triumph. With 124 bounces, she was only two short of Mackman's 126, and could have had an overall victory had she not had a few deductions for poor form. Still, with over two bounces a second, her win placed her on 137 points total to lead the contest with one event to go.
The results from Round 5 can be found here.
BUAC Lockdown Quiz
While most of the club were keeping their bodies active, training and (virtually) racing, the same could not be said for the brains of some of our members, with university exams cancelled almost across the board.
With that in mind, new club social secretaries Abby Rex and Jas Clark organised a quiz for the whole club to get engaged with, and integrity was shown by almost all throughout, with very little cheating going on. (bar Charlie Davis and Jack Hocking, past/present committee members leading by example)
Immersing myself into the social side from the beginning of uni and building relations with all members of BUAC got me interested in getting involved further by becoming a part of the committee. The social side of the club means a lot to me, so I believed social sec was the ideal role. For me, one of the great things is that everyone feels included, whatever their level in athletics and socials with BUAC always include a great experience and a good laugh. Therefore, I wanted to put on events that meant this enjoyment continued for all members of the team. The role started in 3rd term of my first year but due to Covid-19 I couldn’t start organising the ideas I had planned to bring to the role for the upcoming year. Instead, we had to come up with alternatives and one included putting together a quiz over the summer to keep BUAC in contact. Teams were organised and everyone was encouraged to communicate over Zoom or Facebook to answer a series of questions released over a series of days. Although we could not get together in person, it was a great way of showing how close a club we are as many members got involved and kept BUAC’s sprits high. Abby Rex
Lockdown League Event 6
A more traditional event finished off the Lockdown League, and it was one for the endurance athletes, as the competitors set out over 5K.
The men's contest saw Harry Halford making it a pair of bronze-winning performances, to match the pair of golds he already had. His 16:54, squeezed in as part of a session, squeezed him onto the third podium spot.
George Loxton, incoming club president, made a splash onto the podium after some less than memorable results in previous rounds, when it came to his forte, the 5K distance. The parkrun aficionado, after over 180 previous attempts at the distance, came away with a shiny new personal best of 16:36 for his troubles, to take second place for the finest athletics club in Selly Oak.
Joe Hudson moved up from third in the 10K to first in the 5K as the distance dropped, the Keighley and Craven athlete finding speed at the lower end of his range to take the win by 50 seconds from CNNNNHHATC's Loxton.
The strong performance of Harry, two places ahead of title rival Mackman, meant that he clinched the title by seven points.
Depending on whether Tom Mackman feels like an endurance or power athlete, Jack Hocking rounded out the top five as either the first or second power athlete home, helped on by his two very strong showings in both the press-ups and the plank.
In the women's 5K, Emily Thompson once again found herself a class above the rest, as her 16:22 would have placed her second overall, let alone almost two minutes ahead of her nearest female challenger. Unfortunately, once the event organisers had cast their eye over her route she was slapped with a 20 second penalty for excessive elevation loss, putting her a measly 93 seconds ahead of second place.
Occupying that second place was Louisa Whittingham, making it a trio of appearances in the silver medal position as she showed her incredible range to podium in all three TTs. Natalie Connor finished five seconds ahead of Yasmin Austridge in fourth to just hold onto the podium spot she occupied the week prior.
Benefiting from her outstanding consistency, it was Louisa Whittingham who was the victor after all six events, her four scoring results all on the top two steps of the podium.
The results from Round 6 can be found here.
British Unis 5K
Emily Thompson's 5K also doubled up as a performance for the Virtual British Uni 5K Championships, the final of the three events.
Thompson ran a 16:22 for the distance, only eight seconds behind Cardiff's Lauren Cooper, and an effort that put her in second place.
However, due to her course being excessively downhill, she gained a 20 second penalty, though remaining on the podium to make it a second top-3 finish alongside her mile victory.
I absolutely loved the virtual road races organised during lockdown. Solo time trials aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but for me it was an opportunity to see the benefits of 3 months of consistent training. Anything vaguely resembling racing seemed exciting and, having exceeded my own expectations in both the mile and the 5km time trials for the British University Championships, it made me determined to seek out racing opportunities and piece together a mini track season nearer the end of summer. Emily Thompson
Full results can be found here.
Jake Burkey LJ Record Interview
We got an insight into the mind of Jake Burkey, long jumper and university record holder in the middle of June. Talking about how he set his record of 7.25 at the English U20 Indoors shortly after his first ever BUCS competition, find his piece below.
For the jumps and combined events group, June was the time where the greatly missed group training sessions could somewhat return again. The legendary Metchley pitches, once only a winter hills location, had now transformed into our new socially distanced training hub. With such a specific set of equipment required for our group’s various disciplines, we used this opportunity to go back to basics. We worked really hard on nailing all of the drills and movements for our events, with the long term view of setting ourselves up with a solid foundation for the 2021 season. Getting out to train with others was really enjoyable towards the end of June, as seeing friends and being part of the group is one of the things I sorely missed through lockdown. It was also great to catch up with those not around, through regular Zoom circuits and group quizzes on Sunday nights. Jake Burkey
Colours & UBSport Awards
After the nominations of Guy Perkins, Issy Boffey, and the BUCS Indoors team for Volunteer, Sportsperson, and Team of the Year, it was time for the virtual UBSport awards, live on their Facebook page throughout the evening.
Unfortunately, though our three nominees didn't win their categories, with some very stiff competition from other clubs, President Guy was still recognised with university Sports Colours, an award for those going above and beyond the call of duty in their time at a Birmingham sports club.
Full Blues, awarded for achieving senior international honours in your time at Birmingham, went to Saskia Millard, Joe Hudson, and Issy Boffey, deserved recognition for their achievements in the previous twelve months.
Virtual Athletics: A Brief History
By the beginning of July, virtual athletics had truly taken hold, with more adventurous formats and events coming out day by day. Club member, and athletics statto/historian Jonny Currie wrote about the advent of the virtual events, and looked to the future, in an interesting read posted on the Birmingham Track Elite website.
The article can be found on the BTE website here.
England Athletics 5K Virtual Champs
Never wanting to miss out on the action, it was the turn of the national governing body to get in on the virtual racing scene, holding a virtual 5K championships.
A trio of men attacked the distance for BUAC, with the alliterative Lewis Laylee the fastest of the three, finishing in 32nd place in a time of 15:09, two seconds faster than his PB from 2019.
Matt Clutterbuck was also inside the top 100, his 15:50 placing him 84th, as well as ninth U20 man. Final man was recently elected club president George Loxton, running a 16:35 for 172nd overall, and 16th U20 athlete.
On the women's side, Beanie Brown produced a stellar 17:32 to win the U20 women's field by almost half a minute. Her time also helped her club, Aldershot, Farnham and District, to an overall team victory in the women's competition, giving her two golds for the price of one.
Ruby Whyte-Wilding was near her personal best with a 17:39 that had her as the 21st woman home (356th overall).
Full results can be found here.
The England Athletics results announcement can be found here.
Say it quietly, but after pilot events to test the return of the sport began in early July, there was finally a return to track racing on the 25th, as the first British Milers Club returned at Trafford for a middle distance meeting held in lanes.
With plenty of new protocols, and only four athletes per race, the new format wasn't to everyone's taste, but there were plenty of athletes raring to go after keeping their training ticking over all summer.
Four of those were Birmingham athletes, and among those getting used to racing in lanes for an entire 800 race was Tom Dodd, who finished second in the A race in a time of 1:51.73, in what was, naturally, his first outdoor race of the summer.
Adam Day was the other BUAC man in action, racing in the E race. Proving his versatility, he set a new personal best of 1:54.49 to come second in the race, after a storming first lap.
Lockdown was a strange time, but I took it as an opportunity to go back to basics and really focus on endurance training that I’d missed due to intermittent injuries at the start of the year. Motivation wasn’t always there but finding out that I’d received a Half Blues for my BUCS Indoors medal gave me that extra push to keep going in preparation for the unlikely event we might get some sort of a mini track season. The first of these races to come around was an 800m in lanes at Trafford BMC and my target was to just work hard and get that race feel back. It was an unusual experience but I got to race alongside my housemate Emily which took away the nerves and I just went out to enjoy it. I had so much fun and ended up running as fast as I had hoped! Cesca Brint
Full results can be found here.
Vinco coverage of the event can be found here.