Updated: Jan 6
As we all faced another lockdown, there was just enough time to get some racing in as the endurance squad took to Metchley for a 2 mile time trial.
Elsewhere, we hear from club welfare secretary Holly Bankes, and Power lead Jade Surman on the perils of lockdown two, and how we made it through as a club.
Metchley 2 Mile Time Trial & Virtual Manchester Relays
A highlight of the first term of any year for the endurance squad being the Manchester Relays, a XC relay event where athletes race over 3K, and one which frequently sees BUAC athletes up near the top.
With the event not hosted in person this year, the Virtual Manchester Relays took over, with the club entering two teams. The performances for the relays were drawn from the Metchley Time Trial, orchestrated wonderfully by cross captains Charlie Davis and Maddie Mastrolonardo. An incredible 44 athletes raced over two miles at Metchley, with the fastest four men and two women to the 3K mark having their times entered for the Relays.
In the first of six races, Shaftesbury Barnet clubmates Mark Pearce and Kristian Imroth faced off, with the elder of the two just edging it, 9:43 to Imroth's 9:45. James Vincent and Joe Hudson were just outside the 10 minute mark, with 10:02 and 10:08. Zach Bridgeland was not far behind, in 10:20.
In the second grouping, alum Aedan O'Brien led home president George Loxton by a second, 11:07 and 11:08. Tom Mackman wasn't far behind in 11:14, and Manxman Ste Garrett ran 11:30 for the distance. Fellow freshers Dan Kimber and Joe Whittaker ran 11:35 and 12:34 to round out the heat.
The first women's heat had AFD leading the way, with Laura Gent in 12:08, followed by Beanie Brown running 12:15. Ana Montgomery and Emma Livingstone were either side of 13 minutes in 12:57 and 13:09, and English Schools' 800 champ Annie Testar came home in 13:31.
Woking's Katie Hopkins was first home in the third heat, hitting 13 minutes on the nose, with Shaftesbury athlete Natalie Connor running 13:38. Naomi Rae and Hannah Trotman were separated by four seconds with 14:07 and 14:11, and Tash Mundell was close behind in 14:35. The final pairing home were Weronika Dabska and Caitlin O'Connor, who had times of 15:17 and 15:43 respectively.
In another rapid men's heat, Tom Ross and Matt Clutterbuck were tied on 10:36, with Ross edging Clutterbuck at the line. Jordan Jones was 12 seconds back of the pairing, the Warrington athlete very comfortable over the distance. It was a race of close finishes, and Dan Schofield, Ollie Johnson and Ben McIntyre almost made it into the same second, with times of 11:04, 11:05, and 11:05. Jac Goodall was the final athlete in the heat, under 12 minutes with a time of 11:55.
The final women's heat was led home by Kate O'Neill, in a race that saw the top four finish within seven seconds of each other. 11:56 for O'Neill was followed by 11:59 for Elisha Tait and Lucy Thornton, then Lizzie Squibbs on 12:03. Three Ellies were in the final five finishers, as Ellie Farrow ran 12:11, Ellie Minshull ran 12:43, and Ellie Bull 12:56. The trio were separated by cross captain Maddie Mastro's 12:21, and Darcie Hey's 12:48.
More used to a flat track and distances 800 and below, ex-president Guy Perkins was home in a very strong 11:32, a second ahead of Walton athlete Michael Cottrill. Alex Lindfield was next home, just dipping under 12 minutes in 11:58, while Jack Speake finished 20 seconds back of him in 12:19. Final finisher on the day was Adria Dongo Munoz, running 12:32.
It was a clean sweep for BUAC in the Manchester Relays, with Imroth, Vincent and Hudson leading home a Birmingham 1-2-3 for the fastest legs of the competition. Matt Clutterbuck, Elisha Tait and Lizzie Squibbs were the remaining team members for the two teams in the contest.
Vincent, Hudson and Squibbs took the overall victory in 28:34, with Imroth, Clutterbuck and Tait only six seconds back. A distant third in the team competition were the A team from Leeds, over a minute off the leaders and 55 seconds behind BUAC B.
Being selected captain during the first lockdown was pretty mad - a virtual AGM was a weird but a pretty cool thing to be part of! I was so buzzing that I got chosen to be captain because I knew it was going to be a strange year and I wanted to help the club out as much as possible. Me and Charlie worked really hard to organise a training weekend over summer, but sadly with Covid still going strong in October that couldn’t go ahead, which was pretty gutting. Without the silliness of training weekend to do a lot of the integrating, I knew we’d have to work a little bit harder to make sure the freshers were integrated as much as possible. When term started I managed to meet the majority of freshers during the first few weeks on the group runs which was class! Groups of 6 were a little tricky to negotiate around when we are so used to having big group runs, but we did our best and after running a few more miles than I was set in the first few weeks I managed to show the freshers most of the routes and meet most of them face-to-face which seemed like a bit of a miracle given the circumstances! The help from some other 2nd, 3rd and 4th years leading some routes was brilliant too, it really helped bring the club together, even when we couldn’t really get together! It was a stressful first few weeks trying to make sure that everyone knew what they were doing and making sure all the freshers knew where Metchley was, despite only being able to legally lead 5 of them up there - again the 6 person rule proving a little bit of a challenge. It was an absolute mission to organise training for such a big group but Luke, Deano and their world class spreadsheets take the credit for that one! We managed to offer sessions for every endurance member and ensure that all safety measures were still followed which was pretty huge! It ran very smoothly and everyone was brill at adapting to the new way things had to be. Well, that was until another lockdown was looming - again not brilliant news for our big club but we managed to organise the Metchley Time Trial just in time which provided everyone with a little focus and something to show people where they were, and which definitely helped keep the motivation up over lockdown! This doubled up as the virtual Manny Relays where we fielded 2 world class teams that ended up placing first and second! I genuinely had one of my favourite days of term that day - there was a buzz at Metch with something a little bit more race-like happening! Maddie Mastro
Full results can be found here.
Second Lockdown Starts
The day after the Metchley TT, we saw the start of the second lockdown period of the year. A frustration for many, as training had restarted and many of us were moving/jumping/throwing well, here we have the thoughts of Head of Power Jade Surman, on the year that was.
2020 saw a very different start to the academic year for the BUAC coaching staff, having to contend with COVID restriction and the implications this may have on training. There was a seamless return to the track activities for all athletes. This a reflection of the hard work and dedication of the coaches.
This year we officially welcomed Coach Julian Reid & Mike Bennett to the Power coaching team. Julian, still a competing athlete himself, has been coaching with the university for 2 seasons already, contributing a wealth of knowledge to the jumps and combined events group.
It is an enjoyable venture, and has allowed me to contribute to the athletic community, as a coach, it’s encouraging to see the enthusiasm of the athletes even during these trying times. Julian Reid
Mike, already delivering on BUCS medals for the club, teamed up with the Speed group and coaching guru Dominic McNeillis to head up the 400/400H athletes. All in all, the power groups are looking strong in anticipation to the return of BUCS!
As coaches and athletes, we have become quite versatile to change. So, news of a second lockdown came as no surprise to many. Quickly adapting training plans, athletes paired up and continued training on Metchley, what is now known as the ‘Second Home’. Swapping out high jump beds for goal posts and track runs for hill sprints, ‘LOCKDOWN’ training was matching up to our normal fixture. Coupled with online group circuits and a sprints group Bake Off, the weekly calendar was filling up quickly, and if that wasn’t enough, we also had the pleasure of a virtual cooking lesson from Zena Weeks - ‘Cook with Zena’, giving a helping hand in the kitchen, paired with workshops from UBSport educating us on sports nutrition. There was plenty going on for all members to get involved in.
2020 – The turbulent year
At the beginning of 2020 who would have thought BUCS Outdoors would be contested in back gardens via video evidence and a made-up score sheet? Well, with the uncertainty of official competitions or access to facilities for the remainder of the year, this led the way for further in-house battles. Closing the season by crowning Track captain Jamie Worman & Laura Zialor victors in the inaugural BUAC Pentathlon Championships, a mainstay for the 2021 calendar for sure.
RESILIENCE - This year has shown both coaches and athletes have a toughness that is unbreakable. Through adversity we continue to work hard and stay motivated.
2021 we are coming for you!!
Welfare in Lockdown
With club welfare a key concern not just in the second lockdown but throughout the year, here we hear from club welfare secretary Holly Bankes on taking up her position, and making the most of a difficult year.
Deciding to go for the welfare officer role and promote myself for the position in front of a room full of my BUAC peers was a somewhat daunting decision to make, especially since public speaking is one of my biggest fears! However, Covid meant that instead of pitching to an audience I was in the comfort of my home talking to myself which made it all a little easier!
I was beyond delighted to get elected for the role, and was determined from the word go to do the best job possible. Planning for the return to Birmingham in September became increasingly challenging as the summer progressed as Covid began to take hold again, rearing its ugly head for a second wave. Starting university is one of the biggest changes in a young adult’s life and can be very difficult for a lot of people.
With students not being able to branch out and meet copious numbers of other freshers on nights out, playing sports or at fresher’s fairs, I wanted to ensure that any newbies joining BUAC felt a warm welcome from their new university family as many of us in BUAC see it as. Noah and I decided a ‘BUAC family system’ was the best approach to ensuring freshers could make as many friends and settle as quickly as possible in the difficult and limited Covid circumstances.
A family group had 6 people in ensuring there was both a mix of freshers and original BUAC members. With restrictions at the time, the families could only meet up outside, but many had zoom calls and group chats that were used to get to know each other. We wanted to ensure we provided as much support for members as possible given the stressful everchanging restrictions, so we proposed virtual drop in sessions every week when neither of us had lectures where we encouraged people to drop us a message if they needed to chat. We arranged online talks and seminars geared towards athletes including the Panorama programme on eating disorders and an interactive webinar on how to maximise training in female athletes.
Ed Aston Interview
Always on the lookout for an interesting athletics narrative, Jonny Currie found the time to talk to Ed about his athletics career, time at Birmingham, what he's done since graduating, and most importantly the key ingredients that came together to allow him to produce a 1:47.02 clocking for 800 metres.
Jonny Currie's interview can be found here.
Pippa Woolven Workshop
In her time with BUAC, Pippa Woolven won two BUCS steeplechase titles, as well as a BUCS cross title. After making multiple international appearances, and having spent time out in the USA on a scholarship, our club members had the privilege of listening to a workshop from her.
Birmingham athletes got to hear Pippa's thoughts on how she maximised her time at University, as well as about dealing with injuries, American scholarships and transitioning into working life.