Athletics Club News

Read the latest news from the Athletics Club written by Sam Cruchley, Club Coach (PhD Metallurgy and Materials, 2015), Luke Gunn, Head of Athletics, and current student Tom Coe...


Ivy League tour (April 2016)

Ivy LeagueLast year the Athletics Club went on their long standing exchange trip with four historic Ivy League universities; Harvard, Yale, Cornell and Pennsylvania. Unbeknown to us, this exchange first involved Birmingham in 1962 and it has been going strong ever since.  

This year’s trip started with all 54 of us meeting at Heathrow Airport all packed, dressed in university kit, excited and raring to get going.  The exciting tour started off with a couple of nights exploring the sights and lights of New York, staying in a hostel just a few meters away from Central Park.  This was an ideal place to base ourselves as it not only allowed us convenient access to a great training venue but also gave the athletes the opportunity to explore Central Park while doing so.  After having a great few days exploring New York, including an ice hockey game in Brooklyn, the real reason for the tour began with a bus journey to our first stop of New Haven and Yale University.

On arriving at Yale we were immediately greeted outside of Yale’s unbelievable sports centre, which can only be described as looking like a cathedral! This welcome was brilliant and really set the tone for the hospitality that we came to appreciate at each university throughout the trip.

On the second morning at Yale we had a brilliant tour of the University by a couple of their athletes showing us what unbelievable facilities the University had and what life was like at an American Ivy League university. This also allowed the students to see what facilities were available to them during their stay, both athletic and academic. I was pleased to note that these were fully utilised by our team who not only trained hard but also worked hard on assignments and revision while here. The trip finished with the Yale invitational track and field meet, which led to athletes from Birmingham completing against those from Yale, Brown, MIT and New Haven universities. After some great competition and some notable victories by Birmingham students in the long distance races, a pizza party was thrown in our honour allowing both universities athletes to interact, swap athletic kit and enjoy themselves, creating lasting friendships in the process. 

The night before the competition our club's Chair and I were invited to the Yale University Track and Field Association Alumni Annual Dinner in the remarkable Yale Club in New York City. This extraordinary dinner was punctuated with meeting and chatting with former members of the track and field club that visited Birmingham on this exchange trip in the early 90s and 00s. This was a truly special evening and something for which we were very thankful for being invited too.

We then moved on to Harvard and their historic campus to another friendly welcome at their indoor athletics facility. Unfortunately the weather was against us here, with snow storms being present for most of the time we were there. This limited what we could do but with Harvard’s great facilities we still managed to get some great training in. The rest of our time here consisted of snowy tours of their beautiful campus, trips to work in their libraries, meals in one of their dining halls which from the inside looks a lot like Hogwarts Great Hall as well as some time spent exploring Boston. This brought the second leg of our journey to an end and after saying goodbye we took the six-hour coach journey to the picturesque Cornell University.

Cornell is a beautiful university set on a hillside surrounded by forests, gorges and lakes in upper New York State. The weather here was again cold and snowy but the hospitality was anything but. From the coach we proceeded straight onto the indoor track and were greeted by old friends, coaches, athletes and lots and lots of pizza! The trip here consisted of a day trip to see the majestic Niagara Falls from both the American and Canadian sides followed by an athletics meet the next day. Unfortunately on the morning of the competition the weather was not on our side, with temperatures below zero and plenty of snow. The competition was therefore moved indoors and the name changed to the Cornell Cabin Fever Indoor Invitation Meet. It was a great athletics competition with our athletes competing hard, winning several events including a new race for our athletes in a distance medley relay, something that is frequently raced in the USA but never in the UK.  During this event the teams bonded with kit swapping, team songs and chants followed by a social event which lasted into the early hours.  

On the final morning before leaving, the whole of both athletic teams and coaching staffs had brunch together in one of the student dining halls followed by lots of emotional good byes before we undertook the three hour coach journey to Philadelphia. 

On arrival in Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania we were greeted by the sight of the athletics stadium on Franklin Fields, which is the venue for the historic Penn relays competition, the largest athletics relay event in the world. This is where we met our hosts for the next few days and heard stories of previous trips. On the second morning we went on an open bus tour of the Quaker city of Philadelphia and a race up the rocky steps before everyone trained in the athletics stadium. Over the next few days we enjoyed the hospitality of our hosts, explored Philadelphia, swapped athletics kit and trained hard. 

On the last evening we had a farewell formal dinner. This included some nice speeches and the exchanging of gifts before we all went for a last trip up to the top of the stadium stands for a beautiful view across Philadelphia at night. It was at this formal dinner where one of the students had to join in with the varsity Frisbee training session that was taking place on Franklin Field after losing a bet earlier in that evening. So, all suited and booted, the student went on to run 100 yards across the field, bellowing and shouting for the Penn Frisbee players to pass to him. The Penn Frisbee players found this hilarious. The next day we had come to the end of our trip so we sadly said our goodbyes before heading to the airport to go home and back to our own beds.

Throughout the entire tour the friendship and hospitality was unbelievable and all of the athletes have said that this trip has been one of the highlights of their lives so far. This trip has created lots of friendships, a better understanding of the differences between each other’s university systems and cultures, as well as having the added benefit of allowing a transfer of coaching knowledge between our great institutions. This trip has also helped to strengthen the bonds between our universities further in what is a very special athletics partnership, with all these universities keen for this great exchange to continue into the future. 

Everyone here is already very excited and looking forward to hosting Cornell and Penn in 2018 to continue this great exchange, repay the hospitality that they offered us and host the first of many competitions on our new track. 

Rio Olympics and European Championships (July- August 2016)

The club has continued the tradition of helping to produce outstanding athletes that go on to complete internationally. Last year we had multiple representations at major competitions. Alumna Sara Treacy, representing Ireland, came an incredible 17th in the final of the 3000m Steeplechase at the Rio Olympics . On top of this,  ex-club member turned triathlete Non Stanford produced an excellent, but agonising result, finishing 4th in the Olympic triathlon.

A month before the Rio Olympics we had two current students and three recent alumni compete at the European athletics championships in Amsterdam. Current students Sarah McDonald and Jonny Davies competed in the 1500m and 5000m respectively, with further representation coming from alumni Alison Leonard (800m), Jonny Hay (half marathon) and Sara Treacy (3000 m S/C). For many of the athletes this was the first time they had competed at a major track competition and there will hopefully be many more to come.  

Bud’s Run (October 2016)

Sunday 9 October was a brilliant day for all those involved here at Birmingham. Bud’s Run was set up three years ago to raise money for Parkinson’s UK, whilst also honoring a true legend – Mr Bud Baldaro. Bud is a living and breathing magician, not only is he a fantastic coach, he is a mentor, an icon and, most importantly, someone we all look up to. These are just a few of the reasons why Bud’s Run was set up and the day really demonstrated the love for Bud and the incredible amount he means to so many people.

This year’s route was altered slightly compared to last year, but the 5km still managed to incorporate the beautiful buildings that Birmingham’s campus has to offer, starting behind the Aston Webb Building and finishing in Chancellor’s Court after running through the iconic Old Joe clock tower. A staggering 394 runners completed the course which included Olympians, bankers, school children and Parkinson’s sufferers. The race was won by Luke Pollard (RAF) in an impressive 15:29 with Tom Cornthwaite (Salford) coming second in 15:34 and fresher Alex Rieley finished 3rd in 15:43.  Carillion, the event's long term supporter, yet again won the corporate team challenge and our very own Athletics Club took the student team prize.

So far this event has raised an incredible £51,000 for Parkinson’s UK. The continued success of this event could not have happened without the wonderful team at Bud’s Run, the University of Birmingham and a whole host of other special people. 

Buds

BUAC Training Weekend (October 2016)

Training weekendMiller’s Dale, Derbyshire was the lucky host of BUAC’s finest endurance athletes for a weekend of miles, hills and team bonding.

 We arrived late on Friday night and after quickly being ushered into our rooms everyone headed downstairs to get stuck into what everyone comes to training weekend for – the quiz. Expertly mastered by the Men’s Cross Country Captain, Will Ruiz, teams came together to answer a series of questions designed to get our Russell Group educated minds stimulated in order to win the esteemed prize of bragging rights. Carnage ensued and all friendships were put aside as teams battled it out to win, with Sam Eggy’s Power of Ten round providing a significant hurdle for everyone to overcome. However, it was the team captained by Will Gray which brought home the bacon; the alumnus pipped Fresher Dan Carpenter to the line through his worrying knowledge of David Brent. Once the celebration died down it was time to catch some rest ahead of a big day of training.

On Saturday morning, everyone was excited for session, to eat those miles, or as Alex Rieley would put it – “to show who is the most powerful”. After a delightful breakfast, BUAC’s Head of Athletics, Luke Gunn, entered the room and the tension was palpable. The debate about what session was awaiting had dominated the tabloids in the week following up to the camp, the anxiety was unquenchable. “Long Hill Reps” Gunny announced. It was time.

The hill in question was a steep 400m incline in which the group would be doing sets of four reps, with a rolling recovery back to the start. The session was overseen by the legendary Sam Cruchley. The vast majority of the group stomached a stunning four sets of the efforts, which typically lasted around 80 seconds, with the hard knocks amongst the group reaching the acclaimed five sets.

After returning from the session, we had lunch followed by a period of rest and recovery for the group. Gunny then returned to hold a group talk about a range of topics; running gait, shoes, illness, cross training and many many more. This master class gave all involved an insight into a whole host of incredibly relatable themes which will undoubtedly be useful in the future.

A large number of individuals then completed an easy 30-minute run in the afternoon. Meanwhile El Capitano, Will Ruiz, led a group core and glutes session which many took part in and embraced the burn. What a feeling.

Once the training had been finished, dinner followed and then rest for many as another hard day was just around the corner.

On the long run a beautiful trail quickly turned into a mountaineering class, with some running for an epic 100 minutes. As soon as people returned they got stuck into breakfast, ensuring their recovery was maximal.

Everyone was then told to empty their room and get ready for our special guests, GB athletes Michael Rimmer and Eilish McColgan. The Olympians expertly answered all questions that came their way, providing a truly fascinating insight into what makes international athletes click.

Soon after that, the coach arrived for the journey home. Home time was here. Another year and another successful training camp. What a time to be alive.

European Cross-Country Championships (December 2016)

More recently we continued the strong tradition within the club with major representation at the European Cross-country championships in Sardinia, Italy.  Four of our current students (Victoria Weir, Mari Smith, Jonny Davis, Pippa Woolven) and one alumna (Rebecca Murray) competed brilliantly and all came away with team medals. The race in Sardinia couldn’t have been any more different to a typical British cross-country course with a flat course run on hard packed ground bathed in beautiful sunshine and 20oC heat.

Jonny Davis, 2015’s U20 champion, commented on the experience by saying that the “Euro cross was a great experience last year! Running in 20 degrees in cross-country was strange and while I didn't have my best race, hopefully I can learn from the trip!”

Another of our students, Mari Smith, commented on the championships by saying “I was really pleased with my performance as I couldn't have dug any deeper. I was just so pleased to be there, especially being first year U23”

The athletes were joined by an excellent support crew of four current coaches and one sport scientist. The incredible athletes and support squad are pictured below. 

Rio

BUCS Indoors report (February 2017)

Indoor

Yet again another British Universities and Collages Sport (BUCS) indoors campaign produced a three-day spectacular of university athletics providing stand-out performances, near misses and upsets.

Both the men’s and women’s track and field teams finished high in the overall team rankings despite a handful of absentees – many of our top performers were busy competing on the international stage at the coveted Muller Birmingham Grand Prix (Sarah McDonald, 1000m; Jake Porter, 60mH; Andrew Heyes, 5000m; Jonathan Davies, 5000m). The women’s team placed 5th, the men 4th which placed us 5th overall.

Day one of the championships marked the beginning of the medal haul as post-grad student Jake Porter eased to victory in the men’s 60m hurdles (7.96). Jake’s weekend did not end there as the gold-medal scholar travelled back to the West Midlands to compete again the following day at the Birmingham Grand Prix. Running within 0.03 seconds of his personal best, Jake managed a 6th place (7.89) finish in a truly world class field, including world record holder Aries Merritt and current world lead Andrew Pozzi. A fine couple of days in the office for the BUAC debutant.

Further medals came from the track during the championships, namely both the men’s and women’s 1500m produced silverware. 3rd year Naomi Collier ran a three-second lifetime best in a tough race to be rewarded with a brilliant silver (4:27.17). While in the men’s final, Ian Crowe-Wright battled hard through a busy field to claim bronze, doing so with great class and superb tactical ability (3:49.94). Special mention must go to 800m specialist Michael Wilson who fought as hard as anyone in an incredibly tight race to miss out on the medals by the slimmest of margins. Hopefully Mike can produce another run of similar quality at the outdoor championships to claim a well-deserved medal.

Elsewhere on the track, the team were unlucky as Pippa Woolven, who qualified with ease for the 3000m final, was forced to withdraw due to illness. Chris McAlister was disqualified quite harshly moments after winning his semi-final and the team missed the opportunity to defend its men's relay title, missing an admin declaration deadline by minutes (apologies from a devastated track captain).

In the field, veteran pole-vaulter Nick Cruchley added yet another BUCS medal to his name, this time a jump of 5.30m awarded him with a bronze to add to his dominant university record. BUAC’s stand out performance of the weekend also came from the field in the men’s triple jump. Third year scholar Lawrence Davies leapt to an impressively huge lifetime best of 16.01m to beat the rest of the field by over half a metre, break the 16m milestone for the first time in his career, claim the University club record for his own and climb to third in the national rankings for the event. A respectable set of achievements and a dominant performance from a man that has huge potential to achieve great things in the sport.

Further point scoring performances:

  • Women’s 4x200m relay (Ellie Edwards, Charlotte Orton, Olivia Woodward, Ruth Onyekwe)
  • Livvy Connor, 5th Pole Vault
  • Akin Coward, 5th High Jump
  • Sam Milner, 8th Shot Put
  • Jay Raradza, 8th 200m

Despite a good medal haul and strong individual performances across the board, it was hard to not come away from the Indoor Championships this year without the feeling that with a little bit more luck we could have had one of our very best championships as a Club. This is not to say, however, that BUAC can’t return to glory at BUCS outdoors in April 2018.

Thank you as always to our dedicated coaching staff of Luke Gunn, Bud Baldaro, Martin Owens, Dominic McNeillis, Jade Surman, Jan Aarre, Sally Straw, Matt Long, Matt Richards and Dean Miller. As well as special thanks to Sam Milner for taking care of the team on the massage table.

New track

trackThe University of Birmingham's new athletics track is complete! In a beautiful setting behind the University Conference Park on Edgbaston Park Road, the University has reached a dual use agreement with King Edward's School to turn an unused rugby pitch into the new home of BUAC.

We are ecstatic that we not only have a brand new facility for the club to call home, but also that it will be so close to campus and student accommodation in a stunning and secluded location.

Read more about the new track.

Club records

We are currently drawing up a list of club records and are after some help. We have produced the following list of records. If you have any updates or would like to help out, please email email Luke Gunn (Head of Athletics) at L.S.Gunn@bham.ac.uk

Male

Event

Female

Name

Time

Year

Name

Time

Year

Imran Rahman

6.7

2016

60

Louise Hazel

7.53

2006

Imran Rahman

10.39

2015

100

Louise Hazel

11.77

2006

Ralph Banthorpe

20.73

1968

200

Allison Curbishley

23.3

1998

Vaughan Esprey

46.8

1983

400

Allison Curbishley

50.71

1998

Ed Aston

1.47.02

2010

800

Hannah England

1.59.94

2009

Mike Kearns

3.36.81

1977

1500

Hannah England

4.04.29

2009

Ray Smedley

3.57.7

1974

Mile

Hannah England

4.30.29 (i)

2009

Ray Smedley

7.54.43 (i)

1974

3000

Lauren Howarth

8.52.0 (i)

2013

Jonny Davies

13.23.94

2016

5000

Hannah Walker

15.48

2011

Jonny Davies

29.24.07

2015

10000

Hannah Walker

33.1

2012

Frank Tickner

29.38

2007

10k road

Lauren Howarth

32.33

2011

Jonny Hay

64.09

2014

Half marathon

Hannah Walker

71.5

2012

 

 

 

Marathon

Nicky Archer

2.53.06

2006

Julian Adineran

7.71

2012

60mH

Louise Hazel

8.4

2007

Julian Adineran

13.74

2011

110/100H

Louise Hazel

13.4

2007

Martin Briggs

49.86

1984

400H

Allison Curbishley

58.8

1996

Roger Hackney

5.23.6

1982

2000 S/C

Pippa Woolven

6.36.6

2012

Frank Tickner

8.31.4

2007

3000 S/C

Pippa Woolven

9.47.94

2014

Edward Dunford

14.95

2008

Shot Putt

Louise Hazel

12.27

2008

Chiedu Ufodiama

45.1

2012

Discus

Shelley Newman (nee Drew)

55.7

1995

Jack Vickery??

43.62

2013

Hammer

Chloe Needham?

42.24

2014

Duncan MacDonald

66.48

1996

Javelin

Jo Chapman

49.66

2004

Aled Price (i)

7.23

2016

Long jump

Louise Hazel

6.33

2006

Phil Ferdinand

15.94

2002

Triple jump

Emily Parker

13.02 (i)

2005

David Abrahams

2.23 (i)

1982

High jump

Julie Crane

1.83

1998

Nick Cruchley

5.42m

2011

Pole Vault

Clare Neve

3.8

2006

-

 

 

Heptathlon

Louise Hazel

5894

2006

Barry Thomas

7766

1995

Decathlon

-

 

 

Somto Eruchie, Julian Thomas, Sunkwanmi Olare, James Heptonstall

42.44

2007

4x100

Rebecca Williams, Bethan Wakefield, Ruth Onyekwe, Jennie Batten

47.4

2014

Jay Raradza, Mark Williams, Tom Conant, Mark Cottam

1.28.33

2016

4x200 (indoor)

Seemita Gumbs, Louise Hazel, Kay Sheedy, Danielle Fawkes

1.40.85

2006

Tom Gifford, Ben Waterman, Mark Williams, Sam Ellison

3.14.78

2015

4x400

Millie Clifford, Rebecca Linney, Cally Read, Leah Barrow

3.42.48

2012

-

 

 

Sprint Medley

-

 

 

Dan Pettit, Andy Whetstone, Tom Doe, Tom Penfold

9.58.21

2007

DMR

Hannah Brooks, Anna Simmonds, Lou Durman, Hannah England

11.18.34

2007

Chris Smith, Andy Whetstone, Andy Stanton, Ed Aston

7.39.81

2008

4x800

Anna Simmonds, Hannah England, Hannah Brooks, Stacey Johnson

8.39.34

2007

Tom Penfold, Tom Doe, Dan Pettit, Andy Whetstone

17.10.22

2007

4xmile

Clare Mensley, Stacey Johnson, Emma Langdell, Lucy Mayho

18.37.46

2008

The only rules we have are that the mark must have been achieved while being a student at the University of Birmingham but this does not have to be while competing for the University. On top of this we are also drawing up a list of Olympians/Paralympians and World/Commonwealth/European medallists. The rules for this are slightly different as they only have to have been achieved by someone who has studied a degree at the University.  

 

Olympians/Paralympians 

Names

Event

Olympics

Non Stanford

Triathlon

2016

Sara Treacy

3000 m S/C

2016

Alison Patrick

Triathlon (PT5)

2016

Laura Sugar

100 m (T44)

2016

Hannah England

1500 m

2012

Louise Hazel

Heptathlon

2012

Allison Curbishley

400m & 4x400m

1996 & 2004

Roger Hackney

3000m S/C

1984

Martin Briggs

400H

1984

Andy Holden

3000m S/C

1972

Ray Smedley

1500m

1972

Ralph Banthorpe

200m

1968

World/European/Commonwealth medallists  

Names

Competition

Event

Position

Non Stanford

World Series 2013

Triathlon

1st

Hannah England

World Athletics Championships 2011

1500 m

2nd

Louise Hazel

Commonwealth Games 2010

Heptathlon

1st

Dean Miller

European IPC 2014

T37 1500

3rd

Allison Curbishley

Commonwealth Games 1998

400 m

2nd

Julie Crane

Commonwealth Games 2006

HJ

2nd

Upcoming events

Bud’s Run and Birthday Bash on Saturday 21st October

Buds runAs many of you will know Bud Baldaro has been an extremely important stalwart of the athletics club for as long as anyone can remember. He is has always been known for his sense of fun and passionate approach to coaching and following his diagnosis with Parkinson's he spoke with his family about the desire to turn this challenge into a positive scenario.  As such we are delighted to invite you all to join us for another fabulous day to raise funds for the great work undertaken by the team at Parkinson's UK. 

What few of you will know is this year is a significant year for Bud. It’s his 70th Birthday and as Buds Bashsuch we are planning another inspirational day on October 21 2017, beginning with the fourth annual 5km fun run around the glorious University of Birmingham campus. This will be followed by a massive 70th Birthday party in the magnificent Great Hall to celebrate with Bud and raise as much money as possible to defeat Parkinson’s disease. 

We would love to see as many of you as possible there, whether it be the run, party…or both. Also please feel free to share your most memorable moments, photos, stories and of course those classic catchphrases from Bud.  More details can be found on www.budsrun.co.uk and entries open soon!  

Scholarships

Bob Ashwood Memorial Fund

The Robert Ashwood Memorial Fund (RAMF) was set up after the death of Robert (Bob) Ashwood in August 2013 to continue Bob’s prolific work in supporting and developing British Junior and U23 Middle and Long Distance Athletes.

Bob was well known and liked within the athletics club before his untimely death, having spent a significant stint with his long term friend and coaching ally Bub Baldaro. He was involved in numerous events and competitions and always had time to help anyone who wanted it. This fund will help to continue his work and has only been made possible with the generous donations of his friends and family, something that we must all applaud and be thankful for. Bob was a great man and someone who is sorely missed but will not be forgotten and his legacy will continue.  If anyone would like more information about this fund, the work it does or would like to support it in anyway please contact Matt Vaux-Harvey at bobashwoodmemorialfund@hotmail.com.