Running Grand Prix – Bedford Autodrome – 18 Oct 2020

It was another successful day for ESM at Bedford Autodrome on Sunday, reports Martin Daoud. Despite a chilly start, the weather was ideal – there was no wind at all, which was quite surprising given the remote location of the race track, surrounded by the Bedfordshire countryside.

There was a range of distances starting every half hour: the marathon at 9am, followed by 20 milers, 16 milers, half marathons, 10k and 5k. Martin comments that it got quite busy towards the latter part of his race, and precious energy was used weaving past slower runners.

Marathon machine Steve Plummer always produces a strong performance, but excelled himself with a superb PB of 2:58:09, cruising with apparent ease round the 8-lap course to finish first in the V55 age category. A PB at 58, after years of clocking up several marathons a year, is no mean feat. Wilton and Martin both acknowledged that they benefited from Steve’s experience during the long training runs they had completed together in the run-up to the race.

Steve Plummer

It was a maiden outing for Wilton Grey, though his original debut plans were thrown into disarray by Covid. He had lined up Manchester and Chicago as his first and second marathons, with the intention of achieving good-for-age qualification for the London Marathon 2021. So, he was looking for an alternative marathon and Bedford came up. His goal was to run sub 3:30 and to experience a marathon and it effects.

As it turned out, he suffered severe cramp during the race, but struggled on to finish in a time of 3:43:13, placing second in the M60 age category. Luckily, he was also under the V60 good-for-age standard of 3:45 for the London Marathon 2021. He commented afterwards that despite the pain, he had taken away some great lessons about the do’s and the don’ts of marathon running. Although he’d received many helpful tips in advance from his training partners, he rightly points out that what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another.

Wilton Grey

Martin Daoud opted for the 4-lap half marathon, also getting a PB, and finishing third in the M55 age category with 1:26:21. Sadly, there was no award ceremony afterwards, in line with current Covid guidelines.

Martin Daoud

Apart from the start/finish area the support was fairly sparse, Martin adds, apart from the novelty of a solo steel band playing halfway round the lapped course. Jamie Taylor-Caldwell was spotted there too with West 4 Harriers Paul Piper and Chris Mason, (the latter second-claim ESM), who finished second and third respectively. Jamie provided a welcome cheer around the far end of the track. Chris Hepworth was spotted directing runners to the finish funnel, working as part of the event organising team, while Mo Ali and Chauncey Edwards were part of the the marshalling crew.

Well done to all and thanks to Steve’s wife Caroline Plummer for these photos. Full results here and to follow on runbritain.

Marathon medals, always a bit special