Happy Birthday LBAC!
Leighton Buzzard Athletic Club turns 40
A few weekend’s ago, Leighton Buzzard Athletic Club held their 40th anniversary birthday celebrations at Leighton Buzzard Rugby Club. A large majority of current members turned up to participate in a mixture of games, reminiscing about past glories and generally just having a great time seeing everybody not dressed in their running kit! (apart from a quick club photo for the archives)
British long jumper JJ Jegede joined in during the afternoon answering questions from the gaggles of excited juniors fresh from soaking their coaches with wet sponges. A magnificent cake in club colours was cut and enjoyed by club members, young and old, from those who have recently joined to those who are part of the LBAC furniture all together in one big celebration.
It all started in September 1976, when three running enthuaists met on their daily work commute from Leighton Buzzard into London. All three belonged to London clubs – Tony Barnes who ran for Crawley, and John Arnold and Ray Morland who ran for Ealing & Southall. On one of their many train journeys they talked about the possibility of setting up an athletics club in Leighton Buzzard, thus, a public meeting was arranged and a notice put in the local paper. The meeting was held, a committee was formed and the rest, as they say, is history.
In the beginning it wasn’t unknown for the club to turn up at races with the team all in one car! Despite this, Leighton Buzzard Athletic Club still proudly competed against much larger clubs in big events such as the Round Norfolk Relay, the Grand Union Canal Relay and the Southern 12 Stage Road Relays.
Today, nearly 40 years later, having struggled with membership numbers in the early 2000s and despite having no track of their own, the club is thriving. They now boast a healthy junior membership as well as a diverse and friendly group of seniors with a thriving womens membership.
The club has had a few famous names over the years with current Club President Gail Duckworth still competing for England And GB ‘Masters’, whilst vice President Richard Inchley is currently the Chairman of the Bedfordshire Athletic Association as well as being the County Cross Country men’s team manager for the last 25 years.
As a club, Leighton Buzzard AC has always been seen to be “punching above its weight.” As the smallest club in the division, the club finished 3rd in the Senior Men and 6th overall in Division 1 of the Chiltern Cross Country League in 2015/16, the best finish in LBAC’s history.
Despite having no outright stars, there are frequent individual and team wins on the local race scene, where the club competes admirably against the heavyweights from Bedford and County, Luton and Marshal Milton Keynes and that said, the club is proud to have a large mix of different skills, experience and knowledge. From the beginners group on Tuesday evenings, to the juniors aged 10 and above, to those who have run for their county in Cross Country, every person is a member of the club that is LBAC.
The club offers training sessions on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays for seniors. These include speed sessions, beginner sessions and a social run on the Wednesday. Members of the club also often organise longer Sunday runs. The juniors meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays. If anybody is thinking of coming down, feel free to try the club out first, with more information about each session on the website.
The Club is also hosting the 35th Leighton 10 this year on Sunday 18th September. The race is well embedded into the club’s history as a well-known, scenic and undulating 10 mile route just outside Leighton Buzzard on the Bedfordshire/Buckinghamshire border. Perfect for those not quite ready for a half marathon, but wanting a bit of a challenge, or for those who are desperate to get an official time for a 10mile race.
One thing for sure following the birthday celebrations is that the future is looking bright for those in Purple and Gold. Here’s to another 40 years!
You can find out more and interact with the club on facebook by searching for Leighton Buzzard AC, follow us on twitter @LeightonRunning or even keep up to date with us on Instagram also @LeightonRunning