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baRUNNER - a website for the British Airways Athletics Club
British Airways Athletics Club 2021/2022 Committee Members
* If the club had an up-to-date constitution it would remind us that as a section within BA Clubs the posts of Chairman, Secretary, Membership and Treasurer have to be filled with different individuals each of whom is a member of BA Clubs and is capable of fulfilling the responsibilities of the post. An AGM needs to be held each year in which those positions are voted in by club members who are also members of BA Clubs.
The other roles listed above are flexible - all members can put themselves forward to fulfill a role and appointments can be made at the AGM or at the regular committee meetings.
Club Event Champions
The British Airways Athletics Club is made by its members, not its committee. The events that we organise and the events that we take part in are championed by club members called Club Event Champions. The role of the champion will vary depending on the event but is likely to include pre-event publicity, some organisation on the day and a post event write-up.
Committee members and other key club members
Roderick Hoffman - Chairman / Communications Secretary
I've been the Communications Officer for nearly ten years now and as well as producing the weekly digests I also maintain the club website and Facebook accounts. I've also been Chairman for most of the last six years. Being Chairman means I have to be prepared to be the public face of the club, internally and externally. Recently I've also taken over the Events Secretary role - ensuring that the club diary is populated with forthcoming events.
I joined BA, in the OR department, in 1982 and Dave Barnard in the next office encouraged me to get into running. A year and a week after joining BA I was on my first ever flight, travelling first to Orlando for the 1983 WARR and then up to New York for the Marathon. I have attended most WARR events since and was the Project Manager for the London WARR in 2010. I'm now retired and able to spend more time running or involved in running. In truth I don't do much else!
A running confession - I easily get bored and therefore I try to run on lots of different routes. My favourite running at the moment is Street-Orienteering where not only is the course different each time but you have to make real time decisions as to where you are going to be running next.
My greatest running achievement is probably in parkrun. I was slow to get into parkrun, not being keen to get up for 9am on a Saturday only for a 5k distance run. But in an effort to attract new members I set up a club initiative to visit different "club-featured" parkruns. Having visited Bedfont Lakes, Bushy Park, Black Park and Gunnersbury I kept going doing different parkruns, and eventually did 52 different parkruns before returning to Bedfont. I was the first "parkrun tourist" to do "50 in 50" and the feat is now known as a "Hoffman" (the "Hoffman club" now has about 100 members). To date I've done parkrun at 301 different parkrun venues including Crissy Field in San Francisco, on the finish line of which this photo was taken.
Roderick Hoffman (2021)
Steve Hillier - Honorary Secretary
I've been a member of BAAC since the late eighties, having joined some of the club founders to run in the first Frankfurt Marathon as far back as 1981. I retired from running marathons at the ripe old age of 26, but Iíve been involved in London Marathon marshalling and sector management since the nineties.
My current committee role is Hon Secretary. The committee works very much as a team, so many tasks are shared between committee members and supporters. The primary tasks of the Hon Sec. include:
...and outside of the Secretary role, I get involved in...
Iíve tried most distances and disciplines, but the timekeepers keep warmer when Iím involved in Track & Field. Iím currently covering the T&F captainís role, while we look for a new willing volunteer. Let me know if youíre interested in taking on this enjoyable job.
My favourite discipline? It has to be the 200m. Favourite event? The highlight was probably being part of the 4 x 100m squad, when BAAC won the ASCA (European Airlines) championships in Helsinki in 2010.
I look forward to seeing you at a club event or social, hopefully in 2021!
Steve Hillier (2021)
Amanda Coombs - Ladies Captain
I was first introduced to BAAC some years ago by Neil Frediani, and I was honoured to take over the role of Ladies Captain from Clara Halket in 2020. My main focus within the club is to manage the winter cross-country league matches. I am also involved with the Ladies Speedbird 5K which we host at Harmondsworth Moor, and other club in-house and external events.
My background is in gymnastics and later swimming. I competed in the pool for many years, but it wasnít until I had retired from swimming, established a career, married and had children that I took up running as it is such a wonderful sport to fit around a busy life. Before long, I decided that as I could run and swim, Iíd try triathlon. Triathlon has been part of my life for over 20 years. I donít excel at any of the individual disciplines, but within the sport I have had several age-group wins. My greatest achievement (to date) is when I completed Ironman UK for my 50th birthday. I can think of easier ways to celebrate that milestone!
I particularly enjoy trail and cross-country running, and I volunteer as a guide runner for British Blind Sport. Here at BAAC I hope to grow the womenís cross-country team and increase involvement in all of our activities.
After about 10 years as Ladies Captain, I passed the baton over to Amanda Coombs last year. I had joined BAAC a couple of years before becoming Ladies Captain.
After I joined the cabin crew community 7 years ago ďRunning the worldĒ became a reality. My top three favourite longhaul running destinations are Cape Town, Santiago and Phoenix; shorthaul ones are Edinburgh, Hamburg and Stockholm.
Now into my 6th decade on Earth I am still plodding along and keeping my fitness in check. Since the beginning of 2020 and the lockdown, I participated in several virtual events and started to design my own challenges to overcome the boredom of just logging miles. It seems I have become a little faster than in my 50s despite running a lot more slower miles than I used to do. ďGo slow to run fastĒ, some truth in it. I volunteer at some of ultra-running events too.
I am staying in the Committee as Member without portfolio, to assist when and where I can. As and when the London Vitality 10000 comes back as a live event, Iíll be calling on you to come forward as volunteers!
Gary Rushmer - Men's Captain
Chris Kelly - Treasurer
After my initial membership of the club ended in the early nineties, despite highlights such as losing sensation in my tongue due to not breathing enough during an 800m Swim and embarrassing my colleagues in the annual Round-the-Block race, I let my athletic aspirations flounder until 2005, when I finally manned-up and entered the London Marathon. After improving by 30 minutes in 2006 I was hooked and looked forward to continuing that trend yearly! It didn't quite work out like that and actually took 7 more years to crack the sub-3, but I was very glad to tick that off.
Along the way, I was offered the position of Treasurer, which is great (though if anyone wants to find out more, let me know...) I have also inherited the Captaincy of our Green Belt Relay team - a most wonderful event - volunteers welcome! - and developed an inexplicable fondness for running hilly-double-marathons in South Africa - Comrades - which is fantastic (Shosholoza!). I'm looking forward to doing them again as soon as possible, but meanwhile recently enjoyed the OMM Lite, and am trying to squeeze in a bit more Orienteering.
Chris Kelly (2021)
I get involved with managing the entry lists and producing the results for BAAC organised races such as the Speedbird Ladies 5k and Concorde 5M, which has been a rather quiet of late due to the restrictions in place.
As well as running I also enjoy cycling, swimming and a bit of tennis in the summer months. Last year my sporting target was to complete the London Marathon, Ride London 100 and Serpentine 2-mile swim, however two of those went virtual and the swim was cancelled. My best athletic achievement was going sub 4 hours in the London Marathon in 2015, it took seven goes to get there, including the previous year where I was just 27 seconds over the time.
Outside of running I enjoy music and regularly play guitar or piano with a
band at my local church.
The picture was taken at WARR 2019 Amsterdam.
Steve Taylor (2021)
Alan Friar, Membership Secretary
My name is Alan Friar. As membership secretary, I report to the committee on the numbers and details of BAAC members. My job is also to encourage people to join the club and to renew their membership annually.
I have been associated with the BA running club since the early 1980ís when it was formed. Between 1979 and 1986, I finished seven marathons and my best time was 2:58:37 in the 1982 New York City Marathon. My hardest effort was coming first with a gale blowing in the 2005 Dorney Dash 10K, over 60 age group in a time of 41:44. With age catching up, I now enjoy doing a slow parkrun on Saturdays when circumstances allow.
When not running my other activities are playing golf and going on nature walks looking out for rare plants, butterflies and birds.
Other ways I help the running club are by marshalling at the London Marathon and for a number of years, Iíve been deputy to the Sector Manager along the Embankment.
Alan Friar (2021)
Simon Turton - London Marathon Coordinator
I started running with the club in 1990, when we were based at the Concorde Centre in Heston. I ran most World Airline Road Races (WARR) during the nineties as well as XC and road races, achieving some pretty respectable times. I also met my wife, Judy through the club and we married back in 2002. My fondest memories are from the team relay runs, specifically Welsh Castles and in the infamous Hood-to-Coast 200 mile relay in the State of Oregon; awesome! The London Marathon (LM) has always featured high on the priority list for BAAC and I stepped in one year to help out when our then Chairman, Brian was a bit under the weather, and have been involved ever since. As well as the London Marathon, its organisers have hosted various events over the years (Great City Race, Hyde Park Womens Race etc.) and usually their first port of call for support has been BAAC. I've been privileged to facilitate this work with the great support of members, families and friends. It was also this relationship with LM that gave me and many club members the opportunity to be Games Makers at both the 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games.
In 2010 BAAC hosted WARR in London around the Royal Victoria Dock. I relished the opportunity of being race director for the 5 & 10km runs, ably supported by a great team. Despite the hurdles, we put on a wonderful event and the clear blue sky that greeted us on race day was the icing on the cake.
I'm one of the few members of the club that still works at BA in Engineering Technical at the Hatton Cross base. My main sport is orienteering and I run for Berkshire Orienteers, something I've enjoyed since my teens. The appeal of orienteering is as well as running, you have to use your brain and you learn you'll never have the perfect run; there's always improvements that could be made. I also like the fact that orienteering has evolved with the times and provides challenges to suit all abilities from trial-o for less-able bodied competitors through to the recent use of GPS for street-o events.
The picture was taken during 'lock-down 1' having completed my 1 mile run in support of the BAAC LM relay run, which I thought was quite appropriate given my aforementioned involvement with the marathon.
Simon Turton (2021)
Steve Newell (co-opted committee member)
In his youth Steve Newell was much better at swimming than running and joined the old Speedbird Club swimming section in the late 1960ís. He was on the committee and was the last BOAC captain of swimming. He also served time as chair of the BOAC subaqua section and was editor of Boaqua News an early photocopied version of a newsletter for members. Perhaps his greatest achievement of those early years was the first ever full scale disco in the main hall at the Speedbird Club, attended by 400 ravers paying five shillings each. Steveís interest in swimming continues to this day and he has organised swimming in the tidal Thames and enrolled the help of Brian Forrester, Paul Brandon and John Williams.
Following a move to the old BEA headquarters at South Ruislip in 1975, Steve was introduced to the concept of lunchtime running by Denis Foxley and Steve Hillier and met Athletics Section founder members Guy de Bousac, Dave Blackett and David Barnard who were pioneers of a later popular annual jaunt of flying over to take part in the New York City Marathon. Steve watched the first London Marathon with his young children in 1981, decided he wanted to be part of it and joined the newly formed BAAC soon afterwards. There was the setback of a broken leg sustained sprinting to the finish of the Fleet and Crookham half marathon in 1983 but by 1985 Steve had joined the committee and was one of many who helped with the 1985 WARR in Hyde Park.
It was the WARR experience that triggered an interest in race organisation and during his years on the committee Steve introduced some of the events we still hold today such as the Parkway Mile, the Equinox 5km and the Watersplash 10km. Inspired by the legendary Patrick Barnes, Steve developed an interest (later an obsession) in triathlon and from 1987 to 1993 organised the Munchman Duathlon (run-bike-run) based in Cranford Park. This eventually had to be abandoned due to increased traffic volumes round Heathrow and the erection of more and more traffic lights (running red lights is a strictly enforced rule penalised by disqualification). Retirement from BA came earlier than anticipated and may indeed have been prompted by possibly his greatest triumph on behalf of the Athletics Section. This was the Millennium Mile, a 100 x one mile relay run in the Waterside grounds during working hours in July 1999. Made possible only by the company wide introduction of email, 100 employees and pensioners fitted their run in round various shifts, flex-time core periods and days off and the team of 100 finished in just over ten hours. Within months, the defeat of the Millennium Bug heralded the end of an era.
Now a grandfather, Steve believes in continuity rather than perpetuity and has retired to the back benches. He continues to help the committee when required and was heavily involved with measuring the course round Royal Victoria Dock for WARR in 2010. He has attended at least 25 WARR events and has become an enthusiastic Ďparkrunnerí, familiar with all the courses in London.
Steve Newell (2016)
Paul Knechtl (co-opted committee member)
My not so fondest memories of running, was taking part in the school cross country, coming second to last and hating it. I always loved playing football, but my years at college and start of employment put this on the back burner. To cut a long story short I loved playing football, but found my fitness lacking, so took up running with a colleague at work to get fit.
I started running in about 1993 and my first recorded run was the Parkway Mile on the 22nd December 1993 in a time of 05:25. I canít really remember much about it, but I think I enjoyed it! The first cross country however was a different story, Lloyd park on the 8th January 1994. I can remember that one very well and want to forget it, finishing in 131st place in just over 40 minutes and last place BA runner. How things have changed!
In 1995, I attempted my first 2 marathons, London in April and Slough in September. London was a bit of a disaster as I did not train enough and struggled to get round. Slough was a bit different, training went really well and if it wasnít for the Hood to Coast race 7 days earlier I may have had a fantastic time, but calf strains in the last 6 miles put pay to that. Learning Ė donít try and do anything a week after Hood!
Soon after that I joined the Athletics committee and spent 6 years on the committee as Communications & Fixture Secretary and Treasurer. During this time I organised a few events - WARR (coordinating the 50 odd paper entries), Hood To Coast, Welsh Castles, Concorde 10K, Round the Block, Round the Park to name a few.
In 2001, we then started a family and I stepped down from the committee, maybe one day I will return. I tend to do all my training at work now, with a fantastic group of friends. I still continue to run for the Athletic club, but my appearance at events has been a bit limited. Now the boys are a bit older and if I can avoid injury, I might start turning up to a few more events.
My highlight, has to be WARR 2013 Ė Cape Town, 1st place, beating the favoured runner from United, who is faster and younger than me. It was a perfectly executed race, letting him get a way in the first 5K, but staying within touching distance. Then over the sand at 6.5K kicking and pulling away, was in dream land!
Remaining challenge, would still love to break the 3 hour barrier for a marathon. I was so close 4 years ago, but it wasnít to beÖ
Paul Knechtl (2016)
Paul remains heavily involved including managing club kit and frequently stores club trophies for the year.