2015 proved to be an eventful and successful year for Bury Athletic Club. In January Ben Forrest, Francis Woodcock, Sophie Whittaker, Christie Cook and Benn Heywood all qualified to represent Greater Manchester in the Inter Counties Cross Country Championships. February saw Marcus Dey win the Greater Manchester Schools Cross Country Championships with Francis Woodcock, Ben Forrest and Sophie Whittaker also securing selection for the English Championships. The trio of Benn Heywood, Harry Stainton and Rob Granby won the bronze medal for the senior boys’ team event.
In March, Marcus Dey’s performance in the English Schools Cross Country earned him an England vest in an international fixture in Dublin where he finished an impressive eleventh. In Sporthall athletics Bury’s Grace Goodsell, Patrick Clarke and Daisy Worthington all qualified to represent Greater Manchester in the national finals.
April saw Katie Geelan and Byron Edwards running in the Manchester Marathon two leg relay and securing victory in a combined time of 2:56:08. In the London marathon, Byron ducked under the 3 hour barrier with a time of 2:58:02.
In May the track and field season got under way with Bury competing in the Northern League, the Cheshire League and the Youth Development North West League with some fantastic performances from Bury athletes. June saw the Greater Manchester Schools Championships with Sophie Whittaker (3000m), James Coghlan (long jump), Marcus Dey (1500m), Hattie Vaughan (high jump) and Ellis Greenwood (hammer) all being selected for the county team. Over the fells Ben Coop and Donna Cartwright ran out as victors in the Two Towers fell race and followed this with further wins in the Eddie’s Revenge race a fortnight later. It was also announced that Bury’s Treasurer, Jean Simpson, was to be awarded the MBE for services to athletics.
July saw more fixtures including the Mini Leagues where Grace Goodsell, Daisy Worthington, Jerrel Livingston, Katherine Townsend and brothers Elliott and Evan Savage all performed well.
In August the track and field season started to draw to a close. Bury’s young athletes performed brilliantly to win the YDL and the seniors hung on bravely to avoid relegation in the Northern League. Sprinter Mike Hunter even ran in the 5000m to secure additional points with brave multi-event performances from Giles Bennett, Viola Melinghi, Nicola Harland, Katie Geelan, Hashim Shah, Rob Granby, Dave Flood and Harry Stainton. Jenny Yates, Pam Hitchin and Louise Hannant also stepped up from the jogging section to score valuable points. It was good news for Jenna Allen-Cartwright and James Coghlan as both were selected to run for Greater Manchester in the Northern Inter Counties. Sophie Whittaker earned a representative vest in the World Mountain Racing Championships.
September saw the transition to the roads with young Patrick Watson producing a stunning 35:50 in the City of Salford 10k. Still on the track James Colbeck competed for Great Britain in the World Transplant Games where he won the long jump and was honoured as team captain.
In October the Cross Country season got under way with Bury competing in the Red Rose League, a series of four meetings over October November and December. It was Bury’s best ever showing in the league with a total of 9 league titles being taken over the individual and team races. The winners were Francis Woodcock (under 13 boys), the under 13 girls team, Marcus Dey (under 15 boys), the under 15 boys team, Sophie Whittaker (under 17 ladies), the under 17 mens team, the under 20 ladies team, the under 20 mens team and the senior ladies team. Also worthy of mention were individual runners up Caitlin Cole (senior women), Benn Heywood (under 20 men) and Oliver Makinson (under 15 boys) and third placed finishers Christie Cook (under 20 ladies) and Daisy Worthington (under 13 girls).
Away from competition, the Market Street Bury AC site has also seen transformation thanks to the hard work of Roger Morley and the ground staff. The 400m track has been deep cleaned and re-lined, the old changing rooms demolished to create additional parking space and the 650m cinder training track weeded and scarified to give much needed additional resource to support the club’s growing membership. Storage facilities have been moved for the Club’s equipment and additional fencing has been fitted to protect the cinder track. Everyone at Bury is looking forward to 2016 with eager anticipation.