Biggleswade athletics club pays tribute to runner who was an ‘inspiration’

PUBLISHED: 15:17 12 October 2017 | UPDATED: 15:33 12 October 2017

Vikki at the Slimming World Christmas Party in 2016. Picture: Stuart Goodwin

Vikki at the Slimming World Christmas Party in 2016. Picture: Stuart Goodwin

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Biggleswade Athletic Club has paid tribute to a much-loved member who passed away suddenly a year after taking up running as part of an inspirational lifestyle change.

Vikki, right at the finish of the Casterbridge half marathon. Picture: Stuart Goodwin Vikki, right at the finish of the Casterbridge half marathon. Picture: Stuart Goodwin

The club, which meets at Sandy Sports Centre in Engayne Avenue, said it has been “stunned” by the death of Vikki Vowles – a 47-year-old marketing manager at chemistry firm CAS.

Vikki, whose funeral takes place today, had taken up running just over a year ago and had joined Slimming World in a bid to change her lifestyle.

She came through BAC’s first ever Couch to 5k programme and impressed from the start.

Club coach Giles Hawthorne described her as “a coach’s dream” and “untapped talent”.

tribute to Vikki in glowsticks and running shoes.Picture: Stuart Goodwin tribute to Vikki in glowsticks and running shoes.Picture: Stuart Goodwin

Vikki’s first outing in the Three Counties XC league last season, at Croyland Park in Wellingborough, has become infamous within the club because of how muddy she got while runing through one of the stream crossings.

Corinne Callligan, a fellow C25k graduate who was running alongside her that day, said: “There are going to be lots of extra BAC members making a very large muddy splash into the Croyland Park brook this year, inspired by Vikki.”

Having upped her distances impressively since graduating from the programme, Vikki took on the challenge of preparing herself for her first – now sadly only – half marathon at Castlebridge in May.

She proved an inspiration and became a friend to many new runners in and around the club. She also become a qualified run leader – the first rung members take on the route to becoming a coach.

BAC Glorun participants with race starter Larry Lamb. Picture: Stuart Goodwin BAC Glorun participants with race starter Larry Lamb. Picture: Stuart Goodwin

Another close friend at the club, Helen Steward, said: “She was a great mentor and would encourage people to make them believe they can do anything. Vikki was a great friend and always saw good in everyone, she always lit up the room with her beautiful smile. She was a true inspiration to a lot of people – including myself – for how far she had come in her life.”

Vikki lost a whopping five stone at Slimming World aided by her running, and shortly before her death she was announced Woman of the Year after a vote by others in her group.

Immediately after news of her passing broke, the club cancelled all training for a day, with coaches and clubmates.

But BAC members regrouped 24 hours later to gather for a tribute outing, on the Route 51 cycle path from Sandy towards Blunham and Willington – Vikki’s favourite place to run.

Vikki after receiving her Slimming World, Woman of the Year award.Picture: Stuart Goodwin Vikki after receiving her Slimming World, Woman of the Year award.Picture: Stuart Goodwin

Three days after her death on August 30, Vikki had been due to run the Glorun 5k in Stanwick, Northamptonshire, and a host of BAC members entered the race at the last minute in tribute to their friend.

Vikki was a dog lover and a frequent sight pounding the streets with three dogs – Scrappy, Marley and Riley – in tow. She found the experience of finally being able to run with her dogs a highly emotional one.

Vikki’s sister, Katrina, said: “Vikki enjoyed her new-found love for running and also the social side where she had made loads of new friends – some very close – and they would go away participating in various adventures. Her three dogs all miss her and will be very well cared for. Vikki was very much-loved and respected by so many people, and sadly missed by her two nephews Chris and Michael, her two nieces – Chris’s two girls – me and her mother.”

In her honour, family and friends will be leading a memorial dog walk around Stewartby Lake at Millennium Country Park in Bedford at 11.30pm on Saturday, October 21.

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