Today (March 19) more than 2,000 pupils and staff from Beaconsfield's two secondary schools take part in the Tesco 5km Fun Run. Reporter POLLY MANSER and sixth-formers Jay Slayton-Joslin and Katie Nicol take a look at how everyone at The Beaconsfield School has been getting on with their preparations for the event

WITH just a day to go, students and staff at The Beaconsfield School will be concentrating on getting into the right mental state. For while most are taking part simply for fun, there is growing evidence of a competitive minority determined to grab the best finishing times.

It appears that participants from The Beaconsfield School are ditching their fancy dress costumes in a bid to increase their speeds.

They are clearly hoping that competitors from Beaconsfield High School, who are dressing as everything from M&Ms to fairies, will be slowed down by their costumes.

The Beaconsfield School has traditionally run the race alone.

Among the contenders for fastest time is Dougald Tidswell, a 38-year-old maths teacher and veteran cross-country runner.

No doubt he will be aiming to beat Owain Johns, the high school's acting headteacher, who is rumoured to be wearing a 118 118-style outfit complete with 1970s-style nylon shorts, having ditched his vampire outfit (as in our picture) after discovering that the cape held him back in the wind.

Among the students, 16-year-old Frankie Lord, a keen ice hockey player, is confident of a very good time.

Acting headteacher Nigel Dudding admitted this week to using school assemblies and the promise of extra house points to get both staff and pupils to train harder in a bid to beat the opposition.

He said: "We are expecting good results." He denied being concerned that some of the high school girls might be faster than his fastest boys, saying: "That won't happen. Our boys take athletics very seriously and we have some excellent cross-country runners."

For coverage of the event, pictures and the best 25 times from each school, see here tomorrow afternoon, or next week's edition of the Advertiser.

SAM Burns, 16, vice-captain of the school's hockey team, has been out of action for four months because of an injury.

But he has been training in the gym, and although his fitness level is currently less than it normally is, he is hoping he will finish in a decent time 'to boost morale for the team'.

FRANKIE Lord, 16, must be a contender to be one of the three fastest students.

A keen ice hockey player, his fitness level was already high before he started the training he was planning to do when he spoke to us. His main aim though is to beat all the girls at the high school as his greatest fear appears to be the prospect of being beaten by a girl.

He said: "I'm confident that I can finish in a good time. However, I am nervous there might be quick people from the girls' school."

He said he was especially keen to beat fellow sixth-former Shomari Knott.

ANISHA Kishore, 18, is one of only two of all the people we spoke to who is even considering wearing a costume.

This may compensate for her lack of enthusiasm for running as Nish, who admits to having a 'really poor' fitness level, has always previously aimed to come in last in the fun run, and is proud to have achieved this each time.

When asked about training, she simply said: "No."

BEN Ajarie, 16, lists watching wildlife documentaries as his interest, but we hope he will not be wasting time looking out for wildlife on the Hall Barn Estate.

He wants to achieve a respectable time and thinks the event will be 'a bit of fun'. He regularly plays football and basketball.

REES Oliver, 17, is another pupil whose main aim is to 'beat all the girls'.

He has been doing cardiovascular training and weight lifting, so he should be able to do well. He said he is confident, and he is looking forward to 'having a laugh with the chums'.

AS THE lead teacher for religious studies, Kathryn Griffith, 33, may be hoping for some divine inspiration to keep her going.

Describing her current fitness level as 'just OK', she said: "Just to finish would be good." The only reason she is taking part is because of pressure from colleagues. Nevertheless she is taking her training seriously, having been out running 'boot camp-style in rain, snow and mud', she says.

MATHS teacher Dougald Tidswell, 38, is banking on his experience of cross-country to see him through the course. He ran for the Cumbrian Cross-County team but warned 'that was a long time ago, so don't expect miracles'.

More recently he has been dancing, having taken part last week in the school's Strictly Come Beaconsfield competition.

This is the first time he has felt competitive enough to take part in the fun run; previously he has preferred not to overexert himself, and has only helped at the check points. He says he is 'not overly confident' but that he has a 'slightly competitive personality' and with house points on offer, he could not resist.

He will not be wearing a costume, suggesting that the sight of him running will be funny in itself.

PAUL Heckford, 52, says he may struggle to complete the course because of a recurring achilles and hamstring problem.

However, the lead teacher for travel and tourism will give it his best shot and is aiming to make sure that he at least beats one of his year 11 pupils, Jacques Ouaret.

He describes his fitness level as 'average for his age' but he does plenty of sport, including seven-a-side soccer, tennis doubles and a weekly hockey match, which he says 'keeps me ticking over'.

We feel Mr Heckford may be modest; and if his achilles and hamstring behave, he could be one to watch.