5th March 2016 - Pozzi at the UK Indoor Champs, Williams in Indoor T&F success, Cross Country Champs, Road running madness and Peopleton Duathlon . . .

2016 Indoor British Athletics Championships

After a terrific run by Stratford ACs Andrew Pozzi in the final of the men’s 60m hurdles at the 2016 Indoor British Championships in Sheffield he was crowned champion. After battling injuries over the last few years he has been working even harder to get back to his brilliant best and in clocking a season’s best 7.61 and winning gold he proved just that; back to his brilliant best.

Pozzi approached the championships with a low key, under the radar build up and with just one race and a good warm weather training trip to Tenerife behind him he was looking to “see how it goes”. His heat had his supporter’s hearts in their mouths as a “twitch” at the start of his race bought a warning but then as the race unfolded he powered his way to a comfortable victory in 7.76 secs easing up. The final was pure power from the blocks to the finish and his victory over fellow Olympian Lawrence Clarke who finished second with 7.65 and David Omoregie who secured bronze in 7.71 was earned with a three way dip for the line. 

Afterwards Pozzi said “that one was really hard for me, just in terms of my limited preparation, so it’s nice to be back after injury and it makes you appreciate it so much more. I am absolutely delighted to win because I knew that the other hurdlers had been running very well and were going to be really strong, so this means a lot to me”. Winning the championship meant automatic qualification for the World Championships in Portland Oregon in March but with the Olympics the main target for 2016 Pozzi will think about whether he goes or not. He said “I love running for GB but things are going well and as I am focussing my attention on the Olympics and with all the injury setbacks I’ve had I don’t want to disrupt my training and preparation”. 

After winning the UK under 20 High Jump championships 2 weeks ago, Rory Dwyer stepped up to the big boys event and came away “disappointed”. The event was won by Chris Baker with Olympic bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz in the silver position. Dwyer said “I felt good in the warm up and relatively comfortable at my opening height of 2.02 and then 2.07 but then at the next height of 2.12 it wasn’t good technically and I think I was just trying too hard which messed my rhythm up”. He added “I’ve enjoyed the indoor season and winning my 4th indoor title and the experience of competing with the seniors and learnt a lot stepping up but now it’s back to the winter training and I’m looking forward to the outdoor season”. Andrew Pozzi and Rory Dwyer are supported by FPS Distribution Ltd.

English Inter-Area Championships - Paula leads the way for the Midlands.

Competing for the Midlands team in the English Inter-Area Championships at Lee Valley on Sunday 28th February, Stratford Athletics Club's Paula Williams led the way with two gold medals and a bronze. Competing in her first ever indoor competition, against some of the best Masters athletes in the country, Paula started nervously. In the 60m, a slow start and a fast finish were only good enough to secure third place in a fast field. Then, in the 200m, her winter training programme showed its results as she won her age group with a new personal best time of 28.02, nearly a second better than her previous best. In a busy day, she then ran the first leg of the 4x200m relay before sprinting over to compete in the triple jump which, despite this less than ideal preparation, she managed to win, rounding off a very successful day. 

Meanwhile, in the longer distances, Stratford's Phil Brennan was also busy competing for the Midlands team. In a hard fought 800m, he held on to secure second place. Then, despite tired legs, he came within two seconds of his indoor personal best in the 1500m to win the bronze medal. 

Paula and Phil are two members of a growing and increasingly successful masters Track and Field section within Stratford Athletics Club, including some athletes who have returned to competitive running, jumping or throwing after a gap of 30+ years. If you used to enjoy competitive athletics at some stage of your life, you might want to let us help you rediscover that enjoyment and boost your fitness. Report by Peter Coote.

Tough challenge at the National XC Championships. Donington Park - 27th Feb 2016.

Report by Brian Gravelsons and Paul Hawkins.

The National Cross Country Championships took place at Donington Park, the first time this venue has been used for the championships, with a number of Stratford AC athletes testing themselves against the best cross country runners in England. On first inspection, the conditions appeared to be good: cool and overcast weather, the wind not too strong, a long, fast, downhill starting straight and a relatively mud free course. Further consideration revealed some tough undulations, areas with significant pace-sapping mud and a tiring long uphill finish. The latter outweighed the former and it was therefore no surprise that the times were significantly slower compared to last year for almost all age categories. 

Overall it was a good proper cross country course to test the country’s best. With no U17 women from Stratford AC able to attend on the day, the honor of being first out for the club went to Archie Musk (318th, 21.10) and Adam Pomeroy (347th, 22.20) in the U15 boys’ race over 4.5km. The course consisted of two laps that included the delight of a challenging climb. Archie commented after the race that he was happy after the first climb as the downhill came as a relief, until he realized he had to do all over again! Both Archie and Adam should be proud of their performance that completes a good consistent season. 

Only three U13 girls competed – one short of the number required for an overall team placing. Georgie Campbell (38th, 14.54) made the best of the tough conditions, starting fast – in the first 100m almost leading the field of some 450 athletes – to ensure a good position and then settling down to her usual high tempo in the top forty. Grit and determination ensured that Georgie maintained this position throughout to finish 38th, 151 places higher than last year. This is a true measure of Georgie’s improved running over the year and is a just reward for all the effort that she has put in. Ellen Taylor (160th, 15.54) ran delightfully well and should be inspired by Georgie as to what could be achieved next year as Ellen will remain in this age category. Charlotte Gravelsons (432nd, 19.00) found the course a real challenge, and although she didn’t relatively improve compared to last year, she knows that she will have gained an immense amount of experience by competing in every cross country race this season. 

Only two U17 men took on the 6km that included the two strength-sapping climbs. Oscar Barbour (109th, 22.35) maintained good form throughout to a well-deserved and impressive finish, improving by 54 places compared to last year, in this highly competitive race. Fergus Allison (190th, 24.02) started a little too quick and faded on the second lap but has had a fantastic cross country season and a top 200 National ranking is a real achievement and just reward. 

Five athletes made up the U15 Girls team that finished 30th overall. The race was over 4km and didn’t include the tough climb, but was equally demanding through treacle-tough terrain. Abbie Wooton (185th, 19.38) started steadily and increased her tempo throughout the race, finishing strongly and picking up a number of places in the finishing straight. Imogen Sheppard (204th, 19.51) started well and perhaps struggled a little to maintain her usual tempo in the latter stages. Olivia Hall (264th, 20.37) picked a fast pace to start and held on to a good finish, followed by Daisy Musk (271th, 20.50) who took the opposite approach: starting steadily and the improving her position throughout. All four have put down good markers to improve upon next year. The team was completed by Edie Hutchinson (331st, 22.28) who fought hard against the tough conditions, and although perhaps not at her best following illness, she should be pleased with another good National finish. 

Seven U13 boys took on the two small laps that totaled 3km. This was almost enough for two teams, demonstrating the commitment that has been welcomed all season in the U11-13 age category. It was a joy to see Louis Kendrick (144th, 14.38) relaxed and happy before the race and for this to naturally translate to a wonderful overall performance. This experience will prove valuable as Louis draws upon it over the next two seasons in this age group. Cameron Collins (311th, 15.55) looked cool and determined as he executed an impressive race, with an equally strong finish. Ned Campbell (374th, 16.52) ran well, saving a little for the long finishing straight where he picked up a few places. Caleb Spriggs (393rd, 17.27) enjoyed his first National, and has put down a good marker to improve upon in future years. Harry Gravelsons (410th, 18.48) was delighted with his performance and Jack Hemming (413th, 19.12) was determination personified. Jack started with a potential race-influencing ankle injury, and after one lap it was clearly not holding up, but, not wanting to pull-out, Jack courageously carried on and completed the race in resolute fashion. Fin Hutchinson (414th, 19.15) enjoyed the challenge and completed the team that finished 41st overall. 

After a great cross country season for the senior women, it was extremely disappointing that Stratford AC did not have any representation in the Senior Women’s race. On the other hand, six Stratford AC senior men competed over the 12k course which some felt was longer, the minimum amount for a full team, and finished 118th overall. The competition was fierce with 1,730 senior men taking part led by Johny Hay and Adam Hickey. By the time seniors raced the course was even tougher with softer ground, which was clearly demonstrated by the fact that the winning and median times were some 3 to 4 minutes slower than last year. Tim Hutchinson (670th, 56.02) led the team home as he did in the Midland Champs and similarly Kieran Tursner (791st, 57.27) was chasing him all the way. David Battersby (1,226th, 1.03.38) made a welcome return from injury and should be pleased with his run. Next was Mike Sheppard (1,320th, 1.05.22) in what he claimed was his longest run for many years! James Deacon (1,541st ,1.11.45) was unlucky to turn his ankle on the first lap but bravely carried on to ensure Stratford had a full team. We all hope James has not caused too much damage to his ankle. Finally Neil Musk (1,652nd, 1.18.19) found the going tough in only his second cross country race since joining the club but will have gained a lot from the experience. 


A busy weekend for Stratford upon Avon AC

Stratford upon Avon AC saw action on the roads and across the fields, but for all who were aware, the main event was in Kingston.

28th February Kingston Half Marathon and 10k – Triumph for the Manns When club member Laura Mann ran the Half Marathon and sister Joey the 10k, the fact that they both finished in decent times is far less important than their purpose in running. They overcame personal tragedy to raise double their estimate for the charity “Mind” and earn the respect of all who know them. 

27th February The Belvoir Challenge – A Grand Day Out……… Picturesque but muddy North Leicestershire hosts a series of runs and walks of either 15 or 26 miles. The occasion is famed for its friendly atmosphere and breathtaking scenery, and is regarded as a challenge in itself rather than a time trial. SAC’s many entrants opted for the shorter, but still challenging distances. Conditions were too much for Lesley Kirk: despite being an endurance stalwart, after only a couple of miles a developing virus left her with just enough strength to get back to the start. Of the walkers, Wendy Bowyer and Jane and Mark Duncan finished in a crisp 4 hr 47 min, followed by jean Hill in 5hr 29min. Malcolm Bowyer and Larry Coltman were in the mix, but too shy to record times. Running were David Parkin (19th male, 2:04:30) followed by Lisa Dallisson,16th female, 02:28:26, Sarah Odell, 21/214, 02:35:01, and Philippa Bailey, 36/214, 02:44:04. Slightly further back a party atmosphere prevailed, with Penny Stainthorp (39/214) and Chris Whately (130/255) arriving together in 2:46:23, Kate and Martyn Sergent arriving in 3:53:14 “hand in hand with a smile on both our faces”, finally Andy, Karen and Rebecca Brown arriving in 5:32:30. 

28th February Around the Roads In Coventry, Kate Wright produced a fast half marathon time and the honour of being 2nd lady home alongside a category win in just 82:04, with James Cusack (85:12), Anthony Howell (1:30:00) (all three picture below) and James Lawson (1:53:55) running PBs. 

The Bourton 10k saw Emily Adams back to her best with 45:00 and Paul Jefferies pleased to be back on the road to recovery with 44:26. 

Finally David Jones was displeased with his 1:41:41 in the Brighton Half Marathon but thought the 44 miles marathon training in the previous week had something to do with it. I think so, David…. 

Report by Phil Brennan

Stratford upon Avon Triathlon Club - Grand Prix race 1 at Peopleton Duathlon 

This was the season opener on 28 February 2016 - 7km run, 29k bike, 3k run. Results Mark Atkinson – Total 1:25:52 - 10th overall, Phil Groome - Total 1:41:23 - 52nd overall, Fern Hordern – Total 1:43:35 - 57th overall.  

Peopleton Duathlon was once again the first event in the Stratford upon Avon Triathlon Club 2016 Grand Prix series with just three members taking part in this early season event. It was nonetheless a bright and more importantly dry day for the 100 or so competitors. Mark Atkinson, first over the line for the club in 10th position overall was delighted with his finish in his first ever duathlon event. All went to plan until arriving in T2 with hands so cold it was almost impossible to undo his helmet, he managed to rack his bike and eventually remove his helmet and put in a speedy second run. Phil Groome running as part of Team KES just pipping Fern to the post. Fern was competing in just her second duathlon, saying after the race “I am still in the process of sorting out my bike and gears etc – but at least this time I wasn’t wearing a flappy blue anorak and a helmet which kept falling over my eyes (as I was in the first race in January) so that is a couple of steps forward!” 

Report written by Victoria Jeffs


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