Truly Inspirational

Karen and Karl Harris at the Bath Half Marathon.
Another big week in the life of our busy club.

We’ve got the inspirational story of Karen Harris as she completes a couch to half marathon journey in just 18 months.

There’s the end of the XC season at the English Schools Cross Country Championships in Leeds plus the last of the Midland Open T&F meetings in Birmingham

Plus there’s lots of road races to report on, from 13.1 to 20 miles and finally, Emma Parkin tells us all about her extremely muddy race in the Lake District.

There’s also some dates for your diaries and lots more photos from the XC in Leeds, courtesy of Mike Sheppard.

Enjoy the rest of your week.

Best Wishes

David Jones
Couch to Half Marathon.

Report – Karen Harris.

To start off this week’s reports we have, in her own words, the wonderful story of Karen Harris running the Bath Half Marathon a mere 18 months after taking part in the club’s Couch to 5k group.

Truly inspirational.

“I am so proud of what I achieved on Sunday in my first half marathon. Couch to Half Marathon in 18 months!

The course was definitely not flat as I had been warned. It was dry and mild and a little windy but I kept going with my fantastic coach Emily Adams by my side all the way, keeping me hydrated and my sugar levels up.

I was hampered with cramp from 8 1/2 miles in different parts of my legs but Emily kept pushing me on. I didn’t stop or walk once and with determination I finished in 3hrs 13 mins.

At the end I was very overwhelmed and tearful.

Karl had a fantastic race with a time of 1hr 42 which knocked almost 7 mins off his PB for a half.

He also came back for me with 3 miles to go, so I had two fantastic people keeping me going.

What a club Stratford AC is.

Karl and I are raising money for Alzheimer’s Society by doing Bath Half, Brighton 10k and Brighton Marathon, which is in 4 weeks time.”
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Warwickshire’s Senior Girls XC team including club members Abbie Wootton (485), Daisy Musk (486 )and Imogen Sheppard (484)

English Schools Cross Country Championships.

Report – Paul Hawkins.

Adams and Campbell top of the class at English Schools Cross Country Championships

Alex Adams and Georgie Campbell were the top finishers for their county teams at the English Schools Cross Country Championships, which were again held this year at Temple Newsham Park in Leeds.

For the leading Stratford junior cross country runners, this event is often the climax to a long season. The setting was not a place for the faint hearted; last year it was bitterly cold winds with sleet whereas this this year there were very strong winds again with heavy rain.

The conditions rapidly deteriorated as runners in the 59th edition of the championships churned up the ground on the undulating course, so that soon it was very muddy underfoot.

Both of the Stratford runners in the junior boys’ 4.1km race were making their debuts at this level and will be pleased for the experience. Alex Adams, representing Gloucestershire, started a little slower than in his previous races and was boxed in but moved through and had a fine finish to gain a top-20 place, placing 19th in 14:11.

He will be running in the same age group next season so will be looking to make progress then.

In the Warwickshire team, Caleb Spriggs (309th, 16:24) ran well but had some breathing problems in the latter half of the race and dropped some places then.

We had two athletes on the Warwickshire team in the inter girls’ race, held over 3.7km.

Leading the way for the team was Georgie Campbell who ran with the leading group early in the race before finally finishing 31st in 14:25.

Gigi Thomas (271st, 16:14) was making her debut for the county team and was very strong throughout the race and will be pleased to have been the third finisher for the team.

The senior girls’ race over 4.1km had four Stratford runners, which meant a race within a race developed.

Emily Field, Gloucestershire, had a strong start and initially was well clear of her club mates. However, the three Warwickshire girls, Imogen Sheppard, Daisy Musk and Abbie Wootton seemed to get stronger as the race progressed.

In the final 300m of the race Daisy and Imy battled each other up the finish straight and both got past Field to finally finish : Musk (166th, 17:58), Sheppard (174th, 18:02) and Field (188th, 18:09).

Daisy and Imy were third and fourth in their county team. Unfortunately, Wootton (265th, 19:11) was feeling below par and dropped back in the final part of the race.

James Mucklow (237th, 19:35) has had a tremendous first season of cross country and finished third in the team. “Considering the conditions, I enjoyed the race and thankfully made it round without falling, although I’ll need to get some longer spikes for next year!” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed my first season of cross country which I can hopefully build on for next year. Now I’m really looking forward to the track season.”

The senior boys’ race was the last race over the longest distance of 6.7km with the worst conditions and the two Stratford athletes both found the going tough.

Owain Jones (262nd, 26:15) battled well through the mud but will be pleased to be moving onto track races while Ben Jones (297th, 27:59) looked comfortable throughout, maintaining an even pace although he would have looked to have been a little quicker.

The Williams Clan ( mum was throwing stuff outside!). Top – Linden Williams. Bottom left – Cole Williams with George Fox Rowe and bottom right – Jasmine Williams.
Midland Open.

Report – Paul Bearman.

The final Midland Open event in Birmingham gave several of our Track and Field athletes the opportunity to round off the indoor season with a flourish. It produced encouraging signs of how their winter training had gone in preparing them for the upcoming outdoor season, which starts in April.

The Williams family turned out in force and for Cole Williams, who has worked extremely hard in the winter and has competed regularly to embed the fine technicalities of hurdling, it paid dividends.

He again lowered his PB in the U17 60m sprint with 7.34s and equalled his PB in the 60m hurdles of 8.14s but the big bonus was having a run over the 100m hurdles for the first time since last summer and he knocked nigh on a second off his legal PB with 13.43s.

Williams’ sister Jasmine ran in the sprints and her performances demonstrated clearly that the longer sprints play to her strengths.

In the 60m she ran 8.48m and in the 100m her time of 13.47s wasn’t far off her PB set last year.

Younger brother Linden is following in his brothers footsteps and after running 11.24s in the U13 60m hurdles, he switched to his outdoor distance and ran a PB in the 75m hurdles of 14.58s.

After their mum Paula’s fantastic gold winning exploits the previous week in the British Masters Championships she threw 37.51m in the Javelin, not far off her PB.

The Gravelsons are another family who regularly compete throughout the year and U17 multi eventer Charlotte had a good day. Her 60m hurdles time of 10.62s was just .02s outside her PB but her 80m hurdles time of 14.22 set a new PB. She rounded off her weekend by throwing 17.02m in the Javelin.

Brother Harry had an even better day setting new PBs in the U17 60m (8.65s) and the 100m (13.69s).

Dad Brian also stretched his legs over 60m (9.07s) and the 100m (14.28s) for the first time this year.

Joshua Roberts has just moved up to the U15s and throwing the 600gram Javelin in competition for the first time he opened his season with a solid 36.68m.

George Fox Rowe is in his first year as an Under 17 and he had PBs in the High Jump, 1.70m and the 60m Hurdles 9.73s and finished with a season’s best of 5.34m in the Long Jump.

U17 Alex Powell is proving to be a very consistent sprinter and his 60m time of 5.51s and his 100m time of 11.86s were just shy of his PBs.

Another multi eventer, U17 Maddie Clark had the busiest of competitions and produced solid performance in 60m hurdles (9.78s), 80m Hurdles (13.21s) and 60m (8.74s) on the track. In the field she threw 8.44m in the Shot and 4.64m in the Long Jump.

After a winter disrupted by niggling injuries, Kaili Woodward returned to competition as an U20 and jumped 5.09m in the Long Jump.

Faye Gourlay had her best competition of the winter in the U17 High Jump finishing with a seasons best of 1.50m.

New York Half Marathon.

Report – David Jones.

Pete Evans had two objectives when he entered the New York half marathon. Firstly to go sub 1:32 and thus get an age time qualification for next year’s New York marathon and secondly to try and run a negative split rather than in his own words “my customary go off too hard, suffer and then slow down as the race continues”.

At the end of the race he was extremely pleased to be able to report that he had achieved both objectives!

It was near freezing at the start of the race and with an hour’s journey to the start in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, the pre race preparation was difficult for him. He was seeded in a slower start pen than his target time. This was based on his 2017 NY marathon time.

This meant he had to work his way past lots of slower moving competitors which was not ideal but he controlled his pace and was able to find the necessary gaps to get past these slower runners.

He managed to run each 5k split faster than the previous one ( 22.01/21.54/21.45/21.38).

As he turned into Times Square he was only just off target. He forced himself to pick up the pace and was also dragged along by the supportive American crowd, finishing with just seconds to spare.

His finishing time was 1:31.48, meaning he was 1349th out of 24641 finishers and also 54th in his age category out of 1088.

Pete went to New York with his eldest son, who he had bribed into doing his first half marathon with a weekend in New York as the incentive. He managed 1:47:03, which was amazing for his first running race. Two happy and satisfied runners!

The race was won by Belay Tilahun in a time of 1:02.10.

James Cusack and Naomi Whittaker.

Results Round Up.

Reports – David Jones.

As the spring road running season gets in to full swing, many club members were out and about at the weekend competing in a variety of races over a variety of distances. In descending order of distance we first had Sarah Boundy competing in the Oundle 20 Mile Race.

This race is ideal for those training for London, Brighton or other Spring marathons and it follows a scenic course around the gently undulating wide, quiet country lanes in and around the pretty Northamptonshire villages of Fotheringay, Nassington, Yarwell and King’s Cliffe.

Sarah completed the race in a time of 3:44.15, finishing in 357th place and she was 40th in her age category.

The race was won by Phil Martin in a time of 1:58.14 and the first lady to finish, in 23rd place ,was Jennifer Austell with a time of 2:20.39.

Sarah’s comments on completing the race were “it was a hard day at the office. My hips, pelvis and lower back were tight and sore, so I got to perfect my walk/run technique. I saw a herd of deer running across a field, which was nice and the crowd helped me over the last mile. At least I got the chance to take plenty of photos on my various walk breaks!”

From a 20 mile race to a 15 miler. The local Banbury 15 Mile Race has always been popular with senior members, especially as it is part of the club’s Grand Prix competition.

This year, 6 members took part, with the first of these to finish being James Cusack.

The irrepressible Irishman decided to start St Patrick’s Day by competing in this challenging race as he prepares for the London marathon next month.

James finished in 54th place with a time of 1:48.43.

His comments on completing the race were “I thought it was a tough challenging course. Undulating throughout with some sharp climbs. It was windy in places where there was no cover but the sun was out while I was running so that helped.

I’d had some lower back pain this week, so I’m delighted that my body held out and happy with my time. It was great to some club members and yellow vests there today.

For me it was a nice way to start Saint Patrick’s day. Next up is the Coventry half”

Next to finish for the club was Yvonne Caswell in a time of 2:08.36. Yvonne was really pleased with her run and commented “It’s not an easy course and my aim was to run between 8/9 min miles and I managed 8.30s average. The last 5 miles were the quickest. There were a few cheeky hills, and great marshal support. I was really pleased I did it”

The other members to complete the race were Bev Bridgen (2:25.36), Rachel Spence (2:34.54) and Pippa Abrams (2:39.29 )

From 15 miles to 13.1 miles. In the Bath Half Marathon, some 6 members were competing. First of these to finish was Karl Harris in 1:42.08, an almost 7 minute improvement on his previous best time for this distance.

Next was Louise Stewart (2:06.50 ) followed by Annie Threadgill (2:34.39) who was followed by septuagenarian Richard Eden in 2:45.33.

Then it was Victoria Jeffs (2:48.25) competing in her first race for 3 years. Despite the windy conditions, Victoria really enjoyed the race. She thought the course was really fabulous, as were the live bands en route.

Finally, Karen Harris (3:13.44). Karen, who was part of the club’s Couch to 5k initiative, 18 months ago and was completing in her first half marathon.

I suspect that if someone had told her then that she would soon be running a half marathon, she would not have believed them.

The race was won by Christopher Thompson in a time of 1:03.09 and the first lady to finish, in 34th place, with a time of 1:12.44, was Kate Reed

In the Hampton Court Palace Half Marathon, Malcolm Bowyer had a storming race as he prepares for the London Marathon next month. His time of 1:30.53 meant he finished in 106th place out of 3455 competitors. Malcolm also, somewhat impressively, came first out of 72 runners in his age group.

The race was won by Richard McDowell in a time of 1:10.08.

One of the finest performances of the day was that of Naomi Whittaker, who was competing in the Fleet Half Marathon.

Naomi last ran a half marathon 7 years ago. She completed that run in a time of 1:56.37, so her time this weekend of 2:02.41, was just 7 minutes slower. A minute per year. Naomi was quite rightly delighted with her run.

The race was won by James Bellward in 1:07.34 and the first lady finisher was Lesley Locks, in 87th place with a time of 1:18.27. 2700 runners completed the race

Emma Parkin.

Lakeland Trails: Cartmel Trail Race.

Race Report – Emma Parkin.

Having grown up in the Lake District, I normally defend it in all circumstances but the weather that it hurled at us on Saturday was indefensible.

Wind, rain and so much standing water that flippers and a snorkel made it onto the final kit list.

The organisers made the very sensible decision to shorten my planned 18k race to just 10k, mainly to safeguard the marshals who had to endure such grim conditions.

The race started and finished at Cartmel Racecourse where the going was distinctly soft, if not swimming.

Somehow the spirits of the competitors, marshals and spectators were still high as we were cheered on our way.

I’ve seen some mud in my time but this was truly spectacular… and also strangely fun.

We sludged, sploshed and slid our way round the 10k course, just occasionally looking up long enough to enjoy the scenery. I finished 9th female in a time of 56:02.

If you’re on the lookout for a race with a difference, it’s definitely worth checking out the Lakeland Trails events. I’ll be up again for the Hawkeshead Trail Race in April and very much hoping for brighter skies.
More photos from the XC in Leeds.

Courtesy of Mike Sheppard.
Clockwise from top left : Owain Jones, Imy Sheppard, Ben Jones, Gigi Thomas, Caleb Spriggs, Abbie Wootton, James Mucklow and Daisy Musk.
Somehow a newsletter just wouldn’t seem complete without a photo of Alex Adams and Georgie Campbell!
Details below of an early April event that we as a club support.

R&N Rugby Spring Medal Open

Saturday 6th April

Rugby Athletics Track, Queens Diamond Jubilee Leisure Centre,

Bruce Williams Way, Rugby, CV22 5LJ


Rugby Athletics Track, Queens Diamond Jubilee Leisure Centre, Bruce Williams Way, Rugby, CV22 5LJ

R&N Rugby Spring Medal Open – Saturday 6th April