Another World Champion!

Phil Brennan and the GB XC team on the podium with their World Masters Championships gold medals
Pride of place this week surely goes to our International Masters athlete Phil Brennan. He led the Great Britain team home to a glorious gold medal in the XC at the World Masters Indoor Championships. He also finished 6th in the 3000m, with the 800 and 1500m finals to come.

Our Tri Club juniors got the season off to a flying start in their opening two fixtures.

I erroneously jumped the gun last week by stating that the cross country season was over. So this week we do have the final reports of the season, with some more memorable performances from our junior cross country runners.

With the Spring Marathon training season well under way, we had lots of runners competing in both the Ashby 20 and Coventry Half. Pride of place in the latter going to Jen Wharton. Jen is a recent graduate of our Couch to 5k initiative. She’s gone from Couch to 5k to half marathon in just seven months. Hugely impressive.

While mentioning the Couch to 5k initiative, it’s worth stating that most of the latest group will graduate a week on Saturday by taking part in the local parkrun. I can definitely report that this group are truly inspirational.

We also have Maria Haslam in the Westonbirt Arboretum Duathlon, Adrian Mason completing the inaugural Notts20, Tomas Horbury in the London Landmarks Half Marathon plus Lisa Dallisson and Lesley Kirk in the Ironbridge Half and finally there was a magnificent performance from Penny Stainthorp in the Weston Super Half.

Make the most of the nice weather.

Best Regards

David Jones.
Phil Brennan in the 3000m at the World Masters Indoor Championships.

World Masters Indoor Athletics Championships – Toruń. Poland.

Brennan Gets Gold.

Report – David Jones.

Our very own Phil Brennan led GB home to a magnificent team gold in the cross country event at the World Masters Indoor Athletics Championships in Toruń. Poland – although primarily an indoor championship, the cross country was held outdoors.

Completing the 6k course in 31.29, Brennan was 7th overall and the first Team GB athlete to finish. With his fellow team mates finishing in 9th and 11th place, the Great Britain team were able to secure the gold medal, with Germany in 2nd and Italy in 3rd place.

On Sunday, Phil, who is one of 393 athletes competing for Great Britain at these championships, secured 6th place in the 3000m, finishing in a season’s best time of 13.27.74.

He was the second GB athlete to finish, with team mate Victor Shirley finishing in 2nd place overall in a time of 12.28.07. The race was won by the Spaniard Juan Lopez Garcia in a time of 12.18.86. Garcia also won the cross country race.

Phil’s comments were “Any one when saw me at the end of the Midlands Cross Country Championships would recognise me now – wrecked.

The course was only 6k but hilly, alternating deep sand and tree roots, 270 degree turns but it was at least dry. The finish was like a casualty station with bloody knees and bruises – one of my chums with suspected cracked ribs. Thankfully I managed to avoid any damage.

I finished 7th, reasonably close to everyone except the rocket powered Spaniard who won.

Having spent all winter persuading one of the others to run, on the basis that we had an outside chance of a medal, it appears that were have won team gold, beating the Germans by a narrow margin on time.”

Phil will be racing in both the 800m and 1500m later in the week, when he will be joined by fellow club member and international racewalker Paul Hawkins.

Ellie Deaner, Juliette Marshall, Charly Marshall (Back), Martha Bullock (Front), Molly Bullock (Back), Ben Harrison, Josh Harrison, Jake Deaner
Stratford Tri Club Juniors Begin Defence of Title.

Report – Mark Bullock.

The triathlon season is finally with us and the Stratford Tri Club Junior athletes have competed in the first two races of the season as defending champions in the West Midlands Junior Triathlon Series.

The first race of the season was The Burntwood Aquathlon in Cannock, that took place on Sunday 17th March in very cold and windy conditions.

The race comprised of a pool based swim followed by a run.

In the Tri Star 1 Category (150 metre swim/1,500 metre run) Josh Harrison kicked off the season in style finishing in 4th place in a time of 12 minutes 40 seconds, finishing agonisingly close to the medals.

In the Tri Star 1 girls race the club were represented by Martha Bullock who romped home in a time of 11 minutes 28 seconds to finish in first place, posting both the fastest swim split and the fastest run split in her age category.

Juliette Marshall was the only Stratford athlete in the Tri Star 2 Category (250 metre swim/2,000 metre run) finishing in 16th place in a time of 20 minutes 56 seconds.

The club had three athletes competing in the Tri Star 3 Category (400 metre Swim/3,000 run). Theo Skirvin finished in 4th place in the boys race in a time of 21 minutes 8 seconds.

In the girls race Molly Bullock just edged out team mate Charly Marshall in a close fought race with Molly finishing 4th in a time of 21 minutes 33 seconds and Charly finishing in 6th place in a time of 21 minutes 41 seconds.

In the final race of the day Joel Watson finished in 3rd place in the youth category (400 metre swim/5,000 run) in an impressive time of 31 minutes 58 seconds.

The second race of the season, The Black Country Junior Aquathlon took place in Wombourne on Saturday 23rd March.

In the Tri Star Start Category (50 Metre swim/600 Metre run) the club was represented by Ben Harrison taking part in his first ever race for the club. He finished in the medals in 3rd place, with a time of 5 minutes 29 seconds.

The Tri Star 1 category (150 metre swim/1,500 metre run) saw the club represented by Jacob Neal who finished in 3rd place in the boys race in a time of 10 minutes 57 seconds and Josh Harrison who finished in 8th place in a time of 11 minutes 50 seconds.

The girls were represented by Martha Bullock who finished in first place making it two wins from the first two races of the season, in a time of 10 minutes 19 seconds.

Jake Deaner competed in the Tri Star 2 boys race (200 metre swim/2,000 metre run) finishing in 2nd place in a time of 12 minutes 14 seconds.

The girls were represented by Juliette Marshall who finished in 15th place in a time of 17 minutes 53 seconds.

The Tri Star 3 category (300 metre swim/3,000 run) saw a very close race between teammates Molly Bullock and Charly Marshall for the second week running in the girls race with Charly Marshall edging it this week, finishing in 4th place in a time of 18 minutes 30 with Molly close behind in 7th place in a time of 18 minutes 47 seconds.

The boys were represented by Theo Skirvin who finished in 4th place in a time of 18 minutes 9 seconds.

The Club were represented by a strong trio of athletes in the Youth Category (400 metre swim/4,000 run) with James Mucklow winning the boys race in a time of 21 minutes 11 seconds and Ellie Deaner finishing in 3rd place in a time of 24 minutes 46 seconds, closely followed by Gigi Thomas in 4th place in a time of 25 minutes 15 seconds in the girls race.

The results of the first two races of the season will put Stratford in a very good position in their defence of the Midlands Series title.
L to r – 2408 Maisie-Joy Spriggs 2400, Caitlin Boyle 2409, Lucy Thomas 2403, Niamh Hillard & 2405 Maddie Linfoot – Scarlett Richardson was missing for the photo
L to R – 2408 Maisie-Joy Spriggs 2400, Caitlin Boyle 2409, Lucy Thomas 2403, Niamh Hillard & 2405 Maddie Linfoot – Scarlett Richardson was missing for the photo
National Year 7 Schools Cross Country Final.

Report – Paul Hawkins.

After what seems like a very long cross country season, the final races were on Saturday and fittingly featured the younger members of the club.

Year 7’s are not included in the English Schools Championships, so in recent years there has been a National Championships held at Prestwold Hall near Loughborough where each county can send teams of 12 girls and boys.

This year the Warwickshire girls team included seven athletes from Stratford AC, which is an impressive achievement in itself.

Leading the Stratford contingent and running close together all through the 2500m race were Maddie Linfoot and Niamh Hillard.

After a sprint finish up the finish straight, Maddie just held off Niamh as they finished in 45th and 46th place with the same time of 10 minutes 45 seconds.

Next to finish was Caitlin Boyle (84th, 11:10) who looked strong throughout the race.

The rest of the girls were all close at the finish: Maisie-Joy Spriggs (123, 11:31), Emma Francioni (157, 11:53), Lucy Thomas (161, 11:55) and Scarlett Richardson (169, 12:01) who all enjoyed the experience and will learn from it next season.

Henry Wheeler has enjoyed an excellent cross country season and was rewarded by being the only Stratford athlete to be selected for the boys team.

Unfortunately, Henry turned his ankle while training with the club the week before and it was touch and go if he could run at Prestwold. Henry started the race but was unable to finish due to the problem ankle.
L to R – Annie Silvers (77), Tessa Parkin (74), Emilie Ross (64), Olivia Hawkyard (62), Ella Peeke (63), Martha Peters, Harriet Black (75).
Warwickshire Primary School Cross Country Championships.

Report – Dave Parkin.

Stratford AC’s U11 section was well represented at the Warwickshire Primary School Cross Country Championships at Moreton Morrell College on Saturday 23 March.

Invitations to participate in the championships are based on performance in a series of inter-school races over the winter held within each Warwickshire district (south, east, north and central).

Each district selects up to 15 year-6 and 5 year-5 athletes for the championships.

Having been cancelled due to weather for the past two years, this was a new course for all the participants. A little longer than the usual distance at this age group, it was a good, fast course, with a steady climb up to the half way point, a fast downhill and then a final little climb shortly before the finish.

In the girls’ race Tessa Parkin, Annie Silvers, Martha Paters and Harriet Black all started strongly and were in the top 15 of the field at the start of the climb.

Tessa Parkin and Annie Silvers consolidated their positions up the hill, moving into sixth and seventh respectively by the half way mark.

Tessa continued to move past other girls and was up into second position with 200 yards to go, but, despite a fine finish sprint to close the gap to a couple of yards, she couldn’t quite get past the winner, Elizabeth Fleming from Tamworth.

Silvers (seventh) and Peters (ninth) were both close behind and other Stratford finishers were Harriet Black (24th), Ella Peeke (35th), Olivia Hawkyard (38th) and Emilie Ross (70th).

The boys’ race also had a contingent of Stratford runners in a fast field.

The early leader for Stratford was Flynn Dathan but Maxime Verstraeten ran a fine race with a particularly huge effort in the second half to finish in an excellent seventh place, with Dathan hot on his heels in 12th. Seb Hillard had a tougher outing and finished 24th.
Above L to R : Malcolm Bowyer, Kate Sergent, Emily Adams, Anna Schofield, Nic Reynolds (DNF), Lynne Hinson, Emma Donnelly and Martyn Sergent ( DNF)
Below – Annie Cox.
Ashby 20.

Report – David Jones.

The Ashby 20 race is favoured by athletes who are competing in Spring Marathons as it is ideal preparation for such races

The course is a challenging two lap format that takes runners through beautiful countryside and villages, starting and finishing in Ashby de la Zouch, the ancient market town in the heart of the National Forest.

Six club me completed this gruelling course, which this year was run in perfect conditions.

First of the Stratford contingent to finish was the irrepressible and seemingly ageless Malcolm Bowyer. Malcolm’s time of 2:21.57 ensured that he finished in 79th place overall and was 5th in his age category.

Malcolm was followed by Annie Cox, who completed the race in 2:42.02, a time that bodes well for her upcoming London Marathon.

Annie was followed by Emily Adams and Lynne Hinson who are both training hard for the London and Brighton marathons respectively. They decided to run this race together, both finishing in a time of 2:56.12.

Emily commented “It was perfect weather conditions and a lovely and well organised race.

I ran with Lynne and Emma Donnelly for the first 16 miles, targeting 9 min mile pace as we were using this race very much as a training run for our upcoming marathons

Emma slowly dropped at mile 16 so Lynne and I carried on running together.”

Emma Donnelly finished in 2:58.34, with Anna Schofield, who found the race challenging but she loved it, finishing in 3:11.18

Finally, Kate Sergent finished in a time of 3:30.25 and was delighted to be just 4 minutes slower than her time in 2017. She also finished 10th in her age category.

The race was won by Daniel Bagley in 1:51.43 and the first lady to finish, in 25th place, was Annie Byrne in a time of 2:09.47. 1230 runners completed the race.
Coventry Half Marathon.

Report – David Jones

Glorious weather greeted runners at this year’s Coventry Half Marathon. Among the 3205 finishers of the race was a contingent of 14 club members.

First of the 14 to finish, just a week after competing in the Banbury 15, was James Cusack who finished in 118th place with a time of 1:27. He also finished 28th out of 568 in his age category.

James commented “I was very pleased with my run. The morning was perfect with the sun shining and it was dry. Fellow club member Seth Turner had a great run. I was delighted for him because he got a big Pb . He was hot on my heels throughout the race. It was great to see so many Stratford AC vests at the finish.”

Seth Turner, finishing in a PB time of 1:27.36 was followed by Adam Evans, who recorded a 7 minute PB, completing the race in 1:28.42. Next was Ben Phyall (1:33.09) followed by half marathon specialist James Coy (1:35.59) and Andy Smith (1:43.44).

Other club runners to complete the race were ;

Pete Wharton – 1:44.32
Andrew Madden – 1:49.58
Rachel Green – 1:56.04
Sarah Boundy – 2:03.41 ( just a week after completing the Oundle 20 mile race )
Rebecca Wass – 2:17
Paul Nash – 2:49.22

Finally and possibly in pride of place, was Jen Wharton (3:02.22).

Jen was competing in her first half marathon a mere 7 months after starting running. She is a graduate of the club’s successful Couch to 5k programme.

The race was won by Chris McGurk in 1:08.31 and the first lady to finish in 43rd place with a time of 1:21.27 was Kelly Edwards.
Maria Hasalm.

The Westonbirt Duathlon.

Report – Maria Haslam & David Jones.

Tough Runner UK have introduced a brand new race for 2019, The Westonbirt Duathlon, which took place in the leafy surroundings of the popular Westonbirt Arboretum.

One of the competitors taking part was club member Maria Haslam.

Having had a sore throat since Friday, Maria decided on a conservative approach, starting with a slowish 5k run in 23.43, the first section of which was quite narrow with barriers on either side, so unless you’d placed yourself with the ‘elites’ you struggled to overtake runners.

The bike went really well for her (22k in 42:21) and she was pleased with that, as historically it’s been the bike that has let her down.

The second run was also 5k. It is unusual not to have a shorter second run. Maria completed that that in 21:52, which proves what a hindrance the narrow path was in the first run.

She felt she had more in the tank and had she realised that, she thinks she could have made up three age group places with a stronger finish.

Maria’s official time was 1:31:09. She was 5th in her age group, 21st woman (of 165) and119th overall (of 440).

The women’s race was won by Suze Anderson in 1:19.38.
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Notts 20.

Report – Adrian Mason.

I competed in the inaugural “Notts20” 20 mile race on Sunday 17th March. This was my second race in an SAC vest and it was a good event for anyone considering a 20miler in the future, to prepare for those April Marathons.

The closed road event starts at Holme Pierrepont Country Park, home of The National Water Sports Centre and runs out towards Trent Bridge cricket ground, passing Notts County football ground on the way.

Considering the poor weather conditions in the run up to this weekend, the sun shone on the Sunday, but the prevailing winds were still around and fairly gusty when running alongside the River Trent – miles 13-17 were particularly hard due to headwinds!.

I had always planned to use this event as part of my training for the Brighton Marathon in three weeks time. However, unfortunately, I’ve been carrying a hip flexor muscle injury in recent weeks that I’m having to nurse, meaning my training has not been where it should be. However, following some rest, I managed to get around the Notts20 20 mile course in 2:36:35.

I now plan to rest so I can try and enjoy Brighton and get around without further injury.
Tomas Horbury.
London Landmarks Half Marathon.

Report – Tomas Horbury.

The day started crisp and the sun was shinning brightly for the masses.

Masses there were, 13,000 people lined Pall Mall for the start of the second London Landmarks Half Marathon. There was the usual over excitable warm up people with the usual excitable people warming up, where as the hard core runners warmed up round the corner – myself, well I just had a cup of Rosie Lee.

The usual mad dash start was missing as we were segregated in the times we had guessed we would finish, I guessed wrong and started at the back with the fancy dress costumes, some bloke thought I was in fancy dress and kept asking if I was tinky winky or La La…

So with strava set and the starter klaxon bellowing we were off, past Trafalgar Square onto The Strand up Kingsway, sharp 180 degrees and head back towards the river. As we approached Waterloo Bridge, we are met by two groups of drummers having a “Drum Off” – the noise was deafening but it really got you going!

We headed back into London Town, past St Paul’s Cathedral, and the Tower of London and headed back towards The Embankment.

As we headed towards what can only be described as the single most boring part of the run, Blackfriars, we headed towards the drum and bass of the tunnel, this was amazing as the crowds were dancing and the runners were dancing.

We continued down The Embankment towards Parliament, where at mile 12 I hit a wall, not a real one obviously, but a mental and physical one. Thankfully my wife and kids were at the right place at the right time to get me going again. As we turned the final 180 degrees, we headed towards Downing Street and at the end it was great to be greeted by thousands of onlookers, all cheering all clapping as we crossed the line!

2h16m47sec it took me to do the London Landmarks Half Marathon and it was one of the best 2h 16m 47sec of my life!

Will I be back next year? Hell yes! Will I be quicker? Who knows, but I will give it a go!!

Denzo Ironbridge Half Marathon.

Report – Lesley Kirk.

A perfect sunny but cool day greeted the 900 runners taking part in the Denzo Ironbridge Half Marathon ,organised by Telford Harriers.

Starting from the arena in Telford Town Park, the route covers a mixture of surfaces from tarmac paths to off-road sections, taking runners through the park, along the Silkin Way, past Blists Hill Museum & Coalport China Museum into the Severn Gorge. From there it follows the old Severn Valley railway line, eventually crossing the world famous Ironbridge, the first of its kind in the world, before looping round back along the Silkin Way to the finish.

Two club members, Lisa Dallisson & Lesley Kirk, started the event. Lisa, in her first proper challenge of the year, had a strong and enjoyable run, finishing in 1.50.16, four minutes quicker than her time from the year before. She finished 33rd female and 8th in her age group.

Lesley, on the other hand, didn’t have quite the same experience.

Having woken on the morning feeling unwell, she started the run hoping that things would settle down. Unfortunately, by mile 3, it was obvious that wasn’t going to happen. Realising that continuing on meant she’d have even further to walk/jog back if she dropped out, she took the difficult decision to stop and turn back.

On the plus-side, at least this gave her the chance to cheer Lisa in and across the finish line.

First male to finish was Paul Ward of Telford Athletic Club in a time of 1.15.35.

First Female was Kim Fawke of Lawley Running Club in a time of 1.21.56
Weston Super Half.

Report – David Jones.

The Weston Super Half sets off from Marine Parade at the entrance to The Grand Pier. It takes in the glorious sites of Weston-super-Mare and the surrounding picturesque Somerset villages and countryside in a single lap, closed road, fast half marathon event.

The pièce de résistance, a totally unique opportunity to finish a quarter of a mile out to sea, on Weston’s Grand Pier.

One of the competitors in this year’s race was our very own Penny Stainthorp.

Penny had a superb race, finishing in 276th place with a time of 1:44.52. She finished 2nd in her age group, just 43 seconds behind the winner but a full 8 minutes ahead of the 3rd placed runner.

The race was won by Colin Snook in a time of 1:12.04 and the first lady to finish, in 4th place overall with a time of 1:15.46, was Charlotte Taylor-Green. 1578 runners complete the race.