Double Gold Glory

Gold Medal winners Freddie Clemons and Lewis Byng.
It’s a similar theme this week with the English Schools National Track and Field Athletics Championships taking centre stage – the 4th biggest athletics competition in the world – just read that again !

Here’s the formula

Hard working and talented athletes.


A committed group of coaches, officials and other helpers, all of who are volunteers.


Supportive families giving freely of their time.

All working together.

One for all and all for one

And guess what ?

Success !


Only it isn’t.

It takes a special group of the above to make it work and boy are we lucky to have just such a group within our club.

Happy Days

Enjoy the rest of your week

Best Wishes

David Jones

Ps – No Newsletter next week. I’m away.
Ollie Creswell proudly displays his bronze medal.
Caitlin Buckley, Freddie Clemons, Cole Williams, Nick Butler.

English Schools National Track and Field Athletics Championships.

Report – Paul Bearman.

A record 13 athletes from Stratford upon Avon AC were selected to compete for Warwickshire at the English Schools National Track and Field Athletics Championships which is the 4th biggest athletics competition in the world.

Over 1700 of England’s top young athletes from 45 counties competed over two days that were held for the last time at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham, due to the rebuilding for the Commonwealth Games.

Qualifying for the championships is a tough enough ask but to step up to this national level is very hard, but once again Stratford athletes proved worthy and capable of competing against the very best athletes in England. Competing on such a big stage can affect an individual performance and the Stratford contingent went away with varying degrees of satisfaction with their performances but all of them will have gained invaluable experience for the future.

The ESAA programme runs like clockwork with heats and finals on the track and field all over the stadium from early morning to early evening.

Freddie Clemons went into the championships leading the inter boy rankings in the U15 80m hurdles and as the “man to beat”. His sluggish start in his heat meant he had to put his foot down in the latter stages to ensure he won in a comfortable 11.52s.

With other competitors raising their game the final the following day was geared up to be a really hard head to head race and it certainly met expectations. Clemons was more switched on and focussed at the start and he blasted out of the blocks. His powerful sprinting gradually moved him away from the field and he finished with the gold medal in 10.9s, the seventh fastest U15 time in the all-time UK rankings.

Lewis Byng was the outstanding favourite to win the senior boys shot and he duly delivered with a commanding display of superb throwing winning gold with a best throw of 18.57m. He said afterwards “I wanted the final competition before joining the GB team in Sweden for the U20 European Champs and I’m pleased with the way it went”.

The final medal from the Stratford contingent went to Ollie Cresswell in his last ESAA in the senior boys 110m hurdles. Jack Sumners decided not to run and Cresswell eased into the final in a time of 14.58s. With a more focussed approach to the final he was in contention for a medal throughout a thrilling race and after a mass dip on the line he finished with the bronze medal in a seasons best time of 14.16s.

Georgie Campbell ran a dogged race to finish 6th in her heat to qualify for the final of the inter girls 1500m in 4:44.34. The final was run at a good solid pace that suited Georgie but on the last lap the leader’s moved away and Georgie finished in 10th place in 4:45.75.

The senior girls 400m is always a very keenly contested event and Imogen Sheppard ran a good tactical heat with a final burst down the home straight to get to the final in a time of 58.74. The final was a very fast and Imogen ran hard and fast from the start finishing 5th in a time of 58.46.

After a fine run in his heat of the inter boys 110m hurdles winning in 13.50s, Cole Williams showed why he is one of the best U17 hurdlers in the UK and why he was going to be a contender for a medal in the final but things didn’t go according to plan. After the first hurdle in the final, the favourite Joe Harding of Essex was away and gone leaving the other 7 athletes to fight for the silver and bronze.

Hurdles, particularly at this level, requires a very high level mix of rhythm, skill, speed and technique and with one single mishap that can all go out of the window. A very disappointed Williams finished 6th in 13.41s after a very messy race by all the athletes and said afterwards “things didn’t go to plan. I was trying my best to focus on my race but when someone hits you and then knocks over a hurdle in front of you it is hard to keep your rhythm and momentum but I am happy for the learning and experience I got from it all”.

The youngest girl in the Stratford contingent was debutant Caitlin Buckley in the junior girls 100m. The start in any sprint is crucial and the fast start from the other girls in her heat left Caitlin playing catch but she got into her running mid race and pulled through to finish 7th in 12.82s but missed getting through to the semis finals.

The jumpers were disappointed with their competitions with neither Millie Leighton (10.76m) and Nick Butler (12.58m) competing in the inter girls and boys Triple Jump and Kaili Woodward (5.07m) in the senior girls Long Jump managing to reach their respective finals.

Inter boy Javelin thrower Ollie Wear (48.79m) and junior Joshua Roberts (39.79m) in his first ESAA were also disappointed with their performances after throwing below their best and not reaching their respective finals but despite the disappointments the experience gained from preparing and competing at this level is invaluable for the future.

Nick Butler combined with Cole Wiiliams as a part of the inter boys 4x100m relay team and they reached the final only to be run out of the medals finishing 5th in a time of 43.37s.

Other medallists for Warwickshire were inter boy Jacob Spencer winning the 200m (21.72s), Coventry Godiva’s Jake Minshull (2:00.75) with the gold in the junior boys 800m with brilliant timed runs and Jai Sispal (4:24.98) from Leamington who won Silver in the inter boys 1500m steeplechase .

The Warwickshire team also won the Group C County based on population for the Inter and Senior Boys.

The Warwickshire Team’s co-manager Danny Tolhurst commented :

“The whole squad performed with great credit and there were superb results across the board. It was truly inspiring to watch our athletes in action and also supporting their team-mates. Our club has an extraordinary wealth of track and field talent which is being nurtured by an excellent coaching team. Stratford AC is really making a big impression at national level.”

Eleanor Johnston.
Comeback after a bad injury…..

Report – Paul Bearman

Case Study : 24 year old Eleanor Johnston has been with SUAAC since the age of 8 and achieved a level of performance up to national standard as a multi eventer and in individual sprint and jump events. She went to Southampton Uni and achieved a 1st and Masters in Marine Biology and continued training and represented her Uni at the BUCS.

However, in her last year she completely tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) playing football and this led to an eventual operation to repair it and a year of rehabilitation to get her back jogging let alone competing.

Eleanor started her first job soon after the operation with the Marine Management Organisation and after the long hours and hard work rehabbing and with the typical determination she puts into everything she does, she returned to competition this year for the club in the Midland League and this weekend competed for the MMO at the DEFRA games winning the 100 & 200m, Long Jump and Shot. It’s a low key comp but now qualifies her to represent DEFRA in the prestigious Civil Service Games.

Conclusion : We’ve seen Paul Hawkins re -invent himself after injury as an international walker and in recent weeks amongst others we’ve also seen the likes of Archie Musk, Fin Hutchinson and Ned Campbell return to training after serious injuries and Sandy Green’s daughter Imogen is battling back from a botched ACL operation.

All these are inspirational examples of people’s determination to get back to fitness and doing the sport they love and for anyone who is struggling with injury it shows with the right support infrastructure and personal commitment there’s light at the end of the tunnel and another competition on the horizon.

Above: Some of the many volunteers from our club who helped the English Schools National Track and Field Athletics Championships run so smoothly.
Club volunteers with with Jason Gardener UKA President.
L to R – Jasmine Williams, George Fox Rowe, Adam Farrow, Jess Sheppard, Emily Madden Forman and Dan Boyd.
We are proud……

Paul Bearman

We are proud of the 13 athletes who competed at the ESAA champs but to see our youngsters and parents going about their jobs with smiles on their faces and being so well appreciated by others made my chest puff out even more….even if some of the baggy shirts didn’t fit too well!!

When we “volunteered” to put a team of ESAA volunteers together, Carolyne and I were driving along and she was jotting names down and we were clear that the young volunteers we needed to put forward to Gwil were not only sensible and with common sense but would also appreciate the opportunity to see a massive event in action.

As Carolyne has said, we hope that seeing top notch young athletics will act as inspiration and to produce our next generation of ESAA athletes. A huge thanks also to Carolyne for putting it all together.

We’re all a part of a fabulous club and you all made it just little more fabulous over the weekend ….thank you.
A letter of thanks to our volunteers.

Carolyne Johnston

Hello everyone.
Thank you to all of you for volunteering and doing such a grand job at the English Schools Competition.

You should all be very proud of yourselves as Paul and I are too. I have had a lovely text from Gwil this evening saying thank you for presenting him with so many exceptional athletes and parents. He was extremely grateful for your hard work and you are all a credit to our club.

For those of you on presentation it was a pretty hard couple of days as I appreciate it was non stop. You all did an amazing job and a thank you to Jack for stepping in to join the team for the day.

Hopefully the experience you have gained will have given you confidence to help at similar events again if the opportunity should arise. Maybe for those of you that are still young enough to compete at the English Schools competitions, this might inspire you to train hard and have the chance of selection in future years.

A superb couple of days for our 13 athletes, some disappointments and some brilliant results. Well done and see you all at training this week.

The Volunteers.

Without who….
Jasmine Williams, George Fox Rowe, Adam Farrow, Jess Sheppard, Emily Madden Forman, Dan Boyd, Alex McMillan, Antonia Leece, Amelia Peeke, Emilie Ross, Ewan Sparrow, Harry McDonald, Louie Newton, Seb Hillard, Ollie Hemming, Poppy Fox Rowe, Ruby Edwards, Fin Hutchinson, Alex Adams, Nikki Hillard, Paula Williams, Mandy Newton, Bruce Edwards, Jack Hemming, Niamh Hillard, Paivi McMillan and Emma Sparrow

Yvonne Gajny and James Cusack.
Left – Emily Field and Charlotte Gravelsons.
Right – Brian, Charlotte, Alison and Harry Gravelsons
Below – Emily collects her prize.

Bourton One Mile Challenge.

Report – Jon Mulkeen and Brain Gravelsons.


Stratford AC’s Emily Field was the first woman to finish at the Bourton One Mile Challenge on Saturday 13 July.

Fresh from setting PBs at 400m (61.5) and 800m (2:17.8) just three days prior, Field crossed the line in a club record of 5:24. The 17-year-old was the 20th runner overall and finished five seconds ahead of England international Shona Crombie-Hicks of Tewkesbury.

Of the 141 runners taking part, six were from Stratford AC. The Gravelsons family, who have competed in this race for the past five years, made up the bulk of the Stratford contingent.

Charlotte Gravelsons was the first of the family to finish, clocking 6:30 to place 70th overall after tussling with David Jones for most of the second half. Jones, who struggled with the congestion at the start of the race, finished 78th in 6:38 and placed third in the M65 category.

Brian Gravelsons was also caught up in the human traffic at the start of the race, eventually finishing 83rd in 6:50. Harry Gravelsons had picked up an injury when setting a 100m PB earlier in the week and so helped pace and support his mum, Alison Gravelsons, both finishing in 11:51.


Timbermonger and Northbrook 10ks.

Report – Jon Mulkeen.

Several Stratford AC athletes clocked season’s best times over 10km last weekend.

Club coach Rob Minton finished 15th at the Timberhonger 10k in Bromsgrove in 38:00.

Minton’s company, Tempo Events, provides the timing services for the event, but this was the first time he had lined up for it.

“The hills were an interesting revelation,” said Minton.

Of the eight Stratford AC athletes who contested the Northbrook 10k in Coventry, five of them came away with season’s bests.

The race, which is Coventry’s longest-standing 10k, is held on an undulating course and this year took place in wet conditions, but it clearly didn’t hamper the runners too much.

James Cusack led the way with a 40:14 clocking to finish 56th.

“I’m very happy with the result on what was a tough course,” he said after recording his fastest time on this particular course. “I just couldn’t sneak under that 40-minute mark – there were too many climbs for this body. This is one of the only races I know of that starts up a hill.”

Yvonne Gajny was the 39th woman to finish, clocking a big season’s best of 47:27. She placed 194th overall and sixth in the W40 category.

Luke Watkins was the second Stratford AC athlete to finish, placing 171st in 46:27, taking almost two minutes off his season’s best.

Dave Maundrell recorded his fastest 10km for two years, clocking 51:54. Maggie Macleod finished 19th in the W55 category with 53:28 while Stuart Macleod recorded a PB of 57:43. Phillipa Abrams (60:10) and John Butler (83:30) were the other Stratford AC finishers.

Above : Kate Sergent, Liuba Pasa, Jean Hill, Chris Whateley and Graham Hill
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – Kate Sergent, Jean Hill and Jo Young.


Race the Stones.

Report – David Jones

With it’s incredible scenery, challenging route and second-to-none support, The Race to the Stones 100k race is one of the premier ultra marathon event.s

The Ridgeway offers something very special. Lined with Bronze Age hill forts, Neolithic burial chambers and Roman river crossings, competitors will step in the same footsteps as travellers who lived over 5,000 years ago.

Our very own Seth Turner competed in this gruelling event, opting for the non-stop as opposed to overnight race. After an early morning start, he completed the course in 11:54.12, at an average pace of 8.40k/hour. He finished in 73rd place out of the 1122 competitors who completed the course. It was a measure of the difficulty of this event that almost 150 starters failed to finish

The race was won by Tim Pigott in a time of 8:43.54.

Mic Morris Torfaen 10k

Report – David Jones

This race is a firm favourite with beginners and veterans alike. The course is fast, beginning on Cwmavon Road, Blaenavon and finishing in the beautiful surrounds of Pontypool Park.

Cadie Hibberd took part and completed the race in, just dipping under the 40 minute mark for the first time, with a time of 39.55. Cadie was 72nd overall and she finished 2nd in her age category.

The race was won by Richie Powell in a time of 19.36 and the first female finisher was Katy Roy in 28th place with a time of 36.48. 917 runners completed the course.

Fladbury Pie Run.

Report – David Jones.

Fladbury may be a small Worcestershire village but it is famous for both it’s pies and this 5.6-mile off-road Pie Race, which offers competitors a chance to earn them.

Five club members competed in the race and the first of these to finish was Graham Hill in 11th place with a time of 41.44. Graham was also 3rd in his age group. He was followed by Liuba Pasa who finished 1st in her age group, 21st overall and 3rd female. Her time was 45.42.

Chris Whateley won his age group by almost 4 minutes with a time of 47.55 and was placed 30th overall.

Jean Hill (1:00.25), Jo Young (1:00.26) and Kate Sergent (1:00.27) running together, may have finished agonisingly close to the 1 hour mark but they all thoroughly enjoyed the race. Jean was 6th in her age group, Jo 8th and Kate 2nd. Kate really enjoyed the pie afterwards !

The race was won by Ross Cowley in a time of 35.40 and the first female to finish, in 13th place, was Tegan Parsons with a time of 42.20. 87 runners completed the course.

The Two Tunnels Half Marathon.

Report – Pete Evans.

I did the Two Tunnels Half Marathon in Bath at the weekend. It uses an old railway line which includes one quarter mile tunnel and one mile long tunnel. There are 5k, 10k and Half marathons run on the day, with the half marathon going out and back twice, so 5 miles of the run is in the tunnels.

There are a number of different waves across the day and my wave started at 11:15, by which time the sun was out and the temperature up. This made for quite a contrast between the cool dim tunnels and the bright hot path sections. I also struggled a bit with pacing in the tunnels – I rely too much on my Garmin GPS which did not work in the tunnels.

I finished in 1:37:34, which put me 39th overall out of 320 finishers and 2nd in my age group so although a little slower than my target I was happy given the conditions and the course.
And Finally

More photos from the English Schools National Track and Field Athletics Championships.
Our very own Danny Tolhurst, co-manager of the Warwickshire team, being presented with the cup for Senior Boys Group C on behalf of the Warwickshire team.
This photo helps give a feel for the size of the event.
Freddie Clemons on his way to the gold medal.
Ollie Creswell in his heat, playing catch up.
Nick Butler in full flow.
View this email in your browser