Mud, Sweat and Cheers.

Members of our women’s XC team :
L to R – Yvonne Gajny, Liuba Pasa, Imy Sheppard, Emily Field, Becks Pridham, Rachel Green, Natasha Edwards, Annie Cox, Amy Hinton, Sophie Dobedoe and Rachel Pearce.
Can’t you just tell it’s the start of the cross country season ? Rain, rain and more rain.

This week there are reports on both of our senior male and female team’s first XC fixture of the season.

There’s also a report on Ivan Sarti’s superb performance in the Gower Ultra and finally, eight of our juniors jumps group took part in the England Athletics Regional Jumps Training at the Alexander Stadium HiPac.

Enjoy the rest of your week and try and stay dry.

Best Regards

David Jones.
Above – Rich Shepherd and below L to R: Imy Sheppard and Sophie Dobedoe.

Cross Country Fixture 1
Race Reports.

Reports – Tony Jackson

The first fixture of the 2019-20 XC season saw both the Ladies and Mens events staged on the Burton Dassett Hills and 31 athletes from Stratford upon Avon AC were there to represent the club.

As XC courses go, Burton Dassett Hills provides a true test with climbs and undulations aplenty and on a very cold, wet and miserable day, every runner deserves full credit for their commitment and spirit.

Midlands Women’s Cross Country League – Division 1

The Ladies started off proceedings and there was a terrific battle to be first Stratford runner home with an excellent Sophie Dobedoe 52nd 31 mins 47 secs just managing to hold off club stalwart Rachel Pearce 53rd 31:52.

They were followed by two juniors, more at home on the track than the hills and mud. Emily Field was a notable 78th 33:28 whilst huge credit to Imogen Sheppard 98th 34:46 for finishing after a short mid race break to discuss the wisdom of continuing with an injury, which clearly slowed her down in the latter stages.

Their efforts meant that the A Team finished in 14th place in what is a very strong and competitive league

There was a promising run from Annie Cox 106th 35:00 and new member Amy Hinton was an eye catching 121st 36:12. Yvonne Gajny 130th 36:56 always gives her all, whilst Liuba Pasa 134th 37:12 tackled the elements bravely despite a preference for a Mediterranean climate.

Recently crowned most improved female, Sarah Vernon 146th 38:01 can be pleased with her run whilst Rebecca Pridham 170th 39:42 was her usual gritty self. Rachel Green 185th 42:25 and Louise Stewart 187th 42:40 had a good battle together whilst Natasha Edwards 206th 46:48 and Catherine Wiggins (1:00.03) can be proud of their efforts.

Rachel, Amy and Yvonne made up the Masters Team which finished in a solid 9th position.

The race was won by Amelia Quirk in a time of 25.33 and 214 competitors completed the course..

Birmingham & District Invitation Cross Country League.

Division 2

Promotion and relegation is a key component of the Men’s League and with six new teams in the league this year the first fixture is always a learning curve in identifying the stronger teams and individuals.

Gloucester AC immediately caught the eye, filling the first 3 places but they were chased all the way by our own Rich Shepherd, who finished an excellent 5th 38 mins 36 secs.

Matt Burdus-Cook has had a terrific year of continuous improvement, culminating in him recently being named athlete of the year and he can be well pleased with his 26th 40:45.

Inter club rivalry is great to see and there were two great tussles going on behind. A slip close to the finish enabled Neil Wickes 54th 43:28 to just get the better of Tim Hutchinson 57th 43:37 whilst Rob Minton 80th44:40 and Jon Raby 81st 44:41 were separated by the narrowest of margins in completing the A team scorers.

The B team were led home by Drew Sambridge 88th 45:00 closely followed by Simon Hanagarth 95th45:41 and Owain Jones 139th 47:53 is probably better judged by his 9th position in the Junior Men’s race.

Only six seconds separated the next three runners. Despite slipping over on more than one occasion James Cusack 153rd 48:58 held off most improved male athlete Ryan Bakewell 154th 49:00 and team manager and stalwart Malcolm Bowyer 155th 49:04 who completed the B team scorers.

Neil Gardiner 161st49:28 had a solid run whilst Mike Sheppard 188th 53:26 and Damien Wheeler 191st53:33 were always close together and driving each other on. Mark Hateley 197th 54:22 and Ben Twyman 208th 56:23 were both pleased with their race in the conditions.

Not surprisingly Gloucester AC were first A team whilst Stratford were a very creditable 9th with 303 points. With only 24 points separating 7th from 11th that looks to be the mid table battle that Stratford will look to win.

The race was won by Ben Robinson in a time of 37.14 and 226 runners completed the course.

A special note of thanks to Spa Striders for hosting an excellent race and in particular to their volunteer marshals and race officials for ensuring a successful event in truly horrible conditions.

Ivan Sarti.

Gower Ultra.

Report – Sarah Bland.


Club member Ivan Sarti ran in the Gower Ultra on Saturday, a 34 mile race around the Gower Peninsular in South Wales.

Whilst using this as a stepping stone to longer races, he ran brilliantly to come in 8th overall in under 6 hours (but was given a 10 minute time penalty for forgetting to pack a foil blanket, which dropped him one place) and he comfortably won his age group (by a margin of over 2 hours!).

It was a tough race with very slippery conditions, so he finished with bruises as well as tired muscles but with plenty to be happy about.

There were 4 women in the top 10 in this race and it was won (and the course record smashed) by ultra runner Beth Pascall (4:56.17) who recently finished 4th in the Western States 100 in the USA. Ex World Ironman champion Chrissie Wellington was 2nd in 5:12.54. 102 runners completed the course.

L to R Harry Sugden; Millie Leighton; Alex Powell; Faye Gourlay; Julie Dodoo; Evie Lowe; Diedre Elmhirst; Lucy Lane; Nick Butler; Alex Winning.
The countdown to the Commonwealth Games. Alexander Stadium now, above, being refurbished and below, in July 2022 – hopefully! (below)
England Athletics Regional Jumps Training.

Alexander Stadium High Performance Athletics Centre.

Report – Paul Bearman.

8 of the juniors jumps group took part in the England Athletics Regional Jumps Training at the Alexander Stadium HiPac.

The sessions were run by England Athletics event coaches Julie Dodoo (nee Hollman) who is an ex GB Olympic Heptathlete and ran the Long and Triple Jump groups and Deidre Elmhirst who covered the High Jump.

Prior to getting the jumping underway the first session covered extensive warming up exercises and drills and reinforced the importance of them.

SUAAC coaches Carolyne Johnston and Val Bronjewski took particular interest in their specialist interest Long and Triple and I enjoyed watching all of our athletes demonstrate their skills and that, even for their first jumps session since September while they are in the winter conditioning phase, they still have all the right basics in place ready to start regular jumps training again.

After an intensive day, all the athletes came away pleased with their effort and smiling but that was before the aches and pains kicked in. It showed how hard they worked though!

More photos from last Saturday’s opening cross country fixture.
From the top : Men’s team manager Malcolm Bowyer hoses himself down after a muddy run. Liuba Pasa, Amy Hinton, Emily Field, Yvonne Gajny and Rachel Pearce.