A Mixed Bag.

Dan Boyd flies through the air with the greatest of ease.
Unlike last week’s single event Newsletter, this week we have a real mixed bag. There’s Paul Bearman’s update on the indoor season to date. I can certainly vouch for the fact that competing indoors definitely has it’s advantages bearing in mind the appalling weather we have been having of late.

We also have a report from Paul Hawkins on last weekend’s Mini Marathon trial, where 8 of our juniors endurance runners’ endured the ravages of Storm Dennis at Stourport, all having endured Storm Ciara just a week earlier in Wolverhampton. Three of them overcame the appalling conditions and qualified to compete in the curtain raiser for this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon.

There are also a couple of belated reports on the final league XC races of the season for our senior and masters runners and finally there is Phil Brennan’s report on the 5th and final of this season’s Tempo Winter series.

Best Wishes

David Jones.
Jess Sheppard.
Andrew Pozzi.
The Indoor Season.

Report – Paul Bearman.

Andrew Pozzi.

The club’s World Indoor 60m hurdles champion Andrew Pozzi’s early season form continues as does his position at the top of the world’s rankings.

Following his success in Paris, Andrew went on to Torun in Poland at the Copernicus Cup meeting and recorded a second victory in a close run race clocking 7.53 in the final after a 7.58 heat. Afterwards he said “It was so good to win in Torun and continue to be unbeaten so far this year, but it wasn’t the best race for me personally so I’m really happy to run the time that I did as I know I can improve a lot going forward”.

Moving onto Glasgow for the Muller Grand Prix and with 4 victories from four races under his belt this year, he stormed to another impressive victory in 7.57 in a very competitive race. He said “It was a good, smooth run in front of a noisy and excited crowd and although the time wasn’t as quick as I’d have liked, I’m pleased with the win and where I am both in training and competitively and now I’m looking ahead to the outdoors with the Olympics coming up”.

Midlands Indoor Track & Field Championships

The Midlands Indoor Championships held at the High Performance Centre at the Alexander Stadium Birmingham attracts eligible athletes from both the West and East Midlands and the South West of England.

After a couple of warm up events the championships are the first of the years major indoor competitions and they were a welcome respite in warm conditions for a group of Stratford AC young athletes from the grim weather that they have had to train in during the winter months and they produced some fine performances.

Moving up to U20 this year is always a challenge but hurdler Cole Williams has made the transition really well. In a neck and neck 60m hurdles race with Thomas Wilcock from Northampton AC, he finished with a new PB time of 8.16 and a silver medal after Wilcock made a dramatic dip for the line and won by just the thickness of a vest.

Williams’ mum Paula went one notch better by making a welcome return to competitive hurdling after a long lay-off, winning the gold in a time of 9.71 in the Masters Women 60m Hurdles and Ollie Cresswell also had a good win in the Senior Men 60m Hurdles in a time of 8.47.

After a winter of interrupted training through injury, Kaili Woodward is showing signs of getting back to being able to produce a series of consistent jumps in competition and her best jump of 4.97m won her the silver medal in the U20 Women Long Jump.

Training in gale force winds, rain and in very cold conditions isn’t exactly conducive to preparing for competitions, but in the triple jump Nick Butler went home with a bronze medal after a good series of jumps in the U20 competition with a best of 12.79m.

Harry Sugden finished in 5th place with a best jump of 12.38m and Millie Leighton, who is gradually getting back to her best, finished 4th with a best jump of 10.90m, just 6 centimetres away from the bronze medal

After 2 fractional no jumps and a best “safe” jump of 5.68m, Alex Powell finished just 6 centimetres away from qualifying for the final jumps in the U20 Men Long.

Cole Williams and Powell also lined up in the 60m both finishing their heats with PBs of 7.25s and 7.43s respectively.

Evie Lowe and Faye Gourlay had their first competitions of the year and finished in the U17 High Jump with 1.50m and 1.40m respectively.

The British Universities Colleges Sport (BUCS) Athletics: Indoor Championships

This is the biggest gathering on student athletes in the UK with many of the top young athletes in the country competing.

Four Stratford athletes were representing their respective universities and first up was Ollie Cresswell (Loughborough Students), but things didn’t go according to plan. As one of the favourites for the 60m hurdles, he didn’t negotiate the first hurdle which meant unfortunately he didn’t get into the race, which was a big disappointment for him after looking good in the warm up.

Jess Sheppard (Nottingham Uni) was suffering with a throat infection but still ran with her customary zeal and finished 4th in her heat in 61.15 and Gus Allison (Brunel) had a good run in his 800m heat and finished 4th in 2.00.7, but neither were quick enough as fastest losers to progress through to the semi-final.

After a long debilitating illness before Christmas, it was touch and go if Dan Boyd (Gloucester Uni) would make the championships but against the odds he produced 3 inspired 6 metre plus jumps in his qualifying pool and out of 37 overall competitors his best jump of 6.36m was just an agonising 3 centimetres from qualifying for the final.

Masters Grand Prix – Sheffield & Southern Counties Veterans Indoor T&F Championships.

David Jones has been in action at two indoor events recently to help him gain experience at racing on a 200m indoor track before his first international outing, representing Great Britain at the European Masters Indoor Athletics Championships in Portugal next month.

In Sheffield he was first in his age group in both the 800m and 1500m, recording times of 2:55.55 and 5:56.7 respectively.

Last weekend he competed at Lee Valley Stadium as a guest at the Southern Counties Veterans Indoor T&F Championships.

In the 800m he competed against 4 of last year’s top ranked 800m runners in his age category. He enjoyed the race immensely, leading for a couple of laps before being overtaken on the final bend to finish in silver medal position. His time of 2:55.56 was 9/10ths of a second behind the race winner and last year’s number 1 ranked runner Bruce Hendrie.

Despite his 2nd place finish, Jones is still currently ranked no 1 in the UK in his age category for the 800m

In the 1500m he finished in the gold medal position in what one of his competitors referred to as the “modest time” of 6:01. He is also currently ranked number 1 in the 1500m

Clockwise from top left : Georgie Campbell, Alex Adams, Maddie Linfoot, Adam Taylor, Ellen Taylor and Ned Campbell.

London Mini Marathon Trials for West Midlands Team.

Report – Paul Hawkins.

On the same day as the Virgin Money London Marathon a mini marathon is held over the last three miles of the marathon course and each region of the country sends a team of six boys and girls in the under 13, under 15 and under 17 age groups. Over the years many of Britain’s leading endurance runners have featured in these races.

The trials for the West Midlands team were held on Saturday at the cycle track at Stourport Sports Club over an undulating three-mile course and some of Stratford AC’s junior endurance runners took the opportunity to race on a firmer surface than the mud they’ve been experiencing lately.

They knew that the first five in each race were guaranteed a place in London, with one other place available in the teams of six.

To add to the challenge Storm Denis was at it’s height during the races, making the conditions particularly difficult.

In the first race, for the under 13’s, the boys and girls set off together with Stratford’s Maddie Linfoot starting quickly and held a top six position throughout the race. In the final 150m Maddie challenged Megan White from Wolverhampton, her rival for fifth place, but just missed out finishing 6th in 19:06 which was a full 56 seconds quicker than in 2019 when she was in 4th place.

Close behind in 8th place was Niamh Hillard with a fast time of 19:59 on her road running debut. Niamh commented afterwards that she found racing on the harder surface difficult.

Joe Lewis was also making his road debut and will be pleased with his time of 20:34 in 21st place in the boy’s race and will have another year in this age group to progress.

There were two Stratford athletes in the Under 15 race but unfortunately Adam Taylor had to pull out after 3000m with an injury after running well and being in a good position.

Alex Adams won the U13 race in 2019 so it was interesting to see his progress into the older age group. Within the first 1200m it became apparent that there would only be two runners in contention, with Alex and Will Singleton from Shrewsbury neck and neck. Singleton, the older runner, showed greater strength in the final 1000m and pulled away but Alex had a fine run in second place with a time of 16:15, almost a minute quicker than last year.

In the final race for under 17’s, Georgie Campbell was looking to carry her form over cross country to the road surface. Once again this soon became a two-person race with Georgie and regular rival Ella Semple of Birchfield pulling away. Campbell continued to push the pace and by half way opened up a gap which she continued to extend for the rest of the race to win by 33 seconds in 17:18. Campbell has now qualified for the fourth consecutive year.

Ellen Taylor continued her return to form running a fine 9th place in 20:18.

The final Stratford athlete was under 17 Ned Campbell who, unusually, was in the same race as his sister and ran a consistent race to come 16th in 18:49.

So Alex Adams, Georgie Campbell and Maddie Linfootl will now be looking forward to racing in London, with the club having 3 representatives in the West Midland team.

Stratford’s finest.
Emma Bexson and Daisy Musk tackle the infamous ditch.
Daisy Musk and Emma Bexson being closely followed by Suzie Ross.

Midland Women’s Cross Country League Race 4.

Report – Paul Hawkins.

For their final league match of the season in Division 1 of the Midland Women’s League, Stratford’s team had a local match racing at Newbold Comyn. They were fortunate with the weather before the next day’s storm arrived but the two lap course proved a tough challenge with plenty of hills and the infamous ditch.

Stratford’s first two home have been mainstays of the team and are both in their first season in the team. Sophie Dobedoe (50th, 27:07) enjoyed this course being a fan of mud and hills and once again paced the race well to be first home for the team, as has often been the case this season.

Next was under 20 Daisy Musk (79th, 29:08) who has just moved up from the juniors’ team and enjoyed a battle with Emma Bexson (84th, 29:20 and 38th master) throughout the race but Daisy’s track speed counted at the end. Next back and close behind was Suzie Ross (88th, 29:55) to complete the scoring team for the club.

In the Masters competition Liuba Pasa (105th, 31:01, 51st Master) has had a tremendous debut season and has always been a regular scorer in the team.

Eleanor Morris (109th, 31:25) has just joined the club and this was her first race in a Stratford vest and she looks to be a very good prospect for the future.

Another 10 seconds back, Clare Weatherhead (114th, 31:35, 58th master) completed the masters’ team while Sarah Vernon (117th, 31:52) was also running well and in the mix.

The others in the Stratford team were Rebecca Pridham (140th, 34:18) who briefly stopped smiling on the steepest hill, Hannah Bexson (141st, 34:27) in her comeback race, Kate Sergent (154th, 38:07) and Catherine Wiggins (160th 44:53).

So, after the final race of the season, the women’s team finished in 14th place just above the relegation zone but safely confirming their place in the top division next season.

The Masters team held on to 10th place benefitting from some of the other clubs not fielding full master’s teams.

In the final individual standings pride of place goes to Daisy Musk who was 8th under 20. In the seniors Sophie Dobedoe 19th and Sarah Vernon 29th were the top Stratford runners while in the masters the leading Stratford athletes were Liuba Pasa in 43rd and Rebecca Pridham 61st.

Rich Shepherd.
Matt Burdus-Cook and Tim Hutchinson with Drew Sambridge in close pursuit.
Rich Shepherd, Tim Hutchinson and Matt Burdus-Cook chillin’

Birmingham League XC Div 2 – Fixture 4.

Report – Tony Jackson.

Two full teams from Stratford AC made their way to Telford for the final Birmingham League XC fixture of the 2019/2020 season. The lovely surroundings of the Lilleshall Sports complex was the base and the weather just about held off ahead of Storm Ciara.

Rich Shephard 5th (32 mins 54 secs) has been in excellent form over the winter and this was no exception. Always in the top 10, Rich moved steadily through the field to end the season with his third top 5 finish which meant he finished as 4th individual overall and the best ever placing by an SAC athlete in this very competitive league.

Matt Burdus-Cook 33rd (35:21) has turned the words ‘slow starting’ into an art form but it does mean that he is always moving through the field and he has performed consistently to a high standard over the year. He can be pleased to have finished in the top 25 overall.

Tim Hutchinson 61st (36:52) turned in another solid performance whilst Drew Sambridge 72nd (37:28) showed the benefit of his training as he prepares for the London Marathon.

Behind them John Raby 78th (37:49) benefitted from some wonderful pace making by coach Rob Minton 79th (37:50) before sneaking past him on the line.

The A Team scored 328 pts to finish 10th on the day and 8th overall, which equalled the position from last year and consolidated our mid table ranking.

The B team were led home by Richard Liggatt 114th (39:18) who continues to impress in his first season and there was a good battle behind as Max Ross 135th (40.27) showed good form to turn the tables on Malcolm Bowyer 144th (40:55) who just managed to catch Owain Jones 146th (41:03) close to the finish. Owain struggled through the pain barrier over the latter stages but his gutsy effort was rewarded as he finished as 8th Junior overall.

Mike Sheppard 188th (47:37) always gives 100% whilst James Deacon 195th (53:29) epitomised the team spirit through his determined effort, which meant that the B Team finished in 8th place on the day with 922 pts. This meant that the B Team completed the season in 4th place overall, l which is a great reward for the commitment and camaraderie of the club

A special shout out to Rich, Matt, John and Malcolm who all competed in every fixture.

And finally a huge thank you to Malcolm who as Manager & Captain has co-ordinated the team effort over the season (but who sadly blotted his copybook at the last minute by forgetting the post-race chocolates.)

Fern Hordern

Tempo Winter Series Race 5.

Report – Phil Brennan.

Storm Dennis was a presence in this final 10k race of the season, around and above the streets of Ilmington, with trophies at stake for those who had completed all five races.

The 300 competitors expected the worst and were not disappointed.

The gale-force headwind on the steepest climb of the course, together with the continuous driving rain and saturated roads presented a serious challenge.

Even the club’s leading runner, Matt Burdus-Cook, admitted that his 2nd place finish in 38:13, had left him struggling at times. It did, however, cement his runaway success as the overall series winner and 1st M35 category winner on the day and throughout the series.

Race 5 saw the usual strong representation from Stratford AC, with Matt being followed home by top-twenty finishers Richard Liggatt (7, 40:34), Ade Mason (12, 41:39) and Seth Turner (19, 42:29).

Mark Hateley (23, 43:51) and Max Ross (44:08) were chased home by evergreen Malcolm Bowyer, (28, 44:38), 1st M55.

Behind John Raby (31, 45:08) and Joe Lee (36, 45:36), the time gaps opened up: Fern Hordern (52, 47:53) had an outstanding run to claim 1st F45 category as the club’s first female home.

Graham Hill (57, 48:05), John Bettles (64, 48:46) Luke Watkins (73, 49:26) and Carl James (78, 49:46) broke the 50 minute barrier, while Cara Reynolds (83, 50:27) and Clare Weatherhead (95, 51:03) were unlucky not to.

Phil Brennan (138, 55:16, 1st M75) is always grateful when Tony Tomacek (151, 56:20) and Rebecca Pridham (157, 56:39) are behind him, even though too close for comfort this time.

Tom Horbury (160, 57:05), Simon Curran (171, 57:57), Stuart Macleod (58:44), Louise Stewart (176, 58:54) and Neil Robertson (181, 59:14) all mastered the conditions to finish under the hour, while Clare Eynon (266, 1:09:35), Alice Baxendale (267, 1:09:50), Gemma Smith (279, 1:15:18) Paul Nash (283, 1:17:02) and John Butler (1:22:13) showed their usual bravery in the appalling conditions.

Apart from Matt’s success, the other SAC series winners were Phil Brennan in the M75 category and Seth Turner, M45

And Finally

More photos.
Mike, Jenny, Imy and Jess Sheppard with Carolyne Johnston at Sheffield. Mike at the other end of the lens for a change.
Clockwise from top left : Sophie Dobedoe, Daisy Musk, Liuba Pasa, Sarah Vernon, Suzie Ross, Clare Weatherhead, Rebecca Pridham and Ellie Morris.