A Trip Down Memory Lane ?

Sorry Paul – I did warn you.
Daisy Musk, Georgie Campbell and Imy Sheppard.
Strange times.

This week there are what are likely to be the last two competition reports for quite some time.

During the current hiatus I would like to carry on with the newsletter in some form. A club member emailed me earlier in the week to say that the newsletter gave them a sense of belonging. I hope this is true for many of you.

I realise that lots of you will keep in touch via social media but I would also like to think that the newsletter, with just over 850 subscribers, can also play its part in enabling us to keep in touch with each other.

It’s been said before but being a part of this club is like being a part of a large extended family and it is at an unprecedented time like this that we need our families and we need to stay as close to them as we possibly can, even if that can’t be physically close.

Rob Minton’s wonderful initiative, outlined below, is a perfect example how we can reach out to each other.

Paul Bearman has already supplied me with a few newsletters from 20 years ago and Paul Hawkins has also said he will let me have some historical newsletters and photos. I will endeavour to include these in future newsletters.

Personally, I think it might be a nice idea for us to share our individual thoughts, stories, experiences and photos of our life in athletics via the newsletter. These could be about what got us started in the first place, memorable personal performances, memorable live athletic events we have attended etc. etc.

Just to show you that you have no need to feel embarrassed about sharing details and photos of yourselves back in the day, I’ve started the ball rolling this week with details of my own, somewhat underwhelming athletic career. This might have been a little more fulfilling and successful had I not taken a 40 year break after leaving school and before starting running again !

If you have any stories or photos to share, I’m pretty sure lots of us will enjoy reading them. If enough of you respond it will enable me to keep the newsletter going during these trying times.

Over to you.

Take care and stay well.

Best Wishes

David Jones.

How are you all doing?

A message from Rob Minton.

Strange times for us all I’m sure. Lot’s of us are having to adapt to different way of working, home schooling, communicating, even a walk or a run, which we’re still allowed to do involves doing a 5-10 meter manoeuver to get around someone coming the opposite way. And then there are all of the events we’ve had cancelled and our training sessions (which I’m sure sometimes you were in two minds about attending) which have also had to be cancelled.

However, we want to help. At the club we know that there is a fantastic sense of community and support. You just have to run a Shakespeare Race and receive all the lovely support we all get from each marshal to know how great our club is.

It’s also at times like these where we need to come together even more and help and support each other. I’m sure your running (and biking for you triathletes out there) is under pressure. Maybe you’ve lost your focus because your big goal for the year has been taken away from you. Maybe that lovely social run you did with running club friends is something you’re really missing.

So lets do our best in the circumstances to come together. Here’s some way’s we can do that.

1. If you are on Facebook, please share each time you’ve been for a run on our facebook group. (add yourself in there if you want to).

2. This is a chance to sort out a niggly injury or maybe work on your flexibility. The beauty of this current situation is that you have been given the gift of time. You now no longer have to drive to the sports club or the track. So in the time you’ve saved you can do a more comprehensive stretching routine (but only after running not before). I’ll send some info in the coming weeks with various stretch ideas.

3. You can do some resistance and strength training. This is something regularly overlooked by us runners but it is so beneficial to help with good running technique, injury prevention and for better, faster running.

The good news is, to help you with the second and third suggestions is that I’m going to help you. As I can’t be with you, or you with me to put on a training session, using the power of technology every Wednesday at 6pm I will be putting on a resistance and stretching session that you can all tune into.

I will be using a video programme called Zoom which you will need to download and I’ve attached the instructions on how to use it. All you’ll need is some workout gear and some space. Maybe an exercise mat if you have one. Feel free to get anyone else in your household to join in too.

I hoping the timing of this will work for lots of people. It will hopefully be after you’ve had your working day but before you eat your evening meal.

4. I’ll be putting together a couple of training schedules that you could follow over the next couple of months that will include a mixture of intervals, a long run and an easy run or two. These will be fairly generic to fit in with everyone’s running speeds and fitness. BUT if you have something specific you want help with, please let me know by emailing and I will create something more specific for you.


5. Please use me. Contact me with any questions about injuries, fitness training, stretching, nutrition or any other running related thing you’re looking to know more about and I’ll do my best to answer it.

6. Support your other runners. If you are on Facebook, comment when someone posts about their run, do the same if you’re on.

7. Look after each other. If you know any members who either live alone, or your haven’t seen or heard from for a while or seen on Strava, then please get in touch with them. If anyone needs help lets help each other.

Finally we’ve got a number of other ideas to help keep us sane in this strange (temporary) world that we are currently living in that might include things such as a virtual Shakespeare Race among other things.

The great thing is, we are currently still able to do the thing we all like to do which is to go for a run and you don’t need to be told how good it is for mind, body and soul.

Here was the link to the link to last night’s Training Session and I will let you know details of subsequent sessions

Rob Minton is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: SAC Resistance and Stretch Workout
Time: Mar 25, 2020 06:00 PM London

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 214 318 5316

Happy Running


Right – Alex Adams
View this email in your browser
Maddie Linfoot and Niamh Hillard.
Georgie Campbell

English Schools Cross Country Championships 2020

Report – Paul Hawkins.

For the leading Stratford junior cross country runners, the climax to a long season were the 60th annual English Schools Championships which were held this year at Sefton Park, Liverpool.

This also proved to be possibly last competition of any sort for some time because of Coronavirus.

The championships were last held on this traditional course in a 235 acre park to the south of Liverpool in 2008 and it was certainly a challenging course with both hills and plenty of mud.

For the first time Stratford AC had 20 athletes running with 17 running for Warwickshire and 3 in the Gloucestershire team.

The highlight for the Stratford contingent was Alex Adams, who is in a rich vein of form, running for Gloucestershire in the junior boy’s race.

Last year Alex had been 19th in the race but was confident of improving and so it proved. He was always in the leading group after making a quick start in the 4,400m race. By the 3000m mark the group started to split up when the eventual winner Ben Peck, who had made a comparatively slow start, pulled away.

Alex continued looking very comfortable to eventually finish 5th in 14:39 with only 17 seconds covering the top six athletes.

In normal circumstances the first eight runners are selected to run for England in the Home International the week after but sadly this was cancelled due to Coronavirus so Alex will have to wait for his first England vest.

After the race Alex said “Good run on a fast, flat course. Disappointed not to of been able to stay with the front group of great athletes right to the end but worked hard regardless. Weather was good and felt I gave it my all and ran well but tired towards the end. My goal was top 8 and I achieved it but really disappointed that we didn’t come away the England vest”.

In the same race both Theo Skirvin (282, 17:13) and Robbie Gemmill (318, 17:57) were making their debut at these championships and enjoyed the experience and will both have learnt from it.

The first race of the day had been the Inter Girls, run over 3800m, where Stratford AC had two athletes running. Leading the Warwickshire team home was Charly Marshall (151, 14:22) who ran her usual well-paced race and was moving through the field well at the end. Ellen Taylor (294, 15:20) continued her return to form in third place for Warwickshire.

The junior girl’s race was the shortest race of the day over 3000m but all five Stratford runners found it a tough test. All four in the Warwickshire team were racing in their first English Schools so will have benefitted from the experience and will hope to return next season.

Niamh Hillard (254, 13:00) was third in the team followed by Maddie Linfoot (285, 13:15) who was unlucky to have fallen at the start, with Maisie-Joy Spriggs (312, 13:32) and Abbi Cooper (317, 13:37) continuing the season long rivalry. Meanwhile Olivia Robinson (198, 12:44) ran her best race yet in a Gloucestershire vest to finish strongly.

Niamh said after the race “Great team spirit across the age groups. Fast and furious tight course/race. A little disappointed with position, however will use the experience to become a better runner. Looking forward to next year.” while Maddie commented “The experience was great but I fell just after the start which meant that I didn’t have as good a race as I’d have liked.” Olivia said “I had a really good start out of the pen, which allowed me to hold a good position throughout the race.”

In the Inter Boy’s race over 5500m James Mucklow (276, 21:32) was not quite at his best following illness but Josh Dobedoe (294, 21:53) and Ned Campbell (298, 21:57) both had a tremendous race with Josh just having the stronger finish.

Ned commented that he gave everything but tired over the final 500m but was pleased with his best run at this level. Josh commented “Awful conditions with really thick, heavy, mud. I was still happy with the run though”.

In the Senior Girls race over 4400m had four Stratford runners, three of whom were in their final year of school’s cross country. However, Georgie Campbell (51, 17:31) who has another year in the school’s led the way for the team as has often been the way during the season. This was probably one race too many for Georgie who was not quite at her best.

Emily Field (140, 18:43) was racing fresh from winning the under 20 Gloucester League title, had a well paced run and finished strongly picking up places on the finishing straight.

Next of the Stratford contingent were Imogen Sheppard (210, 19:57) and Daisy Musk (233, 20:17) who both enjoyed their final rivalry at the schools races.

Afterwards Imogen said “I was very happy with my run and to just compete in my last English schools. After completing all 6 I am most proud that I managed to persuade Paul to get his face painted in the Warwickshire colours in my last year.” Coach Paul Hawkins had no comment!

The Senior Boys race was the last race over the longest distance of 6700m and in the worst conditions were as the mud just seemed to get thicker.

Brothers Will Crowfoot (248, 24:59) and Tom Crowfoot (276, 25:38) are never usually too far apart in races and this was no different although Will pulled away in mid race.

Owain Jones (305, 26:46) was pleased to complete a full set of six championships while he’s been eligible and had a steady run to finish off.

Graham Hill.
Tempo Spring Duathlon.

Report – Graham Hill.

This was the second year that the event was held based around the Warwickshire College in Moreton Morrell.

This was my first attempt at a duathlon and on the basis it was on my doorstep, then why not give it a go!

The event consisted of a 6 mile run, followed by a 36 kilometer bike ride and then finished with a 4 mile run. What could be simpler.

Well, the weather didn’t help with heavy rain and wind all morning making the course difficult and testing all the way round.

Despite the weather conditions, I completed the event in a total time of 2:44:47.

From the timing splits, then I need to do more on my cycling as that was the weakest part.

I have to put out my thanks to all of the organisers and marshalls as the weather conditions were not the best to compete in let along marshall. It was great to have the support before, around the whole course and at the finish and even better that I had so many SAC supporters !

Other of our club members competing were Ben Phyall (10th – 2:20.09) and Amy Hinton (12th – 2:26.01)

I enjoyed the event, the cake at the end and the great support from a great club.
I’m in the back row, far right. Nowadays people often tell me I look young for my age. As this photo shows, this has pretty much always been the case, only it hasn’t always been something I’ve been comfortable with ! In my defence, I was in the year below my fellow team members in this photo.
Born to Run

A Trip Down Memory Lane

David Jones

It’s 1965 and as a 15 year old I was in my pomp as a reasonably decent school cross country runner. Okay I was no Alex Adams but I often competed with and against runners older than myself. I was also a pretty useful miler.

To misquote The Beatles, who in ’65 recorded In My Life – “there are races I’ll remember al my life.”

This is some of what I remember.

Going to a school that didn’t have a football team and with me not exactly being built for rugby, cross country running was my chosen sport in the winter months and as I was no cricketer, it was athletics in the summer

Living in Hall Green – Birmingham, I wasn’t aware of a club like ours, where a Paul Bearman or a Paul Hawkins might have taken me under their wing and nurtured any modicum of talent I might have possessed. Were there even clubs that 14 or 15 year olds could join ? I really don’t know.

After leaving school, I briefly joined Sparkhill Harriers. This would have been late 1966 or early ’67 – 1967, The Summer of Love – not for me I hasten to add.

Early on at Sparkhill Harriers I was selected to run an 800m. I’m not an 800m runner I protested. Of course as a 16 year old I knew it all. With the sounds of toys being thrown out of the pram I left them. I was wrong. I was totally wrong. Sometimes coaches really do know what they are talking about.

I find it somewhat ironic that having been a decent miler and being selected as an 800m runner 55 years ago, 1500m and 800m running is what I do now.

They say what goes around comes around.

Fast forward 40 years, during which time I did not run. I played squash, badminton, went to the gym but absolutely no running.

It’s 2007 and fellow club member and mate Matt Sims, who I had met at Healthworks Fitness Studio in Western Road, suggested I join him and a few other members for a Saturday morning run.

The rest, as they say, is history.

I remember clearly him taking me out for my first two hour run. He hadn’t warned me of his plans. It took me a long time to forgive him.

In April 2008 I ran my first marathon, with another friend I had met at the gym. It was round Lake Annecy in France. A glorious course in glorious weather but it nearly killed me. I was totally ga ga and close to hallucinating at the end but I was chuffed with my time of 3:56.

I then didn’t do a great deal of running until another club member and very dear friend Kate Sergent suggested I join SAC. This I did on 20th January 2010. To say it transformed my life would be something of an understatement.

The race I’ll remember all my life ? That’s easy. My 3:37 Manchester Marathon aged 65. A time that was cruelly taken from me because the course was a couple of hundred metres short. Mind you, my 1500m at Lee Valley Stadium a couple of weeks ago might run it close.

My most memorable live event. That’s pretty easy as well. It was watching Andrew Pozzi become World Indoor Champion in Birmingham a couple of years ago, along with my wife together with Archie and Daisy Musk.

Needless to say there was quite a vocal contingent of SAC members in attendance. The whole arena seemed to be chanting ” Pozzi, Pozzi, Pozzi “. It was a photo finish and waiting for the result, which went on far longer than the race itself, was pure agony.

To try and list my memories and experiences since becoming a member of this wonderful club of ours would take forever. Suffice to say, joining was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.
My South Birmingham Schools Cross Country badge. I guess they didn’t do t-shirts and hoodies in the 1960s
The programme for the Warwickshire Schools XC Championships – 1964. The cost of one shilling (5p) would be just over £1 in today’s money, which seems pretty steep. As a matter of interest, David Hoare, who is listed as Results Steward is STILL an official at XC and T&F fixtures. I had assumed it was his son who was doing it now but I met him at a recent XC fixture and asked him and he confirmed that it was actually him.
Just to prove I was competing !
And Finally

More photos from the English Schools XC Championship.

Courtesy of Mike Sheppard.
Niamh Hillard
James Mucklow and Robbie Gemmill
Emily Field
Owain Jones and Ned Campbell.
Imy Sheppard
Will Crowfoot
Tom Crowfoot
Ellen Taylor
Theo Skirvin
Daisy Musk
Abbi Cooper strains every sinew, followed by Maisie-Joy Spriggs