Virtual is the new normal.

Leave it to The Juniors. At the time of writing Tessa Parkin and Alex Adams are the club’s leading performers in this month’s Virtual Warwickshire Road Race League.
Virtual is indeed the new normal as this week’s newsletter will attest.

We have a list of the prize winners from this month’s Virtual Shakespeare Race. Massive thanks are due to the generous sponsorship of Brian Weetman, who as well as awarding these prizes has also donated £350 to national hero Colonel Tom’s Just Giving page. I always did have a soft spot for Wolverhampton Wanderers’ supporters.

With a few days to go, our men’s team are currently in 1st place in this month’s Virtual Warwickshire Road Race League and our ladies are placed 3rd. A couple of our juniors are occupying top 10 places. Alex Adams is in 2nd place in the men’s race and Tessa Parkin in 8th place in the ladies race.

The imaginative nature of many club members are on display in Sarah Boundy’s innovative Alphabet Club Scavenger Hunt.

For any of you who may have missed the announcement on social media, the club’s website or in the local press of club secretary Tony Jackson’s elevation to Stratford Mayor, we have a statement from Paul Hawkins on his achievement, along with a link to a video message from Tony.

There is the expected confirmation that the Vet’s T&F fixture we were due to host at the High School track on July 8th has been cancelled.

Finally there are few items from the club’s archives that I hope will be of interest to you.

Best Wishes

David Jones
Leave it to The Juniors part 2 – Georgie Campbell, winner of the the female U35 category in May’s Virtual Shakespeare Race.
May’s Virtual Shakespeare Race.

The Winners.

Report – Brian Weetman.

Well what a joy it has been to watch all those run and ride times appear through the last few weeks . Not only some amazing efforts from an unbelievably talented group but also some extra hugely creditable efforts from those motivated to help the NHS. It has been a pleasure to offer as a sponsor.

On my calculations we have 154 entries plus Wayne Vickers claimed two dogs and I saw two children in Hannah Osborne’s photo, that makes 158 x 2 = £312 to the NHS. As I am sure we will have missed some I will round up to £350.

Just in case you were wondering what to do with the £3 Shakespeare race entry you have saved, I will be donating the above via my new hero Colonel Tom’s Just Giving site, link below

Not only will the winners receive a bottle of wine I am sure with our Tony Jackson now the Mayor, a civic reception is sure to follow.

The winners were U 35 Georgina Campbell and Joe Lee .U 50 Maria Haslam and Seth Turner, over 50 Kate Wright and Nick Campbell.(just pipping me but I am also fine about that)

I also have a couple of spot prizes to hand out. Now don’t get excited guys with all these lovely ladies to choose from there is no way I am handing a bottle of wine to some hairy bloke.

I would first like to offer commiserations to Kate Wright who would have won for her photo impression of a giant (but she won the race!) and Cara Reynolds who fought through illness to run but I checked her time and it was still 3 minutes faster than me, so no chance.

So the wine will also go Yvonne Gajny who claimed it was her first cycle sincer 2018 and she could still fit into her cycle gear! The second wine goes to Hannah Osborne who managed to get her two children to run with her. Now that’s what I call home schooling.

Please all 8 winners DM me your addresses and I will deliver at a social distance.

Huge thank you to Matt and Sarah for their outstanding organisational skills.

Finally I would like to thank my two most direct competitors Paul Nash and Rebecca Loftus for letting me beat them 🙂
Virtual Warwickshire Road Race League (WRRL)

Report – John Raby.

With the success of our own club’s Virtual racing, we now find the Warwickshire Road Race League is following suit.

The distance set for May is 5K. So if you’re keen to run in this you’ve got until the end of the month to give it a go.

The scoring system remains the same as previous years, which means that not only can you run for an individual placing, it also counts towards a Team score. The only rule that’s different to ours, is that there are penalties imposed if you’re short on distance or the course is downhill (-15ft net elevation).

We’ve seen some good interest in this so far with SAC having 24 out of the 314 registered entrants. What would be fantastic would be to see as many Stratford members as possible enter, to show our parpticipation strength to everyone. It’s simple to enter by clicking the link below.

Out of those who’ve submitted results so far, we’re looking in a strong position. A fantastic run last week by Alex Adams with a new PB time of 16.48 places him currently in 2nd position for the men. Adam Evans also ran a new PB with 17.39 taking 6th place. John Raby is 12th in 18.28, closely followed by Wayne Vickers 16th in 18.49, David Smyth 21st in 19.10. Caleb Spriggs 25th in 19.30, James Cusack, 28th in 19.47, Phil Brennan 63rd in 24.36 and Paul Hawkins, who racewalked the distance, is 73rd in 31.31.

Our men’s team (6 entrants per team) are currently in 1st place overall, with 82 points against Knowle and Dorridge in 2nd place with 109 points.

We currently have a B team started but we need to fill these positions to prevent penalty points. We’d also like to see a C and D team hopefully.

In the ladies’ team, Team Parkin are currently leading the way for SAC, with Tessa in 8th place in a time of 21.04 followed by mom Emma in 13th place in 22.16. Suzie Ross is 15th in 22.32. Bev Brigden 25.53 takes 31st place, Ruth Calderbank, 48th in 29.37 and Jill Wilson makes up the team with 29.56 and 50th place, which puts the ladies’ team in 3rd place overall out of 19 teams so far.

For the ladies’ team it is 4 per team and again it’s an unlimited number of teams per club.

To submit results, follow the link below or on the WRRL website. You then need to upload your times from your Garmin or Strava.

With Sunday being the last day to submit entries, there should be an influx of results over the next few days from SAC entrants and other clubs, as it seems that some may try and better their current time.

As it stands we’re looking good for a high positioning in the tables with many more times to follow, which should see us have a number of teams in the tables. So if you fancy a run for the club, you’ve got until close of play on Sunday to give the 5K a go. It’s set to follow on in June with a 5 mile race – a good chance to better your SAC 5 mile result. Keep an eye out on the Facebook page for regular updates this week. Happy racing.

As well as being superb athletes, some of our members are also truly imaginative and inventive. Letters A – D in the club’s ongoing Alphabet Scavenger Hunt.
The Alphabet Club Scavenger Hunt.

Report – Sarah Boundy.

If you haven’t ventured on social media in a while you might have missed the Seniors antics, undertaking a weekly scavenger hunt.

Each week they have to complete an activity relating to a letter of the alphabet (Beginning with A, then B the following week etc).

This allowed for a wide variety of approaches and a fair amount of creativity. With some Strava Art masterpieces, routes taking in towns of a certain letter, pictures of objects, and some action shots amongst others.

Starting with an Ambitious Attitude, we have had weekly winners.

Week 1 – with Ruth Calderback Articulating an A Around the racecourse.

Week 2 – was a Bonkers Bike ride with a Bonanza of B Towns by Max Ross.

Week 3 – was Jon Mulkeen Creating a Creamy Confection of Cake around a field.

Week 4 – had Kimberly Lee Depicting a Delightful Drawing of a Diplodocus Dinosaur

Week 5 – Winner announced Monday!

If you want to join in, post on Strava/Club’s Facebook page with a photo of your Alphabetical Achievements!

Hopefully we can return to our regular scheduled club activities before we get to Z!

Stratford Mayor Tony Jackson. What, no club bandana Tony ? Shame on you.

Tony Jackson is Mayor.

Congratulations to long standing Club member and Secretary, Tony Jackson who was elected as Mayor of Stratford upon Avon at a virtual Mayor Making ceremony on 15th May.

A runner for over 40 years, Tony is more frequently seen nowadays with either a clipboard or stopwatch in hand, although he still occasionally makes a guest appearance in a Shakespeare Race and post-race he will always be happy to tell you of his 1hr 16 min half Marathon or his 56 minute 10 mile time. He is often to be seen at Parkrun where he is still competitive in his age group (provided Robin Kindersley doesn’t turn up!)


Tony joined the Town Council in 2015 and represents Guildhall Ward which incorporates such notable landmarks such as the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the Town Hall and Holy Trinity Church. Re-elected in 2019 Tony has been Deputy Mayor for the past 12 months which included an appearance at last year’s Club Awards evening.


Sadly, Covid-19 will stop many Mayoral engagements going ahead but Tony remains optimistic that we will return to normal in the hopefully not too distant future. The thought of the parties and celebrations at that time is keeping him motivated as he prepares himself for an initial period of Zoom meetings and recorded messages.


Paul Hawkins

Stratford upon Avon AC Chairman

For Tony’s video message please click on this link.

Vet’s Track and Field.

It was no surprise to receive the following email from the Midland Vet’s T&F League announcing the cancellation of the 3rd fixture of this season. This was to be the fixture hosted by us at the High School track, following our successful hosting of a match last year.

PLEASE NOTE – the decision has now been taken to cancel Midland Vet’s Track and Field League fixtures up to the end of July.
Although some will find this disappointing, for the health and well-being of athletes, officials, team managers, ground staff and spectators the matches simply cannot go ahead.
A decision about the August fixtures will be made next early month.
Newsletter July 2009.

Below is an extract from the club’s submission to Runner’s World ” Best Running Club in the UK ” in 2009.

I’m not even sure if this Award is still a thing. If it was and we submitted an entry, it would be a no brainer. We’d obviously win. Not that I’m remotely biased !
The statement that “Stratford Athletic Club is truly a club for ALL runners and welcomes runners of any standard from complete beginners to four-minute milers, and works on the principle that if someone is interested in running, then SAC is interested in them. Our youngest members start from 8 and the oldest is currently 79 with no upper age limit.” shows that the ethos of the club remains the same in 2020 as it did 11 years ago.

Every year ‘Runners World’ holds a competition to find the UK’s Best Running Club. For the first time we decided to enter and whilst we didn’t win we were so proud of our achievements and entry that I have included a number of extracts from our entry in the newsletter. I hope you enjoy reading it and if you have any ideas how we could improve for next year please let me know.


Website address Year club established 1979

No. of full members 134 Seniors 167 Juniors = 301 in total

Age and sex breakdown of members Seniors: 87 male/47 female

Seniors: 87 male U40 – 32 V40 – 10 V45 – 16 V50 – 10 V55 – 5 V60 – 4 V65 – 7 V70 – 2 V75 – 1

Seniors: 47 female U35 – 12 V35 – 9 V40 – 8 V45 – 9 V50 – 5 V55 – 2 V60 – 2

Juniors: U11 – 21 male/20 female U13 – 23 male/30 female U15 – 28 male/21 female

U17 – 10 male/ 7 female U20 – 5 male/ 2 female

Senior membership has grown steadily from 80 Senior members in 2004 to 134 today.

Junior membership was 130 members in 2004, now stands at 167 today.

What percentage of the membership has attended a club activity in the last month?

84% of senior members have attended a club activity in the past month.

56% of senior members attend the weekly club run.

Members also attend weekly coaching sessions held at the track, the membership is split into 3 groups with attendance at 48% for group 1, 43% for group 2 and 74% for group 3.

Circa 89% of the juniors have regularly trained in the various weekly training groups.

58% of eligible athletes competed in the Tom Pink Athletic Festival at the NIA in February.

What efforts have you made to recruit new members to your club?

We regularly hold an open evening inviting new members to try us out, we advertise this in the local press as well as inviting people in the area who have previously raced in any of our open races.

Frequently new members come to us on the recommendation of one of our current membership.

We also get a lot of traffic on our website and potential new members will often check this out prior to making contact.

New members are encouraged to try us out for several weeks before committing to joining the club.

2008 saw the introduction of a chaperone scheme for road running, which involves a rota of a dozen members and is mainly to ensure that the slower group runners (where the biggest pacing discrepancies often are) don’t have to worry about leaving people behind.

What has been the club’s greatest competitive success over the past two years?

1. Promotion from Div 3 of the Birmingham X Country League – the club has achieved consecutive promotions in this league for the past 2 years, we regularly have in excess of 20 of the clubs senior males taking part in these races.

2. Andrew Pozzi breaking 110m hurdles UK U20 record.

3. Kate Wright qualifying for the Elite start at London Marathon 2009.

4. Debbie Cooper and Pete Evans making the World Triathlon Championships in Vancouver 2008 (with one getting a medal).

5. Rob Minton and Patrick Taylor were part of the team who were placed 3rd in the 2008 3 Peaks Yacht race winning the Tilman Trophy.

5. Keith Hawkes voted as Journalist of the Year 2007 at Stratford District Council Sports Awards.

6. Paul Bearman voted Coach of the Year 2008 at Stratford District Council Sports Awards.

7. Andrew Pozzi voted Young Athlete of the Year 2008 at Stratford District Council Sports Awards.

8. Nine junior athletes selected for Indoor Schools Track and Field meeting.

9. Five athletes selected for National Schools X Country.

10. Conor Guest UK Under 15 Indoor Shot Champion.

11. Warwickshire Sports Hall League (Champions 4 years running).

12. Heart of England League Div 2 Champions 2008.

What races does your club organise or host?

Not the Roman IX – January 700 limit, full in 2007, 2008, 2009. (Voted as a Runners World Top 50 event).

Cotswold Hilly 100 – Charity Relay Race – May – 230 entries (23 teams of 10).

Stratford Summer Six – July – 263 in 2008 ( also part of the Warwickshire Road Race League).

Welcombe Wobbler/Trembler and Fun Run – Oct – 124 entries in 2008.

Junior and senior track and field league matches.

What charity or community initiatives has the club been involved in over the last 12 months?

Hilly 100 is a charity race – in 2008 the money was split between – Shipston League of Friends, Warwickshire Air Ambulance Appeal and Gracie (Wright) Appeal.

Juniors – Bag packing for Ian Botham Leukaemia fund raising.

Please add any extra comments explaining why you consider your club worthy of the title of UK’s Best Running Club.

Stratford Athletic Club is truly a club for ALL runners and welcomes runners of any standard from complete beginners to four-minute milers, and works on the principle that if someone is interested in running, then SAC is interested in them. Our youngest members start from 8 and the oldest is currently 79 with no upper age limit.

In January 2009, we introduced a new coaching structure on the endurance running side in order to provide a flexible environment for athletes to improve.

We endeavour to provide a wide range of activities throughout the week to suit everyone.

Monday – senior track/hill work (and often ‘throws’ training).

Tuesday – circuit training class, junior track work.

Wednesday – main social/long run night.

Thursday – core stability class, junior track work.

Friday – no organised activity to allow members to prepare for weekend competition/races.

Saturday – often a competitive fixture and/or coached swim sessions for the triathletes.

Sunday – often a road race or triathlon, otherwise a weekly long run or coached cycle ride for the triathletes takes place.

We have a strong ethic for developing athletes abilities whatever their starting point. Within the club we have qualified coaches who specialise in running, cycling, swimming and track and field, thus providing a stable platform for every athlete to have the opportunity to perform at their very best.

We have a popular senior Triathlon section and are in the process of setting up a junior triathlon section.

The junior section also has its own weekly coached track sessions and enjoy an annual warm weather training trip to Wales or Devon.

For senior members the club also holds the ‘Shakespeare Competition’, a series of monthly runs organised by different members of the club at different locations around the local area. We also have a Grand Prix competition with athletes competing in a range of open races throughout the year.

Our club prides itself on its team spirit and support of our fellow runners – we recently sent a 50 seater coach to the National Cross Country championships in London with competitors and supporters from both the senior and junior sections.

We have a strong and active calendar of social events with members regularly staying for a drink/food and social chit chat each week after the main club run.

220 people attended the Annual awards evening in November.

In addition to these we organise a club quiz – almost as competitive as our races(!!!), a party at Christmas, BBQ’s in the summer, orienteering runs in the springtime as well as smaller social outings.

Our club will this year celebrate its 30th anniversary

Club Newsletter October 1990.

Going back even further, 30 years in fact, this statement from John Dell the club’s current President explains why the club resisted the temptation to change the name from Stratford Athletic Club to Stratford Runners. I think they made the right decision !
The Life and Times of Paul Hawkins.

As a reward for me sending Paul up into his loft in search of club archives, I though I would print the club’s 1990 Honours List, which shows him sitting comfortably on top of the Grand Prix League and in a creditable 3rd place Division 1 of the Shakespeare League. This was of course Phase 1 of his athletics career, before he became an International racewalker !
The Times They Are A Changin’

This item from the February 1989 Newsletter made me smile. Things have certainly changed.
And Finally.

A poem from the June 1989 Newsletter