A Virtual Clean Sweep

New member Ben Kruze on his way to a magnificent victory in the latest WRRL virtual race. Not bad for a debut. Ben won this year’s NTRIX and was 4th in the Warwick Half in a time of 1:13.07, which would have been a club record by some 34 seconds if he’d been a member then. I suspect he’ll get another chance. Welcome aboard Ben
The past week has certainly seen no shortage of club activity in these continuing difficult times.

In the newsletter there is a report from team manager John Raby on the club’s stunning success in the latest virtual Warwickshire Road Race League fixture.

Club members won both male and female individual races comfortably, with Georgie Campbell 56 seconds clear of the 2nd placed runner and new member Ben Kruze winning his race by 23 seconds.

Ably marshalled by John, the club won the overall men’s team competition, we also had 4 of the top 10 teams. In the men’s masters team category, all 5 of our teams finished in the top 11. Our A team were overall winners, comfortably beating 2nd placed Kenilworth A by 73 points. Our B and C teams finished in 3rd and 5th place respectively.

Our ladies team won the overall ladies title and our ladies masters team finished in 2nd place, just 11 points behind Kenilworth.

In the mens race we had age 7 of the 11 age category winners:

U15 – Caleb Spriggs
U17 – Fin Hutchinson
M35 – Ben Kruze
M40 – Rich Shepherd
M50 – Wayne Vickers
M55 – Richard Dobedoe
M75 – Phil Brennan

In the ladies race we had 3 age category winners :

U17 – Georgie Campbell
W55 – Kate Wright
W65 – Ruth Calderbank.

I think it’s fair to say it was a remarkable achievement. These things don’t happen without a considerable amount of organisation. So a big thank you is due to team manager John Raby, and I will echo his comments at the end of his detailed report below.

“Thanks for their support in this must go to Richard Liggatt and Matt Burdus-Cook for helping out with the course and arranging parking for everyone along with taking some pictures as well. Also Sarah Bland and Paul Hawkins for the support and keeping a rein on things and Rob Minton supporting along the way whenever needed.

There was a really great atmosphere from club members who showed tremendous spirit in coming together in these difficult times”

Elsewhere there are plenty of signs that the club is edging its way back to something like normal while strictly following both government and EA guidelines.

Last Sunday 60 of our young endurance runners enjoyed socially distanced coaching sessions on the Welcombe Hills. There were 12 groups of 5, each group being accompanied by a coach. A similar number are expected this Sunday.

On Monday, a group of our older junior T&F members resumed training at the Leamington track, following Paul Bearman having secured the use of the track for 3 weeks. They were also joined by a few of our Vets T&F athletes. Paul was helped by Carolyne Johnstone and Sandy Green.

On Wednesday, Paul Hawkins, Mike Sheppard and Graham Taylor were at Leamington with 13 of the junior endurance group as well as groups of under 13 and 15 athletes with their coaches, Paul Bearman, Cait Davies, Paivi McMillan, Lucy Edwards and Elaine Ledden who were supported by other helpers.

The latest vShakespeare races are up and running. This month’s race is 10k and you have to be 15 to compete in this. However, there will be another Magic Mile race, which doesn’t have this age restriction, so juniors are welcome to join in.


Enjoy the rest of your week.

Best Wishes

David Jones

Nope, it’s not a remake of The Wild Bunch or the cast of Reservoir Dogs – The Sequel, it’s our very own Jamie Chorley, Ryan Bakewell, Caleb Spriggs, David Smyth, Richard Dobedoe and Owen Goschen.
Unfortunately Cindy Brittan’s wonderful performance wasn’t recorded because she struggled with uploading her time. I can truly sympathise with that!
Georgie Campbell on her way to a comfortable victory in the ladies race.

Virtual Warwickshire Road Race League

Report – John Raby

On Saturday and Sunday some ”socially distanced” racing took place as part of the Virtual Warwickshire Road Race League over a carefully chosen 5 mile course between Pebworth and Milcote. On Saturday 6 groups made up of up to 6 Stratford Athletics athletes took off in half hour intervals with a gap between each starter on the line.

155 men and 86 women completed in this vWRRL fixture and the overall positions are shown alongside the times

First off the line in a quick race was Matt BurdusCook taking pole position for the day with an impressive 27.36 – 9th. He was closely followed by the ever improving Richard Liggatt in 28.00 – 12th. In the same group and winning the Ladies overall in the WRRL league was Georgie Campbell in a fantastic time of 29.31. Other times from this group was Alex Hill in 29.12 – 18th who is returning to great form and new member Jonathan Ashley, who many will recognise from being a regular winner of Stratford Parkrun in a time of 29.17 – 19th. Then, unfortunately picking up a calf strain midway, but still quick was Rob Minton in 32.09.

Group 2 set off at 9.30am in a tightly contested field. Taking top spot in this group was Ryan Bakewell making good gains on his recent SAC 5 mile time running this in 30.19 – 30th. Then just behind and coming back strongly at the end was Richard Dobedoe in 30.21 – 31st. In another battle in the group young Caleb Spriggs in a superb 31.24 – 47th was closely followed by David Smyth with a time of 31.49 – 54th, just edging out the returning Owen Goschen, 31.55 – 56th, not far behind was James Chorley in 32.39 – 62nd

Group 3 went out at 10am and was led by Owen Lewis with a great time of 32.44 – 64th. Graham Hill in 33.49 – 71st had a close contest with Sylvain Verstraeten in 34.04 – 76th who just pipped Peter Sugden 34.06 – 78th and then powering in was Karl Harris in 38.11 – 112th.

Group 4 followed at 10.30, Joe Lee looking in great form despite having completed a long cycle ride beforehand came in with an impressive 33.16 – 68th. Another good battle was between Damien Wheeler 35.38 – 93rd and Emma Bexson in 36.18 -19th place in the ladies race. Finishing strongly Suzie Ross 37.03 – 21st just beat off Liuba Pasa 37.23 – 25th. There were some really good battles in this group.

Group 5 at 11am was when the rain really decided it was time to come down. However not to be dampened by the this, Ian Greaves with a new PB of 35.36 – 92nd and then there was another PB by two minutes from Chris Bloomfield 39.30 – 123rd. Then in a close race Beverley Brigden 41.48 – 45th saw off a challenge from Alan Green 42.23 – 136th

Group 6 and final one of the day, saw track and field multi eventer Peter Coote in 43.17 – 139th, working hard and looking good was Gavin Bliss in 48.41 – 48.41, followed by some really excellent determined runs. Lara Bakewell in 52.19 – 79th, who’s doing brilliantly coming back to action from having a baby and Cindy Brittan in a never give up attitude with an inspiring 71.11.

On Sunday morning just the one group set off and it was a quick one…… New member and making a strong entrance with a brilliant time of 25.13 was Ben Kruze (5.03min average mile pace). Ben was the overall winner of the WRRL race, meaning we won both men’s and ladies individual categories. Returning from injury with his first run in a while was Rich Shephard in a very fast 27.29 – 8th, behind in another quick time was the ever getting quicker Adam Evans 29.18 – 21st. Then there was a great race with each pushing the other and Seth Turner 30.43 – 34th just pipping James Cusack 31.05 – 38th and then in a strong field just behind was Adam Linforth 31.42 – 51st.

Away from the groups there were some more really good individual performances. Leading M50 was Wayne Vickers in 29.37 – 22nd, followed by Andrew Cox 30.15 – 29th. Then some young talent in Taylor Stubbins 33.52 – 73rd and Finn Hutchinson 35.44 – 94th, followed by Jordan Mogridge 31.54 – 55th. Not far off was John Bettles 35.59 – 99th. Then it was the turn of the evergreen Phil Brennan 39.48 – 127th followed by Dave Maundrell 45.11 – 148th and finally, racewalking the course was Paul Hawkins 50.43 – 154th

In the ladies individual performances there were also some super runs. Age group leading Kate Wright 32.32 – 6th and then strong runs from Sarah Wheeler 15th – 34.46, Vicky Sharpe 35.59 – 18th doing her run in Cornwall, Philippa Sian 44.08 – 52nd, having a run around Warwick and Jill Wilson with 51.13 – 76th. We then had Rebecca Pridham and Hannah Osbourne out on Saturday morning, running the course together in reverse in 46.07 – 61st and 46.11 – 62nd respectively, followed by another age group winner Ruth Calderbank 74th – 49.45

Full results are shown here :


“Thanks for their support in this must go to Richard Liggatt and Matt Burdus-Cook for helping out with the course and arranging parking for everyone along with taking some pictures as well. Also Sarah Bland and Paul Hawkins for the support and keeping a rein on things and Rob Minton supporting along the way whenever needed.

There was a really great atmosphere from club members who showed tremendous spirit in coming together in these difficult times”

Midland Vet’s T&F League

This is the latest communication from the Vet’s T&F league, confirming what we all expected, that the 4th and final league fixture of the season has been cancelled with the possibility of an event in September. We shall see.

“After discussions with the division secs, on the League events this year, we have reluctantly had decided to call off all 4 league events, now including the August fixture.

We are contemplating a possible event in September, although this would not be a final as no league events have occurred.”
The photos show parents comments and Cait Davis briefing the U13 and showing them what 2m distancing looks like

Training at the Leamington Track
Report – Paul Bearman

I wrote in last week’s newsletter about the frustrating and disappointing trials and tribulations trying to get back to training at the Stratford School track. In response to my email tennis, last Thursday the school facility hirers were sent this communication…….

“You will be aware of the recently changing guidance from the government with regard to schools and businesses. We are currently seeking more clarity on how this affects both our school as an educational establishment and as a lettings facility.

Please be aware that we are constantly looking at both the guidance and the challenges created by implementing the educational aspects of that guidance in a way that is safe for our students, our staff and the wider community. It is likely that the additional information we need will be included in the anticipated July 4th guidance, after we have had time to fully absorb this we will endeavour to send to you all a plan for how we are likely to open up over the coming months.

Thank you for your continued understanding in these difficult times. We hope you and your families all remain safe and well”.

When schools have been given the all clear to get pupils back into school and England Athletics have given clubs the all clear to train (albeit with restrictions) and tracks are opening across the country I’m not sure what more clarity the government can give so we wait with bated breath for news!

Like most folks I’ve read and listened a lot about the wellbeing of our nation’s children in the lockdown and so one of the reasons I and the Age Group Leaders (AGLs) have been pushing for the return to training at the track is, according to the experts, unless many of our young people and their families have supported structures like school and clubs etc., the concern is that without support so many will do nothing and drift, which can badly affect their physical, social, emotional and mental wellbeing.

Therefore, after the setback with the school, I set about looking for a temporary alternative to get things moving and our friends at Warwick District Council have managed to give us 3 weeks of track time before their usual hirers go back to training.

The plan we have is limited with the numbers of athletes we can accommodate initially due to the limit of coaches available and 1:5 bubbles we can create, plus we needed to test our protocols.

We started on Monday with 16 of our older athletes as a first step and the overwhelming consensus was excitement on returning to training as a group from the athletes and gratitude from the parents.

On arrival Louise Leighton checked the athletes in and they sanitised their hands. We couldn’t check their temperatures because the thermometer hadn’t arrived (it has now). I have set up a Covid-19 kit of gloves, masks, thermometer and sanitiser that needs to be with us at all training sessions.

The “bubble” marshalling area was marked out with cones 2m apart and I briefed the athletes what was expected of them (and the coaches).

After 2ish laps warm up it was obvious watching this that going back was a shock to some of them in terms of not doing/very little exercise during the last 4 months and in a couple of cases doing nothing at all. It was also obvious who had really been putting the work in during lockdown.

This was the first time that most of the athletes had seen each other for 4 months and there was an air of fun and dare I say it excitement because they were pleased to see each other. Carolyne and I said it was so good hearing that familiar happy, chatty (virtually non-stop) buzz.

One thing is clear despite constant reminding them about 2m when young people are gassing remembering the 2m can go flying away in the wind, so it’s a good discipline for the coaches to keep reminding them.

Drills were done collectively and Sandy Green set the warm up area up i.e. 3 in a row x 5 rows 2m apart. We are not allowed to use the tracks throwing equipment due to the cleaning regime required and so for the main activities we split into Javelin (used their own spears), hurdles (1 lane apart and sanitised the hurdles before, during and after use), long jump (vigorous raking and digging after every jump) and running (150m accelerators).

As coaches it was great seeing most of the javelin throwers, hurdlers, runners and jumpers slipping back into their comfort zone, but again it became very obvious that, as we suspected, everybody hasn’t been ”reasonably active” and so when we as coaches are formulating plans it is imperative that workload and intensity is gradually increased to avoid injury. Similarly the transition from grass to the track must be gradual with low frequency and intensity initially…..in other words we all need to be patient as we ease back to full training over the coming weeks.

All in all is was a thoroughly enjoyable hour being back on a track and it was pleasing that our protocols were spot on. The only downside was that it was chilly; just like when we stopped in March.

Three of our Masters athletes, Paula Williams, Elaine Ledden and Mark Illingworth had the next hour to start on their road back to full training.

On Wednesday an Under 13 and Under 15 group used the track with some of Paul Hawkins training group. Again this is limited to the number of coaches available and 1:5 bubbles we can create.

The U13 organising coaches, Cait Davis, Paivi McMillan, Lucy Edwards and Elaine Ledden all agreed it was brilliant being back on a track and the consensus was it was really well organised and it was great to see lots of enthusiasm and smiley faces. The athletes were really pleased to see each other and some looked as if they have been keeping very active but it was also easy to spot the ones that haven’t!

After the U13s finished, Mike Sheppard had his U15 athletes in 3 independent bubbles doing parallel sessions. The protocols were strictly adhered to, especially the rules on distancing and afterwards he said “some would still be going now if we hadn’t made them go home”.

Paul Hawkins was equally effusive saying “we had 12 in the middle distance group split into three bubbles and it went very well with no issues”.

Thank you to all our volunteer coaches who helped put the return to the track plans together in very tricky circumstances.

These are very early days and please bear in mind this isn’t a return to full training; that’s some way off. The AGLs will be monitoring how we are managing the return over the 3 weeks we are in Leamington but irrespective of anything else it is mandatory that we stick to the 1:5 ratio and the fact is we’re limited with our coaching capacity which affects the numbers we can accommodate.

We’re grateful for Warwick DC helping us out but fingers crossed we are back at our track very soon; at least when the schools finish for the summer holidays…… I’ll certainly be checking!!

Training in Lockdown

This week we feature reports from a couple of our senior members who have both thrown themselves wholeheartedly in to the various virtual races.
Bev Brigden

Bev Brigden

For 2020 I had already decided not to enter any races that I had previously run and I had not explored anything new.

As a result I did not have to deal with the mounting disappointment of cancelled plans as we entered lockdown.

Like you all, I had to think about how to keep motivated and as exercising was on the ‘allowed’ list, I was committed to keeping up with running. I identified three challenges that needed to be faced.

  1. I like to run and chat with chums and therefore don’t enjoy running alone.
  2. I am a wimp when it comes to running in the rain.
  3. I would go miles out of my way to avoid running up a hill.

The lockdown period has certainly helped me confront and conquer the above.

  1. If you can only run alone, you just need to get on with it. 35 continuous days of runs including a couple of half marathons (which I truly thought would be impossible when solo) have honed this ‘skill’, although I was often rewarded with a socially distanced chat en-route. The virtual Shakespeare, Mayor’s Magic Mile and WRRL races revealed that I could also push myself out of my comfort zone unaided. I am now confident that I am cured.
  2. Those of you that ran or supported in the WRRL ‘race’ on Saturday and were out around 11.25, experienced a biblical downpour, which saw the road turn to river, the verges turn to deep puddles and my trainers fill with water – it was quite fun!
  3. Hills are not completely sorted but following Robs 10K plan has introduced me to a few hill sessions, which are mercifully short. I have also had the pleasure of joining Sarah Boundy’s, Saturday Six Trails, which seems to have a preference for elevation. Like many of us, I have revisited old routes and discovered new routes; the Welcombe HILLS have been very rewarding. Many of my runs involved getting lost and having to run up an unexpected hill. By the time life is back to ‘normal’, I will no longer have to make a detour!

The club has been great at finding challenges and creating opportunities for us. It’s a huge amount of work for those that have championed the different events. I still love to run with friends, in the dry and on the flat roads, but I can now happily embrace the challenge if this is how it has to be.

However, this Lockdown period has highlighted a new challenge – my general knowledge needs improvement – so that I can increase my scores in Jon’s fabulous quiz nights.

Alan Green

Alan Green

Well, Rachael and I found ourselves in Pebworth on a Saturday morning under black clouds waiting for our Virtual 5 Mile Runs to start.

We were in Teams 5 & 6 (or as Paul Hawkins would say Not Teams 5 & 6) which were going to set off at our Socially Distanced 2m or 20 second intervals with other Club Members (No Club Vests) to race through the storm to Milcote.

We were told it was a nice flat course and were hoping for some fast times BUT and this is the great thing; the meeting up, the encouragement, the photos, the Facebook Social Media side etc. are what have really made the Club such a great motivator and stopped us feeling isolated during Lockdown.

I normally went to the gym and to Karate every week, as well as the Running Training and Rachael used to go to HIIT classes but they were shut down due to the restrictions.

The Club has stepped up and managed to create lots of interesting and varied activities to fill those gaps.

We have had Virtual Races of different lengths to train for and run, cycling alternatives (or add-ons if you want), David’s Newsletters, Quiz Nights with Mr. Mulkeen and his backing band, the League Tables and Teams and these have all pushed us to keep improving and kept us entertained.

And when you are out running you’ll inevitably see another Club member running, or waving and shouting encouragement and often taking a photo which ends up on FB.

We have even invested in some OS Maps that come with a digital version, so you can plan and run some ‘off-road’ routes. Some of these have been really interesting and with some beautiful views – it makes a change from the canal, The Ridgeway and The Greenway.

As we passed Milcote at the finish of the ‘Race’, following my ‘non-team mates’ Beverley and Chris (all looking like ‘drowned rats’ as Bev said) we all had PB’s for 5 Mile. My time was 42:23 which is never going to trouble the League Table but was brilliant for me.

The organisation and communication for all the Races and Events is always fantastic, so a massive thank you to everyone involved.

Last Sunday 60 of our young endurance athletes enjoyed a coaching session on the Welcombe Hills in 12 coached groups of 5 athletes plus a coach. This was an increase on the 45 of the previous week. A similar number will take part this coming Sunday
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And Finally

As previously announced, we now have the mayor as a member and this is a photo of Tony Jackson in his regalia, alongside the first 3 ladies in last month’s vMagic Mile.

Left to Right: Olivia Robinson, Georgie Campbell, Cllr Tony Jackson & Imogen Sheppard

And Finally Finally

More photos from the vWRRL race
Rich Shephard in full flight
Matt Burdus-Cook being hotly pursued by Richard Liggatt and Alex Adams. Unfortunately Alex’s magnificent time of 29.07 didn’t count towards the team score because he is not yet 15.
James Cusack being chased by Seth Turner.