The Thoughts of Chairman Paul.

Matt Burdus-Cook on his way to a comfortable victory by almost 3 minutes in the latest Tempo Winter Series race.
Oh dear, here we go again. Just as we though things were gradually getting back to normal we have Lockdown 2.

There are messages below from both Paul Bearman and Paul Hawkins on how this is likely to affect us all at the club in the foreseeable future.

There is a fabulous Q&A session with our Chairman. Many thanks Paul.

We also have not one but two reports on the recent Tempo Winter Series Race together with a note from Tempo Events on how the latest lockdown is likely to affect future races.

Not to be denied the dubious pleasures of winter cross country races, two of our talented endurance runners, Sam Plumb and Joel Ledgard, braved the wind and the rain to compete at Prestwold Hall at the weekend.

At the other end of the age spectrum, a mere 65 years older than our two juniors, John Butler was picking up another age category prize in a 10k race at Newbury race course.

Finally we have the first of a regular feature on Stratford AC clothing items that are for sale via the club’s website. Go on, treat yourself. You deserve it.

Take care.

Best Wishes

David Jones.

Lockdown News.

Below are statements from both Paul Bearman and Paul Hawkins regarding the current lockdown situation and how it will affect both Junior and Senior sections of the club

In these unprecedented times, you will be aware that the Government announced over the weekend imposing a lockdown from this Thursday, 5 November. This was followed by Stratford School stopping all out of school activity on their campus, therefore, all activity at the track will cease from Thursday.

With no clear guidance available for athletics we had been waiting for guidance from England Athletics to try and get a feel for when we might be able to return. However, in a question to the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden yesterday; can children play grassroots sport, his answer was “this will be permitted in school settings. Unfortunately we need to pause grassroots sport outside school to reduce the transmission risk from households mixing. As soon as we can resume this, we will”.

We are all reliant on the government and scientists for guidance and the priority is obviously to slow the infections down and to preserve the NHS from being overwhelmed. However, with the ambiguous answer from the Culture Secretary “as soon as we can resume this, we will” it means EA cannot give an answer when we can or will be able to return to training at the track.

I am aware of the frustration of many of our members, especially as it has been fantastic getting back to training since July, with both the physical and mental benefits for everyone.

There has also been a lot of media coverage and sports bodies lobbying the government to think again regarding youth sport, especially as schools are open and with PE being limited in many schools. However, we can only work with the information and guidance we have and as soon as we hear anything contrary to what we currently know we will be in contact.

In the meantime the Age Group Leaders will be looking at options for home training that can help continue the excellent work we’ve been doing in our training sessions over the last few months.

Stay safe and keep active

Paul Bearman

It was good to see many of you at training on Monday at the track and on Wednesday at the Sports Club but sadly that’s it for group training for a month now, until 2nd December, unless the government changes its mind, again.

In the meantime, the track is closed and not available for any activities and the Sports Club is also closed.

We can still train individually or with one other person, so good luck with that and any online or virtual training and races.

If you have any questions or comments then let me know

Keep safe

Paul Hawkins.
Fern Hordern appears to be floating on air and obviously enjoying herself.

Tempo Winter Series Race 1

25 October 2020

Report – Becks Pridham

At the time of writing this report we are on the cusp of Lockdown Part Two, which means that all racing will be suspended for at least one month. The Winter Series is a series of five races that take place on a monthly basis from October to February. However, with COVID-19 restrictions and the government’s lockdown, this may adjust either the dates or the number of races. Please see the statement on the Tempo Events website, printed below.

The Winter Series is a race from Ilmington sports club, along the Mickleton road for about a kilometre then take a sharp rise up Larkstoke Hill, followed by a fast downhill section back into Ilmington. The fun doesn’t stop there, there is a scenic route around the village before returning to the sports club for a distance of just over 10km. A very hilly 10km.

With COVID-19 restrictions in place, the race was run in a time trial format with runners placed into small groups, roughly according to speed (although allowances were made for those who travelled together). Each group then had five minutes to start their race, either with the rest of the group or when it felt right to the runner. First runners went off at just before 9.00am and the last runners starting around 12.30, so it was a long day for the Tempo team, coffee gang and the marshals (more from them later).

I was in a group with four other Stratford AC runners (Louise Stewart, Tony Tomecek, Simon Curran and Suzy Graham, the latter of who decided not to run due to race fitness issues), and one other runner, Hayley, from the, ironically named, Lonely Goat Running Club.

As we all started in our little groups, we didn’t get the chance to see many of our fellow runners, so this report is very much from the perspective of our little group. With Suzy offering to marshal on the day, we only saw her cheering us in on the last but one bend back into the club.

Simon, Louise, Tony, Hayley Crawford from Lonely Goat and I were called over to our ‘pen’ where we were given our race instructions and then given the ‘all clear’ to start when ready.

Simon and Tony started off the group, with the ladies having a general faff and chat before following them over the timing boards. I set off to try and catch Tony and Simon, both of whom were enjoying a good chat but let’s be honest, we hadn’t got to the hill yet! Larkstoke was its usual challenging self with Tony and I finding ourselves running together and Simon leading us up the hill with Louise close behind.

The Campden Road downhill and the beautiful clear conditions meant that the views were superb, with our little group chasing Simon down the hill. As we came into the village, Louise was right on our tail as Tony and I found ourselves catching up with Simon. Louise, who is in excellent condition (possibly powered by doughnuts from a Stratford coffee shop), soon calmly powered past Tony, Simon and I, eventually finishing nearly a minute ahead of us. The last two kilometres were tough for Tony, Simon and I, with each of us cajoling the others onwards towards the finish line.

Louise finished in 56:42 (10th female), followed by me in 57:31 (11th female) and Simon Curran pipping Tony at the post to finish in 57.47 (64th male), and Tony moments later 57.51 (65th male). Hayley finished in 1:05:03 and was cheered in by Louise and me.

All of us found it a tough race, the first for most of us in a long time. Larkstoke seems to get steeper every year, and even though we were racing in small groups, we still could support each other (Simon even questioning the sanity and the ability for Tony and I to be able to chat coming down Campden road!).

There were 168 runners in the race, with 20 of them representing Stratford AC.

Matt Burdus-Cook led the race (in group 1!) to finish first in 37:06, over two minutes faster than the second placed competitor, there really is no stopping this hard working and committed athlete. Andrew Cox (41:48, 7th male) and James Chorley (42:12, 8th male) both had strong races being the top three Stratford AC finishing athletes.

Next home for Stratford (bearing in mind this race reporter hadn’t even arrived at the start when these runners set off!) were Adrian Mason (43:18, 10th male), followed closely by Owen Goschen (43:27, 11thmale). David Smyth has been training hard after struggling last season with injuries and should be pleased with his performance (44:26, 16th male). James Coy has clearly been focusing on his training too as he improved upon his previous Winter Series time by over two minutes (45:12, 21st male), followed by the ever consistent Graham Hill who finished in 30th place (47:45).

Triathlete Joe Lee came home in 32nd place (48:03) with another equally amazing multi-sporter, Fern Hordern, bringing home the Stratford ladies contingent (50:08, 2nd female). Then we had Louise, me, Simon and Tony.

An improving Richard Hartwell just pipped in under the hour finishing in 59:14 in 66th place, with Winter Series newbies Lara Bakewell (1:03.10, 45th woman) and Christian Williams (1:03.15, 73rd male) crossing the line in quick succession. I just hope that ‘the Hill’ hasn’t put them off as this is a tough race for every runner. Clare Eynon has clearly been preparing hard as she ran her fastest Winter Series race to date finishing in 1:05.35 as 53rd woman, an awesome achievement.

Paul Nash likes to make the tough race even tougher by going for a 40 mile cycle ride prior to his race, and was initially running strong but found the hill and the run tough on the day. He finished in a season’s best time of 1:10.22 in 81st place. Stratford’s oldest competitor of the day was John Butler, an ever present and smiling face on the local race circuit, this was his 26th appearance at the Tempo Winter Series races and came home as 86th male in a time of win the M75 age category

Congratulations to all the runners from all clubs, it was a super day and although ‘odd’ by traditional race standards, the Tempo team organised and ran a fantastic and friendly race. Instructions were clear before and during the race and feedback from fellow runners was very positive. Although there will be no November race due to Lockdown 2, the team are planning on an alternative date for race number two.

A view from the marshals – by Hannah Osborne

Marshalling at this Winter Series was a different experience! Thankfully we were fortunate with the weather as it was a long day. From 9:30 till 1:30 we had a steady flow of runners coming past. Being so spaced out meant you could see people coming and also cheer them all on which was great. I think for some runners they found it lonely and strange not having people by them to chase or be paced and therefore they appreciated the support on the course.

As always it was awesome to see and support the huge number of yellow Stratford AC vests as they came past.

The views of race organiser Sarah Bland

Sunday 22nd October saw the one of the first “real” events since March, when the 11th Tempo Winter Series tentatively kicked off. Operating under a very different timetable and in time trial format, each little group of 5 or 6 runners were given a specific start time, only allowed to arrive 30 minutes before and having to leave within 30 minutes after finishing. We tried to match the groups according to requests, similar speeds and clubs, as far as possible, the biggest concern (apart from the obvious infection risk) was that it wouldn’t be much fun. But we needn’t have worried, runners came with smiles aplenty and made their own atmosphere in their mini socially distanced groups.

First off were the fastest, and as the reigning series Champion and wearing no 1 Stratford’s Matt Burdus-Cooke ran a fantastic race, pretty much on his own, to win the race. Matt eventually finished almost 3 minutes ahead of the second place runner Oliver Flippance from Kenilworth in 37.06.

Three other Stratford runners in the same fastest group all ran very strongly. Andy Cox took an impressive 7th place in 41.38 and an on form Jamie Chorley 8th in 42.12. Adrian Mason was 2 minutes off his best time for the course in 10th (43.18) but has been coming back from injury and should be very pleased with that time.

Of the next group, Owen Goschen was rightly absolutely delighted with his run to take 11th in 43.27 having struggled with injury last year, and David Smyth, slightly surprised by the on fire Goschen, said he probably should have hung on to him, but also pulled out a strong run to be 16th (44.26). A good performance from James Coy put him just outside the top 20 in 45.12, and also starting in this group, the seemingly always happy Graham Hill ran a great race for his second best time on this course (47.45) with Joe Lee feeling inspired to come back to his best for future races after his long distance triathlon focus (48.03)

First back for the Stratford ladies was Fern Hordern (50.08), who was 5th lady and FV45 winner. The ladies race was won by Caroline Warrington from Bromsgrove & Redditch AC in a very quick 42.13.

Another 4 strong SAC group went out together and enjoyed some banter and club camaraderie, eventually pulled home by Louise Stewart in a great time of 56.42 (11th female) followed by Rebecca Pridham (57.31 and 12th lady) . The boys dropped off a bit in the village section Simon Curran (57.47) just beating an injured Tony Tomacek (57.51) who wasn’t sure he would get to the start let alone finish.

Richard Hartwell should have been pleased with his 59.14, not too far off his PB for the course, and a very happy Lara Bakewell was back in 63.10, as ever juggling small children with fellow club runner and husband Ryan. She was closely followed by Christian Williams in 63.15.

Clare Eynon ran well to come back in 65.34, very close to what I think is her pb of 65.00, set last October. Paul Nash loved the time trial format, as did quite a few runners, and finished in 70.22. Bringing up the rear for Stratford (but not the race) was John Butler 84.16 who also took the M75 age group title

Chairman Paul Hawkins showing his delight, all be it 6 months ago, at his beloved Carlisle United’s early season form.

The Thoughts of Chairman Paul.

With a shortage of actual races to report on, which can make producing the newsletter something of a challenge, I have suggested to a few senior members and coaches that they write an article for us.

Chairman Paul Hawkins’ came up with the inspired ideas of a Q&A.

So here we have it. I think it makes fascinating reading ,although I do think he bottled it when it came to the last question. It was a hypothetical question Paul !

If any others of you fancy penning an article or have any suggestions that don’t involve me in too much work, please please let me know.


1/ Has this been your most challenging year in over 20 years as club chairman?

I think every year has brought its own challenges but the good thing about this year is that going into it we were so much stronger than in the past, both in the size of the club and the number of coaches, officials and volunteers we have.

2/ Has the current situation placed a burden on the club’s financial situation?

We have definitely taken a hit financially. We delayed asking for membership subs in the seniors and we didn’t collect one of the quarterly payments in the juniors – these actions were both intended to help our members in these tough times. We also lost income from the Summer 6 and I don’t think that January’s NTR9 will be happening. Naturally we’ve tried to reduce or delay outgoings but I’m so pleased that we’ve built up a decent bank balance so we that don’t have to worry too much.

3/ Have you been happy with the guidance and support you have been given by the powers that be such as England Athletics?

Both British Athletics and EA have had a pretty tough time. I think at the start of lockdown they were a bit slow with help but since then they’ve upped their game. I think we have to remember that they have their own problems and have had to furlough staff or even make them redundant. They seem to be doing a pretty good job now.

4/ Your disappointments this year have no doubt been plentiful but what, if any, have been the positives you have been able to take with regards to:

a / The Senior Membership: The start of lockdown was just before our membership year started. As we couldn’t offer too many membership benefits, we chose to extend everyone’s membership for three months and not ask for any fees. We were fortunate that EA allowed us to delay our subs to them (it’s £15 per member) and we didn’t pay the Sports Club (£55 per member to them) – I’m not sure if the SC agreed that, I think I just told them what we were doing. During the lockdown we developed lots of benefits for our people – coaching & virtual races are two of the best examples and it was great that so many people stepped up to help with this.

When we did ask for membership subs there were some people who didn’t renew for various perfectly valid reasons but I was really happy with the number of people who have renewed and obviously it would be wonderful to welcome more members to the club.

b / The junior groups that you coach: As soon as the lockdown started, we contacted all of the junior endurance group and encouraged them to continue running and training throughout lockdown. I was in touch with many of the older athletes with whatever help and guidance I could offer. It soon became very clear just how committed the vast majority were to their training. Many of the juniors joined in the virtual races where appropriate and it was amazing just how well they did.

Once we got back to group training in the summer, albeit in small, safe groups, I was delighted by their enthusiasm. For example, we started Sunday morning training on the Welcombe Hills and expected a few to turn up but we had 60 or more every week! The logistics of putting them in groups of five plus a coach, with staggered start times to avoid mixing, was a challenge!

I really couldn’t have been more delighted or impressed with the athletes.

c / Your own chosen event of racewalking: I first starting racewalking in 2016 when I had to stop running due to a knee injury. I did a few races and was happy with my progress – Top Tip: when you get a bit older and want to do PB’s try a new event!

I had a few plans for 2020 with championships and some other events but they have all pretty much been cancelled like most other races. However, I’ve managed to up the training with having a bit more time, so I’ve usually racewalked five or six times a week and increased my longest to 22 miles. So, the virtual races, both club ones and the Race Walk Association, have gone ok. I just need to do some proper races and hopefully do some decent times!

5/ As an observer I would say that of all the various hats you wear, coaching the juniors gives you the most satisfaction. Am I correct and if so why?

You are right. It’s hard to give a good answer to this though but if I can help the junior athletes to enjoy the sport and achieve their potential that is incredibly satisfying. To see someone join the club at age 8 and help them progress so they are still taking part successfully at 18 or 19 is fantastic.

6/ Which areas of the club, if any, do you think need strengthening? Can I merge this and question 7?

7/ Is there anything that we are not doing as a club that you would like us to be doing?

I don’t think there is much that we don’t do. There is a lot we can do better though. That’s not to say we don’t do things well but we can and must do even better so we can grow both in numbers and in success. Hasn’t it been wonderful to see John Raby and others get enthusiastic about the Warwickshire Road Race League? Look how well we’ve done over the last few months. I hope we can be as successful when the normal races return. A few of us have pushed the WRRL in the past with little success but I think that’s partly that people get fed up of me asking them to race somewhere or other. John is a new face and has been brilliant.

I think we can do better still right across the board – track and field, cross country, road running including relays. And if we do well it will bring more people into it, success breeds success.

8/ If you could ask one thing of the senior membership, what would it be?

If you think we are doing something wrong or just not doing something tell me. Even better say “I could do ….” But the main thing is talk to me or any of the committee.

9/ In the 10 years that I have been a member it has been obvious that both senior and junior sections of the club have benefitted from strong and consistent leadership. With both yourself and Paul Bearman now in your 3rd decades of leadership, have any thoughts have been given to succession planning?

Brilliant! I think we have been talking about succession for a long time, for all the roles in the club. Speaking for myself I am well aware that everyone can be replaced. When I became Chairman in 1999 it was because the previous Chair moved to Aberdeen – it’s a bit of an extreme way of getting out of the job – and I just sort of fell into it and if I fell under a bus tomorrow, I’m sure that someone would step up but I’d rather we did the transfer another way.

I think it’s important that whoever is Chair has an interest in all areas of the club: Junior & Senior; Track/Field & Road; Cross Country & Triathlon.

I suspect that no one will offer until we are desperate!

10/ In your 20 years as club chairman are there particular highlights you can recall as chairman, coach and competitor?

Wow! I’m not sure where I start.

Chairman – There’s been many highlights but I think the growth in the club. I think when I became Chair there were about 30 senior members, we’re a bit bigger now

Coach – There’s been many individuals that I’ve coached who have achieved great performances from county to national levels with medals earned at all levels. Agnes McTighe running a World Best at 3000m was an incredible night but I think the highlight is the way the junior endurance group has progressed over the last few years. I genuinely think that we are now one of the leading clubs, certainly in the Midlands and it is based both on participation and the quality of athletes. And we are definitely not finished yet!

This is a real team effort with all the endurance coaches, definitely not just me!

Athlete – Sorry, there’s two. My marathon PB of 2.53 in London, it just went really well and since I moved to racewalking winning a bronze medal at the European Masters Champs.

11/ What are your hopes for the club in 2021 and I realise that none of us are able to predict what the future will bring.

I’ve looked in my crystal ball to do this one. It was a bit cloudy though. I’m not going to be too specific on this one but I simply hope that the club can continue to grow in all ways. If and when we get back to proper group training and to competition, I hope we can continue with the same spirit we’ve shown in 2020. We need to transfer the success of the virtual races to real races. We need to continue to bring our brilliant juniors through into the senior part of the club – not just in endurance but across all the events. We could also do with shouting out a bit more about what we do well. The press reports and the Newsletter are excellent but they are only as good as the reports that they are sent by the members.

12/ Now the big one! Carlisle United are in the FA Cup Final and it clashes with the English Schools XC Championships, which one do you choose to attend.

Fortunately, it can’t happen with the cross country champs being in March.


Tempo Events Winter Series Update

November 1st 2020. Lockdown part 2

This message is currently posted on the Tempo Events website

Clearly the second race will not now be taking place in November.

A month is a long time in 2020 and at the end of this period of lockdown we may be given further restrictions but we have set a replacement date of December 13th for race 2.

At this stage it is provisional only and we will confirm this, or provide further updates nearer the time. But in the meantime, please put it in your diaries!

Sam Plumb
Joel Ledgard
County and National Primary Schools Cross Country
Prestwold Hall – 31st October.
Report – David Jones.

Keen not to miss out on the pleasures of winter XC running, two of our talented Junior Endurance runners competed in this event last Saturday.

The venue will be familiar to both young and old who have competed in XC races for the club at cross country, all of who will know it as a truly challenging course.

It was a XC race in the true tradition with sheets of heavy rain making conditions difficult for competitors. However this did not deter our two talented runners. Sam Plumb finished in 13th place in the Year 6 boys race, in a time of 9:25, with club colleague Joel Ledgard just 26 seconds behind him in 21st place and a time of 9:51.

The race was run over 2200m ( 1.37 miles ) so they ran at 6:52 and 7:31 pace respectively, truly impressive, especially given the conditions.

The race was won by Fred Jones in a time of 7:58

As things stand they could well be the only members of the club to compete at XC for the foreseeable future.

Well done both.
John Butler’s well earned medal.
Runthrough Newbury Racecourse 10K

Newbury – 17 Oct 20
Report – David Jones.

This race gave runners the unique opportunity to run a 5k, 10k or Half Marathon at Newbury Racecourse – one of Britain’s leading horseracing venues!

The race involved laps around the circuit which is flat and quick. It consisted of 1 lap for the 5k race, 2 laps for the 10k and 4 laps for the Half Marathon.

A week prior to him scooping the M75 age category prize at the first of the Tempo Winter Series race, our very own John Butler competed in the 10k race, winning yet another age category title, completing the 2 lap race in a time of 1:13.02.
And Finally.

Club Kit

Fancy treating yourself, why not splash out on some of the impressive range of reasonably priced club kit available to buy online.
The Stratford AC clothing item of the week is the Lightweight Showerproof Rain Jacket with embroidered Stratford AC on the back and club emblem and optional athlete name on the front.

This is available to buy through the website ( in the online shop, with collection from local business Summit in Western Road. Stratford.

Junior is £19.50
Adult £20.50
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