More committed coaches + Archives revisited.

Sessions with our junior athletes inbetween lockdowns. Lucy Edwards is leading the stretching at the Leamington track and below, Sandy Green is leading hurdle drills with young coach Maddie Clark at our own track. Please read below a fascinating article by and about our U13 Age Group Leaders.
This week we have another fascinating article on our Junior Age Group Leaders. This week it’s the turn of the U13’s. The article once again shows the absolute commitment and dedication of these AGLs. We’re lucky to have them.

We also have club stalwart Sarah Bland writing her Lockdown Lookback. Many thanks Sarah and many thanks for all you have done this year, along with your support team of Matt, Ryan, John and David, to keep the Shakespeare Races going.

There are also the winners of last month’s 100 club draw.

After a few month’s gap I’ve dusted down some of the Paul Hawkins Archives with articles going back upto 30 years ago.

Finally there’s mention of the commitment of some of our junior endurance group, who have still been turning up on the Welcombe Hills on a Sunday morning to train, in pairs, setting off at different times, despite there being no organised training.

Take care – two weeks down and two to go hopefully.

Best Wishes.

David Jones.
Clockwise from top left : Cait Davis, Paivi McMillan, Lucy Edwards and Elaine Ledden

Following on from last week’s informative and interesting article from our U11’s Age Group Leaders, this week it’s the turn of the U13’s

U13’s Age Group Leaders – Cait Davis, Paivi McMillan, Lucy Edwards and Elaine Ledden.

Report – Paivi McMillan.

* Who are you and what is your role in your respective group in the junior section?

To answer this question, we need to go back to March 2020.

Back in March Jenny Sheppard and Elaine Ledden had been successfully running the U13s for several years and due to personal and working commitments the opportunity arose for a new coaching team to take up the reins. After some discussions, instead of having one or two lead coaches, a team of three agreed to share the responsibilities Cait Davis, Lucy Edwards and Paivi McMillan. Elaine is still involved with the U13s when work commitments allow and Jenny is now coaching the U15s.

All three coaches take part in the weekly, monthly quarterly and annual activities, session plans, athlete and coach updates, quarterly brainstorming, and annual selections for the Club awards. Lucy and Paivi keep on top of the league team management for the winter Sportshall and summer T&F competitions as well.

* Who are the coaches?

Cait has been with the club +10 years as a parent and a coach. She’s gained the expertise from coaching in most of the year groups with different fellow coaches and also coaches in primary schools and helps with the annual primary school Sportshall and T&F competitions.

She has a great insight and understanding of quarterly and annual training cycles. Being part of the U17s coaching team, provides further perspective and an endless variety of activities to use during individual sessions for the U13s.

Something you might not know about Cait; in her youth she was competing in cross country with Paula Radcliffe herself! Nowadays, she keeps busy with running and cycling. This November she is taking part in Strava’s 300km endurance challenge.

Lucy is our second lead coach. She was introduced to athletics a couple of years ago when her older daughter Ruby started in the U11s. Lucy’s Tuesday evenings are packed with coaching, starting first with the U11s with Carolyne and Michelle and afterwards she continues with the U13s.

Always being active herself, her interest in coaching developed while watching Ruby’s training. After some “pestering” to get involved, Lucy signed up for the athletics coaching assistant course and the rest is history. She has a true interest in nurturing the athlete’s development and she was also the master mind behind the U13s summer lockdown fun training including utilising toilet rolls!

Lucy is also the lead for the club clothing……

The third coach in the team is Paivi who grew up in Finland where athletics kept her busy at her home track in Seinajoki. Her son Alex starting athletics with the U11s and that was the catalyst to get active and involved. The SUAAC coaching team was easy to join and no sooner she was even thinking about it, training courses were available and as with Lucy the rest is history.

There was also a short-lived senior athlete phase with the Masters, however, after some serious contemplating, she decided to keep her focus on coaching. Her name isn’t so easy to pronounce, however, she recognises herself from Paba, Pavi and Pivi as well!

* Who are the coaches/helpers in your group?
The U13s coaching team includes Katja Berg, Mandy Newton, John Boxall, Emma Sparrow, Elaine Ledden and Sandy Green. Sandy being the throws guru in the club, takes the main responsibility for any throw related activities during the training session while the rest of the team is getting on with anything and everything that is included in the training plans.

* Do you have any coaching philosophy or ideas how athletics sessions should be run?
The objective is always to be inclusive, celebrate success and for everyone involved to enjoy what we are doing.

With inclusiveness, each athlete needs the individual and the group support to develop, therefore, having a wide variety of activities included in the session plans is needed to back up the growth of an athlete and to help the U13s develop and reach their potential.

Recognising an athlete’s improvement is a key part of what we do and whilst the main competitions during the summer are good benchmarks of success, during the winter training, every little step in an individual’s improvement deserves attention and recognition.

Athletics is mainly an individual activity, however, support from peers, team building, cheering each other on and celebrating each other’s success or commiserating when things haven’t gone so well are a vital part of a young athlete staying in athletics or indeed any sport. The more of this we can do when we’re coaching that can build this inclusiveness and team spirit, the better.

* How many athletes are in your group &how do you set your training groups up e.g. coach: athlete ratios
There are 51 athletes in the U13s. If you counted the number of coaches listed earlier, it is clear coach numbers are high as well. In general, athletes are split in to four or five groups. This is mostly based on year groups and boys or girls.

The aim is to keep the ratio to 1 : 4-7, having two coaches in each group. During the late autumn, we have been trialing a setup whereby we keep a coach on each of the 3 or 4 activity stations and then have individual group coaches supporting the activity. This has taken the pressure off the team leads, transitions are taking less time and activity levels are kept high.

* How do you plan your weekly activities and what do you aim to achieve?
In a normal year, we would follow the mesocycle plans as Paul Bearman mentioned in the past newsletter. With the current lock down, lead coaches are creating weekly plans to keep the athletes active and building up their general fitness levels.

Also as Sports Hall competitions were cancelled this year, a virtual version of Sports Hall is being launched and we’re recommending all our U13s get involved and participate but to make it work we need active parental support to help organise the activities to keep the athletes fit, motivated and having some fun.

The expectation and hope is to return to the track after the lockdown and finish this year on a high.

* What have been the main challenges this year and how have you overcome them?
Challenges are always there and after year like 2020 the skills to adapt and be creative have been needed. The biggest part missing this year have been the competitions. With hardly any competitions, measuring the development and keeping the motivation up becomes a challenge. On the other hand, U13s are still in the beginning of their athletics career, so there are many years to compete. Like the Sports Hall supports the growth and development of the athletes, they will be getting some personal circuit challenges to measure their individual development starting this year and following up during 2021.

Finally, Covid has restricted the parents’ presence at the track. This is a big loss when thinking about the importance for the athletes sharing what activities they’ve done in training during teatime conversations. However, the introduction of the weekly communication through the WhatsApp group has been the platform to share experiences and get feedback.

What if any have been the highlights this year?
Since returning to the track after lockdown the number one highlight must be the great level of activity going through late summer and now autumn and winter. September sessions had 90% activity levels excluding injured athletes.

Another highlight was the Club Champs with more than half of the eligible U13s athletes competing and most athletes got PB’s or close to it.

Third one will be hats off and thanks to all the volunteer coaches! Turning up no matter what the weather is, the new coaches who have recently joined and the young coaches who are still athletes themselves. It goes without saying, if there are no coaches there are no athletes.

* Have you got any personal objectives e.g. development
All the AGLs keep busy with EA websites and You Tube videos to absorb and learn the technical insights for different events. EA’s Athletics’ Hub has provided a variety of short training sessions, webinars and the team has been signing up for the online training as much as possible. Also athletic Coach training is in progress for several of the coaches as well to upgrade their qualifications.

* Looking ahead and assuming Coronavirus eventually is under control, what are your hopes for the club in 2021 realising that none of us are able to predict what the future will bring?

Simply it will be great to get to March, complete our first year as AGLs and hope 2021 is back to the “normal” we enjoyed pre covid …….and with a lot of sunny weather.

More seriously, keep the focus and get current year 8 athletes ready to join the U15s and then looking forward to the spring when the current year 6 group join the U13s!

* Any personal thoughts for the future?

Keep calm and carry on!

Sarah Bland and best friend !

Lockdown Lookback

Sarah Bland

You can take good things from almost anything, however bad. As we continue to lurch though all the changes thrown at us I thought I would share an idle re-cap of 2020.

Thinking back to that 3rd week in March, I had just been into the Crown in Tiddington to book the food for the April Shakespeare race (and accidentally had a beer while I was there) and that was it for normality. The last time in a pub until late July and no real Shakespeare races for the rest of the year.

However by the end of March we had our first virtual 10k race lined up and I had Matt ‘spreadsheet’ B-C to back up the data input. My how you all jumped in! 102 runners in the first one, more than we have ever had for any real race –it perhaps goes to show that it is genuinely hard for many people to get to scheduled races during the week.

By the end of March we also had a virtual resistance & stretch session from Rob and that showed most of us how much work was needed (and what all our houses looked like!)

When I read back through the emails, I see how important that sharing and contact was to so many people in what were really tough times, specially for those with school age kids.

We learnt as we went along, Matt and I, frantically fielding information sent to us in almost every possible manner – email, strava, facebook, Instagram, text, whatsapp, and phone calls – it was funny and completely chaotic!

In May, we picked up Monday stretching and also Strava Art from Sarah Boundy, with the Boundy / Mulkeen showdowns putting us all to shame.

Virtual racing was a 5 mile run and it picked up cycling and a duathlon and a prize from Brian Weetman’s company Riskhub. 109 runners in the race this time!

By June I think we had all got more used to lockdown life and become experts at virtual racing.

Tony Jackson became Mayor and we introduced the Mayor’s Magic Mile, which brought in lots of our speedy juniors along for the next 5 months.

Cycling was still popular and the 4 mile Shakespeare race saw 124 finishers. There were 63 pedallers and 120 magic mile submissions.

David Smyth came on board to help us with sharing results and doing reports, thank goodness! John Raby rounded everyone up to join in the virtual Warwickshire Road Race League, which proved to be an outstanding move and the local clubs must have wondered what had hit them!

Real racing almost happened, with groups of 6 enjoying some distanced company one hot weekend in June.

July brought a 10k race for the Shakespeare League. The cyclists went 10 miles and by the end of the month we were back at the track and back in the pub garden! 70 people ran and biked, a reflection of other life returning.

Ryan ‘stats’ Bakewell joined the “race admin team” and has since picked up the league Shakespeare results after a long stint from Penny.

In August 94 people ran 5k and we had teams in categories of all sorts – fast, family, village & random. Cyclists tackled hills and Joe Lee began the Sunday cycling group rides, still going even if currently suspended! Simon Taylor got the swimmers re-started which proved a great move. And the WRRL continued to be dominated by yellow and black.

In September life had some normality, we even had a handful of club Ilmington runs, oh how good it felt to see everyone again, and run out on the hills together.

We submitted times for 2 miles in the Shakespeare League and a magic mile. October’s Not the Track Hour saw a new slant – time rather than distance, done by 56 people to finish the oddest of seasons.

So there were some 811 Shakespeare race finishers this year in 10 races. That’s about 3,650 miles covered as fast as our collective legs will go. I will leave it to the stats boys to come up with the average speed!

An elite group of just 5 members emerge as the only sub 5 minute milers – that’s Josh, Rob, Alex, Caleb and Taylor. Though credit goes to Richard Shephard who bypassed the mile and did 2 miles in 9 minutes 57 secs. That maths isn’t too hard.

So as I write this in Lockdown v2, we are back running on our own again. Whilst I am sure we are all looking forward to proper club stuff, we have undoubtedly made the best of the year we were given and I think (hope) that we have looked after each other.

In many ways it’s been a real privilege to be part of the central hub and reading all the accounts of your runs and races.

I am really grateful to Matt, Ryan, David and John for sharing the load – (we have sent out 500 emails since July!) and we are all grateful to Rob for keeping us training & stretching.

I hope we can bring some virtual trail races next month and through the winter for those who love the mud.

Who knows what our running in 2021 will bring but I think those of us lucky enough to be members of SAC will be just fine.

100 Club
Our 100 club still continues and the draw was made on line by 3 of our coaches.

Novembers winner’s are

1st prize of £100 Michael Byng
2nd prize of £50 Mike Barrie
3rd prize of £25 Kirsty Fairweather

A huge congratulations to you all.

Don’t forget you can join the 100 club at any time just email on for more details.

All of the proceeds minus the winnings are used to support the club.

Please stay safe and look after each other.

Jo Hutchinson
The Return of the Archives.

After a lengthy gap it’s time to revisit the famous Paul Hawkins Archives.

The first 3 spreads are from the 2003/4 Club Directory which included a brief history of the club up until that time, a time when the membership had increased to 80 members !
From the same Club Directory we read that the Junior Club Membership was in excess of 60, less than 20% of what it is today.
From the October 1990 Newsletter, 30 years ago, we read of Paul Hawkins knocking over 10 minutes off his marathon PB to take it down to 3:13.03. He was to further reduce it to a sub 3 hours time of 2:53 at London
The Triathlon Section of the Newsletter from June ’89, over 30 years ago. This was of particular interest to me in that Ray Ziel, shown here as having won an event in Mansfield, was instrumental in helping me prepare for my first marathon, in France, in April 2008.
Track races as part of the Shakespeare Competition.
Now there’s a good idea !
And Finally.

Despite the fact that organised Sunday training for the Junior Endurance Group on the Welcombe Hills has stopped during Lockdown 2.0, this hasn’t prevented many of our conscientious members continuing to train on their own initiative, in pairs, setting off at different times.

While dog walking there last Sunday I counted something like 18/20 members at different points. I’m told that there was a similar number the previous week.

It should be emphasised that this is absolutely not an organised club activity.

The photos below show Ewan and Rachel Sparrow enjoying themselves on the hills. You can also see the price some parents have to pay to indulge their offsprings enthusiasm. Last Sunday, Ewan and Rachel’s mum Emma unfortunately took a tumble in the mud.

I’m sure the children were hugely sympathetic.