Happy Christmas & The Max Factor

Max Verstraeten
This week we salute young Max Verstraeten, winner of this year’s Junior Cross Country Most Improved Male Award who is now living in Germany.

There is the penultimate look at our various age groups and their respective coaching ethos. This week it is the turn of the Vets T&F group.

There are a few photos to remind us of that despite the current restrictions, many continue to run and train where possible and in a Covid secure environment.

Finally, this time of the year will be a difficult time for many, coming on top of the most difficult of years that most, if not all of us, have faced in our lifetime.

As Nikki Hillard, the club’s Welfare Officer states at the start of the final item in this week’s newsletter.

“As a club, SUAAC considers the wellbeing of our members to be a cornerstone of the way we do things. We also pride ourselves on the level of support we give each other especially when things get difficult and can appear to be overwhelming”

To this end there are a list of organisations who may be of help if any of you, your children, family, friends or anyone you know are struggling to cope.

A Very Happy Christmas to one and all.

Take Care

David Jones

The Max Factor

Max Verstraeten won this year’s Junior Cross Country Most Improved Male Award. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to collect his award last week because he and his family have relocated to Germany.

I understand that it was a condition of him relocating that there would be a track close by. He is a fantastic runner who is improving all the time.

In lieu of him not being able to pick up his award, this photo collage was put together by Nikki Hillard and sent to him.

Max was 12 on Tuesday. Happy Birthday !

Come back and visit us sometime Max and enjoy your new life in Germany.

We will miss you.
A recent pic of club members David Wilson, Elaine Ledden, David Jones, Brian Gravelsons, Paula Williams and Paul Hawkins representing Midlands Masters at Lee Valley earlier this year.

In the latest of the articles about each of the various age groups and disciplines within the club and the coaching ethos of these groups, it is the turn of a group of athletes that are very close to my heart.

Vet”s T&F Group

Paula Williams.

Vets? So you all work with animals?

No! In athletics, a “Vet” or “master” is a competitor 35 or over.

We are a core group of about 8 and we train at the track twice a week: Monday 6-8pm and Thursday 7-8. Our group focus mainly on sprints, throws and jumps.

Most of us do other things for fitness as well: Pilates, endurance running, cycling, circuits, strength and conditioning at the gym, tennis, the list goes on.

Some of us are members who just want to train and others compete all year round and at a range of levels.
Whether it be at club champs or representing GB we compete because we enjoy the atmosphere and the buzz of wondering if we will make it to the finish line in one piece.

Our training is based on Paul Bearman’s programme for the juniors. We look at and them and then factor in age, health, ability and did I mention age?

Our current lead coach is Elaine Ledden who can be seen alongside Sandy Green keeping us in line at the track – I feel sorry for them.

When it comes to our local Midland Vets T&F league we are joined by some of our endurance and walking colleagues and together we are a force to be reckoned with.

Our goals other than fitness, include club records, Midland selection, British Masters standards and local/national/international medals. Most of us are relatively new to track and field although David Wilson was a member of the club as youngster.

Here’s a list of our current Monday/Thursday group:

Elaine Ledden
David Wilson
Jane Withers
Brian Gravelsons
Mark Illingworth
Simon Curran
Andy Reeves
John Boxall
Paula Williams

Originally there was a larger contingent that also included Coach Tony Humphreys

Vets Training Group founder Peter Coote and his wife Christine have turned to longer runs and cycling since the first lock down and Rachel Clark is currently injured. We look forward to welcoming them back soon.

These lock downs have been challenging but we’ve managed to keep training and competing.
We are looking forward to athletics retuning to some kind of normality, being able to enjoy the sport we all love and supporting each other.

A couple of photos to prove that the show very much goes on, despite the difficulties.

A Sunday morning training group on the Welcombe Hills and below them, a Tuesday morning group on the recreation ground.
The Socially Distanced Christmas Run.

It wouldn’t have been the same without the mud now would it ?

Health & Wellbeing

Mental Health

Nikki Hillard – SUAAC Welfare Officer.

As a club, SUAAC considers the wellbeing of our members to be a cornerstone of the way we do things. We also pride ourselves on the level of support we give each other especially when things get difficult and can appear to be overwhelming.

During 2020, with the restrictions that have been introduced to try to keep Coronavirus at bay, the need for this support has become even more evident.

Beyond what we do within SUAAC to support one another, England Athletics have recently published what amounts to a helpline of support entitled ‘Coronavirus and you or your family’s wellbeing’.

If you’re worried about anyone, including a child, or you need advice and support for coping with anything affecting mental health or wellbeing there are many different ways to seek help.

The NHS website contains a lot of valuable information: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/, which includes advice about talking to children about feelings and spotting signs of depression in adults, children and teenagers.

England Athletics have also recently published what amounts to a helpline of support entitled Coronavirus and you or your family’s wellbeing and that is outlined below.

Hopefully with the arrival of various vaccines we will soon see the “light at the end of the tunnel” but the impact of Coronavirus and all the implications that go with it are likely to go on for a long time yet and so this information may be worth keeping for reference if needed.

As well as the message from England Athletics, here is a link to several organisations, across different age groups, that may be of help if you, your children, family, friends or anyone you know are struggling to cope.


A Message from England Athletics……


You might be worried about coronavirus and how it could affect your life or that of a family member or close friend. This may include not being able to train with a group, being asked to stay at home or avoid other people. This might feel difficult or stressful but there are lots of things you can try that could help your wellbeing.

Click here for guidance from our friends at Mind, the Mental Health Charity about coronavirus and your wellbeing.

Below are links to other organisations that may be of help.

The Mental Health Foundation

Website: www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/howtomentalhealth

Provides advice on how to look after your mental health including ten practical ideas such as keeping active, eating well and talking about your feelings.


Telephone: 116 123 (24 hours a day, free to call)

Email: jo@samaritans.org

Website: www.samaritans.org

Provides confidential, non-judgmental emotional support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those that could lead to suicide. You can phone, email, write a letter or in most cases talk to someone face to face.

Mind Infoline

Telephone: 0300 123 3393 (9am5pm Monday to Friday)

Email: info@mind.org.uk

Website: www.mind.org.uk/help/advice_lines

Mind provides confidential mental health information services. With support and understanding, Mind enables people to make informed choices. The Infoline gives information on types of mental distress, where to get help, drug treatments, alternative therapies and advocacy. Mind also has a network of nearly 200 local Mind associations providing local services.


Telephone: 0800 1111

Email: www.childline.org.uk/Talk/Pages/Email.aspx

Website: www.childline.org.uk

ChildLine is a private and confidential service for children and young people up to the age of nineteen. You can contact a ChildLine counsellor for free about anything no problem is too big or too small.


YoungMinds offers free confidential online and telephone support to anyone worried about the emotional and mental wellbeing of a child or young person up to the age of 25.

  • call the free parents’ helpine on 0808 802 5544 from 9.30am to 4pm, Monday to Friday
  • email parents@youngminds.org.uk and YoungMinds will respond to your query within 3 working days

The charity also has information for parents and carers about mental health.

And Finally.

In last week’s newsletter there was a feature on SUAAC version 1.0, dating from 1964 that included details about the early days of our current club.

Richard Morris, who supplied all of the information also sent me this photos of a collection of running shoes from the late 1970’s.

In the article I erroneously stated that the current women’s 800m world record, which is held by Jamila Kratochvilova, has stood since 1951. 1951 is in fact the year of her birth. The record has actually stood since 1983, some 37 years. The mistake was mine and not Richard’s. That will teach me to disagree with Danny Tolhurst.
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