Fruit & Veg Throwing – Yes really !

All manner of fruit and veg being thrown for the half-term challenge ….bananas, huge shallots, and items from the squash family!

Another mixed bag this week. We start off with a report on the Half Term Challenge activities of some of our junior members. Highly impressive they are too.

There is a race walking article by chairman Paul Hawkins about his journey to becoming one of the countries leading race walkers in his age group. Paul also reports on the current success of our race walking squad in the Racewalking Association’s virtual league.

Racewalking squad – that’s a term I haven’t used before!

We have a report on Kate Sergent, our international marathon runner, on her City of Newport virtual half marathon at the weekend.

Alex Adams’ again triumphed in last month’s Magic Mile with our junior members excelling.

Finally there is the club’s submission to Stratford upon Avon District Council’s Celebration of Sport and Physical Activity initiative.

Enjoy the weekend. Nearly there. Hopefully!

Take care

Best Wishes.

David Jones
Holly Cifford’s wonderful collage of her half-term challenge activities
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Under 11’s Half Term Challenge

Report – Carolyne Johnston

Dismal and dreary conditions did not deter our younger athletes from competing in the half term challenge. A number of Under 11s dragged their parents out to assist with timing and photo shoots to prove their efforts. No toilet rolls required this time but the odd banana or carrot was pinched from the kitchen to see how far it could be thrown! There was a lack of banana cake in the Wood household by the time Alex had finished with the bananas he was throwing!

Their challenge was to complete at least 2 activities ranging from a sprint circuit, skipping, slalom circuit and crisscross running. They could choose to do their activity over any 5 days during half term and for fun we threw in a vegetable throw for distance and bunny hops for distance challenge.

Their chosen events were repeated twice over the 5 days so they could compare their results to see how they had improved. Well done to Clea, Holly, Lois, Scarlett, Martha, Alex and Liam for stepping up to some half term fun and fitness, not forgetting their siblings that joined in too!

Niamh and Seb Hillard’s Half-Term Challenge

Seb and Niamh also put in some great efforts in the half term challenge. I’m exhausted just reading it !

Seb’s Half Term Challenge

Saturday – 9K walk

Sunday – StratfordAC Virtual 5K

Monday – Oversley Woods Walk

Tuesday – Hurdle Training Warmup, Drill and Hurdles. 1/2 Virtual Zoom Core and training

Wednesday – 9K run

Thursday – Core and Walk

Saturday 40k bike ride

Sunday – Hill training and run.

Niamh’s Half Term Challenge

Saturday -5k SUAAC Virtual Race 21.43

Sunday -Welcombes Hills 6.9k

Monday – Oversley Woods Walk – 5.6k

Tuesday short fast one.
The usual warm up plus a few drills then it was a 30/30 session. It’s short so quite quick. Aim for 30 seconds fast at about your 1500 pace or just slower (3000m pace would probably be more accurate but not as easy to judge) then 30 seconds jog recovery repeat this until you’ve done 7 fast & 7 jog. Rest for 6 minutes walking then repeat so the full session is 2 x (7 x 30/30)


After the usual warm up and strides followed by 5 x 4 minute efforts with 4 min recovery,

Friday – Gentle run

Saturday – 40k bike ride

Sunday – Hill training

Ready for the off. Paul Hawkins and Malcolm Bowyer on the start line.

Report – Paul Hawkins

Following a knee operation in 2013 I was never really able to get back to running properly and I even tried doing throws much to Sandy’s disgust.

As part of the Midland Vets League I “volunteered” to have a go at the race walk along with a few others and found that it worked for me as it was low impact but still gaining from the benefit of my endurance running background.

In 2016 I took part in a couple of 10k races and the following year I won my age group in the British 20k championships along with a few county, Midland and National Champs and in 2018 a team bronze in the European Masters championship. During this time you may have seen me training at the track or on club nights.

There have also been a few members who regularly compete in the Vets League and over the last year, five of us have trained regularly together.

Since the start of the Covid lockdown I have entered a weekly 2k virtual race organised by the Race Walk Association. We are now on week 47! For the last few weeks some of the others in the Stratford AC racewalk group have entered too

Last week’s results were encouraging in that our ladies team of Kate Sergent, Gemma Smith and Emma Sparrow were placed 3rd overall in the women’s team league. Kate was 15th overall, Gemma 18th and Emma 18th.

The men’s team were placed 9th, due to the fact that we only had two competing. For each of the team events it is three to score and if there are only two team members then there is a penalty score for the third member.

I was placed 22nd overall and Malcolm 46th.

Coincidentally, at the AGM of the Midland Area Race Walk Association in early February I was elected as President for 2021.
Kate Sergent

City of Newport virtual Half Marathon

Report – Kate Sergent.

I needed a February challenge so I entered this as it is my husband Martyn’s home city and the proceeds were going to their local hospice.

I ran with my friend Karen and her support crew were amazing.

David and Hazel Smythe and various neighbours waved us off and Hazel rode the course, which was more or less the Stratford Half backwards, popping up at different places along the way offering water!

Ruth Calderbank was at various points on The Greenway shouting support and taking photos.
The weather was amazing and we finished in 2.13 so we were both very pleased with our efforts!

Thank you to all our supporters!
February’s Magic Mile

Last month’s Magic Mile was again won by Alex Adams just edging out Taylor Stubbins by 5 seconds. In recording a time of 4.37, Alex was 5 seconds quicker than in October despite that being run on the track.

Taylor recorded exactly the same time. Other juniors who improved on their October time were Georgie Campbell by 3 seconds, Maisie-Joy Spriggs by 6 seconds and Barbara Sigmundova by a massive 23 seconds

The October Magic Mile was dominated by the juniors but of the 4 seniors who took part, Lara Bakewell improved her time by a huge 32 seconds. Well done Lara.

Shakespeare League Tables

Compiled by Ryan Bakewell

The Shakespeare league tables for the first two months of the year are shown on the link below. Huge thanks to Ryan for putting them together.

Celebration of Sport and Physical Activity.

Stratford District Council.

The Celebration of Sport and Physical Activity is SDC’s online showcase that applauds the commitment of individuals, teams, coaches, teachers and volunteers during the difficult year of 2020.

Below is an explanation of this initiative, followed by our own submission

Stratford-on-Avon District Council would like to celebrate the commitment of local clubs, groups and individuals and their ability to adapt to the current circumstances. The year 2020 was an extremely difficult year for many people and for long periods, sport and physical activity was not possible or were restricted.

In these difficult times, sports and physical activity groups have shown their importance to the community, working hard to help people stay active in a variety of ways.

Applications were accepted from sports clubs, physical activity groups and schools that are located in the Stratford-on-Avon District, or individuals who live or work with clubs/groups/schools within the Stratford-on-Avon District.

For a full list of the submissions that were accepted please follow this link

Celebration of Sport and Physical Activity | Stratford-on-Avon District Council

Stratford upon Avon Athletic Club.

A big part of the attraction of athletics is being able to meet with, make friends with and compete with like-minded individuals. It is also about those individual’s physical and mental wellbeing.

For 10 months of 2020 many of these attractions were denied to the 500+ members of Stratford Athletic Club, a club that looks beyond their membership and tries to involve the wider community.

How did the club, with an active age range of 8 – 78 respond to these challenges?

Guidelines dictated what could be done. Senior members were encouraged to stay active and juniors were encouraged with home coaching programmes that included virtual pentathlons for U11s & 13s.

When the Stratford School track was available in a Covid secure environment, sessions across many disciplines and junior age groups resumed. Sessions could include 12 athletes + coach. The relaxation of restrictions meant the juniors could resume Sunday sessions on the Welcombe Hills in groups of 5 + coach.

Fortunately, The Pingles Stadium in Nuneaton re-opened and held socially distanced track and field competitions, enabling members to compete.

Many senior members are road and cross country runners, so the club arranged virtual activities. The monthly Shakespeare Races, usually involving some 60 members, became a virtual competition with 100 + competing some months.

With club secretary Tony Jackson being Mayor of Stratford, a Mayor’s Magic Mile race was introduced. Both of these competitions gave junior members the chance to compete against seniors.

Zoom resistance and stretching sessions were also held.

The club realised that while the physical wellbeing of members was important so was their mental wellbeing. Articles in the club’s newsletter provided links to organisations that might be of help.

The highlight of year is the Club Championships. With restrictions lifted a limited championship went ahead with 120 taking part. Normally taking 5 weeks to organise, they were organised in 11 days and were hugely successful with 200+ personal bests recorded.

That was then but what about now?

Despite it being mid-winter the club will continue to provide programmes to keep everyone engaged, fit and healthy. The Club Awards were via Zoom in late January. The junior section held a socially distanced ceremony in December.

As the club comes to terms with lockdown 3, it is determined to put its members and their families at the forefront of efforts to maintain their physical and mental wellbeing while maintaining the community spirit that is at the very core of what the club does.

The club strives to be much more than an athletic club. It strives to be an extended family for its members and families and hopefully, very soon, they will all be back together, having fun and enjoyment once more.