An Unbelievable Week. What a Club!

Rory Dwyer in full flight.
Getty Images for British Athletics
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I’m not sure we’ve ever had such a diverse range of reports in a single newsletter before.

There are reports on everything from a 388 mile cycle ride, running races from 100m to 100k, individual track and field events plus an heptathlon and decathlon. Phew.

A simply amazing set of events and competitions that show what a truly diverse and talented club we are.

In the week that Andrew Pozzi was selected for a 3rd successive Olympics, an amazing achievement, we had him lining up in a heat at the British Championships alongside 2 other athletes who came up through the ranks at our wonderful club.

There’s Carl Matthews’ report on his 388 mile, yes 388 mile cycle challenge, all in aid of the extremely worthwhile Cyclists Fighting Cancer charity. Our wonderful vet’s T&F team – okay I’m biased – were back in action after 21 month break.

There’s our weekly Triathlon news from Simon Taylor and glory be, two multi-event reports, with Adam Farrow completing a decathlon after three years without being able to run or jump due to injury, ankle surgery and then covid and Charlotte Gravelsons’ surpassing her target of 3000 points in the heptathlon.

Seth Turner has produced a superb report on his 100k, sorry 103k Race to the Castle and junior member Joel Ledgard, reports on his cross country race in Market Harborough. Cross Country races – remember those!

Finally there’s a round up of results from Wednesday’s June Shakespeare Race on the Welcombe Hills and the Night of 200m races at Nuneaton, the latest Youth Development League fixture at Sutton Coldfield, Cadie Hibberd’s weekly PB and a club record update.

Blimey, I feel like I’ve completed a 100k race.

Take care

Best Wishes

David Jones
Andrew Pozzi and Jack Sumners battle it out.
Getty Images for British Athletics.
The line-up for the first heat of the 110m hurdles, featuring Andrew Pozzi, Jack Sumners and Oliver Cresswell, 3 of our home grown athletes. What a tremendous achievement and proud moment for our club.
Andrew Pozzi – Proud to wear the vest.
British Athletics Championships.


Report – Paul Bearman.

In an extraordinary occasion for Stratford upon Avon AC, 5 Stratford athletes competed at the British athletics championships held in Manchester at the weekend, where selection for the Olympics next month was up for grabs.

After the championships it was confirmed that Andrew Pozzi had been selected for his 3rd successive Olympics. An awesome achievement.

The 110m hurdles was hotly anticipated with a line up in heat one that contained 3 Stratford athletes who have graduated through the club.

Andrew Pozzi flew in from Italy and had to isolate at home before travelling to Manchester and Jack Sumners, who had returned from university in the US a few weeks earlier had also been in isolation. Making up the threesome was Ollie Creswell, fresh from winning the bronze medal at the England Championships the week before.

This was Sumners and Cresswell’s first taste of competing at this level in the British Championships

Pozzi broke the stadium record winning his heat in 13.49s and Creswell finished just outside the qualifiers with a new PB of 14.48 and Sumners finished in 6th place.

The final contained the cream of British sprint hurdling and going into the final barriers Pozzi was ahead a but a clash of arms with David King at hurdles 7 & 8 knocked Pozzi off balance and after badly hitting the 8th hurdle and stumbling he recovered but it was enough to push him into 3rd place.

A philosophical Pozzi said afterwards “these things happen in hurdling and although I’m disappointed not to win I was proud to wear my club vest and have Ollie and Jack alongside me”.

After a couple of years being plagued by injury, Midland Champion Rory Dwyer competed in the Men’s High Jump and showed the consistency from recent competitions and finished 5th with a jump of 2.13m, going out by narrowly failing at his PB height of 2.17m.

In his first British Championships, 19-year-old Lewis Byng, who is coming back into throwing the Shot after a lay off showed what a talent he has after winning England U 23 Championship the week before. At these Championships he was up against seasoned older athletes and he finished a brilliant 4th with a distance of 16.61m, only missing the bronze medal on countback by 3 centimetres.

Afterwards proud I reflected that it was an amazing experience watching 5 of our home-grown athletes competing on the national stage and performing so well.

They are the inspiration for the next cohort coming through and showing what talent, combined with hard work, can achieve”.
Carl on the Menai Bridge
Wales in all its glory
Richard and Carl.
Bryan Chapman Memorial Ride

388 miles with 22000 feet of ascent!
Report – Carl Matthews
I haven’t done much running in the past 12 months due to a nagging achilles injury that has taken nearly a year to fully recover from.

I managed my first club run since March 2020 a couple of weeks ago and realized just how much I had missed running with other people and the sheer joy of freedom of movement through fields and lanes and tracks and trails, It was a great night and I expect to be putting in a more regular appearance at the SAC training and race events in the future.

In the meantime I have kept myself fit and active by spending many hours on my bike have and cycled something like 7000 miles over the same period of time.

Last year I did an event to fundraise for Cyclists Fighting Cancer.

As someone who has been diagnosed with cancer (low grade non Hodgkin’s lymphoma) back in 2013 and having gone through the uncertainty of biopsies and radiotherapy, thinking it had been eradicated and then, 6 years later, discovering more lumps in the groin during the lockdown last year, I can only imagine the distress and anguish parents must experience when their children are diagnosed with cancer.

As such I wanted to do something for CFC as their charity work is all about supporting children who are suffering from or recovering from cancer.

I duly competed a 220 mile charity ride around the local area and raised about £1700 for CFC.

This year I decided I wanted to do something more difficult and challenging and raise some more funds for CFC and finally settled on the Bryan Chapman memorial ride.

The BC memorial ride is a long distance cycle event that starts in Chepstow in South Wales and makes its its way to the Menai Bridge in North Wales before returning to Chepstow.

The challenge is to complete the ride in under 40 hours. 388 miles with 22000 feet of ascent.

My plan was to do this solo as the official AUDAX event had been cancelled again.

As it turned out, my good friend from SCC, Richard offered to help and so my plan was adapted to include the generous support Richard was offering.

On Saturday 26th June at 0525hrs, I cycled from Chepstow and made my way through South and mid Wales and met Richard just South of Machynlleth.

We cycled up to Dolgellau where a late lunch had been arranged and having taken on a mammoth meal of pasta and copious cups of tea, I set off for the Menai Bridge which I reached at about 2115hrs that evening. This still left 55 miles to get back to Dolgellau.

After riding through the night, I finally reached Dolgellau at 0215hrs on Sunday morning. I had cycled 248 miles that day and completed over 13500 feet of hills, It was a tough day but I was helped by very good weather and the very welcome support of Richard.

3 and a half hours later I was up again and after a bacon and egg sandwich I was back in the saddle on my way back to Chepstow. A mere 140 miles and 8000 feet of ascent down the road!

The first 50 miles were brutal with some very challenging hills to overcome.

I had a bit of a wobble when I got to Monmouth thinking that Chepstow was only 10 miles away and saw a sign that said Chepstow – 17 miles. Once I had given my self a good talking to I set off down the Wye valley which meanders its way down to Chepstow where I finally arrived at 2035 hrs on Sunday evening.

A mere 50 minutes within the cut off time. I managed to raise over £2200 for cyclists fighting cancer and was able to enjoy Wales in all its glory from the comfort of my saddle.

A magnificent journey through a beautiful country, especially when the sun is shining.

Luckily I had booked Monday off which was just as well as my body was in bits and I literally ate all day.

For anyone thinking of a long distance cycle event, it would be hard to beat the Bryan Chapman Memorial Ride. My body wont thank me for another day or two but I want to say a big big thank you to everyone who supported me on my progress and who donated to CFC. When you start to doubt you can finish what you have started, its the support and the donations to the charity that keep you going.

I hope to see you all soon, once my body tells me its OK!
Simon Curran passes the baton to Dave Battersby.
Some of the gang.
Top supporter Toby Spriggs cheered the team along and was made very welcome by one and all.

Midlands Veterans T&F League South Division

Abbey Stadium – Redditch

Middle distance glory and more for Stratford Masters athletes

Report – Peter Coote

Stratford AC’s masters athletes, aged from 35 to over 70, had a successful evening at Redditch last Wednesday, finishing a close second to Worcester in the season’s first match of the Midlands Veterans T&F league South.

It was a welcome return to the track for many, including some new members who last ran on a track in their schooldays!

Stratford middle distance runners showed that they had been busy during the various lockdowns and periods of restricted training, picking up 42 of the potential maximum 48 points in the 3000m. Ben Kruze and Matt Burdus-Cook won their races in age group club record times and new member and duathlete John Peacock came second in his. Kim Lee debuted alongside Emma Bexson and Kate Sergent in the women’s races.

New members Liz Manzella and Julia Brookes joined Hannah Osborne in the women’s 800m, while Wayne Vickers, Matt Burdus-Cook and Dave Battersby ran in the men’s, with Wayne and Matt both setting new club age group records.

In the 2000m walk, Gemma Smith won her race in a club record time, with Kate Sergent, Malcolm Bowyer and David Jones all contributing valuable points, and David setting a M70 club record.

With some late replacements for regular runners missing, the sprinters did well in the 200m against tough competition. Paula Williams won her race and Jan Turner, Kate Sergent, Emma Vickers, and Hannah Osborne all did well. Distance runners Ben Kruze and Simon Curran demonstrated their versatility with Ben coming second in his race in 27.1 seconds and Simon setting a new PB of 27.3 seconds. John Boxall, David Jones, and Peter Coote all contributed valuable points, with Peter lowering his own age group club record.

In the field events, new member Alistair Webb debuted in the high jump achieving his target height of 1.40m. Christine Coote set new club age group records in the javelin and long jump. Paula Williams won a very close high jump competition on countback and came second in the triple jump. John Boxall was busy in the javelin and long jump, while Peter Coote won his javelin event.

The successful evening was rounded off with two very competitive 4 x 400m relay races. Both the men’s teams of Wayne Vickers, Dave Battersby, Simon Curran, and Alistair Webb and the women’s team of Kim Lee, Julia Brookes, Liz Manzella, and Hannah Osborne came third in very respectable times.

The focus of the team now shifts to the next match on July 21, when we will have home advantage and team managers, David Jones and Andy List, will be planning how to overcome Worcester.

Triathlon Update

Report – Simon Taylor
The Triathlon section bike ride is well underway on a Sunday morning. Picture of the intrepid group.
A quiet week for the club’s triathletes this week. However, pride of place goes to Paul Nash. With Paul’s globetrotting racing halted for the time being, he somehow found himself at the St. Mary’s Loch standard triathlon near Selkirk. Paul isn’t renowned for his sense of direction, so how he came to be so far north is anyone’s guess. He set off on a bike ride a week earlier and this is where he ended up.

Unsurprisingly, the weather was wet, cold and windy, added to a beautifully scenic course (read very hilly). Conditions that proved to suit Paul exceptionally well as he finished 7th in his age group. Paul’s comment was simply a tough race, but great fun…now how do I get home.

Alongside many of the club’s runners, some of the triathletes also took part in the Tempo Events Run for Beer Relay. A fantastic and fun event that paired many with their two favourite hobbies – running and beer. Fancy dress was the order of the day for Kim and Joe Lee’s team. Penance for Joe leaving Kim behind last week. Very fetching!

The Triathlon section Sunday bike ride is well underway on a Sunday morning (look out for Joe Lees Facebook post for start time). Pictures of the intrepid group attached.
Adam Farrow

English Schools Combined Events

Report – Steve Farrow

The weekend saw the regional rounds of the ESAA combined events competition with hosts of athletes enjoying representing their counties and hoping to qualify for the national final in September.

Stratford have provided many of the Warwickshire athletes in recent years but Adam was the only one this year.

Where have the multi eventers gone??

Selected with 7 weeks’ notice and on the back of three years without being able to run or jump due to injury, ankle surgery and then covid, this really was back in at the deep end up.

There followed an intense period of training, a handful of trips to Nuneaton for some beginner’s pole vault sessions, the seniors competition to do a few events and the school even threw in a 30km walk for the day, before doing your first ever decathlon, interesting prep!

We head to a breezy Nuneaton to find Warwickshire’s number one competitor has gone down with covid. So now with only 2 competitors present it doesn’t constitute a team, so what should have been a relatively straightforward qualification as a team to the national final, it is now every man for himself.

Those old enough to be a Daley Thompson fans amongst us will know the order of events:

Day one consisted of 100m and long jump into the wind, shot, high jump and the horrible 400m at the end of the day.

In a competitive field of 8, there was a standout competitor from Hereford. Adam finished day one in 4thwith some good performances and a leg weary 400m.

Slightly more refreshed for day two, there was a first attempt at 110m hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and the 1500m to finish.

The highlight of the weekend was the pole vault with 8 senior lads acting like giggly kids again and the camaraderie was great between athletes and parents alike.

Adam cleared 2.90m which is quite an achievement for his first time.

In time honoured fashion the build up to the 1500m consisted of athletes and parents looking at score charts and trying to do some maths. Adam finished close enough to his nearest challenger behind and beat the lad ahead of him by enough to claim third place to finish with a creditable 4751 points and a desire to do this all again.

With the top two automatically qualifying for the national final it is now a wait to see the results from the other regions to see if he has got through.

Charlotte Gravelsons

South West Schools Combined Events Championships.

Report – Brian Gravelsons

While Adam was competing in Nuneaton, Charlotte Gravelsons, as she attends a school in Gloucestershire, had to travel to Yeovil to compete in the South West Schools Combined Events Championships.

This was Charlotte’s first senior heptathlon and so she had the challenge of the 100m hurdles as well as increased weight in the shot put and javelin.

After the dearth of competition over the last year, the sheer excitement of being able to compete in seven events over two days was palpable.

There was also the added benefit of catching up with old friends – friendships that have been forged through heptathlon camaraderie over the years of competing together.

Following the recent series of quality GB athletes in the heptathlon, the sequence of events should be familiar to most. The jeopardy of the 100m hurdles was negotiated well, with Charlotte winning her heat in comfortable style, despite being a full second off from her recent pb – safe rather than sorry.

A sequence of personal bests followed in the high jump, shot and the 200m, putting Charlotte in 6th place out of 9 athletes at the end of the first day. A good start on a wonderful sunny day, a rare treat for a combined events meeting where wind and rain have historically been the usual combination.

The weather reverted to type on the second day, but miraculously the rain stopped for the long jump.

Not Charlotte’s favourite event and she was a little off her best, yet showing remarkable consistency with the rising sequence of 4.07, 4.08 and 4.09m jumps.

Off the back of minimal javelin practice, a throw of 17.19m was solid enough, but it meant that Charlotte’s ambition of surpassing 3,000 points relied on a quality 800m effort at the end of two long days.

The rain was kind enough to hold off and Charlotte executed her plan perfectly.

With a huge smile all the way round, a time of 2.36.47 was enough to earn a total of 3,023 points and secure 6th place.

The top 5 from the region automatically qualified for the National final, and so Charlotte must also wait for the results from the other regions to see if she has done enough to progress.

The Route
Seth Turner – Job done.
Seth Turner – The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner
Race to the Castle
Report – Seth Turner

I’d already done 2 of the 4 races in the Threshold Trail Series when a couple of work colleagues asked if I wanted to join them in entering the 100k ‘Race to the Castle’ in Northumberland I jumped at the chance.

Training went well, particularly thanks to our SAC Sunday trail running group, some of whom are racing a similar distances soon.

As such I felt fairly confident I would get through the distance and hopefully beat my previous best 100k race time of just under 12 hours.

I love exploring new countryside and this course didn’t disappoint.

It runs through the Northumberland National Park starting up on the moors and descending down wooded valleys following the river Coquet before a 50k run up the coast past some beautiful old ruins and fishing villages to finish at Bamburgh Castle.

Leading up to the day it was clear the weather was going to be a little ‘unseasonal’ and looking out of my hotel window at 5.30am that morning to see the rain coming down and the trees blowing about, I could see it was going to be a tough day in the office.

It’s a wave start with these events and though the quicker runners had been going off from 6.30am I was allocated a late slot with my work colleagues (who were walking the route), at around 8am.

The first 25k was rugged and undulating, passing across boggy moorland into the forest. If it wasn’t as misty and wet as it was I imagine the views would have been lovely and the trails were interesting, remote and technical in places.

The route then descended through the woodland and feeling fairly fresh, I was able to keep up a decent pace and enjoyed myself passing a good few other runners.

As we met the river there were some lovely trail sections and plenty of local support as we passed through the little towns and villages on the route.

I tried to keep my pit stops as brief as possible just to replenish fluids and grab food and passed the halfway point at a little under 5 hours.

After passing Warkworth Castle at around 60k it got a bit tougher as we headed up the coast, tiredness was kicking in, the rain and wind got heavier and the field spread out so I was running alone by this point so for long sections.

Following the sandy coastal trails through the dunes and coastal roads in better weather would have been lovely, as it was I kept my head down, tried to keep a reasonable pace and pushed on to reach the Castle, which finally loomed out of the gloom like a welcome beacon at the finish.

Having started quite far back from the faster runners I had no idea of my position but was very pleased to be told I was the 13th person home and also with my finishing time of 10hrs 19minutes.

With the diversions for pit stops etc the total distance run was 103k and I was especially happy to break 10 hours for the 100k split.

It was only later on when looking somewhat disbelievingly at the chip timed results I saw I had actually managed to come actually 5th overall which with over 500 non-stop entrants I was pretty pleased with.

Though I feel tired and broken today writing this, I feel it will be hard not to try to complete the last race in the series next year.

These races are superbly well organised and perfect as a first step into ultra trail running so if anyone wants to join me on the South Downs in June 2022 let me know!

My Dad forgot to take a picture of me running but this is a picture of me afterwards at Foxton Locks where we had our lunch – Joel.

Welcome Back Open Year 6 National Cross Country Meeting

Report – Joel Ledgard

On Saturday 26th June, I competed in the Welcome Back Open Year 6 National Cross Country Meeting in Market Harborough.

It took around an hour to get there and when I arrived I found it was much colder than I had expected it to be but then, if it was too warm, it wouldn’t have been much of a cross country!

At the start of the race, I was very nervous as it was my first cross country since October and I knew that I was running faster than ever.

The pace I ran at wasn’t anything special for me, though I felt happy with what I had done and I thought that I had pushed myself.

I finished the race in 23rd with a time of 8 minutes 16 seconds over the 2.2km (1.35 mile) course.

Youth Development League
In the latest round of the Youth Development League at Sutton Coldfield at the weekend, 5 of our athletes competed.

Millie Leighton had a fabulous meeting, with big PBs in both 400m hurdles with a time of 68.6 seconds and a long jump of 4.95m, this was the same distance as fellow club member Kaili Woodward recorded.

Josh Roberts’ had a throw of 51.00 in the javelin, a PB in the JT 700 category.

Alex Adams completed the 3000m in 9:17.9, with Catherine Reynolds recording a time of 13.4 in the 100m.
June Shakespeare Race

Hot off the press.

Below is a link to Wednesday night’s Shakespeare Race on the Welcombe Hills.

Well done Matt on winning and Emma Bexson for finishing first female in 10th place overall.

Dave Wilson and Simon Curran at Wednesday night’s Night of 200m races at The Pingles Stadium in Nuneaton on Wednesday.

Dave finished 2nd in his heat in a time of 26.99, with Simon recording a time of 28.08.

Also representing the club were Olivia Corbin (33.28) and Catherine Reynolds winning her heat in a time of 26.34.

Finally, running his first competitive 200m race since 2019, Cole Williams won his heat in a PB time of 23.53
Not content with running just one race this week, habitual personal bester Cadie Hibberd lowered her 5k PB to 18.46 at Bath in the South West PB Series. It was the first time she has gone under 19 minutes. At the weekend she also ran a 3000m race in Newport. Her time of 11.08.10 was just half a second off her PB
Club Record Update

Mike Sheppard

This does not include the plethora of veteran age group records that will have been established across the various categories in recent weeks.