Back With a Bang.

And they’re off – The U13s boys team on their way to claiming 2nd place overall.
The final table after Sunday’s West Midlands Young Athletes XC League fixture with the club finishing in a magnificent 2nd place out of 21 clubs competing and being beaten only by the host club.
Okay I’m 100% biased but pride of place for me this week goes to our 52 junior heroes who finished 2nd out of 21 clubs in last Sunday’s first junior XC league fixture for 18 months, only being beaten by the host club.

Elsewhere it was another week of some pretty monumental events that were competed in by club members.

We have Hannah Osborne’s possible Pulitzer Price winning report on Ironman Mallorca. I’m not sure how much longer they can get away with calling these events IronMAN, with the likes of Emma Bexson competing so magnificently but hey, what do I know.

We have Lesley Kirk’s wonderful report on doing what she does – multi day, long, treacherous and extremely hilly events. Susan Hunt tells us about her 33rd official marathon. Yes that’s right – 33rd. Chris Bloomfield tells us about his 10 miler down south and there’s Adrian Mason’s report on the Oxford half plus lots and lots of photos.

Another busy week.

Take care

Best wishes

David Jones
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The U11 girls team.
The U11 boys team.
The match winning U13s girls team.
The 2nd placed U13 boys team.
The U15s girls team.
The U15s boys team.
West Midlands Young Athletes Cross Country League.

Fixture 1 – Newbold Revel

Goodness, after 18 months away I had forgotten what an emotional roller coaster a Junior XC fixture is.

This one may have been somewhat quieter than normal due to the absence of our resident caterwaulers Emily and Cindy but what it lacked in sound it more than made up for in the sheer quality of performance by our talented endurance group.

There seemed to be far more dogs than I remember from previous fixtures. Maybe the league should introduce a new category.

There were 52 of our juniors competing on the day with our U17 men just finishing in first place with 583 points to BRAT’s 582. Our U13 girls also finished in first place overall.

They were all simply outstanding.

Finishing 2nd overall and only being beaten by the host club Rugby and Northampton, they certainly did hit the ground running – pun intended. The gap of 175 points may seem substantial but the fact that Alex Adams’ earned 200 points for winning his race puts this gap in to perspective.

True to form, as the races were due to start the rain came down. It really would not be a junior XC fixture without rain.

Many of the U13s and above had represented the club in previous XC seasons but my, how they’ve grown in the intervening 18 months. It happens I guess.

Funny story – as Theo Skirvin stepped inside the tent he commented ” the tent’s smaller”. No said I, you’re bigger.

For most, if not all of the members of the two U11 teams, this was their first appearance in the yellow and black vest in a XC fixture. They may have been small in stature but they were certainly big in heart.

Paul Hawkins commented

“The results service was real time and absolutely fantastic. It was probably the best Sunday morning I’ve ever had in hospital, albeit occasionally interrupted by doctors & nurses.

Big credit is due to both Sarah at Tempo and Ray Morgan at the league for making everything resultswise happen so well.

I think Jess has did a fantastic job pulling together such a strong team and we mostly seem to have avoided Covid absences.

Although there are the usual headliners running as you’d expect like Alex*, the next tier down were amazing, for example Theo in the U17, all the U13/15 girls. There was a super run from Marijke as well as Annie. Weren’t the U13 boys special? Ellie & Abbi backed up Charly well.

*14 consecutive wins for Alex in the league now!

The under 11 teams are usually a mixture of first timers and seasoned, experienced runners who’ve done a whole season but they were nearly all completely new to it, so I was impressed with them coping so well.

Overall I was just so proud of everyone who ran but also Jess and all the coaches and volunteers; it was an absolutely brilliant team performance. We seem to get better every year. And there’s the challenge to keep it going!”

The joke on the day was that Paul must have had his own drone hovering above the proceedings, because he was literally relaying the results to us within minutes of the races finishing.

I absolutely concur with his comments that Jess Sheppard did a magnificent job as team manager. A special thanks also to our marshals and of course to all of the parents who were there.

I’m not going to single out any individuals because to me we had 52 heroes wearing the yellow and black on the day. For the full results please follow the link below

Pre-race prep talk before bike racking
Emma Bexson on the podium.

“It’s safe to say there was no escaping the noise or support around the course and David’s smile shows that appreciation. What a journey and what an achievement achieve you did in your 1st Ironman David!”

John in the zone on the bike
Emma still managing to nip in front of someone on the finish straight!

Ironman Mallorca 2021,

Saturday 16th October

Report – Hannah Osborne

Last week there was a quiet, shy, innocent bunch from SAC that headed off to Mallorca to shop, sleep, read and play boardgames whilst 3 tri club members competed in Ironman Mallorca.

Pah, who am I kidding – no one!

We went to Mallorca with spirit and loud voices to support 3 awe inspiring SAC Triathletes.

I will add there was lots of shopping by one supporter. I will leave that up to you to work out who.

Emma Bexson, David Hudspith & John Devine took to the start line of the race that would see them take on a 2.4 mile sea swim, followed by 112 miles on an undulating bike course then into a flat 26.2 mile run to cross the finish line and be told they were Ironmen.

Emma, well used to racing at Ironman was in great shape off the back of some hard training this year with the prospect of competing in Kona. With this cancelled, Mallorca became the focus.

David & John were taking this on as their 1st Ironman and both relatively new to triathlon having both started with the Stratford Sprint tri 2 years ago.

In David’s words Just after completing my first sprint triathlon in Stratford, I was speaking with John who invited me to join him in entering an Ironman Race in Ireland. ‘Sounds interesting’, I said, ‘what is it?’ “

Ireland had been cancelled too, so here they all were.

David Hudspith’s race:

There was a few very last-minute purchases (bike nutrition bag, tyre levers and bike pump!!) from the Ironman Expo and it was time to line up on the beach ready to swim.

The swim was crowded but it was great fun and went better than expected so a big thank you to Simon, Carl and Joe for their coaching on Saturday mornings. Next, it was on to the bike where the views were stunning. The most enjoyable part of the day was the fast and technical descent off the mountain, through the traditional villages and on towards Can Picafort.

Back into Alcudia for the run. For someone who does not enjoy running, the support of the crowd really made the difference and none more so than the Stratford crew (plus my wife and Sayer) who seemed to be everywhere on the course and willing you over the finish line. Time to celebrate!

Swim: 1:01:56 Bike: 5:29:55 Run: 3:49:42 Total time: 10:35:11

John came to become an Ironman to prove to himself that anything is possible. If you haven’t seen it, this video from Ironman shows what has kept him focused and believing.

John being someone who has been know to forget his helmet for a duathlon and forget his timing chip before a triathlon, actually arrived with everything (even after his bike box was too heavy and had to be emptied in part at the airport!)

John, along with David has been a regular at Saturday morning coached swim sessions and also he also found having a triathlon coach helped immensely in his race preparation.

John embraced the day from start to finish. Whenever he was spotted on the course he was smiling and he can be hugely proud of his achievement and journey. Having had a few niggles in the weeks leading up to the race, he came out and gave it his all and that showed.

When asked what he felt about the day, he said: Overwhelming, Pain, Emotional

“It’s hard to pinpoint one thing that stands out as it was all amazing but the best parts were being in the water especially when I was terrified of doing that. Descending through small winding roads was breath-taking and of course the all-round overwhelming support of everyone”

Swim: 1:18:11 Bike: 6:25:04 Run: 4:24:17 Total time: 12:26:18

Emma came to race and race she does. She trains hard and reaps the rewards of that. She has also had many setbacks from injury & bike crashes but she has never let this stop her, she comes back stronger.

Her story, like those of David & John is one of determination and resilience but a very different race day.

Emma had a great swim. She had been out in the water a few times since being there and was round the 2 laps in her prediction.

Next up the bike. A large climb early on was something Emma would be strong on. Only 9 miles after heading out on the course, another cyclist went into Emma and she was off the bike, badly hurt and a badly damaged bike. Not being one to give up, Emma let the other cyclist know her feelings (!!), did what she could to get her bike useable and got moving before the medics could arrive and stop her continuing. With a dislocated shoulder, blood pouring from her elbow and fingers, 4 mechanical stops and over 100 miles later she was back to transition.

Having got that far, she was not prepared to stop and give up. Emma then ran an incredible 3:32 marathon with her supporters doing all we could to support and encourage her. She showed what a World Class, determined, strong athlete she is.

Swim: 1:02:51 Bike: 5:54:15 Run: 3:32:56 Total time: 10:41:02

Once over the finish line she was treated at hospital with Hannah her daughter with her. Pain relief, X-rays, sling, staples in arm and some stitches and she was out, changed and still celebrating the day.

She was even on the shots with John – think they were both using it as pain relief but they both definitely deserved to celebrate.

What a day. You can’t be at an event like that and not be changed, inspired and feel emotional by each and every individuals journeys. It was an honour to watch and support David & John become Ironmen for the 1st time and also to see the inner strength of Emma do what she did that day.

Don’t worry, us supporters completed our own long event that day; in the sea getting stung by jellyfish at the start, running around in flipflops (not advisable), making A LOT of noise, dancing in the streets, waving flags, Granny keeping everyone entertained, and of course we had to keep hydrated with lots of beer. Lets just say by the end we were well known by racers, locals and the organisers who all now knew Stratford AC were awesome (and loud)


Lesley Kirk
The Atlantic Coast Challenge – Southwest Coast Path, Cornwall

78.6 miles in 3 days. Padstow to Land’s End.
Report – Lesley Kirk

Having first taken part in this event in 2017, then 2018, I decided to try another in the Votwo event series, the Jurassic Coast Challenge. However, along with everyone else, my plans were thwarted by the various lockdowns, and so, rather than wait until March 2022, I transferred to the October ACC once again.

Day 1 – Nr Padstow – Perranporth: 42.1km (2,811ft elevation)
Following kit checks, briefing and breakfast, runners were loaded onto minibuses and driven the hour’s journey to the start point on the Southwest Coast path near to Padstow.

Each runner had a Geo tracker device as part of their compulsory kit, so once dropped off, they were free to start running in the direction of Land’s End. The weather was beautifully sunny, although a bit too warm at 20 degrees and there was a strong headwind. I didn’t start too well, as a lingering stomach bug meant I had little in the legs but the stunning scenery helped take my mind off the distance ahead. Teaming up with another runner also helped and together we covered the undulating mileage, finishing with a long stretch of beach at Perranporth.

I finished the day in 5:32:03, in 36th position out of 186 entries.

Day 2 – Perranporth – Hayle: 41km (2,709ft elevation)
With tired legs, runners were once again transported to the start, which was at the previous day’s finish location. This time, the terrain was hilly and rocky, with the route passing through many coves and old tin mines. The first half seemed to be an endless series of steps, alternating up and down which made the legs beg for mercy.

Once past the second feed station however, the route levelled out slightly and fuelled by a combination of cheese & pickle sandwiches and coke, I headed towards Godrevey Lighthouse in the distance. From there, after the third feed station, I knew it was just six miles to the finish point. It was a long, but thankfully, flat three miles along Hayle beach, eventually finishing at the St.Ives Bay Holiday Park Race HQ, in a time of 5.54:16, in 56th position out of 170 entries.

Day 3 – Hayle – Land’s End: 44.3km (4,609ft elevation)
Having run this event before, I knew that the best (or rather, toughest) was saved until last. The route passed through picturesque St. Ives at four miles but from then on, things changed dramatically.

The terrain became very hilly, with rocks and boulders lying along the narrow coast path, making running almost impossible, especially on tired legs.

Runners were reduced to scrambling and picking their way through a mix of ferns, rocks, and steep steps.

Eventually, feeling exhausted and just hoping it would soon end, Land’s End came into view in the distance. I just concentrated on trying to stay upright and not trip over in the last few miles, until tired and sore but elated and relieved.

I crossed the finish line to a cheer from spectators and Votwo event staff and was handed a medal and warm Cornish pasty, which I consumed immediately, whilst lying down on the nearby grass.

My time on the final day was 8:11:30, in 56th position out of 151 entries.

If anyone is considering a challenging multi-day event, then this is a perfect mix of location, stunning scenery, camaraderie, and the chance to run in a totally natural landscape.
Susan Hunt

The Yorkshire Marathon

Report – Susan Hunt

Despite the fact that The Yorkshire Marathon would be my 33rd official marathon; I was feeling distinctly anxious as race day approached.

My preparation had been more “casual” than for previous road marathons. Rather than building speed-endurance by scheduling half marathon and 20 mile races; I had bumbled around my long runs, stopping to take photos (for Strava), buy snacks, pick berries etc. My 22 mile long run had included a stop for tea and a scone.

My Taper week was not ideal either: it was tricky to stick to the golden rules of “avoiding people who are ill” and “not wearing anything new in the race” when my teenaged son brought COVID home from school and my road shoes literally fell apart.

So I arrived on the start line, thankfully virus-free but feeling ill-prepared and in shoes that I’d only worn twice.

I decided to go with the risky strategy of running faster than I should for the first 5 miles to bank some extra time (don’t try this at home) and then slowing to whatever pace I thought would get me to the finish line.

I reached halfway in a smidgen over 2 hours and pretty much ran every mile slower from that point.

But thanks in part to my experimental tactic of forcing my face into a smile to fool my brain into thinking this was fun, I managed to achieve my goal of running every single step of the 26.2 miles and not stopping or walking once (for the first time in any marathon).

I was hugely relieved to finish (blister-free) in 4:09:34

Perfect preparation for Broadway Marathon in 3 weeks…

Chris Bloomfield and his beloved splits.
Great South Run – Portsmouth

10 Mile Race

Report – Chris Bloomfield

The conditions were as forecast for October 17th, dry, sunny with cloudy spells and 16°C. I got sunburn while cheering on other runners after I’d finished!

I’d given myself the target of 1hr 20m and this put me in the early ‘Orange’ wave.

I got to the start a little bit later than I wanted to but at least I was warmed up and I could see the pacer for 1hr 20m about 20 yards ahead of me in the queue and I thought that’s okay, I’ll catch up with her eventually…

The gun went and 5 minutes later I crossed the start line and away.

Down Clarence esplenade, a nice long straight to get into a rhythm, then winding west and north to The Hard and onwards through the historic dockyards, passing HMS Victory. Back towards The Hard, then heading out to Fratton Station and the first water station, doubling back at the roundabout to pass by Portsmouth University. Halfway!

Back towards Clarence Pier, turning left before the esplanade, you then get to see the finishing straight as you go past the 6 mile mark. It is awesome to see the faster club runners speeding in the opposite direction!

Mile 7 after Canoe Lake is the final water station. Soon after passing the 8 mile marker, who do I see in the distance? The 1hr 20m pacer! It was only in the final mile that I got to pass her… after being 20yds behind at the start! LOL!

A kick for home over the final 400m and I was done.

Official chip time of 1:17.41 was over 5 minutes better than my previous 10 miles PB (1:23.05).

The course has chip timed splits every 5k. Loving those splits!

There are not many 10 mile races in the calendar compared to 10k and HM distances, so if you find the 13.1 miles of a half marathon just that bit too far and you don’t like hills, maybe this is the race for you. I’ve already reserved a place for 2022.
Oxford Half Marathon
Report – Adrian Mason
I didn’t expect to be writing to you this week as I should have been resting but there were a few of us that ran Oxford Half at the weekend.

SAC Runners, as well as myself that I was aware of were Tom Horbory and Owen Lewis. There was another person in a SAC Training T-Shirt that my Wife spotted on her way around but I don’t know who it was.

I was going to have a gentle run around with my wife and sister but they didn’t want me running with them so I decided to have a crack at a Sub 80 instead!

This was not the best idea a week after a marathon but I felt OK having had the week off and I wanted to see what my body could do whilst on form.

I managed to hold pace with ~6min/mile until around mile 10, where I started to feel last weeks marathon in the legs and I knew I probably wouldn’t hang on for a Sub 80, so I backed off a touch to protect myself from any silly injuries.

I still managed to finish in 1:21:28, 12secs behind my “Great North Run” PB from 5 weeks ago, so I was very happy with that.
And Finally

More photos from last Sunday’s memorable Junior XC fixture featuring every one of our 52 heroes.
Yep it’s junior XC so it must rain.
The U17’s are off one their way to overall victory by just one point – 583 v 582.
Following in the footsteps of his big sister Daisy, Alfie Musk dons the pink spikes.
The U15 girls.
It’s great to be back. Niamh Hillard and Tilly Campbell.
And Finally Finally.

More from Mallorca

David looking very happy and relaxed after the race.

Support Crew in action

More celebrations the day after:

Support crew of; Emily Adams, Cynthia Brittan, Hannah Bexson, Hannah Osborne & Iain Sayer

Ironmen: David Hudspith, John Devine & Emma Bexson