Last weekend saw a magnificent total of 91 members across all age groups compete in XC races at either the Welcombe Hills or in Wolverhampton.
A superb turn out with many memorable performances, all of which are recorded in the following reports from Dave Parkin, Vicky Sharpe and Tony Jackson, for which many thanks.
Thanks are also due to Mike Sheppard and Nick Campbell for the many wonderful photos.
Tessa Parkin making a return to XC at Wolverhampton on Sunday.
Welcome back Tessa we missed you.
Sam Plumb, Aran Cooper and Joel Ledgard who drove each other on last Sunday.
The U17M team of Theo Skirvin, Caleb Spriggs and Alex Adams.
The U13B team of Alfie Musk, Joel Ledgard, Aran Cooper, Arthur Mansbridge and Sam Plumb.
Alex Adams – As if you didn’t know.
West Midland Young Athletes’ Cross-Country League 2021/22
Aldersley Stadium, Wolverhampton
5th December 2021
Strong performances for Stratford in Junior Cross-Country League
Report – David Parkin
Stratford AC juniors competed at Aldersley stadium, Wolverhampton on Sunday 5th December.
Despite some very fine individual performances, the overall team position of 5th (out of 21 clubs) was a little disappointing given earlier results in the season. This was primarily due to understrength squads in a number of the age categories.
It was a good cross-country running day, with a fresh breeze but dry and mostly soft conditions underfoot.
The first race, as ever, was the U17W and the consistently performing Charlotte Marshall (7th, 15:15) was first home for Stratford, matching her result from the previous race. Ellie Deaner (21st, 16:59) will have been pleased to have moved up ten places from her first race of the season.
The U11B team was down on numbers but Henry Sims (33rd, 06:23) raced well to be first home for Stratford, closely followed by Toby Spriggs (35th, 06:25) who will be delighted with his highest finish of the season. Henry Thomas (60th, 06:59) completed the team for Stratford.
At the finish line in the U17M race, one spectator was overheard saying ‘he’s a different level, he is…!’. He could, of course, only be talking about the dominant Alex Adams (1st, 15:23) who completed the race 52s ahead of second place. Adams’ was in second place for all of the first two strides off the start line, then moved into first and continued to open up distance for the rest of the race.
Theo Skirvin (17th, 17:25) had a good steady race, moving him up to 10th in the league for the season and Caleb Spriggs (22nd, 17:46) had a fine finish to hold off a challenging pair from Birchfield Harriers.
The U11G had a good race, with Stella Sant (16th, 06:24) first home for Stratford and then Jasmine Mothershaw (32nd, 06:40), Amelie Marshall (34th, 06:41) and Rachel Sparrow (38th, 06:52) closely bunched in the middle of the pack. Alice Richards (57th, 07:07) and Georgia Sharpe (64th, 07:12) completed the Stratford team.
Zak Lambert (16th, 11:19) was first finisher for the U15B. This was Lambert’s highest place finish of the season so far and moves him into 11th place in the league. Following closely behind were Will Mayes (21st, 11:25) and Henry Wheeler (25th, 11:28). James Day (37th, 11:53), Hugh Markham (40th, 12:03) and Gabriel Gaiser (42nd, 12:03) fought it out to finish closely in the middle of the race.
The rocket that is Marijke Tear-Verweij (8th, 09:13) had another great race for the U13G, running much of it in 5th place before slipping back a few places in the last few hundred metres. Annie Silvers, returning from a schools race in Cornwall the day before (11th, 09:27) ran hard after being a little boxed in at the start. Lois Ford (38th, 10:25) and the returning Tessa Parkin (47th, 10:40) completed the team for Stratford.
Team performance of the day (and ‘race within a race’) belonged to the U13B. Aran Cooper (10th, 08:49), Samuel Plumb (11th, 08:50) and Joel Ledgard (12th, 08:54) had a fine tussle. Ledgard led on the first lap, with Plumb then moving ahead before Cooper just managed to squeeze a nose in front at the finish – it was the highest finish position of the season for all three of them. Well done!
Alfie Musk’s (30th, 09:28) and Arthur Mansbridge’s (37th, 09:45) strong performances helped move the team into 2nd position on the day.
The last race of the day is always the U15G, but, this season, there are always plenty of people left to watch as it is by far and away Stratford’s biggest team, this time with 10 runners. Maisie-Joy Spriggs (2nd, 11:45) worked her way through a number of runners to end with an emphatic run to record her highest ever finishing position and cement her second place position in the league.
Niamh Hillard (5th, 12:03) was caught just on the line, but will still be delighted with her position, as will Maddie Linfoot (9th, 12:19) who held off a serious challenge to keep her top 10 placing. Maddie had also been racing in Cornwall the previous day. Caitlin Boyle (40th, 13:38) and Emily Cottam (44th, 13:48) took the last two scoring positions for the team, they were followed home by the strongly finishing Abbi Cooper (46th, 13:51), Alice Cottam (49th, 13:55), Lucy Thomas (52nd, 14:08), Charlotte Skinner (55th, 14:12) and Tilly Campbell (60th,14:49)
And so the team moves onto Walsall on 16th January in 4th place overall in a league of 21 teams. With a total 17979 points, just 137 points behind 3rd placed Wolverhampton and with the talent there is in the squad, there is the potential for them to move further up the league before the end of the season, especially if we can field full teams in all of the races.
Georgie Campbell and Rich Shephard ,our first runners home last Saturday on the Welcombe Hills
17 year old Ned Campbell ran a superb race. He was our 3rd male finisher behind Rich and Matt, finishing in 38th place overall, he was also 5th junior male finisher.
Overall it was an active weekend for the Campbell siblings with Georgie and Ned competing on Saturday and Tilly racing in Wolverhampton on Sunday.
Senior Cross Country.
A message from Chairman Paul Hawkins
I wanted to publicly thank Sarah, Sally and Gavin for making Saturday such a great success, obviously along with all the other volunteers. I know how much time and effort goes into it along with getting cold – but at least it was dry!
I’ve heard lots of good things about the many marshals so thanks for your enthusiasm.
And a massive well done to everyone who ran and put in such good performances. It didn’t look as muddy as it can be but it’s a tough old course.
Thanks again and hopefully see everyone in January
The Midland Women’s Cross Country League
Report – Vicky Sharpe.
The home turf proved successful for the Stratford ladies team with an incredible turn out – 25 ladies in the golden vests!
The fantastic turn out and running performances have helped the team standings overall and in the masters category (official update to come).
The bitter wind didn’t dampen the spirits with sunshine and less mud than usual out on the classic Welcombe Hills course.
The home course advantage was also tremendously felt with all the smiling and cheering marshals.
First home for Stratford ladies was Geogrie Campbell (26:07) back from university in fine form, Georgie finished 11th overall which is a fantastic result.
Kate Wright (28:03) and Cadie Hibberd (28:34) also made the top 50 finishes, 32nd and 43rd respectively. Emma Bexson (29:20) was next home for the club followed closely by Justine Lynch (29:40) who struggled with footwear on the course but finished hungry to go again.
The next set of close finishers came from Jess Sheppard (29:58) and Emmy Orton (30:01) who will keep pushing each other in future races.
Vicky Sharpe (31:02) and Hannah Osborne (31:19) both came away exceptionally happy with how much they had both come on since last racing the same course, both taking minutes off their times! Vicky also took an unfortunate fall and re-injured her shoulder but doesn’t plan to be out for long.
6 more women completed the 6.5km course in under 35 minutes which is a brilliant achievement: Imy Sheppard (31:26), Fern Hordern (32:11), Suzi Ross (32:30), Sarah Boundy (32:33), Sophie Dobedoe (33:21), Emma Parkin (34:09).
Imy had raced the indoor 60m earlier in the week so said she enjoyed the first and last 60m the most (not sure everyone else agreed with that first hill)!
Next was another close group of Stratford runners in Kim Lee (35:35), Julia Brookes (35:58), Sarah Dichard (36:00), Philippa Paddock (36:05), Susan Hunt (36:28) many of whom had already completed ParkRuns and Stratford Triathlon swimming sessions already that morning!
Then Pip Bell (39:02), Lara Bakewell (40:01) and Emma Lee (43:00) made their first returns to cross-country since school, having fantastic races and thoroughly enjoying themselves despite initial nerves.
Emily Adams (43:10) finished the race with her well known beaming smile and big energy. Lisa Stevens (43:28) completed the 25 strong team with many runners still chasing her and her enthusiasm in the club tent was brilliant.
Birmingham XC Men’s League – Race 2
Report – Tony Jackson
The second fixture of the season saw Stratford AC hosting on the Welcombe Hills and a course that received universal praise as being a ‘true’ XC course.
Whilst the recent absence of rain meant that conditions were good underfoot, the course was nevertheless very testing with relentless ups and downs and a long uphill section at the start of every lap, all adding up to nearly 1,000 feet of climbing.
The terrain and elevation of the course provides a challenge for experienced XC runners let alone the multitude of our runners for who this was their first XC race since school (for some, this has been a fair few years!!!)!
There was a much stronger team than for the first fixture with returning athletes and a healthy influx of Juniors. Overall 27 of our athletes completed the race. Coupled with home advantage and excellent support a much-improved showing was expected and the team didn’t let us down.
The ever-impressive Rich Shepherd (11th 36mins 30secs) returned to the team to show his class over cross country and he was always prominent at the front end of the field. Whilst Matt Burdus Cooke (17th 36:38) had Rich in sight all the way round he couldn’t close the gap but was well pleased with his run and a stronger home straight finish could see him pick up a couple of extra places.
Helped by his local knowledge Ned Campbell (38th 38:13) and 5th Junior had an excellent run on his senior debut and whilst he was pleased with the result he felt he left a bit too much in the tank and could’ve finished higher.
Next was Jamie Hall (62nd 39:27) in his first season as a senior XC runner and he fought hard for this well deserved finishing position. Alex Pester (74th 40:04) was another junior making his senior debut and he was locked in a battle throughout with Ben Jordan (76th 40:08) who worked well together, providing motivation to finish strongly and they completed the scoring 6 for the A Team.
Just behind and leading home the B Team was Drew Sambridge (78th 40:20) who was closely followed by Josh Dobedoe (83rd 40:34) who was another who turned in an excellent on their senior debut
Dave Teasdale (102nd 41:49), Tim Hutchinson (107th 42:25) and Wayne Vickers (109th 42:30) were 3 more runners who were spurring each other on but couldn’t quite break into the top 100 this time.
Adrian Mason (126th 43:35) and Phil Reading (128th 43:44) duelled throughout and they were closely followed by Allan Cavanagh (131st 44:02) and David Battersby (137th 44:15)
Behind them was a group of runners who were inspired by their inter club rivalry. John Raby (157th 45:39) just got the better of Peter Sugden (158th 45:41) and Lewis Dickins (159th 45:42) in a sprint to the finish.
Will Dych (164th 46:10) just outsprinted Max Ross (165th 46:12) ahead of a stream of runners led by Nick Cooper (172nd 46:31) with Owen Lewis (176th 46:52), Ben Phyall (181st 47:18), Mike Sheppard (184th 47:30), Paul Longford (185th 47:37) and Chris Spriggs (189th 47:53)
Bringing the club home and making a welcome return to fitness after suffering from Covid was Damian Wheeler (202nd 50:40)
The A Team score of 278pts has placed us in a much improved 7th place and moved us out of the relegation places.
The B Team score of 607pts placed them 3rd on the day and 4th after two races.
Kieran Tursner – Team manager on the day – said “all of our runners throughout the field performed superbly and I’m pleased to say, most are keen to race XC in the future fixtures.
Cross country racing may seem a bit daunting but the atmosphere and camaraderie within our team, whether you are in the top few or the last man on the course is second to none. I would personally like to thank all of our team for making newbies and seasoned competitors alike feel welcome.
Finally a special mention to everybody from the Club who contributed as a Marshal, organiser or helper and helped to make the day such a success.
It was great to receive the Referees report which was all very positive.
This fixture helps to galvanise our club spirit and we all take great inspiration and motivation from the performances of each and every participant across the men’s and ladies team.
The next fixture is hosted by Spa Striders at Burton Dasset Hills. Hope to see you all there.
Susan Hunt who ran the Stratford parkrun in the morning, XC in the afternoon and on Sunday she ran sub 4 hours in the 22 mile Worcester Ring Run, a 22 mile tour around Worcester and Droitwich.
Some people !!
Also competing at Worcester were Tara Lambert (3:47.03) and Louise Stewart (4:44.57)
Lots and lots more photos from the weekend.
Many thanks to Mike Sheppard and Nick Campbell
Club member Imogen Sheppard (2nd right) competed in the first indoor match of the season: Cardiff Met v Birmingham University at Cardiff NIAC. The photo is of Birmingham’s winning 4×200 squad.
Imy also ran 60m (8.14) & 600m (1.38). She said she found it easier than the Welcombe Hills race (6k) a couple of days later!
Big oak trees from little acorns grow.
She’s going to hate me for this.
Maisie-Joy Spriggs photographed at Wolverhampton almost 6 years to the day before finishing in her highest ever position of 2nd place last Sunday.
After 3 races M-J is in 2nd place out of 110 runners overall in the league, just 5 points behind the leading runner. In the same U15G age group Niamh Hillard is in 4th place and Maddie Linfoot in 7th place. Strength in depth!
Niamh Hillard with MJ on her shoulder.
Our 15 girls team. No shortage of members there.
The U11 girls team.
Caleb Spriggs – True grit personified.
Annie Silvers and Lois Ford
Alice Cottam and Lucy Thomas.
The 3 members of our U11 boys team – Toby Spriggs, Henry Thomas and Henry Sims on his birthday!
We needed 5 to make a team though. Shame.
Henry Wheeler and James Day.
Arthur Mansbridge and Alfie Musk
She probably tires of being called ageless but really what other way is there to describe her. Kate Wright our 2nd lady finisher on Saturday.
Emma Bexson and Jess Sheppard.
Justine Lynch and team captain Vicky Sharpe.
Imy Sheppard, somewhat outside of her normal 200 and 400m comfort zone and Emily Orton.
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