Zach’s my boy!

Zach McKenzie on the podium
Last weekend saw 4 of our younger members competing at the England Athletics U15,17 and 20 Indoor Championships in Sheffield where Zach McKenzie jumped a 46 cm PB in the triple jump to earn him a bronze medal.

At the other end of the country Ben Kruze and Matt Burdus-Cook,  our middle distance runners extraordinaire, competed in the Valentine’s Day 10k race with the aim of earning an England vest. To do this they not only had to finish in the top 3 in their respective age groups but also achieve a qualifying time. This they both did, which is testament to the hard work they have both put in over the winter months. Well done guys.

Closer to home, Peter Sugden and Max Ross competed in the extremely challenging Dursley Dozen. Judging by Peter’s photo of the muddy condition added to The Precipice that you need a rope to ascend, it’s a case of rather you than me both.

Peter has been a busy guy this week. He as also sent details about the return of The Grand Prix. Reading his report he reminds  that I won it a couple of times. Happy Days.

We have a list of last month’s winners in the 100 Club. This is a hugely worthwhile fund raiser for club funds plus you stand the chance of winning £100 – what’s not to like ?

Good Luck to all of those, juniors and seniors who are competing in this weekend’s XC fixtures and I hope Storm Eunice doesn’t make it too harrowing for you.

As ever, good luck to any of you competing anywhere.

Take care

Best wishes

David Jones
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100 Club
1st prize of £100    Stuart and Maggie Macleod 
2nd prize of £50    Mark Bayliss
3rd prize of £25     David Clark
Please remember to let me know of any changes of email address so I can contact you – I’d hate you to miss out on your winnings!

For those who have not yet joined, this is a great way to support the club for just £4 a month with a chance to win £100, £50 or £25. 

Please email Helen on for details and joining instructions.
Zach with a smile on his face this time!

England Athletics Under 15, 17 and 20 Indoor Championships – 2022

Report – Paul Bearman 
Two years after the last England Athletics Open Under 15, 17 and 20 indoor championships were held due to Covid, the doors opened again at Sheffield’s English Institute of Sport who played hosts to the cream of the UK’s young athletics talent at the indoor national championship over two days. 
With very limited opportunities to compete so far this year, it was an eye opener for 3 of the 4 Stratford AC athletes who were making their debuts at this level of competition and despite training going well in the winter it can’t compare to the white-hot heat of competing on the national stage. 
Having said that one thing we can rely on is the Strafford youngsters always rising to the occasion and first up after a 5am start to travel to Sheffield was Zach McKenzie in the U17 Triple Jump. 
This was the first time Zach had competed in the national champs and his was also the first time he has been able to compete this year but based on last year’s PB his dad Rob reckoned he was in with a chance of a medal. His predication came true when Zach obliterated his prevous PB with his very first jump and going over 13m for the first time with a hop, step and jump of 13.06m and took him into 3rdafter the first round. We all whooped and Zack allowed himself a modest but satisfied smile and thumbs up. 
In a superb series of jumping his 5 further jumps (one a very marginal foul) all beat his previous PB and after 6 rounds Zach finished with the bronze medal around his neck and 3rd in the UK rankings. 
Catherine Reynolds was another debutant and in the U20 400m she found the 200m undulating track tricky to master as most debutants do and in a very fast heat, she finished 4th in a time of 60.45s. Afterwards Catherine said “I think I ran the first two hundred a bit quick and didn’t really get into a good stride and I wasn’t sure when to start running harder because of the two laps so it meant I didn’t have quite enough left in the tank for the second 200m but it was a good experience going to a national champs and I learnt a lot”. 
Then final debutant was a nervous Lucy Lane and in the U17 High Jump she finished a superb 5thequalling her seasons best of 1.55m. With her warm up jumps looking good, Lucy jumped consistently well throughout the competition and just missed 1.60 with the faintest of brushes knocking the bar off. 
Cole Williams is a seasoned championship campaigner at national competitions and the day after he celebrated his 19th birthday, he gave himself a birthday present by reaching the final of the Under 20 hurdles. 
With no competitive hurdles races behind him this year he had to rely on his racing instincts and hard winter’s training to get him to final after finishing 3rd in his heat in a time of 8.17s and so qualifying from the heats by .002 of a second.  
 In an event stacked with top class hurdlers Williams stayed with the pack until the last few strides, finishing 8th in a time 8.16s and the top 6 all breaking 8 seconds. 
Afterwards Williams said “considering the quality of the athletes competing I’m pleased I got to the final but disappointed with the time. I’ve got another race next week in Birmingham and I hope I’ll run quicker and then I can get back to training and look forward to the outdoor season”
The Ben and Matt show rolled in to Chessington last weekend. I’d like to say that Matt is smiling but I think it may well be a grimace.

Valentines 10k Race – incorporating England Athletics Age Group Qualifying 

13th February 2022

Report – Matt Burdus-Cook

Held in Chessington, the Valentines 10k hosted by the 26.2 Running Club is a well-attended early season road race. The race was also selected by England Athletics as one of 4 age group qualifier events, where athletes over the age of 35 could try and meet selection criteria to earn an England vest.

Runners must meet an age graded race time and place in the top 3 of their age category to qualify.

England Athletics state the following about the programme.

“England Athletics recognises that a significant amount of the membership of road running clubs is made up of runners aged over thirty-five years. The Age Group Masters competition programme recognises and rewards the significant contribution that these runners make to our sport.

Through an annual rolling programme of qualifying events and representative opportunities we provide Masters runners with a friendly competition format and the chance to earn themselves an England Age Group Masters vest.”

Club members Ben Kruze and Matt Burdus-Cook both set sights on this qualification standard as an early running goal for 2022, and set off to Surrey the early hours of Sunday Morning to compete in the event.

The outlook of the course profile as well as the weather was challenging. Race tactics were therefore geared to running under the selection time, but based on current form, age group placing was the bigger consideration for both Ben and Matt.

Ben found himself toward the front of the race throughout and finished in 3rd Place, and 2nd in the MV35 age category in 31:25, a very respectable 17 seconds behind his recent personal best and new club record. Matt finished in 24th place in a personal best time of 33:45 and was also 2nd in his MV45 age category.


Both runners are awaiting confirmation from England Athletics on their England Masters age group selection but are both delighted to have met the required standards at a qualification event.


Matt Burdus-Cook said: “The race was well organised, and Ben and I benefitted from an early arrival on a number of fronts: 1. We could use the seemingly open plan toilet facilities within the race HQ with minimal embarrassment, 2. I lost my timing chip so we retraced our steps until we found it, and 3. We parked 15 meters from the start line so could stay warm until starters orders whilst getting a reasonably good starting position.

There was a noticeably more competitive and serious feeling gathering at the start line than is usual at 10k races, and Ben and I were a few rows of runners back. The initial post hooter scramble was slightly fraught, with the strangest chip timing covers we’ve ever seen (old carpets perhaps?) and a narrow pavement start requiring navigation past lampposts and more elbows and heel kicking than is usual. Within half a mile things settled, and the course, whilst not traffic free, was well marshalled, and without issue.

I found myself running well, but further back in the field than I am used too, and as such, my initial plan of actively managing my placing vs similarly aged athletes in race wasn’t tenable.  I decided I had to focus on running to my absolute limits and settled into the early section of the course, ahead of running as hard as possible in the middle two miles. I then clung on desperately over the undulating final third of the race as my strength, speed, form and clarity of thought left me. I’m over the moon with my PB as breaking 34 minutes wasn’t something I was sure I could do. I’ll be delighted if both Ben and I make England selection.”


Ben Kruze said: “A very early morning trip to run in the Valentines 10k near Chessington, would not be high on the list of important races to run for most living outside of the M25, however this was the first of two target races during February. The aim of the day, as it was for many runners, was to finish top 3 in the age group rankings to qualify for the England Masters team, running in the Bristol 10k in September. After a fast and tight start (hurdling a starting mat that resembled a couple of old duvets), the field started to spread out and it quickly became obvious there would be some good battles to achieve the overall goal.

A fairly undulating start was followed by a very fast middle 3k of the race. I was fortunate enough to be sitting in 3rd overall, so staying in that position, I knew would see the main aim of the day become a reality. Turning back into a strong wind for then last 2k certainly made us all work a lot harder than we would have liked, however slowly closing on the lead pair helped to keep up the pace. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to reach the front two runners, but a qualifying spot was secured with a time of 31:25.

It was great to then see Matt not only also secure his top 3 age group qualifying place, but also record a comfortable personal best, which capped off a great day for both. Thankfully some hard work over the winter paid off!”

Max Ross and Peter Sugden.
Mud, mud, glorious mud – you’re not selling it to me Peter

Dursley Dozen
13th February 2022

Report – Peter Sugden

Dursley Dozen debutants Max Ross and Peter Sugden braved persistent rain and 20 mph winds on Sunday to complete this hilly multi-terrain 12 mile race around Stinchcombe Hill above the southern Gloucestershire market town of Dursley.

Dursely Running Club’s annual showcase event starts and finishes in Dursley, with the first mile straight up through the steep wooded flanks of Stinchcombe Hill, for runners to emerge on its windswept plateau. 

The course then meanders around the perimeter of this Cotswold hill, dipping down through the woodland several times, only to climb back up on paths ankle deep in mud.  The epitome of this being at the half way point, where a steep descent down an ancient trackway was followed by an immediate return up the adjacent field up the aptly named Breakheart Hill.

At a further ascent, at about ¾ distance, the runners were aided back up “The Precipice” by a rope, to supplement the limited purchase afforded by the rain soaked, steep woodland terrain.

Sugden, Ross and former SAC member Simon Nicoll enjoyed a tussle over the first half of the race.  Gradually Sugden and Nicoll stretched out a lead over the second half, continuing to swap places a few more times.  Sugden pushed ahead between miles 8 and 9, then maintained the lead for the final ascent of Stinchcombe Hill and the relieving descent back to Dursley, where the finishers were cheered home as they approached the finish line down the pedestrianised Parsonage Street.

Sugden finished 53rd in the field of 339 runners in a time of 1 hr 51:19, and 5th in the M50 category.  Ross finished 69th in a time of 1 hr 54:10.  Local runner Paul Hocking finished first in a time of 1hr 27:43.

Stratford upon Avon Athletics Club

Grand Prix Competition

Peter Sugden

The Grand Prix is open to all senior members, providing fun competition, with a handicap system that allows all abilities and ages, gentlemen and ladies, an opportunity to take home the prestigious Grand Prix Shield at the end of the season.

Sometimes comprising as many as 20 races, this year the competition will comprise 12 events from the racing calendar, varying in distance from 5M to marathon, road and multi terrain.

 Members may compete in as many or as few as they wish, with their best 8 results counting in the competition.  Points are awarded according to where Stratford upon Avon AC members finish relative to each other in each race, with all race finishers scoring at least one point per race.

Point Scoring

Place Scoring

1st – 20 points

6th – 10 points

11th – 5 points

2nd – 18 points

7th – 9 points

12th – 4 points

3rd – 16 points

8th – 8 points

13th – 3 points

4th – 14 points

9th – 7 points

14th – 2 points

5th – 12 points

10th – 6 points

15th – 1 point etc.


Female Athletes / Veterans (age at 1st Jan of the calendar year competed)


Additional Points




Under 35



35 – 39



40 – 44



45 – 49



50 – 54



55 – 59



60 – 64



65 – 69



70 – 74



75 – 79




Personal Best

Any athlete achieving a personal best performance in any of the nominated races will be awarded 4 additional points.  Personal best performances cannot be achieved if the athlete hasn’t raced the particular race previously – i.e. PBs count for second and subsequent times only.

Club Record

A club runner breaking an existing club record in any of the nominated races will be awarded 6 additional points

2022 Races

This year’s races are focussed on the Warwickshire Road Race League (WRRL) races, plus a couple of local races.  The focus on the WRRL races is deliberate to try to encourage the greatest participation by Stratford members, such that we might give some of our rival local clubs a run for their money.  Ironically, our best standing in the WRRL in recent years was during the heights, or is it lows, of lockdown in 2020, when the races were run virtually and Captain John Raby galvanised our competitive spirit, with many club members participating.  It would be great if we can fill the WRRL races with plenty of yellow and black vests this year.

This year’s Grand Prix nominated races are:


18th Apr (Easter Mon)

Massey Easter 10k (Stoneleigh Park)



24th Apr

Stratford Half Marathon / Marathon



19th May (Thur)

Ryton 5M (Ryton Country Park)



8th Jun (Tue)

Sphinx 5M (Coventry Memorial Park)



12th Jun

Two Castles 10k (Warwick to Kenilworth)



19th Jun

Arden 9M (Hampton in Arden)



10th Jul

Northbrook 10k (Allesley)



20th Aug

Stratford Summer 6M (Wilmcote)



4th Sept

Stratford Big 10k



11th Sep

Kenilworth Half Marathon



18th Sep

Balsall Common 10k



9th Oct

Rugby 10M (Barby)



There are actually a lucky 13 races listed, by virtue of a choice of Stratford Half Marathon or Marathon, with 12 potential races which could be run (unless your name is Tara Lambert and you can obtain special dispensation to run both races on 24th April).  It’s up to individuals how many races to enter and it’s your responsibility to enter races.  Beware, some of these races may become fully booked, so don’t leave booking a place too late.

Personal experience tells me one needs to think about recovery between races.  Sphinx 5M and Two Castles 10k are always only a few days between.  If you need longer to recover, and most of us will, think about whether to prioritise one over the other.

Past winners of the Grand Prix shield include our chairman Paul Hawkins, while John Turner, Peter Hill, Alan Coldicott, our very own David Jones, Graham Taylor and yours truly have all won the shield twice.  Mark Francis won the shield an impressive five times in the competition’s first 12 years.  If you want to see the shield adorned with your name for posterity, start entering races.

Happy running.  Btw – did I mention I won the shield – twice?