SUAAC 1 – Storm Eunice 0.

And they’re off. The start of last weekend’s U15 girls race. Strength in depth!
This week we have a very welcome and positive update from Chairman Paul Hawkins on his health.

It was a busy final week of XC league fixtures for our junior, ladies and men’s team and despite the best efforts of Storm Eunice we had a total of 74 members on the start line for these 3 fixtures.

Our ladies finished the season in a comfortable mid-table position but unfortunately our men’s team 12th placed finish meant relegation but as Tony Jackson states in his report “However, with a number of promising juniors, some excellent first season performances and a trusted core of experienced runners we can be optimistic of promotion next year”.

Our juniors finished in 5th place on the day, just 255 points off 2nd place and in a hugely creditable 4th place out of 21 teams for the season as a whole, again just 473 points off 3rd place – 29833 points v 29360 points.  

Both the men’s and junior’s results emphasised the importance of being able to field your strongest teams in the fixtures. In the first fixture of the season, where 52 of our juniors  were competing, meaning we were able to field full teams in all of the races, we finished in 2nd place overall. On Sunday we had 42 finishers, meaning there were a few gaps in our teams. We finished 5th on the day with almost 1000 points fewer than in the first fixture. Had we been fortunate enough to have complete teams finish in all of the races on Sunday we would more than likely have finished 2nd on the day and 3rd  for the overall season. Our absentees have mostly been due to illness and injury but despite this, the commitment of our juniors, parents and coaches throughout the season has been superb. This was exemplified by, among others, Ellie Deaner at the weekend. Not only did her family delay the departure of their skiing holiday to allow her to compete but she ran the whole race suffering with a painful knee.

Special thanks are due to Jess Sheppard who in her first season as Team Manager marshalled the team superbly in her calm and efficient manner.

It was certainly a successful XC season for Clan Campbell. In the seniors, Georgie and Ned finished in 3rd and 4th place overall in their age categories for the season as a whole and Tilly and Nick rounded off the season with their best performances of the season for the juniors and seniors respectively

We also have a report on the British Universities and College Championships (BUCS) in Sheffield and Lesley Kirk has sent us one of her wonderful reports on her latest wet, windy and muddy races.

We also have the results of the last of this season’s Tempo Winter series races.

Good luck to those of you competing at the National XC Championships in London at the weekend and to Andrew Pozzi, Emily Madden-Forman and Rory Dwyer who will be competing in the British Championship in Birmingham. Also, as ever, good luck to any of you competing anywhere.

Tale care

Best wishes

David Jones
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Paul Hawkins
Paul with his minders last weekend.

Paul Hawkins – An Update.

Hi, a personal one from me that David has asked me to do, there’s probably too much detail but you don’t need to read it all!

Just over a year ago I was diagnosed with Lymphoma, a type of cancer of the immune system, and so from the end of March 2021 I’ve been away from Stratford AC until recently, so there are a lot of new faces, apologies if I don’t know everyone yet, I will. Equally if you’re new to the club in the last year I’m sure you won’t know me but I’ve been Chairman of our club for a while now and I also coach middle distance runners. I’m also the one who racewalks at club training sessions. 

I was first admitted to UH Coventry in an ambulance on 7 April 2021, my first chemo was the day after, my birthday!

It seems a long journey since then with lots of chemo and a stem cell transplant in October, plus radiotherapy this year but it’s all been pretty successful and I’ve finished all my treatment and that’s it, I hope. 

Massive thanks to Ward 34 and the Arden Centre at Coventry plus Aylesford Centre at Warwick and Rigby Unit at Stratford and all the brilliant NHS people who’ve cared for me. Naturally I’m very, very thankful to Daf Hawkins and all the family for getting me through it too.

I had a review with my doctor, Dr Borg, a couple of weeks ago and it was mostly ok so I’m now changing to less frequent appointments every 3 months for the next year. 

The one exception is that I’ll have another appointment next week to get the results of a recent head scan. I’m hoping they will confirm they have found a brain. I will also probably need to have some supplements following the radiotherapy.

I am now fit to drive which is a great relief. 

Last week’s blood tests were all ok except my neutrophils had fallen a bit. This is ok and normal in the months after transplant but does mean I’m a bit susceptible to infections still (as expected) so I will continue to be careful. 

I think that covers everything but, as usual, ask away if you have any questions. Essentially I’m back to normal just about and I hope you see me training and racewalking regularly. 

Paul Hawkins 

23 February 2022

Alex Adams – Overall winner of the U17M age category this season. It is the 5th successive season that Alex has won his age group..
Maisie -Joy Spriggs who finished 2nd in the U15 girls age category out of 120 who competed this season. MJ has shown a huge improvement this season. The last season there was competition she finished 28th in the U13 age category.
Our U15 boys team who finished in 2nd place overall for the season.

West Midland Young AthletesCross-Country League 2021/22
  Pingles Stadium, Nuneaton

Adams23rd successive win in cross-country league seals 4th place for Stratford 

Report –  David Parkin

The 5th and final league race saw Stratford finish the season in 4th place out of 21 competing clubs. The club continues to perform at the highest level, with outstanding individual performances alongside great team camaraderie. Despite a break for a year due to the pandemic, normal service resumed with Alex Adams winning his 23rd consecutive race and 5th championship in a row – he is now all set to perform on the national stage in the final few representative races of the season. Other strong individual performances across the season were Maisie-Joy Spriggs (2nd U15G), Niamh Hillard (4th U15G) and Charly Marshall (6th U17W).

In the U17W, Charly Marshall (2nd, 15:54) saved her best performance of the year for the final race – running strongly throughout, she finished well clear of the third place runner and should be very proud of an excellent season. Ellie Deaner (31st, 19:43) and Abigail Skinner (34th, 20:23) competed well, giving another solid team performance overall.

Toby Spriggs (37th, 08:39) ran his usual exuberant race to finish first for Stratford in the U11B in what was a very consistent first season. Toby Wilkinson (62nd, 09:12), Callum Linforth (76th, 09:41) and Henry Thomas (88th, 10:21) completed the team, which finished in 8th place overall. 

In the 3-lap U17M race, Alex Adams (1st, 17:12) led from the start and opened out 10 seconds a lap to give him a comfortable victory with a 35s gap to the second place runner from Birchfield Harriers. Theo Skirvin (25th, 19:43) and Caleb Spriggs (34th, 20:33) both ran strong races to give the team 4th place overall across the season, only missing third place and a medal by a handful of points.

Stella Sant (20th, 08:36) had another excellent race in the U11G, once again leading the team home. Amelia Marshall (35th, 09:02), Rachel Sparrow (46th, 09:20), Jasmine Mothershaw (51st, 09:29) and Georgia Sharpe (53rd, 09:31) worked hard together in a blur of yellow and black in the middle of the pack.

The U15B have become one of Stratford’s strongest teams of the season – the boys work hard together in training and this is reflected in strength in depth in the team, with all of them fighting hard for a few more places in the final straight. Milo Cullimore (17th, 12:56), Henry Wheeler (21st, 13:10), Will Mayes (24th, 13:16), James Day (27th, 13:26) and Gabriel Gaiser (33rd, 13:35) were well bunched for the five scoring positions. Hugh Markham (39th, 13:55), Seb Hillard (47th, 14:23), Alex Macmillan (60th, 15:24) and Joe Lewis (64th, 16:10) all had strong finishes, and the team won a very well-deserved 2nd place overall.

Unfortunately, due to illness and injury, the U13G had a depleted team, but Lois Ford (16th, 11:07) had a great outing, holding her place throughout the race. Ava Sheppard (40th, 11:58) and Tessa Parkin (43rd, 12:02) ran together for much of the race, with Sheppard just managing an extra effort at the finish to gain a few places. The team finished in 7th place overall in the league, wondering what might have been having finished 1st in the first league race of the season with a full team.

Joel Ledgard (18th, 10:13) shot off round the inside of the first bend to get himself well up into the leading pack in the U13B race, and then managed to hold his position in a well-fought race. Alfie Musk (39th, 11:23), Arthur Mansbridge (50th, 12:13) and Ewan Sparrow (59th, 13:22) all worked well, with Mansbridge looking very determined at the finish, and Sparrow picking up a few places in a fighting second lap.

In the U15G race, all eyes were on Maisie-Joy Spriggs (2nd, 13:29). Having already secured second place in the league with a race to spare, Spriggs was aiming for her first league win. A group of three broke off the front of the race on the first lap, and, by the second lap, it was down to two. In the end Spriggs didn’t quite have enough left in the tank for the win but she should be delighted with her best ever season. Niamh Hillard (8th, 14:19) and Maddie Linfoot (12th, 14:47) both had excellent races to finish consistent seasons. Lucy Thomas (27th, 15:53), Martha Peters (37th, 16:07), Abbi Cooper (41st, 16:18), Alice Cottam (43rd, 16:20), Emily Cottam (49th, 16:46), Hannah Wilkinson (54th, 17:05), Charlotte Skinner (56th, 17:07) and Tilly Campbell (60th, 17:42) made up Stratford’s biggest team on the day. Great to see all their hard work training on the Welcombe Hills paying off as they consistently overtook on the uphill sections! The team finished with a very well-deserved third place medal. 

And so another season in the West Midlands Young Athletes Cross Country League comes to an end. While this report usually focuses on the exceptional individual performances, we should very much applaud all those who participate in what is a tough way to spend your Sundays. 

The sense of team is very strong, and it is always a delight to see our athletes, parents and coaches cheering on anyone flying past in the yellow and black of Stratford AC. Well done all. 

Emily Madden-Forman
Rory Dwyer – left – on the podium.
Imogen Sheppard

British University & College Sports Championships 2022

EIS – Sheffield
Report – Paul Bearman
In a very welcome return to the athletics calendar for 3 years, the British University & College Sports Championships (BUCS) are the breeding ground for many British track and field stars. This year the new breed included 4 Stratford AC athletes competing and continuing their athletic careers away from the familiar surroundings of their home environment. 
The English Institute of Sport inn Sheffield played host to the championships and Emily Field, in only her 3rd indoor race of the season was experiencing the event for the first time and competing for Bristol Uni she finished 5th in her 1500m heat in a time of 4.50.07. 
Another first timer competing at BUCS was Imogen Sheppard competing for Birmingham Uni in the 400m. In her heat she ran a typically gutsy race and finished 3rd with time of 59.65s which wasn’t quite good enough to qualify for the semi-finals. 
Emily Madden Forman has previously competed for Liverpool John Moores Uni and is now doing her Masters at Manchester Met. Competing injury free for the first time in 5 years, Emily moved through the opening heights until she went out after jumping 1.72m just shy of her PB and finishing a superb 3rd and a bronze medal. 
Rory Dwyer originally competed for Loughborough Students and is now studying Physiotherapy at Coventry University. Rory too is enjoying an injury free indoor season and after qualifying for the High Jump final he went one better than his previous best BUCS performance by winning the silver medal with 2.11m. Afterwards Rory declared he was “happy that things at last are going in the right direction”….upwards! 
This weekend Emily and Rory have both been invited to the British Champs along with Andrew Pozzi and so look out for 3 Stratford vests in Birmingham. 
NB……Ollie Cresswell is injured and Jack Sumners is competing for Iowa Uni in the US and they were also both invited which would have made 5 graduates from the juniors competing at the highest national level!! 
Our Ladies XC team at Leamington last weekend along with Paul Hawkins.
Georgie Campbell who finished in a magnificent 3rd place for the season in her U20 age category.

Women’s Cross Country  Saturday 19 January 2022

Georgie Campbell Third in U20 category for the Midlands League

Report – Becks Pridham

With Storm Eunice behind us but the weather still wild and unpredictable, it didn’t slow down the Stratford AC ladies in the final league cross country race of the 2021/2022 season.

Leamington’s Newbold Common was a welcome local fixture for the ladies, although there were several veterans who claimed disappointment at the loss of ‘the Ditch’ (an infamous muddy brook which has seen many a runner fall or even lose a shoe). They should not have been worried as there was plenty of water, puddles and a stream plus the Beacon Hill with its challenging camber and variety of surfaces to keep the runners focused on their race. 

Georgie Campbell was first home for Stratford (14th overall; 25:35), and coach Paul Hawkins was especially impressed with her performance this season as not only has she remained disciplined with her training during her first year away at university, but also had to contend with COVID in December. Georgie has had a fantastic season, with winning the Midland Cross Country Championships at the end of January and now bringing home the Under 20 age group third place season trophy for the Midlands Women’s XC League. 

Second home for Stratford was Emma Bexson (57th; 28:07), running strong on the hills, she finished 16thin the Masters race out of a field of 92. Hannah Osborne has had a fantastic season too, clearly demonstrating that ‘hard work pays off’ with her consistent training regime (82nd; 30:01). Although only in her second race of the league this season, the improving Suzanne Ross finished strong (109th; 31:24) to finish in the first four Stratford ladies home. 

Cross country is largely about team work and camaraderie, and the rest of the ladies showed fierce determination against the elements and ‘every woman home’ counts in the overall standings. 

The consistent Emma Parkin battled the elements to come home fifth for the team (121st; 32:32). Newcomer to the cross country league, Clare Goodwin (143rd; 35:42) is clearly a natural as she was light footed over the mud and is one to watch for future seasons. Recently back from injury, Rebecca Pridham (147th; 36:14) held strong and kept just ahead of Susan Hunt (149th, 36:28). Phillippa Paddock (150th; 37:02) was hampered by her choice of footwear but still kept upright and she is another one to watch for next season.

Emily Adams (158th; 38:46) thoroughly enjoyed the mud and the hills, although she was delighted when it was all over! Kate Sergent (160th; 40:19), Sue Mothershaw (163rd; 41:46) and Cherry Eden (166th; 43:10) completed the Stratford ladies team, showing the strength of spirit (and legs!) needed to get out there when it is raining, muddy and the elements are against you, and for some crazy reason, run around a field. Twice.

Stratford Ladies have had a fantastic season, battling injuries and illness across the team, but still finishing in eighth position in the table (comfortably just above mid table) which means that they are safe in the Women’s Division 1 for next season.

Ned Campbell has had a superb first season representing the club at senior level in the Birmingham XC league. He finished as the league’s 4th placed junior for the season
Alex Pester was another junior who had a fabulous first season in the senior XC league, finishing in 9th place overall in his age group.
Ever present Matt Burdus-Cook finished in 17th place overall in the league this season.

Birmingham XC League Race 4

Report – Tony Jackson

Storm Eunice had fortunately cleared away to leave predominantly bright and blustery conditions for the final Men’s XC fixture of the season. Nevertheless, it was still sufficiently windy to blow away the Kenilworth team tent which caused a few smiles.

However, the true impact of the storm could be seen around the course which could best be described as wet and muddy.

Rich Shepherd had turned up a week early for the race when the conditions were relatively firm under foot. Unfortunately, the mud was less accommodating this week causing Rich to develop a leg injury which forced him to drop out at the end of the first lap when well placed. 

This left Matt Burdus-Cook (34th 36 mins 26 secs) to lead the team home and despite hating the conditions he battled his way around. Matt has been our most consistent performer over the winter and placed an excellent 17th overall across the four race series. (Best 3 races to count)

It has been great to see the progress of a couple of juniors in their first year and Ned Campbell (58th37:36) and Alex Pester (59th 37:38) raced together for much of the race before Ned pulled away towards the end. They finished 5th & 6th juniors on the day and 4th and 9th overall.

However, probably the stand out performance of the day came from Tim Hutchinson (80th 38:28) who has improved steadily over the winter and was well suited by the mud which brought his endurance strength into play.

Tim was closely followed by Adam Linforth (85th 38:42) who in his first season has quickly proven himself to be a quietly reliable presence 

The final scorer for the A team – and another contender for performance of the day – was Phil Reading (90th 38:52). Obviously suited by the conditions this was a seasons best effort as he improved by over 25 places from his previous best placing.

Competition in the B Team saw some very close battles as a slightly below par Ben Jordan (92nd 39:04) managed to hold off Alex Hill (93rd 39:06) who was making a belated seasonal debut. Whilst the youthful Josh Dobedoe (114th 40:37) has finished ahead of Dave Teasdale (40:41) in all races this season, the gap is steadily reducing and they were very close together throughout this race.

Nick Cooper (147th 42:51) and Max Ross (152nd 43:04) have been very well matched all season and once again they were able to spur each other along to their best positions of the season as they completed the B Team 

John Raby (168th 44:09) has been solid all year, Nick Campbell (174th 44:30) had his best finishing position, Will Dyche (182nd 45:00) will have learnt plenty from his first XC season and Damien Wheeler (199th 47:27) continues to compete with grit and determination

The A Team scored 406 pts and 12th on the day. Despite some excellent individual performances, a couple of absentees contributed to a disappointing return, especially after the high of Race 3 when we scored a best ever points total. We have been on the back foot all season after finishing bottom in Race 1 and we just failed to recover all of the lost ground as we finished 12th overall and have been relegated.

However, with a number of promising juniors, some excellent first season performances and a trusted core of experienced runners we can be optimistic of promotion next year.

Confirming our strength in depth the B Team have in contrast performed strongly all season and their total of 714 pts meant they finished 5th on the day which still secured them 3rd overall.

Thanks to Malcolm Bowyer for his enthusiasm as Team Captain – he will come back stronger to lead the push for promotion next year.

And a special note of praise to the following hard core of regulars who competed in all four races – Matt Burdus-Cook, Ben Jordan, Nick Cooper & John Raby.

As a foot note it was nice of Richard Dobedoe to remind me of the comparable race 20 years ago when the club competed at Droitwich – and thanks to Paul Hawkins who has been able to dig out the official results to confirm the results.

In what was probably the highlight of my SAC career I was first back for the club in 25th place closely followed by Richard 30th and Paul 33rd. Malcolm Bowyer was our 5th scorer in 54th.

Happy Days 

A library photo of Lesley Kirk after on of her earlier adventures. The weather looked a bit better at that one.
Culden Faw Trial Half Marathon  nr. Henley on Thames
 Report – Lesley Kirk.

I was fully expecting this event to be cancelled, due to storm Eunice wreaking havoc across much of the country during the previous 24 hours, so it was a pleasant surprise to find the organisers had decided at the eleventh hour to go ahead! So, with a little trepidation, I drove South early on Saturday morning, to arrive at Henley Showground, where the run was to take place. Along with the half marathon, there was also a 10k and 5k option, all off-road.  
With little remaining wind, glorious sunshine and Red Kites circling overhead, I was starting to look forward to a rare, organised event outing for me. However, things didn’t start too well, as the toilets hadn’t arrived due to the storm! They did turn up eventually and following a delayed start due to the resulting toilet queues, we were then off.
The three distances started at five-minute intervals, all following the same tarmac path out and back, before splitting in different directions, depending on the distance entered.

The half marathon followed loops of mostly woodland trails, which were covered in storm debris, making it difficult to negotiate. That, together with an undulating course, meant I found it quite hard going and had to walk at times.

The scenery though made up for it. By mile nine, the wind had got up and the rain had started, so the remaining four miles were a bit miserable. Heading into a bitterly cold headwind and horizontal rain, I was relieved to finally cross the finish line in a time of 2.14, 2nd FV60, 13th female, and 64th out of the 98 finishers in the half marathon.
I was disappointed with my time, but given the conditions, I was pleased I’d persevered, and the best part was knowing I’d earned myself a lie-in on the Sunday!
Tempo Winter Series

It was the final race in this season’s Winter Series at the weekend. Unfortunately there is no report on the race but for the full results please follow the link below.
With slightly fewer club members competing due to the weekend’s XC races, Drew Sambridge was our first finisher in 10th place and Kim Lee our first lady finisher in 67th place.
Stratford upon Avon Herald

Thanks to prompt and detailed reports from Becks Pridham and Dave Parkin on last weekend’s Ladies and Junior’s XC, we were able to secure a full page in this week’s physical edition of the newspaper. Many thanks both
Ruby Edwards and Luca De Freitas Pires competed at the Birmingham Games on Sunday at the Utilita Arena. Ruby long jump and Luca long jump and 300m. For both it was their first time jumping off a 3m board and in such a massive venue, it was a great experience. I know we had other club members competing at Birmingham and hopefully we might have a report next week.
A couple more photos from BUCS at the weekend. Rory and Emily both in full flight.
Junior XC photos from the weekend
Our U17 ladies team, from the top : Charly Marshall, Ellie Deaner and Abigail Skinner.
Theo Skirvin and Caleb Spriggs, who along with Alex Adams made up our U17M team.
Our U15 girls team on the start line. L to R : Charlotte Skinner, Abbi Cooper, Hannah Wilkinson, Martha Peters, Emily Cottam, Niamh Hillard, Alice Cottam, Lucy Thomas, Tilly Campbell, Caitlin Boyle, Maisie-Joy Spriggs and Maddie Linfoot.
Our U13 girls team of Lois Ford, Ava Sheppard and Tessa Parkin. Quality not quantity.
Our very own Fab Four. The U13 boys team of Arthur Mansbridge, Ewan Sparrow, Joel Ledgard and Alfie Musk.
The U11 girls team of Rachel Sparrow, Georgia Sharpe, Amelie Marshall, Jasmine Mothershaw and Stella Sant.
The U11 boys of Toby Spriggs, Callum Linforth, Henry Thomas, Harrison Gedden and Toby Wilkinson.
Some go our U15 girls team collecting their awards for 2nd best U15 girls team of the season. Maddie and Lucy didn’t run in their wellies!
Niamh Hillard and Maisie-Joy Spriggs with their awards for finishing 4th and 2nd respectively in the U15 girls category. Maddie Linforth finished 7th, just missing out on an award.
Girls just wanna have fun. Martha Peters and Abbi Cooper.