Christine Cooper – Rest In Peace.

Steve and Christine Cooper at last year’s club Christmas party.

Christine Cooper

1961 – 2022


On Tuesday came the truly heartbreaking news that long term club member Christine Cooper had passed away at her home in Stratford aged just 61.

Chris was a member of our club for over 8 years, briefly suspending her membership when first diagnosed with cancer some 4 years ago.

One of a couple of anecdotes told to Kate Sergent on Tuesday by Steve, her husband and fellow club member, was that the first question Chris had asked of the surgeon who had  performed major surgery on her 4 years ago was if she could go for a parachute jump because her son, Sam, had bought her one as a present. 

He told her she could not. Brave man.

Steve also told Kate how much pleasure Chris had got from being a member of our club.

Steve has also said the he will continue to be a member of the club and that he’ll try to improve his 5k time in honour of Christine.

She rejoined a couple of years ago following various intrusive treatments and operations and took part in last winter’s Couch to 5k group, graduating with a park run on 4th December.

I only got to know Chris over the last couple of years during her tenure as our press correspondent. Hers was the responsibility of collecting articles, editing them and liaising with the local press. This role, a role with sometimes demanding deadlines to meet, a role that she filled with a perfectionist’s attention to detail in her efficient and conscientious way was what has enabled the club to have such a prominent presence in our local papers.

Such was her devotion and commitment to the club that she gave up as press correspondent barely a couple of weeks ago saying she didn’t really feel up to it and apologising! That was only on 21st February.

She just always seemed to have a smile on her face despite the heavy burden she had to carry.

I am sure you all will join me in sending your thoughts and best wishes to Steve, their son Sam and her 

family and friends, of which I know there are many in the club.

Finally another anecdote from Steve that helped to sum up the indomitable spirit of this wonderful lady. 

Chris was determined to go to last year’s club Christmas party. 

She did.

She was determined to get up and dance.

She did.

She was determined to sing along to “I Will Survive”.

She did

“Oh no, not I, I will survive

Oh, as long as I know how to love, I know I’ll stay alive

I’ve got all my life to live

And I’ve got all my love to give and I’ll survive

I will survive

I will survive”


Chris, you will most certainly survive in our thoughts for a very long time to come.

Rest in Peace.

Christine is 3rd from the right in this photo taken in December last year. She was about to graduate with a parkrun having completed our C25K course. Husband Steve is behind her slightly to the right.
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Everything else that has happened at our club this week has been overshadowed by the untimely and premature death of long standing member Christine Cooper. Chris will be greatly missed by all of those who knew and loved her including the many club members who were fortunate enough to have her as a friend.

It has been a busy week for many club members, with pride of place going to Paula Williams, who claimed 3 silver and 2 gold medals at the British Masters T&F Championships in London at the weekend.

We have an important appeal from Paul Bearman for volunteer coaches and officials. These volunteers are not just an optional extras at the club, without them the club would just cease to be able to function – it’s as simple as that. If you haven’t tried please please give it a go. It is a truly rewarding experience.

Three of our members competed in the gruelling Grizzly last weekend. Rather them than me but they did seem to have a lot of fun. One of them, Kate Sergent, has a special birthday coming up on Sunday. I’m not allowed to say what that birthday is and you wouldn’t believe me anyway.

There is a report on the recent City of Birmingham Games with 4 members competing at the Birmingham NIA. 

There’s a note from Chairman Paul Hawkins on this year’s London Marathon, plus an update on Jack Sumners considerable progress in America.

As mentioned last week, our triathletes have been gradually emerging from hibernation after a hard winter’s training and we have a reports from both Bishampton and Mallory Park Duathlons.

Take care

Best Wishes

David Jones.
A triumphant Paula Williams.

British Masters Athletic Track and Field Championships.

Lee Valley – London

Report – David Jones

Paula Williams’ came away with a 5 medal haul at the prestigious British Masters T&F Championships in London last weekend despite a hair raising start. 

Traffic hold-ups on the M25 meant her almost missing her first event, the sprint hurdles. Phoning ahead enabled a friend to collect her numbers. Upon arrival she ran to the call room, put her spikes on, set up her blocks, went over 2 hurdles as a warm up and waited for the gun to go off. Despite this she won a silver medal in a season’s best time of 9.90 seconds.

Her second event was the javelin, in cold, wet and windy conditions. Not having thrown a javelin in competition since last summer didn’t prevent her from topping the podium with a throw of 32.79 metres.

Her final event of Day 1 was the triple jump and a jump of 9.68 metres was good enough to earn her the silver medal.

Day 2 of the competition started without the stress of 24 hours earlier and with plenty of time for a warm-up, a season’s best throw in the shot put of 11.89m won her the gold medal.

She then won her heat in the 60 metres before going on to win yet another silver medal in the final with a time of 8.53 seconds.

Paula finished the Championships with 2 gold and 3 silver medals and this just a few days before she moves up to her next age group.

Mandy Newton
Emma Sparrow
 Coaching and Officiating

Paul Bearman 
As with all clubs in all sports SUAAC totally relies on volunteer support and as the club continues to grow and expand, we need a constant flow of new volunteers to support the club’s activities.

In the junior part of the club, we work to a strict coach : athlete ratio primarily for welfare, safety and quality reasons for the athletes.  
Becoming a volunteer coach or official is a great fun way of becoming involved in the club and the community.  Whether you are a parent or family member wanting to get more involved with your children’s sport or an older athlete looking for a new dimension to your role in the sport, or have been inspired by seeing how other people have made a difference to people’s lives, coaching and officiating has plenty to offer.  
There’s a whole host of motivations why people become a coach or officiate in athletics like giving something back to the community or the sport they and their children enjoy, the camaraderie and making new friends, to experiencing the sport from a different angle rather than just watching from the side lines. 
In the juniors, primarily for Safeguarding reasons, we prefer to recruit our coaches and officials via members’ families or their associates as the chances are we will already know them.

If a child or family member is involved with SUAAC or even if the last time you wore a pair of trainers (or even plimsolls) was in your school PE lesson, you could become a valued athletics coach or official for the club. Incidentally the majority of people who get involved with the club have no particular knowledge or experience of athletics. 
Coaching ….all you would be required to do as a first stage is go on a 2 day online Coaching Assistant course with a face to face follow up day and obtain a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check for Safeguarding. The club pays for all of this so there are no out of pocket expenses and coaches get a significantly reduced membership rate for their children. 
Officiating….a local course is being organised on 3rd April
Why I became a coach……… 
Dave Battersby …….”I joined Stratford AC when I moved to Warwickshire with work and started coaching in order to stay involved after a bad injury. My son has been involved with the club since he was an under 11 and as an ex competitive middle distance runner I felt that, apart from giving something back to the club, I have a wealth of experience that I could pass on to our athletes” 
“I still train and compete as a Vet and despite having a very busy, intense working life I still find a couple of hours a week to forget the day to day hassles to try to help our athletes achieve their potential. There’s great camaraderie between the coaches and as a volunteer it’s giving something back to the community. I’d definitely recommend making the time and get involved for yourself and to help others”. 
Why I became an official……… 
Brian & Alison Gravelsons …….”Officiating is fun. Great people enjoying their time together on a summer’s day or evening. We get a lot out of knowing that we are making a huge difference not just for our children but for many others too and every athlete benefits from good officiating. Indeed, junior athletics simply would not be able to function without willing volunteers. Everyone is busy but I think that if we do not make the time and volunteer to help out in some way and for some of the time, then we can’t really expect there ever to be training, leagues and other events that our children can take part in and enjoy”.    

Louise Leighton…… “When the club asked me if I would consider being an official, my answer was a definite yes.  Mostly because I struggle with the word ‘no’ but when I gave it some further thought, I figured it was a great way to give something back to the club by volunteering a bit of time.  Plus it was an opportunity to learn some of the technical jargon that has baffled me for years so I could get involved in conversations about athletics instead of being totally clueless”.   

So, if you’re interested or want to know more, please contact me   or   07767 343925  or any Age Group Leader or coach and don’t forget the club pays for the course so you’re not out of pocket. 
Thanks for reading this and hopefully you’re inspired to get involved with us and support our athletes and the future of our club. 
The Three Grizzly’s. For those of you not familiar with their backsides l to r Sarah, Susan and Kate – I think.
Susan Hunt, Sarah Odell and Kate Sergent.
Susan Hunt getting a hose down post race. The things some people do!

The Grizzly

March 6th 2022

Report – Susan Hunt

I signed up for The Grizzly knowing nothing about it except that it’s 20 miles, in Devon and something that Kate Sergent had spent a decade dreaming of completing.

The first hurdle that myself, Kate and Sarah Odell had to overcome was to secure a place in this classic sell-out race this entailed a gruelling 20 minutes negotiating the entry website as it stuttered and stalled to cope with the 1000s of runners hell-bent on bagging a race number.  By sheer determination and the magic of WI-FI, we were in!

So what was the big deal about this race?

I began to realise almost as soon as we arrived in Seaton the day before.  The whole town was buzzing with Grizzly excitement: with an Expo (we spent a lot), Grizzly-themed displays in shop windows and the seafront swarming with junior Grizzlies competing in the “Grizfest” 2-4k races.

The Grizzly has a long local history: starting in 1988 with 27 runners completing 6 miles. It now has a field of over 2000 who can choose to do the full 20 “Grizzly” or alternative 9 mile “Cub” route.

Organised by Axe Valley Runners, it’s a non-profit event which has raised over £457,000 for local charities.

The following day, as Jo Pavey welcomed runners onto the start-line, we shivered in the bitter wind that battered the loo queue.

Kate hadn’t yet managed to convince herself she could complete the course.  Sarah was medicinally dosed up to the eyeballs (suffering from a mouth infection) and had sensibly switched to the shorter (tho still hardcore) route.

When I heard the amplified starter’s call of “are you ready?!”, I yelled back “No!” from the portaloo.

What followed was the most challenging yet joyful white-knuckle ride of a race. On one side was the challenge of finding traction on the beach (no sand; just a massive heap of shifting stones), trudging up steep inclines, sliding in ankle-deep mud, wading through knee-deep bogs and splashing through freezing streams. But alongside all that was the joy of jaw-dropping views of the Devon coastline, an army of enthusiastic and encouraging marshals (Kate declared her undying love for one after he hauled her out of a stinking bog) and local music groups performing in the most unlikely locations around the course.

There are few races where you hear screams followed by shrieks of laughter ahead and wonder what on earth lies around the corner. 

I was determined to deliver on my promise to Kate that we would complete the course and do it together.  An example of my devotion to this duty was when she refused to take a jelly baby because her hands were still caked in mud after her bog-snorkelling adventure. I grabbed one and shoved it into her mouth (I should probably have warned her first).  I became aware that my relentless positivity was starting to annoy her by mile 15; but she dug deep, kept moving forwards and somehow managed not to  slap me. 

Oh the joy of running down the hill together to the finish, with Sarah (having smashed the 9 miler several hours before) cheering us in. 

Mission accomplished. A quick hose down from the Fire Service and we headed off to celebrate the best race ever with the best fish and chips ever. 


Sarah surprised herself with a top 50 Ladies’ finish in the Cub race in an impressive 1:43:11 

The Grizzly was won by David Green in 2:18:30.  Kate and I finished a mere 3 hours later in 5:17:23; but I’m guessing we had many more laughs on the way round than he did.

Warwick Half Marathon

A short note from Kate Wright after she competed the Worcester Half Marathon at the weekend

“Cold, windy and hilly. All the things I hate!! It was tough going and I thought it was going to be a complete disaster. However I managed to finish 2nd lady in a time of 1.26.03. Although slower than I wanted it is my fastest half since 2017.

Despite being slower than she had hoped kate’s time puts her top of the UK rankings in her age group, almost 5 minutes quicker than her closest rival. She is also ranked 8th in the all-time rankings.

A quick glance at the results shows me that we also had the following members competing at Warwick

James Coy (104th 1:31.32)
Paul Longford (160th 1:36.54)
John Bettles (218th 1:41.30)
Sarah Dichard (273rd 1:45.58)
Kathy Liddell (452nd 1:59.36)
Richard Hartwell (533rd 2:06.52)

For the full results please follow the link below
Dave Wilson, Elaine Ledden and Paula Williams at Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena. I’m assuming Simon Curran was looking for a pair of shorts to wear!
Midlands Counties – City of Birmingham Games.
Report – Paul Williams
4 of the club’s masters athletes turned up at the NIA not feeling feeling nervous about the venue at all. We were just grateful that the top world athletes had warmed up our lanes the day before. 

First up were Elaine Ledden and Paula Williams in the 60m. 9.96s for Ledden who is ranked 5th in the country and 8.60s and an SB for Williams. 

The next events were 10.93m as a season opener for Paula in the shot put in a group with Holly Mills- can’t be bad – and a season’s best of 32.62s for Elaine in the 200m. Slightly faster than her performance in Sheffield and ranking her number 2 for her age group on Power of 10. 

After borrowing a pair of shorts – long story – Simon Curran took to the track and produced a great 60m run. A pb of 8.64s in a rapid heat left him happy and puts him in the top 25 in the M50 60m rankings. 

Unfortunately the “lucky shorts” couldn’t work their magic again as Simon’s legs didn’t keep up with how fast he was going down the bank on the 200m and he crossed the line in 29.50s. He had been in second place on his heat and was heading for a pb. Next time Simon. 

Finally it was David Wilson in the 400m. Dave hadn’t been feeling 100% that morning and it had been a long day – the shorts had been on the track twice already. A fast first lap meant Dave had to really dig in for the final 200m and  his time of 62.11s and a season’s best puts him at number 11 in the country for M50 400m.

London Marathon 

Paul Hawkins

Usually Stratford AC has three entries for the London Marathon and we raffle them amongst club members who have been rejected in the usual entry system. This year the Marathon people have told us that 


“The 2021 event was an extraordinary day. With 35,914 finishers, it was the largest in-person marathon held anywhere in the world last year and, when combined with the virtual event, the biggest marathon ever staged. 

While the atmosphere on the day was fantastic, the reality is that a record number of places were not used and were rolled over to October 2022. This, together with the number of places allocated to 2022 from the cancelled 2020 event, means we must take steps to reduce the number of entries for the 2022 TCS London Marathon so the new maximum capacity of 50,000 finishers is not exceeded.

Accordingly, clubs that already have a runner rolled over from a previous London Marathon will not be offered any additional places”.

We have two runners who have rolled their entries over to October 2022 or April 2023 so we won’t have places to raffle this year but I’m sure there will be plenty of fancy dress runners who can get in. Hopefully we will have some places for the April 2023 race which we can distribute in the usual way. 

Jack Sumners on top of the podium
From Jack –  “We were supposed to practice outside this week but then we got another 15cm of snow” …back indoors then!
Jack Sumners
Report – Paul Bearman
In the depth of winter in the US, Jack Sumners has completed his indoor season on top of the podium by winning his prestigious University Conference 60m hurdles championship. 
American University sport is split into different “Conferences” consisting of around 8-14 different universities. Jack is a student at the University of Northern Iowa and his Conference of 9 universities is called the Missouri Valley because most of the schools fall in that regional area. At the end of indoor and outdoor seasons all the teams in his Conference compete in a competition to see which team emerges as the overall champion University. 
In this year’s championship Jack competed in the 60m hurdles and was second fastest qualifier but in the final he powered his way through the last 40metres to win in 8.06secs. Afterwards Jack reflected “I was hoping to dip under 8 secs but after a poor start I was happy to win and that’s what I came here for”.  
He added ”I’m done with indoors and now I’m going into training to hurdle and jump outdoors and then I’ll be back over to the UK in the summer again and looking forward to getting involved in the club and national competitions”. 
On the first day of outdoor training Jack sent me a picture and said “We were supposed to practice outside this week but then we got another 15cm of snow” …back indoors then!
Left to right: David Teasdale, Max Ross, James Purdy, Suzie Ross, Fern Horden, Hannah Osborne 
David Teasdale
Suzie Ross and James Purdie
Bishampton Duathlon

Report – Hannah Osborne
Sunday saw what I often think of as the opening race in the local Triathlon Calendar.

It’s an early season Duathlon organised by Worcester Tri Club that can see a high quality, small field that is prepared to take on anything the weather and route throws at it.

This Duathlon, formally called (and held in) Peopleton, wasn’t on last year due to Covid. I last did it in 2019 when due to fog there was a delayed start and then the bike leg got cancelled so it was a double run! 

This year it moved to its new location in Bishampton. Entries sold out and the weather was…cold!

There are 2 distances offered at this race. Stratford AC & Triathlon Club had 6 members taking part. 2 in the Short distance and 4 in the Standard. 

Standard Distance : 6km RUN, 28km BIKE, 3km RUN
Short Distance:  3km RUN, 14km BIKE and 3km RUN

We all saw each other before the race started – along with the reindeer based at the site. All wrapped in layers as it was COLD!

Everyone started together at 9am – 1 lap or 2. The run was fairly flat and always a quick start. Next up the bike, a scenic route if undulating with strong winds, avoiding the odd fallen tree and sharp corners (1 or 2 laps). Then into transition and the final run of 1 lap for all.

There were strong performances from all, along with some podium finishes.

For David Teasdale – he had a steady 1st run, coming into transition in 8th place. He’s a strong cyclist and on the bike course reached 3rd but settled into 4th not wanting to attack the hills too hard. Going out onto the last run and he could see 3rd place which he took by the halfway mark, then he knew he just had to hold the place. This he did comfortably and finished 40 secs ahead of 4th. A happy Stratford athlete! 


Short Distance:

James Purdy 53:27  3rd Male 

Suzie Ross 1:00:17  1st Female

Standard Distance:

David Teasdale 1:24:35   3rd Male

Max Ross  1:31:20 

Hannah Osborne  1:38:50

Fern Horden  1:40:58

Thoughts from Suzie Ross on her race “It was a really friendly event and having done zero bike prep, I had no expectations of my performance and even more so when I discovered that the cycle route was aptly described as ‘undulating’, so I was pleasantly surprised that a) my legs felt so good b) I remembered to unclip after my cycle c) I finished 1st lady in the short distance.

I have always been intimidated by the course distance of a standard duathlon so it was great to have the opportunity to have a go at a shorter distance and maybe next time I’ll be brave enough to do the longer format”

Mallory Park Duathlon
Report – John Peacock

This draft legal chip timed event by Race Rapid Mallory was held at Mallory Park on Sunday 6th March.

The Event was also hosting a Qualifier for the British Triathlon GB Age-Group Team in the Sprint race.

A safe, closed road, traffic free race which was great great for spectators as the majority of the course was viewable from the paddock area.

The cycle and run were on the wide circuit on very smooth tarmac. The bike course was flat and non-technical with a short incline and descent on each lap of the bike leg, so plenty of opportunity to go fast on the legendary race circuit.

I competed in this event on Sunday. It was a qualifier for the World Championships in Ibiza next year when I will be a youngster in my age group being just 70!

I was first -just- in my current age group 65-69. My running is quite good but biking not quite so, as I have done very little over the winter.

I found the bike a real struggle as despite being draft legal I had to do the first 6 laps on my own as there was  no one around me.

I managed to pick up a faster guy for the last 3 laps after being lapped which helped a bit. 

Incidentally I’m down to do this year’s Worlds in Romania but I’m not too optimistic as I’m top of age group..
Gone but not forgotten.
Chris Cooper