A&E anyone ?

Charly Marshall
First of all this week we have details of a celebration Christine Cooper’s life on 24th March.

They say variety is the spice of life. This certainly applies to this week’s newsletter.

There is a report from the Inter County Cross Country Championships together with Maisie-Joy Spriggs’ story of her race, a race that resulted in her ending up at A&E. However, despite having been badly spiked she still got up, dusted herself down and finished the race, finishing in a position that she would have been happy with without her nasty accident.

Three of our masters athletes helped Midland Masters triumph in the England Masters Inter Area Championships at Lee Valley Stadium. 

We have a couple of reports on the annual Teddy Hall Relays in Oxford with a record number of teams from the club competing.

There’s an article on the upcoming Commonwealth Games, with details of club members who will be helping out.

There are notices on the club’s search for someone to help out on  social media and also details of the Warwickshire T&F Championships in May.

We have the results of Wednesday’s Shakespeare Mile Race and a report on Tim Hutchinson’s 4x4x48. No, that’s not his car!

We round off with lots more photos from the XC and Teddy Hall Relays.

Good luck to those of you competing in the English Schools XC Championships in Kent at the weekend, indeed good luck to any of you competing anywhere.

Take care

Best  Wishes

David Jones
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Christine Cooper

A celebration of Christine’s life will take place at St Andrew’s Church, Shottery, on 24th March at 12.30.

Family flowers only but donations can be made, if wished, to Cancer Research UK and may be left at the church or c/o A E Bennett & Sons, 34 Sheep Street, Stratford upon Avon. 

The burial, for immediate family and close friends only, will be afterwards at Sun Rising Natural Burial Ground, Lower Tysoe.

Refreshments will be at St Andrew’s immediately after the service.
Marijke Tear-Verweij

Inter Counties Cross Country at Prestwold Hall, Loughborough

Report by Paul Hawkins

The long cross country season is now drawing to a close and one of the traditional highlights is the Inter Counties Championships where county teams from throughout the United Kingdom compete over all the age groups from under 13 to senior, with eight athletes selected in each age group/gender county team.

This is the highest quality domestic event of the season so it was that after a successful season we had twelve runners in the Warwickshire team, spread across seven of the races which is our best ever.

The course was run in reverse to previous times which meant that after a short rise to the commentary box, it was a very fast downhill to the gap in the trees which caused a bottleneck and forced the rear half of the larger fields to a walk or come to a standstill. The start line was narrow and quite disorganised compared to previous years which proved to be dangerous with a lot of fallers. The approach to the finish also looped around flat if not slightly downhill ground.

Fortunately, the weather was dry if a little windy and the conditions underfoot were generally firmer than in recent years, but the far side of the course was very heavy going and numerous athletes were returning minus one or both shoes.

The leading Stratford athlete was Under 17 Charly Marshall who ran her usual well paced race to be first counter for Warwickshire in 52nd place overall in 22.32, a big improvement on her last Inter Counties race. Olivia Robinson (179th, 24.59) also improved well after a difficult build up to the race due to Covid. 

Next up were Maisie-Joy Spriggs and Niamh Hillard in the Under 15 girls race who both had tough races. Maisie-Joy found herself spiked on her way to the start line but worse was to come. About 50 metres in she was knocked over on top of another girl and as she lay on the ground somebody ran over her arm and cut it badly but she bravely got up and carried on running. She knew the arm was bad and could barely move it so she kept running and overtaking more and more people. Once she finished she had to go straight to the first aid tent as her arm was dripping with blood and her arm was glued together. Before the race Spriggs had said she would be happy with a top 100 finish and that was without injuries but after hurting her arm she still finished in 93rd out of 297 finishers in a time of 17.30. Hillard was close behind in 121st (17.48) and said It was great to be representing Warwickshire again in the beautiful sunshine at Prestwold Hall.  

“The start was very fast and narrow. Once through the gates the race opened out to reveal a winding tough hilly course, where the weekly Sunday Welcombe Hills cross country training sessions with Tim Hutchinson came in handy. The short twisting hill down into the finish made for an exciting sprint race to the line. I am looking forward to improving again next weekend in Kent.” The under 15 girls had Warwickshire’s best team result of the day coming 11th.

Alex Adams in the Under 17 men had a quiet day by his standards finishing 103rd in 25.04 whilst Taylor Stubbins was delighted to gain his first County vest in 217th (27.49) after returning from injury and illness. 

Before that, the first Stratford runners were the under 20 men Ned Campbell (136th 34.14) and Alex Pester (141, 34.42) who have battled each other all season pushing each other on to some very good results and they will be looking forward to a shorter race next week in the English schools. Campbell commented “I was very pleased with my performance, on a tough course and in a quick race I’m really happy with my first under 20s inter counties performance.”

The two under 13 races featured three of Stratford’s rising stars; in the boys Aran Cooper (155, 13.20) and Joel Ledgard (217, 13.47) whilst Marijke Tear-Verweij was probably the smallest in her race and certainly one of the youngest so was pleased to finish mid pack. 

Finally under 20 Georgie Campbell was racing in the Senior Women’s race and came a strong third for the county in 100th 36.18. At the finish she commented “Not my best race this season, I went off too quick and then felt like I was going backwards for the rest of the race but at least I’ll have something to improve upon for next year. The course was also longer than 8k!”. Campbell moves on to race at 5000m on the track next before going on a altitude training camp. 

The final cross country event of the season is next week with the English Schools Champs at Hop Farm in Kent where many of the team will be running again.

Ouch! Maisie-Joy being treated for her wounds.
In Her Own Words

In his report above Paul alluded to Maisie-Joy Spriggs’ upsetting and painful experience in her race. Here, in her own words, she explains exactly what happened.
Maisie-Joy Spriggs

My race was very different to the other races I have done. First of all as I ran to get on the start line someone’s spike caught my ankle and it started to bleed, which I thought was bad until the race actually started.

After about 50 metres I got knocked over on top of another girl; as I lay on the ground somebody ran over my arm and it hurt really badly but I have never not finished a cross country race so I got up and carried on running.

I knew I had a cut on my arm as it stung and I could barely move it although I could only see one scratch but I could tell that I was very close to the back of the crowd so I kept running and overtaking more and more people.

Nobody mentioned how bad my arm actually was but once I finished my dad came over and got me to go straight to the first aid tent as my arm was dripping with blood (the first aid tent had no idea what they were doing and only made my arm worse).

Before the race I said I would be happy with a top 100 finish and that was without injuries but after hurting my arm I still finished in 93rd out of 297 finishers in a time of 17.30.
My finger was also trodden on and this has all cleared up now and having visited minor injuries on Sunday, they told me that the cuts were infected so they removed as much of the glue as possible and put some iodine pads on and it’s been re bandaged. It has stopped bleeding and is starting to heal but because it got so inflamed it’s very sensitive to touch.

I’m going back Thursday so they can check that it’s all still okay.
The doctor said my cuts looked like I had been attacked by a velociraptor!
Mark Illingworth, Paula Williams and Elaine Ledden.
The victorious Midland Masters Team.
England Masters indoor Inter Area Challenge.

Lee Valley

Report – Paula Williams & David Jones

Three of our masters athletes were part of the Midlands Masters team that competed at the England Masters indoor Inter Area Challenge on Sunday at Lee Valley Stadium.
Mark Illingworth, Elaine Ledden and Paula Williams were selected as part of the team to compete against the other 7 regions of England.
Elaine competed in the 60m (9.77), 400m (77.86) and the 4x200m relay. She aced her 60m (9,77) gaining a PB in the process. Elaine currently has a UK ranking of 2nd in both 200 & 400m for her age group. She is also ranked 8th in 60m.
Mark, originally down to compete in his age group shot put ended up throwing a shot over 2kgs heavier as he dropped down 3 age groups to help the team out, throwing a PB of 9.56m. He also saved the day by running a leg of the relay as the team were one man down.
Paula competed in the 60m hurdles (9.89), 60m (8.60), shot put (11.27m), triple jump (9.48m) and then finished with the relay. In all cases she dropped down to the W35 age group.

Paula currently has 5 top 3 UK rankings, in 60m – 2nd, 60m hurdles – 2nd, triple jump – 3rd and in both javelin and shot put she tops the rankings, she was also joint women’s captain for the event.
Another member of SAC who was selected but unfortunately couldn’t make it due to illness was Dave Wilson.

Midland Masters retained all three trophies:
Men’s, women’s and overall winners. The outdoor Inter Area Challenge will be held in the summer.
Club members at The Teddy Hall Relays in Oxford.

The Teddy Hall Relays

Ready Teddy Go…

Report – Phil Marshall

The Teddy Hall Relays (THR) have been an Oxford University tradition for over 60 years. University teams, faculty teams, the RAF, other universities, groups of friends with names such as “A Running joke” and  “Legs Miserables”,  along with local and invited Athletic clubs all make their way to the world famous Iffley Road track on a sunny Wednesday afternoon in March each year.

Iffley Road has it’s place in history as the scene of a momentous event, not only in Athletics but in the world of sport, the achievement of something that commentators and runners alike regarded as beyond human endurance, on 6th of May 1954 Roger Bannister clocked 3mins 59.4s to achieve the first sub-4 minute mile!

The race is very simple, each team runs 4 legs of 4.35 miles each. The route starts with 200mts around the famous track, then goes South down a lane to Donnington Bridge where the runners cross the river and run North up the gravel tow path alongside the River Thames, past the College Boat houses and back into the centre of Oxford. A flight of steps leads up to Christ Church meadow, with a wonderful view of Christ Church College on the left (if you had time to look) A full circuit of Christ Church Meadow is then completed before exiting onto High Street, to make the return back to Iffley road to complete the leg on the other half of the track.

SAC has sent teams down to race in the THR every year since 2006. Sometimes just 2 teams, but this year a record 6 SAC teams competed, a number only equalled by the RAF.

Our runners were divided into 1 Men’s, 1 Open and 4 Ladies team but as on the day we had 22 runners, 2 rather quick gentleman (Seth Turner & Richard Dobedoe) were asked if they minded demonstrating their athletic prowess twice to make up full teams.

Quickest leg of the day went to Seth Turner in 27m15s, closely followed by Max Ross in 27m37s, Richard Dobedoe in 28m18s and Rachel Pearce in 28m30s, all outstanding times on a course comprising gravel tow path, streets full of pedestrians and many sharp bends.

The Men’s race was won by Oxford City, with 2 members of the team completing the 4.35 miles in a touch over 5 minutes per mile, which even a fast club runner might consider inconceivable. The RAF came in second, but the fastest time of the day went to a Rhodes scholar in just 0.8 seconds/mile over 5 minute miling!

The SAC Mens team achieved an outstanding result finishing 22nd out of the 49 teams entered, with an improbable tie between Seth on his 2nd run and Richard Dobedoe in 28:18 each!

The SAC Open team were represented by Mike Barrie, Allan Coldicott , Rosie Slocombe and with a second run from Richard Dobedoe came in a creditable 47th team.

A total of 16 Ladies made up SAC’s 4 Ladies teams, who achieved 6th, 12th, 14th and 15th in the Ladies’ team event.

Fastest time of the day went to Rachel Pearce in 28m30s, with Sophie Dobedoe second in 33m01s and excellent results from the other team members.

The Teddy Hall relays as usual provided a fun filled afternoon of running, team spirit and general merriment, aided by Birthday celebrations for Emily Adams and Kate Sergeant!

The full results are at  https://www.racetecresults.com/results.aspx?CId=16418&RId=754&EId=1     and the Team lists are below 

Snail’s Pace

Report – Jan Turner 

First of all, I am not reporting on all the results at the Teddy Hall Relays. I just want to give you a ‘snails eye view’ 

Phil Marshall kindly and cheerfully organised for 22 members of the club to go to these relays in Oxford. 

There is a little Wednesday evening social run group who communicate via a ‘snails’ WhatsApp. We are the ones many of you overtake in various part of Stratford, often giving encouraging words as you fly by. We are not quick but we really enjoy our Wednesday runs.

So eight of us decided to go to the Teddy Halls alongside the other SAC members who are more experienced and faster runners.

Well, we didn’t win and certainly didn’t expect to but we had a whale (or a snail!) of a time.

Just imagine the thrill of being cheered as you ran out of the stadium where Roger Bannister ran the first 4-minute mile. Then an absolutely beautiful 4 mile (and a bit) run through Oxford, along the river and into the college grounds AND as a bonus you are cheered back in as well! 

There was a lovely friendly day out/picnic atmosphere. This was particularly enhanced by Emily’s birthday celebrations. Thank you so much to Emily and Cindy. The chocolate cake and cup of tea at the end was wonderful. I really appreciated everyone waiting for me, the last snail and runner by a mile (literally). We were all scared at the beginning and buzzing by the end. A definite repeat performance for next year.

PS: the snails are most definitely not an exclusive group, do join us on Wednesdays for social slithering.

The full results are at :https://www.racetecresults.com/results.aspx?CId=16418&RId=754&EId=1    

The Team lists are shown below 

Michael Lane with Jessica Ennis-Hill at the London Olympic Games. The gold medal is Jessica’s I believe!

The Commonwealth Games 

Paul Bearman

In 2002 prior to the Manchester Commonwealth Games, I was nominated to carry the baton and I was allocated a spot in Evesham along with Allan Coldicott, disappointingly not even in our home town where we could have been cheered and had ticker tape or rose petals thrown at us!

Resplendent in my rather fetching snug white top with yellow and Cadbury purple (they sponsored the Games) stripes and lycra knee length running shorts I ran….OK trotted…. a full 100 metres urged on by my wife to not fall over with the exertion before handing the baton over to a very excitable lady…and that was it.

So not my finest athletic achievement and as much as it was frankly an underwhelming occasion it was nevertheless a proud moment in time.

20 years on I’ve had several invitations to be a member of the Birmingham 2022 Batonbearer Team for the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay but for various reasons I’ve declined and it’s not just thought of donning a some lycra again….others can enjoy the opportunity.

However, the excellent news is that SUAAC is going to have at least 3 representatives as volunteers at the Games.

Michael Lane was for umpteen years the Under 15 Age Group Leader and is still involved as an official. He is a 2012 London Olympics volunteer veteran ….as was Tony Jackson…. and he played a key role behind the scenes at the London Stadium. We received frequent pictures of him with everyone from, Usain, Mo and Jessica Ennis-Hill straight after being presented with her gold medal. 

10 years on and Michael has been selected to be an Athlete Services Team member based at the Commonwealth Games Alexander Stadium in a similar role to the one he was involved with in London….experience counts.. 

As an Athlete Services Team Member, he will assist in accommodating the requirements of athletes and team officials at various stages of Birmingham 2022 Athletics events and some of his duties will involve coordinating athletes and coaches within the venue, ensuring that athlete areas remain private and following guidelines such as escalating issues upward appropriately. 

Emma Sparrow has three of her children in the juniors and coaches in the U11s and is a Level 2 Track Official 

Emma has been offered a role in the Medal Ceremony Team based at Alexander Stadium.

As a Medal Ceremonies Team Member, she will have the privilege of being an integral part in the prestigious medal ceremonies helping with the successful and smooth delivery of the presentations.


Social Media Executive

Louise Stewart

In a nutshell

Stratford Athletics Club (SAC) is looking for a new social media whiz to help it support its growing membership base.

If that’s you, hello!

You: Ideally, you’re a keen athlete who is looking for an opportunity to kickstart your career in media. You’ll also have an excellent grasp of social media platforms and creating content – on your own social profiles or for another organisation. You have  a few hours a week spare to help us organise, write and post social content. These hours are flexible, you’d be remote-working and this role can be done in tandem with education or other work.

Us: In return, you will receive ongoing mentorship from a senior member of the club with more than 15 years’ experience in marketing and social media. This will include training in use of social platforms, coaching in copywriting and career advice. You’ll enjoy free membership for the club and parking worth £120/year for the duration of your post.

A bit more about the role

SAC has Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages which provide invaluable information to both current members and those seeking to join us but these pages need a little TLC and regular content posted.

We need to ensure that we represent all activities taking place in all sections of the club, from junior and senior track and field to senior Wednesday socials to the triathlon section etc. 

You would be a crucial part in the efforts made to encourage our members to share pictures and words with the club about what they’ve been up to and instrumental in compiling and sharing of this content in a timely manner.

Interested or know someone who might be?

If you’d like to know more please contact, me, Louise Stewart at:


Louise Stewart 

The Warwickshire Country Track and Field Championships.

The Warwickshire County track and field championships is the event…..apart from the Club Champs ….. where we hope to have all our athletes involved and yes everyone is eligible. 

We hope to retain the Warwickshire Vase but it means we need everyone’s support.

This is the earliest “date in the diary” alert we’ve had for the Champs so please see below and you can enter now. 

If you need any help with the choice of events please ask any of the coaching team 

Paul Bearman 


These championships will be held over the weekend of 14th/15th May 2022 at the Pingles Stadium, Nuneaton.

We will be taking entries through Entry4Sports once again. Many of you are already registered with that system and so your entries should be very straightforward. Use the filter at the top of the home page to find event number 321. I am pleased to say that, once again, we have managed to hold prices at the same level as last year.

The timetable is very similar to previous years but a couple of events have swopped from Saturday to Sunday and vice versa and we have reinserted the events that we took out last year to reduce the possible impact of Covid.

The County web site and Facebook pages will be updated soon but in the meantime I have attached a DRAFT timetable. The eventual timetable will be much more detailed so the draft is purely to indicate roughly when your events will be and you will have to check again nearer the date for more accurate information.

Please circulate to your track and field athletes.

Ray Morgan 


 This is a DRAFT timetable. The final timetable WILL be different

Saturday Track 

11.00 All Sprint hurdles
Males 800m 

12.00 Males 100m
Quadkids Boys (4 events start here) 

13.30 Males 300m and 400m 

14.00 Male and female 3000m
15.00 Females 200m
16.00 Females 1500m 

Sunday Track 

11.00 Male and Female 300m Hurdles, 400m Hurdles 

12.00 Females 100m
Quadkids girls (4 events start here) 

13.00 Race Walks all age groups
Females 800m 

13.30 Females 300m/400m
14.00 Male and female steeplechases 

15.00 Males 200m
16.00 Males 1500m 

Saturday Field 

11.00 Pole Vault (All)
Females Hammer throw 
Females Triple Jump

12.00 U13/U15 females High Jump 

13.00 Females Discus
U17/U20/Sen females High Jump 

14.00 U13 males Long Jump
All males Shot Put 

15.00 U13/U15 males Javelin
U15 males Long Jump 

16.00 U17/U20/Sen males javelin
U17/U20/Sen males Long Jump 

Sunday Field 

11.00 Males Hammer throw
Males Triple Jump 

12.00 U13/U15 males High Jump 

13.00 Males Discus
U17/U20/Sen males High Jump 

14.00 U13 females Long Jump
U17/U20/Sen females Shot Put 

15.00 U13/U15 females Javelin
U15 females Long Jump 

16.00 U17/U20/Sen females javelin
U13/U15 females Shot Put
U17/U20/Sen females Long Jump 

March Shakespeare Race.

The Shakespeare Mile Race

The first ever actual Shakespeare Mile Race took place on Wednesday night at the track in wet and miserable conditions.

The race was won by Ben Kruze in 4.42 and the first female finisher, in 10th place overall, was Jess Sheppard with a time of 5.29.

A very quick glance at the club records shows that a plethora of club mile record were broken, with Male open, senior, 35, and 45, along with Female open and 50 having gone. I’m sure there were more.

A special note of interest was the appearance of 10 year old Toby Spriggs finishing in a very impressive time of 6.45, just 15 seconds behind his mom and 34 seconds behind his dad. He wasn’t going to let his sister have all the headlines this week now was he?

For full results please follow the link below:

Tim Hutchinson ready for the off.
Tim with ex club member Matt Sims just a mile from finishing. And still they smile.

Annual 4x4x48 

Report – Tim Hutchinson

The 4x4x48 challenge was the idea of David Goggins, an American ultramarathon runner, ultra-distance cyclist, triathlete, public speaker, and author.

He is a retired United States Navy SEAL and former United States Air Force Tactical Air Control Party member who served in the Iraq War. It was conceived as a non-competitive virtual event that can be used to gain sponsorship for whatever charity you like, meaning you can do it wherever you are in the world. 

So what do you have to do? It’s simple really, Run 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours. This is the third year of it running but only my second year of taking part, I completed both times with ex club member Matt Sims. Running with someone else helps enormously as you have the added commitment of meeting up at the set time. We chose to start at 4pm on the Friday as it makes the last run at midday on Sunday, giving time for a chilled afternoon of eating.

Conveniently Matt and I both live a mile away from the end of the tramway bridge, so at the top of every fourth hour we’d set out from home to meet give at the same spot within a minute of each other. We then ran two laps of the rec and then, often mid conversation, head back home to then finish the conversation 3 and a half hours later! 

Starting at 4pm the cycle then began, run eat, change clothes repeat….. 8pm, midnight, 4 am, 8am, midday.

Often people say “ooh the 4am must be really hard but to be honest I find the 8am harder having had two lots of 2 hours broken sleep. The great thing about the 4am run is it’s so nice and quiet!

This year as my son Fin was home so I decided to run parkrun with him as an extra run after the 8am and then as he wanted to XC train on the Sunday I went up on the hills with the junior XC groups to help coach. Some might say I’m obsessed………

In total it was a 60 mile weekend and a 90 mile week, the highest totals I’ve ever run. 

It was a great weekend of running and a good catch up with Matt as we hadn’t run together since Escape from Meriden.

I think I’m still trying to catch up on sleep now although physically back to normal.

If you fancy the idea and you live a mile away from the tramway bridge we’ll probably be there doing the same again next March!

And Finally

More photos from the weekend’s XC and last week’s Teddy Hall Relays
Niamh Hillard and Maisie-Joy Spriggs
Joel Ledgard and Alex Pester.
Ned Campbell
Alex Adams and Taylor Stubbins
Olivia Robinson and Georgie Campbell
And they’re off.
Susan Hunt and Richard Dobedoe
Seth Turner and Mike Barrie
Rachel Pearce
Lisa Lambourne and Jan Turner
Max Ross and Sandy Owens
Sally Bliss
Miranda Maloney and Lindsay Anderson
Maddie Carter
Last but not least, birthday girl Emily Adams