England Calling.

Alex Adams on his way to earning an England call-up.
Pride of place this week goes to our XC runners who competed in the English Schools XC Championships in Kent at the weekend and many many congratulations to Alex Adams who’s performance on the day earned him a place in the England team at this weekend’s SIAB Cross Country International in Wales. Good luck Alex.

Becks Pridham has sent her report on both her and Louise Stewart’s efforts in the Ashby 20, where they certainly earned their hoody. Well done ladies.

There’s also a couple of half marathon reports with Kim Lee reporting on the Hampton Court half and Mike Barrie on the hilly Hastings half.

Finally, there’s mention of Georgie Campbell completing her first 5000m on the track.

Take care

Best Wishes

David Jones
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Niamh Hillard, Maddie Linfoot, Maisie-Joy Spriggs, Caitlin Boyle and Lucy Thomas.
Alex Pester, Ned Campbell, Josh Dobedoe and Caleb Spriggs.

English Schools Cross Country Championships 2022 

Adams earns England call-up.

Report – Paul Hawkins and David Jones

Big crowds flocked to the Hop Farm near Paddock Wood in Kent on a beautiful sunny day for the English Schools National Cross Country Championships. There were six excellent races featuring some 1900 runners on the flat fields surrounding the tourist spot for the 61st running of the event.

For some of our junior cross country runners this was the climax to a long hard season.

The ESAA National Cross Country Championship is the most eagerly anticipated event of the winter for young athletes and it brings together the best athletes in each of the 46 Counties in England to compete for the honour of being the best in the Country.

This was the return of the championships after a Covid enforced break following the 2020 event in Liverpool. The course was relatively flat compared to some of the recent races, which the athletes enjoyed although the weather was very warm.

Entry to the event is by virtue of athletes being selected by County Team Managers to represent their County

It was a very successful day for the club with 17 members racing, with 14 running for Warwickshire and 3 in the Gloucestershire team. 

The highlight for our contingent was Alex Adams, who is in a rich vein of form. Running for Gloucestershire in the Inter Boy’s race he came 4th out of 325 runners with a time of 19.20 for the 5750 metre race. Alex was just denied a bronze medal by being overtaken in the final few strides, with just 1 second separating the 2nd, 3rd and 4th placed finishers.

Although denied a medal, the bigger prize on offer was selection to represent England in this weekend’s SIAB Cross Country International at Pembrey Country Park in Wales. This he comfortably achieved with his 4th place finish, with the first 8 finishers qualifying to represent their country.

After the race ALEX commented “ It was very hot and very flat which is not meant to be my sort of race but I felt ran it well and I can take plenty of positives from it. I managed to get to the front early and ran at the front for a large part of the race, only to loose out on a medal by mere inches. I felt comfortable until the second lap where I had to really dig deep and pull out a special performance.  The main goal of getting on the England Team was achieved so I’m really happy”

Also competing in the Inter Boys race was Milo Cullimore representing Warwickshire. Milo was a late addition to the team and finished in a time of 22.52.

In the Inter Girls race, run over 3875 metres, the club had 4 of the top  6 Warwickshire finishers. Leading this group, despite her nasty fall in last week’s race that necessitated a visit to A&E was Maisie-Joy Spriggs. M-J was the 2nd finisher for the county and achieved a top 100 place, finishing 93rd with a time of 15.23. She was followed by Niamh Hillard just 5 seconds later in 103rd place, an improvement of over 150 places on her last appearance at these Championships in Liverpool. Maddie Linfoot was next to finish for Warwickshire in 203rd place with a time of 16.10. Olivia Robinson, competing for Gloucestershire, finished with a time of 16.31 and finally Lucy Thomas completed the course in 18.02.

In the 4395m junior boys race, Zak Lambert was 3rd finisher for Warwickshire, finishing in 93rd place with a time of 14.43, he was followed by William Mayes (15.27) and James Day (15.51).

In the Junior Girls race the club had one representative, Martina Grace, who completed the 3190m course as 3rd Warwickshire finisher with a time of 14.19.

The club also had just one runner in the 4395m Senior Girls race. Ellie Deaner ran a time of 17.21 to finish as the 2nd placed Warwickshire runner despite having qualified as only the 7th fastest.

The longest race of the day was the 6995m Senior Boys race with the club having 4 of the top 5 placed Warwickshire runners as well as Taylor Stubbins (276th – 28.58) representing Gloucestershire. Ned Campbell (27.21) and Alex Pester (27.40) have been pretty much inseparable in all of their races together this season, as was the case once again, with a mere 19 seconds separating them. Completing the Stratford contingent were Josh Dobedoe (29.06) and Caleb Spriggs (29.29).

Becks Pridham and Louise Stewart
Ashby 20
Report -Becks Pridham
Ashby 20 is one of those race gems that should be run by everyone at least once. It has been on my list for several years but I have either not managed to get in or felt the 20 miles just that bit too far.

After two years of postponement (last year being a virtual event), the race was back with a vengeance and the atmosphere was buzzing when we rolled up.

Louise Stewart posted the link on Facebook and I signed up immediately, which upon reflection was ambitious thinking given I wasn’t actually able to run at the time for medical reasons.

The race and finishes starts in the Ashby de la Zouch park, with the road route comprising of two loops with plenty of undulations.

The weather was sunny but pretty chilly and both Louise and I were keen to set off bang on 10 o’clock.

Armed with snacks and supplies in our run packs, we set off on our “twenty mile picnic with a run”. Louise has several ultras under her belt, so she was instrumental in guiding me around and stopping me running off at a mad pace. The miles ticked by and we chatted about nonsense, snacked, had plenty of water stops (they have regular water stations around the course), heading through the villages around Ashby. 

I felt strong to 16 miles, then started to feel the race in my legs and by 18 miles I discovered that tenths of a mile seem to go by too slowly. Louise was ace in her support “the tortoise won the race, remember” and I was barely able to do more than grunt out some agreement.

With some careful encouragement and sensible pacing, I was delighted when we crossed the line in 3:53. Hardly a record breaking time, but we always said that it was a training run, involving food, with someone giving us a hoodie at the end!

Louise commented “I was a little nervous about this as I’d had to change to the short course at Belvoir a couple of weeks ago and I knew I needed to get a decent long run in before A Coventry Way.

As Becks says there was a great vibe, the course was great, with amazing marshals and locals all the way round. The weather was lovely, and it was good to be able to bob along chatting as the miles ticked away.

It was brilliant to be able to count down the last few miles as we knew the end (and the hoodie) was in sight. Thanks to Becks for the company and distracting me from my terrible blisters! ” 

The course record was broken by 12 minutes by Ian Allen of Spa Striders in 1:44.29, who went past us when we were still on lap one like an elegant gazelle.

Ashby is one of those races which is organised by the local running club (Ivanhoe Runners) with the help of local volunteers, including Scouts, Search and Rescue and the local Rotary club. Marshals are plentiful and enthusiastic supporters, complimenting the local residents of Ashby and the villages who come out to cheer on the 1300 competitors. It is one of the best organised and well supported races I have been to, and one which I highly recommend.
Kim Lee and children in regal setting.
Kim Lee, Carl James and bling.

Hampton Court Palace Half Marathon

20th March 2022

Report – Kim Lee

What a race! After the gruelling hilly 10k Winter Series Races, this was my opportunity for a flat half marathon to improve on my 1hr 56min PB.

Carl James also took part for his first race of 2022, aiming for a 1hr 45 finish as a steady run to kick-start the season.  Throwing in the perfect excuse of the hardship of having recently returned from 2 back-to back ski holidays – apparently they play havoc with your training.

Meanwhile, I had caught covid just 2 weeks earlier and my Garmin coach training app stated “no confidence” on my aim to hit 1hr 46min.

So that was all the excuses out of the way, as we definitely couldn’t blame the weather for any poor performance. It was simply stunning running conditions, in a very regal setting.

Setting off in waves, Carl flew out of starting block in wave 1. Meanwhile I set off 5 minutes later, badly positioned at the back of wave 2 – blame the ladies loo queue!

The route took us along the Thames up to Kingston on Thames, over the bridge and back down the river, with a loop of the palace grounds to finish.  I confidently picked my way through the crowds, imagining it was a popular run route for Henry VIII and his many wives, back when he was in residence.

The first 11 miles were a delight. The turn into the palace grounds for the final 2 miles was not.  Put simply, a cross-country trek that seemed never-ending.

The crowds and support in the palace grounds were amazing. Carl appeared in the crowds just at the right time, spurring me on to the finish.

My finish time of 1hr 45 mins was simply unbelievable for me.

Carl came to find me straight away at the finish, where I was actually stood by the medal engraving tent. Totally in shock at my time and wanting to capture the moment, as I couldn’t imagine ever running that quick over a half marathon.  Quick for me anyway!

Carl also had a fantastic race, finishing in 1hr 43. He had support from his brother and nephews on the route. Comparing notes at the end, we both agreed it was a great race to repeat in the future.

Mike Barrie.

Hastings Half Marathon

 Report – Mike Barrie

In the depths of winter I needed something to spur me on with my training and so I entered the Hastings half marathon.  Why Hastings? My daughter was moving to Hastings, so a weekend getting to know the town better seemed a good idea. 


Like Rome, Hastings is built on hills. The half marathon course goes up most of them – 1,061 feet of ascent. It apparently has a reputation as one of the tougher half marathon courses. It’s just as well I didn’t know that in advance! It can also be wet and windy in March and they’ve also had snow some years. We were lucky this year and the day dawned with spring sunshine and a gentle breeze – ideal running weather. 


My strategy was to stick with the 120 minute pace runner and push a bit harder at the end to try and get under my target two hour mark.

I spoke to her beforehand to see how she was planning to take the hills and she reassured me that she was going to go slower up the hills and make up time on the downhills. So off we set, all went well for the first few miles until we came to the start of the seriously hilly section – 5 miles almost all uphill. It was soon apparent that her idea of ‘slowly up the hills’ was a bit different to mine  and she gradually pulled away. I’ll catch up on the downhill, I thought.

Just after mile 8 we started the downhill and she was a minute or two ahead but still in sight. Gradually I caught up and by the time we got back to sea level I was right behind her again but then came a long two miles of flat along the sea front and by now I was seriously tired. I kept up for a while but couldn’t keep up with the pace and finished just over the 2 hour mark. 


I’m actually really pleased with that time on a difficult course. I know I couldn’t have gone any faster and it gives me a good reason to try again in the Stratford Half Marathon in a few weeks time! 


About 10 days before the race I decided to ask family and friends to sponsor me in aid of the DEC Ukraine appeal and the best result of all was that this raised £920 for Ukrainian refugees. So I want to say a big “Thank you” to all of you kind people who contributed!

Georgie Campbell ran her first track 5000m at the weekend in a time of 18.01.22, which ranks her 10th her age group in the current UK rankings. After the race she commented “It was my first 5k on the track. I was put in a quick race and ended up going off a bit too quickly at the start and whilst my time wasn’t as fast as I wanted, it was a good experience and has made me excited for the track season”
And Finally
More photos from the English Schools Cross Country Championships.
Ready for the off. Maisie-Joy raring to go.
Niamh Hillard
Maddie Linfoot
Lucy Thomas
Martina Grace (right) with Warwickshire team mate Olivia McGhee from Rugby and Northampton.
Ellie Deaner
Zak Lambert
James Day
William Mayes
Milo Cullimore
Ned Campbell
Alex Pester
Taylor Stubbins
Taylor is going to need some new XC spikes for next season!
Maisie-Joy chillin’