The Big One!

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers (and a couple of sisters!) just before the start.
And they’re off.
This week’s newsletter is dominated by last Sunday’s Stratford full and half marathons, one of the biggies in the local racing calendar with close to 40 of our members competing, many of who returned outstanding performances.

It was also the Southam Triathlon with 2 of our juniors and 3 seniors competing.

We have a notice from Amy Rowe about the return of the much missed Saturday morning trail runs.

Finally, Wednesday evening saw the return of the Vets T&F league with our team out in force on a bitterly cold night in Redditch. Hopefully we’ll have a report in next week’s newsletter.

Enjoy the rest of your week.

Take care.

Best Wishes.

David Jones.
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First Stratford finisher Matt Burdus-Cook being shadowed by Dan Southam our second finisher.
Emily Orton our first lady finisher.

Stratford Full and Half Marathon.

Report – Sarah Dichard and David Jones

What better day to participate in the Shakespeare half and full marathons than on Shakespeare’s 485th birthday? 

Over 1500 runners turned up on a very windy Sunday morning to run through the beautiful Warwickshire countryside to then be handed a medal designed by a 12 year-old competition winner, a competition that was run by the Stratford Herald and Stratford Rotary club.

This was a mainly flat, fast course, with one lap completed by the half runners and two laps for the full marathon, with competitors running in to a strong wind along the Greenway.

What an epic turnout from Stratford-upon-Avon Athletics Club with close to 40 members participating across both competitions.

Our two entrants in the full marathon, both of who had decided it would be a good idea to turn left at the end of the Greenway and do the whole thing all over again were Phil Reading, finishing with a very impressive 3:05.39 landing in 16th place and Stuart Griffiths with a great time of 4:30.14.

The full marathon was won by William Lunn-Pigula in 2:39.04 and the first lady to finish in 34th place was Jennifer Charlton in 3:18.44

The first Stratford AC member to cross the finish line in the half and in eighth place overall, was Matt Burdus-Cook with a remarkable 1:17.15 followed closely by Dan Southam in 1:19.35 and 13th place.  Dan was recovering from running the Manchester marathon earlier in the month and just a couple of weeks before he attempts 4 marathons in 4 days on the treadmill raising funds for the NHS .

Hot on Dan’s heels was U20 Alex Pester in 16th place with a hugely impressive and mature run of 1:20:31. Alex was competing in his first half marathon following a successful XC season.

Not far behind were Tim Hutchinson (28th) and Adrian Mason (31st), with only 28 seconds between them at 1:24.22 and 1:24.50 respectively. Tim beat his time at last year’s Kenilworth half, winning his age category in the process.

They were followed by David Smythe (69th), who’s time of 1:31.28 was his quickest half marathon for 5 years. Next was Peter Sugden (74th) who rolled back the years by recording a time of 1:32.09, a 3 minute improvement on his previous PB set in 2019.

We then had the 2nd of our U20s to complete the course Fin Hutchinson (79th). Fin had set himself the ambitious target of 1:35 for his first half but he easily surpassed this by recording a time of 1:32.51.

 Next to finish were a couple of Nicks! Nick Campbell (88th) recorded a 3 minute PB with a time of 1:34.06, this despite carrying an injury over the preceding couple of weeks. Nick Cooper (91st) finished in a time of 1:34.41.

Well done to new member Rob Gisbourne, who finished in  97th place with a time of 1:35:04.

The first female Stratford AC member to finish was Emily Orton (103rd) with an impressive 1:35.01. Emily finished with a new PB, a full 29 minutes quicker than her run in the GNR in 2018. She was the 9th woman out of 520 female runners to finish.

Next were Robin Langhorn (1:38.37 ), John Bettles (1:39.02) and Dan Hutchins(1:39.15) .Ben Phyall’s time of 1:37.08 was 11 minutes quicker than his time at last year’s Compton Verney half. Running in his first half since 2014 and 13 minutes quicker than that race was Jamie Chorley with a time of 1:40.40.

John Devine (1:41.09) and Graham Hill (1:41.44) were followed by Hannah Osborne who was our second female member to cross the finish line at 1:42:45, a course PB. 

Damian Wheeler was overjoyed with his time of 1:42.37, an almost 11 minute improvement on his previous best time for this distance, recorded in the 2015 GNR

Our next ladies to finish were Bronwen Mansel in 1:51.13 and Julia Brookes in 1:55.39. 

 Neil Robertson’s time of 1:59.00 was his quickest time since 2012 and a full 28 minutes quicker than last year’s Compton Verney and dipping under the 2 hour mark, with a time of 1:59.22 was Mike Barrie, he was followed by Stuart Evans (2:03.47)

Lisa Lambourn finished in 2:07.48 and Clare Eynon’s time of 2:08.59 was 13 minutes quicker than last year’s Compton Verney time. She was followed by 6 more of our ladies. The first of these was Anne Rushton with 2:08.59, followed by Kate Sergent (2:15.34). Kate also wonn her age category and she will be running in the Belfast marathon this coming weekend. Good luck Kate.

Emma Lee (2:16.25) was followed by Jane Fradgley who ran a PB of 2:18.37, 2 minutes quicker than her last Stratford half in 2014. Lara Bakewell (2:18.31) was followed by the indefatigable Allan Coldicott in 2:27.29. Allan tells me that the first time he ran this race he finished in 29th place! I think the sweep in that race was probably a horse and cart!  Sorry Allan.

Rosie Slocombe recorded a stunning 34 minute PB, her time of 2:44.17 bettered her 2018 GNR by this huge margin. That’s over a 2 min 30 per mile improvement.

John Butler rounded off the Stratford contingent with a time of 2:59.32 in what has been an extremely busy month from a racing perspective for John

The race was won by Orlando Corea with a time of 1:12.30 and the first lady finisher, sporting an RAF vest was Chloe Richardson in 1:20.01

A massive well done to all those that took part, those that cheered on their loved ones and  those that helped to marshal.


Thoughts on the Stratford Half Marathon
Matt Burdus-Cook

It was really motivating to be running with such large SAC contingent and I had also forgotten the sheer volume of support that you get along the route when you are in the “home vest” at the Shakespeare Half Marathon.

Once I had got over my initial nervousness around the starting section of the route being different to previous years I settled into a comfortable pace knowing that there would be headwind and work to do from mile 9 onwards. This was indeed the case and the final third of the race, particularly the Greenway was tough, so I was pleased when I found myself with enough energy to speed up and gain a couple of places over the final mile.

Anyone battling down the Greenway on Sunday thoroughly deserved the medal (even if it does look like Shakespeare is naked), and I simply don’t know how the full distance runners do it! A very inspiring day.

Alex Pester

I was looking forward to my first half marathon race. At the start I settled into a comfortable pace, which I maintained, starting to work my way up the field from the hill out of Welford and down the Greenway. The last couple of kilometres were tough as the wind picked up and I was on my own. I am delighted with my time and placing.

Tim Hutchinson

Not far from the plan

Great running with Ade

Worked well having good company

Wind was pretty unpleasant but could have been worse

Chuffed with a age cat win

Super proud to be running the same race as Fin for his first half marathon. He absolutely smashed it .

Fin Hutchinson

This was my first half marathon so a completely new experience. I felt positive going into the race having worked hard and consistently with my training and staying injury free. I had lots of advice about sticking to my planned pace to reach my target time of 1.35 so knew what I had to do.

The atmosphere around the course was brilliant with lots of familiar faces cheering me on. The wind down the Greenway was not pleasant but came as no surprise.

I was very happy to come in under my target time at 1.32.51. My legs were feeling it on the walk home and I’d still got a 3.5 hour car journey back to university !!

A huge thank you to my dad for all his help and advice and encouragement over the past months.

Hannah Osborne

Having not raced a road half marathon since 2014 and struggling badly with nerves for big events I was apprehensive ahead of Sundays run.

Seeing so many club friends in the town running and supporting was a great distraction and they offered the best support and encouragement on the course. I got round the last 3 miles with the wind and Greenway hurting but awesome to finish with so many cheers from my daughter and club friends.

Pete Sugden

I set out with aim of finishing under 1 hour 35 mins, having finished just outside this time in 2019.

I ditched my controlled 7:12 min/mile plan while making the modified tour of Stratford centre and cheered on by the amazing support. Instead I adopted the too often used and rarely successful tactic of setting out too fast then hanging on for the latter stages of the race.

Needless to say the two and bit miles of the Greenway into the teeth of the stiff NE breeze, with tired legs and a threatening stich were an ordeal. For once, however, a good pace for the first 7-8 miles paid off and I finished in 1:32:09, beating my previous best time for the course and my Half Marathon PB by 3 minutes.

I’m chuffed to bits with the time. I think for my next race, though, I might stick to the plan.

Josh Harrison
Vicky Sharpe with David Teasdale and James Purdy
Southam Triathlon
Report – Richard Harrison and Vicky Sharpe
On Sunday 5 eager Stratford Triathletes  – juniors Josh Harrison and Eleanor Hudson, together with seniors David Teasdale, James Purdy and Vicky Sharpe –  took part in Southam’s Spring sprint triathlon and made a very good show for the club.

For the juniors Josh Harrison competed in the TS3 category for 13 and 14 year olds. The race distance for his age group was  300m swim, 4k Bike and 3k run. He finished 3rd in a time of 35 mins just 5 seconds behind 2nd place. His swim was 2nd fastest in the race and his run was the fastest by just under 1 minute (54 seconds).

It was Josh’s first race of the season and his first since his MCL injury last October. His result was just reward for the mature, disciplined and patient way he has coped with his ligament injury.

Eleanor Hudson competed in the TS2 category and finished 8th in her first ever triathlon.

For the seniors, both David and Vicky took runners up in their respective age and gender categories in a competitive midlands field. 

David finished 6th overall in a blistering 1:02:43. Having been struggling with a rib injury(s) David had done barely any swimming and cycling in the last 6 weeks but the cycling focus played to his advantage setting the fastest mens bike lap of the day (32:30) and that included missing a turning and having to go the long way around the grassy verged triangle! 

James finished 25th overall in a time of 1:13:06 and took 14th in his age group. Although not feeling in his best form he made sure to keep his currently perfect record for attending Stratford Tri grand prix series races intact, by enjoying the sunny Sunday sprint triathlon.

His experience in the event showed with some of the fastest transitions of the day – the lucrative 4th discipline! 

Finally I (Vicky) brought home the team in 1:13:33 taking 2nd lady in the senior age group, 6th lady and 28th overall. I was pleased to find out I ran the fastest lady’s run and second fastest ride on the day. Although there’s still work to be done on the swim, I managed to take three and a half minutes off compared to 2019 which feels like a great success over 400m (noteable thank you to Simon, Carl and Joe for Saturday morning swimming coaching)!

For those interested in trying a local and fun event, Southam runs a second event in September. 
Trail Runs

A message from Amy Rowe
Chaps and chapettes – a few years ago a group of senior’s used to do trail runs from the club on Saturday – different routes – starting out at 9am and between 6-8 miles, back around 11am.

Speed wasn’t the thing, it was more about unwinding/getting miles in/getting muddy. A few of us are keen to get this started again so we’re setting up a WhatsApp group to share info. We’ll make sure this is also posted on FB/other channels in time but please bear with us while we organise it.

Different people would lead each Saturday – loose sort of rota so we share the routes/responsibility.


with your number to be added to the WhatsApp group for weekend trail groups run from the club and I’ll add you and DM you. Also please let me know if you’d be happy to lead at least one of these runs over the next few months.

Any other contributions/thoughts/snacks v welcome.
Lots more photos from last weekend’s Stratford full and half marathons.

Many many thanks to Max Ross for his wonderful photos.
John Devine, Hannah Osborne and Julia Brookes
Tim and Fin Hutchinson before and after.
Marathon Men Phil Read and Stuart Griffiths
U20 Alex Pester.
Rosie Slocombe and Mike Barrie
Jane Fradgley and Emma Lee
Robin Gisbourne
Jamie Chorley and Dan Hutchins
Julia Brookes and Damian Wheeler
Miranda Maloney and Allan Coldicott.
Pete Sugden and Nick Campbell
Lisa Lambourn and John Butler
Kate Sergent collects hr good for age award.
Vets T&F
It’s back! On  bitterly bitterly cold night our Vets T&F team were back in action at Redditch for the start of the new season under the expert guidance of new team managers Hannah Osborne and Dave Wilson. We’ll hopefully have a report next week.

Did I mention it was cold ?