The Biggest in the World!

The Awesome Eightsome.

Above: Joel Masters, George Fox Rowe, Freddie Clemons
Caitlin Buckley, Catherine Reynolds, Millie Leighton

Below: Zach McKenzie and Alex Adams

English Schools Athletics Association Championships (ESAA) 2022

A comment from Paul Bearman

There’s always a sense of pride in seeing our athletes at national championships. We already know they have the talent because we see it week in week out, but it’s how hard they train to get there that is inspiring. 

As with other years, this year’s cohort has been exceptional again, performing to their very best and often beyond and it inspires us, as it will all the coaches to work with all our athletes, to give them the chance to emulate the class of 2022 and hopefully see some of them again and newbies in Birmingham in July 2023. 
This week’s lead report is on the prestigious England Schools Athletic Association Championships held over 2 days in Manchester last weekend. We had no fewer than 8 of our members selected to compete in what is the biggest volunteer led competition in the world.

There’s a reminder that we will be hosting the next Vets T&F League fixture at the Stratford track next Wednesday. It would be great if as many of you as possible could come along to give the team your support. I guarantee you will not regret it.

Last weekend saw 23 club members compete in the Allesley 10k, with Ben Kruze winning the race. We had 5 of the top 10 finishers, ensuring victory for our men in the team prize.

Not content with hosting the upcoming Vets T&F fixture, last weekend also saw the club host the Midland 5000m Racewalk Championships, with all 3 of our members who competed breaking club records.

9 year old Martha Edwards’ had a cracking few days last week, getting a PB in the long jump last Wednesday and then bettering it a few days later. Well done Martha.

For those of you are not aware, club chairman Paul Hawkins will be taking part in the Queen’s Baton Relay for the upcoming Commonwealth Games on Friday 22nd. Why not pop along and give him a cheer.

Finally, good luck to our Midlands T&F team who will be competing at Yate near Bristol on Sunday. It promises to be a hot one.

Last week was not a good week on my part. Not only did I give you a link to the wrong results for the Shakespeare Race but I erroneously said that Lewis Byng’s 411 kg deadlift World record equated to 22 stone in old money. It was actually almost 65 stone!! I know – I find it hard to believe as well.

Good luck to any of you competing at the weekend. Make sure you are fully hydrated.

Take care.

Best Wishes

David Jones 

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Zach McKenzie, Freddie Clemons and George Fox Rowe
Freddie Clemons (2nd left) with the rest of the bronze medal winning relay team.
English Schools Athletics Association Championships (ESAA) 2022

Report – Paul Bearman

 The 91st English Schools National Track and Field Athletics Championships is the biggest volunteer led athletics competition in the world, with over 1700 of England’s top young athletes from 45 counties competing over two days at the championship held this year in Manchester.  
The championships were the first to be held in 3 years post Covid and are an amazing spectacle, run with military precision, with hardly a minute passing over the 2 days without something happening, bang on time. 
The journey to the ESAA champs starts with selection to represent a county school area, then competing at the respective county school championships, then selection to compete for the county at the inter county (e.g., the Mason Trophy) competition and then, if the entry standard is met, representing the county at the national championships. 
To go through that journey and to achieve the stringent entry standards and then to gain selection for the county teams is tough and an achievement in itself and this year 8 of Stratford upon Avon AC Junior athletes were selected to be in the squads to represent Warwickshire and Gloucestershire.  
To step up to this national level is a very hard jump, but once again Stratford athletes proved worthy and capable of competing against the very best athletes in England.

Nerves on such a big stage can play a big part in an individual performances and the Stratford contingent went away with varying degrees of satisfaction with their performances but all of them will have gained invaluable experience for the future. 
On day one the athletes were met with warm, cloudy/sunny conditions and for once the wind was relatively light but with a head wind in the home straight. 
Caitlin Buckley was the first Stratford athlete on the track in the senior girls 100m and lining up in heat 2 she controlled her nerves to run probably her best ever race to be in the pack at the blanket finish and despite running a Personal Best of 12.52s she still only managed 6th place in the mass dip for the line. 
Freddie Clemons was the winner at his previous ESAA champs as an U15 hurdler but with Covid wiping out his two U17 competitive seasons completely he was now lining up in the U20 hurdles. In technical events the transition through the age groups is vital and with Freddie having to go from 80m as an U15 to 110m he is making good progress towards his goals of being a top U20 hurdler, starting with qualifying for the ESAA champs. 
In his heat he had a good start and maintained his form throughout until fading slightly towards the end finishing 5th in a “disappointing” time of 15.77s.  
Millie Leighton had the honour of being appointed team captain and lined up in a very competitive senior girls Triple Jump. With several competitors in the rankings jumping over 12 metres Millie knew it would be a tough job to emulate that but she produced the best sequence of three jumps she has for a while to finish in 11thplace and with a huge new PB of 11.36m. 
Joel Masters is a new member of the club after being spotted by junior coach Lucy Edwards at the Gloucester and South West schools champs winning the junior boys (U15) 100m…..with a standing start 
After Lucy recommended Joel to me, we invited him to train and in the 2 weeks we had available to us it was simply a case of keeping things simple and introducing him to a crouch start and that was before he was able to try a block start. In the 4 sessions before ESAA he mastered both which set him up for lining up on the biggest stage of his sporting life so far. 
In his heat after a “dodgy” start with no blocks and a near wobble into another lane he got to the finish in 11.74s  and after finishing 10th overall he scraped through to the semi-final by 1 100th of a second. 
The semi-final went a lot better and Joel was shocked to hear he had qualified for the final the following day after running 11.74s again, finishing 6th fastest overall. 
Catherine Reynolds completed the first day for the Stratford contingent. She qualified for the ESAA champs early after a series of encouraging and quick runs before the champs but her nerves were jangling when she lined up for the senior girls 400m. With a race plan firmly fixed in her head she executed it perfectly finishing 2nd in a big new PB of 57.06 and qualified for the final as 2nd fastest ….so a medal was a possibility! 
Day 2 started with searing heat right from the outset and it was obvious that was going to have an impact on all the athletes, particularly the distance runners. 
Alex Adams is known for his cross-country exploits but qualifying for the ESAA T&F championships was a completely new and challenging experience for him. Three weeks ago in the South West schools champs and competing for Gloucestershire, he ran the 3000m and knocked 13 seconds off his PB and so his form was good going into the race.  
Going into the inter boys 3000m with many seasoned and quick athletes in the race, an anxious Alex lined up with his own game plan and he stuck to it. He ran an intelligent, typically gutsy run to finish 9th in a time of 08:53.7 knocking another 7 seconds off his PB. 
Along with Millie Leighton, the juniors have had a lot of success at national level over the years in Triple Jump and the club also had Zach McKenzie competing in the Inter boys Triple Jump against some very established competitors. 
With no preparation due to joining up with Forest Green FC academy 2 weeks ago, plus having a bout of Covid, Zach arrived in Manchester relying on the hard graft he had put in before leaving and the “rest” appeared to do him good by producing his best ever series of 6 jumps. 
The first objective is to jump well enough in the first three jumps to qualify in the top eight to continue with a further 3 jumps. In the first 3 rounds he nudged up his PB to get into the top 8 and then in his last jump he eclipsed his original outdoor legal PB before the competition by an enormous 53cm, finishing with 13.34 in 7th place. 
In all the jumps building rhythm is critical and without proper final preparation in training it’s difficult to go into a championship and perform to expectations. An unfortunate clash with a holiday in Tenerife post A level exams, meant that George Fox-Rowe was another athlete a bit under prepared for his senior boys High Jump.  
His Mum Kate, a junior coach, met him from the airport and whisked him straight up to Manchester to join up with the team. After a day’s rest George took his place in the stadium and jumped with confidence up to 1.87, keeping him in contention for a medal. However, as with several others, George failed at 1.92 and bowed out in a very creditable 7th position. 
Finals come thick and fast on day two and Joel Masters was in a position none of us expected but wow did he stun us with his performance. Prior to the race we got a message how understandably anxious he was. With no access to the athletes I text him ….. 
“I hope you are chilling ?. Don’t forget to set your blocks and concentrate at the start and go on B of the bang of the gun, get into your running and just go for it. Have a good run” 
“I’m practising blocks and hopefully it all goes well” came the reply” 
OK , take it easy…..don’t wear yourself out” ? 
The race itself was a blur but Joel literally flew out of the blocks and stormed into the lead and held that position until the last 5 metres and against all the odds he ran 11.42s to win the silver medal. Truly an incredible rise from the school playing field to the podium at the national champs. 
After congratulating him Joel responded “wasn’t too bad was it” with a wink. An understatement if ever I heard one. 
Later in the afternoon Catherine Reynolds lined up for her 400m final. She too was incredibly nervous and the text to her was the same as Joel’s but the race plan was the same as the heat only “go a bit quicker” ?….and that she did.  
Blasting out of the blocks into her glorious smooth stride down the back straight and into attacking the bend she came off it in second. She then held her form down the last 100m and through the line to finish with a silver medal and a new sub 57 second PB of 56.76s. A spine tingling moment for both her family and us in the crowd. 
As always, the relays bought the championships to a close and Freddie Clemons ran the third leg in the senior boy’s event and helped the team finish in the bronze medal position. 
A hat trick of medals for Stratford athletes but more importantly everyone met or exceeded expectations on the biggest domestic stage and virtually everyone came home with new PBs. A marvellous end to a memorable championship.

An interesting fact is that George, Zach, Millie, Alex, Caitlin and Freddie all came through the ranks from the U11s…..Catherine as an U15 and Joel is and brand new onto the conveyor belt as John Turner calls the juniors.
Midland Vets Track and Field League
As a club we will be hosting the next Midland Vets T&F league fixture at the Stratford track next Wednesday 20th.

This is a big deal for the club.

It takes a huge amount of organising, with something like 30 officials and helpers needed on the day. Team Manager Hannah Osborne has had to organise everything from results runners to first aid to a wind gauge as well as select the team.

I realise Wednesday is the Senior’s club night and although the fixture starts at 7pm, the relays aren’t until 9.05pm so it would be wonderful if as many of you as possible could come along and give the team a cheer.

You won’t regret it. These events, as well as being really competitive, are a lot of fun and, as a club we’re pretty good at it!

A splendid time is guaranteed for all.
Team Stratford at the Allesley 10k

Allesley 10k    

Northbrook AC, Coventry

Sunday 10 July 2022

Report – Kevin Zwolinski 

A hot one but a great experience.

Some 400 or so eager runners made their way to the start on what I believe was the hottest day of the year to date and doubtless with some trepidation. 

This report isn’t really about the results and individual performances of the 23 of our members who competed, including a win for Ben Kruze and 5 finishing in the top 10, plus a resounding team win for our men, well done everybody! it is more about the experience of the day from the ‘more sociable’ end of the grid…

I really liked the pre-event communication which was clear and not overloaded.  I popped the postcode in and off I go (I did that to an earlier event this year and unbeknown to me the organisers had inadvertently put an incorrect postcode for the start.  Muggins here missed the start on that one.) No problem, 3 postcodes for 3 carparks, plus an address for number collection.  Some problem with the lavs which seems to be a recurring issue this year, luckily, I didn’t need that.

I pulled in to the first car park with a most helpful marshal on the entrance, bear his race number.  A multi-tasking bloke!   12 places left, he told me exactly where the start was, it’s a 10 minute walk.  I used that as my warm-up, just to see what aches and pains would reappear after the trail run on Saturday.  None noted, looking good.  I was later than planned but this might have been an advantage because there was no queue whatsoever for number collection.

The start is on a hill, unusual I’d say but no problem and off we go to tick off the Km markers.  These are much more popular in my small brain because they appear more frequently than mile markers and they were all clearly visible with none hidden behind water stations or whatever.   Water stations aplenty for the distance and these ones worked. Well resourced with families, always nice to see and one cup to pour over the head and another to slurp.  

Interesting to see just how well some clubs were so well represented.  Many featuring 40+ runners, including the organising club, tells you something about this running lark?

Up hill a bit, then a bit more, we seemed to have climbed rather a lot but there was some respite.  The last marker was 400m and mentally I was unwinding a lap of the Monday night track sessions and trying to convert that to visible distance.  This feels like a long 400m…    the clue was the cheering crowd around a corner, so better get a wiggle on as I have two in front of me.  Funny how the brain works, motivation and all that.  Why did I have the energy for that spurt?  It worked but maybe I should have thought about that earlier.  Mind over matter, if ever there was a case.  Does anybody know of articles on that topic in a running context?

The finish was very good indeed.  A much-needed bottle of water handed out, a chap from the organising club checking for anyone about to flake out (he gave me a long look), an energy bar, and the nearby house had rigged up a walk-through shower – how good was that!   Easy to find ‘les gilets jaune’ from SAC to share experiences.  It wasn’t just me that struggled!

All in all, a really good experience and credit to the organising club for a well thought out event, from before the event to after it, with a comprehensive set of results appearing not long after the finish.  One to remember for next year folks!

For the full results please follow the link below:

For the Stratford runners performances please follow the link below:


Evesham 10k

It was also the Evesham 10k last weekend with 3 of our members competing. Jane Fradgley just failed to dip under the 60 minute mark, finishing in a time of 1:00.26, Clare Enyon was just 50 seconds behind her in 1:01.26 with John Butler finishing in 1:19.22 to finish 3rd in his age category.

438 runners completed the race which was won by junior Henry James in 33.14. The first lady finisher was Marie Bush in 25th place with a time of 39.54.

Gemma Smith, Paul Hawkins, Kate Sergent with a couple of our officials, Daf Hawkins and Tony Jackson
Midland 5000m Racewalk Championships

Midland racewalkers go heel to toe at Jubilee Stadium


Report – Gemma Smith

The club hosted the Midland 5000m Racewalk Championships at Jubilee Stadium, Stratford Upon Avon School last weekend.

The event got underway late morning with the competitors showing their resilience in the intense heat that appeared to increase with each lap of the 12.5 lap track circuit.

,A sport where multi-tasking is key the racewalkers took the heat element in their stride whilst pushing their stamina to the limit displayed good technical form.

All of this took place under the scrutiny of four judges observing for bent knees and breach of non-contact rule, certainly ramping up the pressure to keep the racewalkers concentrating until the very end.

The Stratford Athletics Club team put in a good performance each competitor getting an age group Club record.

Paul Hawkins won a bronze medal in the Senior Men’s race (36.58). In the Senior Women’s race Gemma Smith came in 5th (38.02) with a new club record and Kate Sergent in 6th (38.23) place.

Thanks are due to Paul Hawkins for organising the event and to our officials Emma Sparrow, Tony Jackson, Nick Campbell, Amanda Van der Schyff, Daf Hawkins and Lynne Sumners who made it all happen.

Race winners:  Hardeep Minhas – Leicester W. C (33.32)
                         Fiona Oakes – Leicester W.C (28.52)

Martha Edwards competed at Cheltenham last Wednesday evening and was proud to get a massive PB of 3.08 in long jump!  Not content with this, she then went on to  beat it at Banbury Quadkids on Sunday 3.27m!
Not bad for 9 years old!

Queen’s Baton Relay

Chairman Paul Hawkins will be taking part in the Queen’s Baton Relay for the upcoming Commonwealth Games next Friday 22nd July. I’m sure he’d welcome your support.

His segment will start at 11:24 from the Bancroft Gardens (CV37 6AT) and finish at 13 Bridge St, Stratford-upon-Avon  (CV37 6AB)