Kenya Calling.

Another Gold for Lewis.
Despite the intense heat at times this past week there is still plenty to report on.

Paul Bearman’s report on the England Athletics U20 & U23 Championships highlights the performance of the 4 of our athletes who competed, with Lewis Byng earning a gold medal in the shot.

At Compton Verney we also saw 4 of our members competing and with a sort of symmetry with the U20 & U23 Championships we also had a winner, with Matt Burdus-Cook finishing in first place with a comfortable 5 minute margin, although I suspect it didn’t feel comfortable at the time.

Quite a few of our members will be attending and helping out at the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and we’ve got photos of a few of the volunteers all togged up.

It really has been a memorable week of Track and Field, from the very young competing in Quadkids at Banbury, to our Midlands T&F League team in Yate near Bristol and then our Vets in the Midland Vets T&F League at the Stratford track, with a 60 year+ age difference between our youngest and oldest competitor.

Finally, a couple of photos that I particularly liked.

Enjoy the rest of the week.

Take care

David Jones.
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England Athletics U20 and U23 Championships 

Report – Paul Bearman 
The England Athletics U20 and U23 Championships held in Bedford resembled an international completion rather than the UK championships, with excellent athletes from across the world including Qatar, Israel and a big squad of the Australian development academy competing against the best young athletes in the UK. 

In 30 degrees plus searing heat in what can only be described as testing conditions, 4 Stratford athletes had the advantage of their events being relatively short compared to the tough oppressive conditions, with very little wind for athletes running in the longer events. 

The week previously U20 Catherine Reynolds won the 400m silver medal at the English Schools Championships and here she was up against athletes from across the whole of the UK and beyond.
With a game plan the same as the ESAA champs nullified slightly by her being drawn in lane 8 in her heat and having a new experience of running blind and no one to chase, Catherine started off a little more tentatively and saw some speedier girls go past her on the back straight. She pushed on around the bend and the home straight to finish strongly in 5th place in a time of 57.81 and just outside the qualifying places for the final.
As a first year U20, Freddie Clemons was one of the youngest competitors in the 110m hurdles and after a good start and strong finish he finished 7th in his heat in a time of 15.40s a new legal PB. 

Long-time Stratford AC athlete Ollie Cresswell competes for Woodford Green AC with Essex Ladies in the National League these days but trains at the Stratford track when he’s not at university in Loughborough.
After some superb recent training sessions, he looked set to be in contention for a medal in the U23 110m hurdles but with the contrary nature and vagaries of hurdling, a slow start in the final put paid to any medal chances but he finished strongly in 5th in a time of 14.60s. The race was won by Saeed Alabsi from Qatar in 14.07s.
Lewis Byng was literally the hot favourite to win the U23 Shot and he duly delivered a gold medal winning performance. His objective was to throw over 18m for the first time but after peppering the 17.50m sector he finished short with a best throw of 17.56m. 

Having spent 2 days sheltering from the direct sun in the shade it was only moving to watch Lewis on the 2nd day at the height of the heat that we realised just how unbearably hot it was for the athletes.  

We also had so much respect and admiration for the superb officials who were out there longer than the athletes and intermittently for up to 8 hours. Like our club in the league competitions the sport couldn’t function without them.  
And the winner is!  Matt Burdus-Cook on his way to victory in the Compton Verney Half Marathon.
Kate Wright.

Her comments on the race were “I had a terrible race. The lady who beat me is normally behind me so it was a bit frustrating when I had stomach ache from 4 miles in. On saying that I was still 5 mins quicker than last year which was also a blisteringly hot day.”

A  terrible race – she ran it in 1.31 – I should be so lucky.
Well done Kate
John Bettles
Compton Verney Half Marathon

17th July 2022

Report – Matt Burdus-Cook

The Compton Verney Half Marathon offers one of the most picturesque race start and finish lines in the race calendar with the very big house, grounds, outdoor art installations and lakes providing a wonderful setting for both competitors and supporters alike.

Alongside the guaranteed scenic vistas, scorching hot weather does seem to come as standard for this undulating half marathon course which includes 2 ascents of Pittern Hill to both sap the legs of early vim in the first miles and exhaust any remaining energy at the close of the race.

Race organisers Tempo Events assessed the forecast conditions earlier in the week and made the welcome and wise decision to move the start forward to 8am to allow runners to avoid the extreme temperatures forecast from mid-morning onwards.

Additional water stations were also arranged and as such (as per previous years) with the added enthusiasm of local residents stationing hoses and even ice lolly stops, the course offers some of the best hydration and cooling any half marathon runner is likely to experience.

4 Stratford AC members were amongst the 170 finishers who braved the conditions, which started cool, but did rapidly rise over the duration of the race.

Kudos for the day goes to those entrants that spent the longest time on their feet with some runners enduring the ever hotting conditions for over 3 hours.

All Stratford Athletes were home in under 1:45 with John Bettles finishing in 37th Position in 1:44:07. Kate Wright was 2nd Lady finisher (8th finisher overall) in 1:31:54 and 1st in her age category by a huge margin of more than 37 minutes. Phil Reading missed the photo opportunities as his club vest was in the wash, but he did the hypothetical colours proud finishing 7th overall and was the 1st Senior Male over the line with older male runners and taking the remaining top spots alongside the Ladies winner Natalie Bhangal of Leamington AC (1:27:57, 4th Overall).

I managed to win the race just 2 seconds slower than last year’s effort, finishing in 1:19:20.

My personal refelections on the race are as follows:

“This is probably my favourite race in the annual calendar as I enjoy the challenging conditions of the course and the setting of the start and finish is really wonderful. I have never won here, and I never won a half marathon before so it was a very special race for me. I established a good lead relatively early in the race which was exciting and nerve-racking in equal measure. The thought of securing the win pushed me on, while the fear of overheating and blowing-up made me keep my pace in check, and hold back slightly from my original race plan. The support from the marshalls along the route was brilliant and the finish was a bit of an emotional moment for me. It is probably one of  the slower winning times that the event has seen, but I’ll happily and gratefully take it!”

For the full results please follow the link below:

Martha Edwards, Eve Milliner, Jemima Elsworth, Jasmine Mothershaw and Billy Sheppard 

Banbury Harriers Quadkids

A hot sunny Sunday saw 5 of our junior athletes compete at Banbury in the four events that made up the Quadkids competition – 75m sprint, long jump, howler and finishing with 600m.

There were some amazing performances and many P.Bs.

Billy Sheppard won gold overall in the u11 boys and Eve Mulliner came 3rd in the u11girls.

The Commonwealth Games

They wouldn’t be happening without our help !!

A few photos below of club members who have volunteered to help make The Games happen.
The Queen’s Baton Relay

Paul Hawkins proudly displays his official Queen’s Baton Relay top

A message from Paul:

“As some of you know I have been selected to be a Batonbearer for the Queen’s Baton Relay on Friday. A lovely honour for both me and our club and I’m very proud. 

Many people have asked where and when I am doing my segment so briefly the details are:
Start at 11:24 from Bridgefoot, on the canal bridge I think
Finish a little bit later at 13 Bridge Street (so I should be able to cope with the distance!)

It would be nice to see some friendly faces, so please come along if you aren’t too busy with anything else.
Michael Lane above and Mandy Newton below, sporting their volunteer outfits in readiness to help out at the games. Emma Sparrow is also helping out and there may be more of you, if so, well done.
Members of our team who endured blistering heat competing in the Midland T&F League team at Yate near Bristol last Sunday.
Wednesday night at the track. Members of our vets T&F team after enjoying another successful night in the Midland’s Vets T&F League.
I’ve got lots more photos from last Sunday at Yate which will hopefully accompany a full report in the next newsletter but I couldn’t resist sharing this one of Caleb Spriggs mastering the art of steeplechasing.

Go Caleb.
Track and Field

The T&F season really is in full swing.

As well as last weekend’s U20 and U23 Championships, reported above, I’ve been privileged to witness and take part in a couple of truly memorable T&F fixtures over the last few days.

On Sunday, in sweltering conditions, our small but perfectly formed Midlands League T&F team once again did the club proud.

The provisional results place us in 2nd place on the day with 389 points, just 9 points ahead of Cheltenham and County Harriers. 

The winners were host club Yate and District Athletic Club.

With just one fixture remaining on 13th August in Solihull, there really is all to play for, with the top 3 teams separated by just 3 league points.

Yate are currently in pole position on 18 points, we are in 2nd place on 17 and Cheltenham in 3rd place with 16 points. The top 2 are promoted.

If you get the call from Team Manager Mike Sheppard please, please heed that call.

Then, on Wednesday night at the Stratford Track, in much cooler conditions, we hosted the latest fixture in the Midlands Vets T&F League and it was another wonderful night.

Very early provisional results have our ladies team winning the fixture and our men’s team in 2nd place, which if verified would equal our previous best performance.

The results, and I must emphasise that they are provisional, show our ladies team on 122 points versus Worcester Ladies on 117. Our men are in 2nd place with 115 points against Worcester’s 137, with close rivals Bromsgrove and Redditch in 3rd place on 101.

The season to date points tally show our ladies just 16 points behind Worcester Ladies. 362.5 v 378.5. The club are placed in 2nd place overall.

An event of this nature, with 8 teams competing on the night, takes a heck of a lot of organising. Team manager Hannah Osborne, in her first season as team manager, has to be congratulated for her colossal effort in leading from the front, enabling the fixture to go ahead and to go ahead successfully. Oh – and she competed in a few things on the night as well!

 I’m sure Hannah would be the first to acknowledge that this couldn’t have happened without the support of the many officials and volunteers from all sections of the club.

Speaking to one of the lead officials on the night, from outside the club and who isn’t an easy person to please, the club were complimented on its professionalism in organising the event.

In both of these events we once again punched above our weigh. Thist was just reward for the hard work put in by all of the competing athletes and their coaches, ably supported by volunteers and officials.

These things don’t happen by accident.

Hopefully there will be full reports with lots more photos on both of these fixtures in the next newsletter
And Finally

A couple of photos, one of which warmed my heart and the other of which made me smile. We do need to experience both of these emotions don’t we?

Adam Farrow – Track and Field Athlete of the Year.

If you were wondering what our T&F Athlete of the Year Adam Farrow gets up to in his spare time, below is a recent exchange of texts between him and Paul Bearman.

Hello Adam… are you. Has the injury fully cleared up and are you up and running yet?
BTW Where are you?

Adam : I’m in Kenya through AGS. There’s about 30 of us and we are here for 12 more days after today.

Paul : Fantastic….. are you building a school or digging a well etc ?

Adam : We are spending a few days at the school and redoing 2 big rooms. So we’ve taken out all the concrete flooring and made a road/track into the school with the rubble, we then had to mix cement and lay a new layer on the floors and then clean the walls and paint the rooms. Tomorrow we are doing some plastering on the walls too, before playing against them in a football match in the afternoon.

Club member Maddie Clark has recently been in Sri Lanka helping on an orphanage.

You can’t help but be proud of these youngsters.

Synchronicity – sort of.

Caleb Spriggs, Ned Campbell and Alex Adams practice the art of steeplechasing.