Hawaii, Chicago and ….. Alcester.

Emma Bexson
There’s something of an international flavour to this week’s newsletter with Emma Bexson’s report of her superb performance in the IRONMAN World Championships in Hawaii and also reports from Dan Southam and Andy Cox on their sub 3hr runs in the Chicago Marathon.

It was the English National Road Relay Championships in Sutton Park last weekend where our 4 junior teams did the club proud. 

The Rugby 10 race rounded off both this year’s WRRL and the club’s own Grand Prix competition.

Meanwhile in the Alcester Autumn 10k there were many excellent performances from club members not least of which was 15 year old Maisie-Joy Spriggs finishing as first female. MJ must have been out hardest working member last week having competed in the track hour on Wednesday, the Road Relays on Saturday and Alcester on Sunday and for good measure she ran for her school at XC on Monday. I’m exhausted just typing that out.

There was also an excellent 1:17.48 half marathon from Jamie Hall in the London Parks Half Marathon.

Many thanks to those of you who have sent reports in. At the risk of repeating myself, without these reports there would be no newsletter.

This Sunday sees the welcome return of the West Midland Young Athletes Cross Country League at Walsall where I’m sure our talented junior endurance runners will do the club proud. I for one am super excited about the return of junior XC.

Take care.

Best Wishes

David Jones
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It’s not my intention to have a regular births and birthdays column but here are a couple of events that I think are worthy of a mention.

Many many congratulations to Sarah Boundy and Adam Evans on the birth of their son Riley, a brother for Bryce. Better get their names down on the waiting list for Tuesday night track sessions soon.

Hard as it is to believe but Saturday is the 80th, yes 80th birthday of one of our most decorated members, Phil Brennan and he still managed to knock out a 25:43 5000m at the recent club champs. Remarkable.
With fellow club member Roger Wilson due to celebrate his 81st birthday later this month, we truly are an 8-80 club. Roger competed at Alcester in his first road race  for 3 years, finishing in a time of 58:34. 
Emma Bexson

IRONMAN World Championships

Kona  – Hawaii

Report – Emma Bexson

Professional and age-group triathletes from around the world dream of racing on IRONMAN’s main stage, the VinFast IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. 

The very best embark on a 140.6-mile journey that presents the ultimate test of body, mind and spirit. 

Through decades of stellar athlete performances, inspirational participants and emotional memories, the IRONMAN World Championship has etched a reputation as the pinnacle of the triathlon landscape and an iconic global sporting event.

The legendary course takes athletes through the barren lava fields that the Island of Hawaii provides. It is the setting for the ultimate test of strength, grit and heart while calling upon athletes to find the spirit of aloha within themselves.

Our very own Emma Bexson qualified to compete in this year’s events and here are her thoughts on the race:

“If you asked me how do you fancy swimming for over an hour in the choppy, hot, salty waters of the Pacific, followed by riding your bike for 112 miles on intensely hot, windy and rolling roads and if that’s not enough, then following it up with a hilly marathon in a steam room” I might have thought twice about it. However, offered a ticket to Kona there is only one answer. 

Arriving 9 days ahead of the race to acclimatise to the brutally harsh conditions, it became evident that no one goes to Kona to crunch numbers, use data and predict race outcomes.

These are some of the best triathletes in the world with a wealth of experience. They land on Peles holy ground to embrace the experience, endure the harsh conditions and race with pride, just hoping to make it to the famous finish line.

Having endured sea sickness in every training swim, my approach to the race changed, my aim was to endure the swim and start my race on the bike.

Offered some words of wisdom by a very respected coach, he told me “if your feeling it’s a challenge on the bike then your riding to hard, if you feel your riding just right, then your probably still riding to hard, if you feel like it’s easy then your riding at just the right pace.” Previously athletes races have fallen apart on the bike to due to its harsh conditions. 

I took these wise words on board and having made it out of the swim, my slowest Ironman swim time to date 1h14 (53rd place).  I knew the pace on the bike was crucial and that I shouldn’t play catch up. My plan was to get to the far turn point in good shape and then push on, amazingly I executed this and overtook bikes all the way home. This felt amazing riding and moving up 31 places in to 22nd place. 

On to the brutally hot and humid run with just a few hills thrown in to add to the challenge. This is the part of the race I look forward too as I know I can run a good marathon if I have paced the race well to this point.

The challenge was immense and good decision making was crucial. I embraced every minute from the crowds on Ali’I drive to the harsh desolate conditions of the famous energy lab.

Adapting the cooling method of dunking my head in an ice bucket at every feed station.

I managed to keep pulling back places, eventually running myself in to 12th in 3h 43m, with an over all finishing time of 11h 02m. 12th position out of 208 starters in my age group and 187 finishers.” 

U13 boys team – Joel Ledgard, Sam Plumb and Arran Cooper
U17 women’s A team – Maisie-Joy Spriggs, Olivia Robinson and Niamh Hillard.
Right: Acting Team Manager Clare Plumb with Niamh Hillard
Arran Cooper – I’m only here for the cake!

English National Road Relays

  Sutton Park Birmingham 


Report – Tilly Campbell, Niamh Hillard and Paul Hawkins

Four Stratford Junior Teams headed to a very sunny Sutton Park, Birmingham on Saturday to compete in the highly competitive English National Road Relays, which followed on from the recent fantastic performances of the teams in the Midland Relays at the same venue.

The teams of three athletes ran over a 3.88km course. All of which was overseen and co-ordinated by Clare Plumb, who took up the mantle of Team Manager on the day. 

First up to compete were the Under 13 Boys Team with Joel Ledgard leading out on the 3.88k course.  He ran in a time of 14:47 before handing over to Sam Plumb, returning from injury, who ran up the home straight carrying one trainer having had a lace malfunction during the race. He received a knot trying lesson from the under 17 women afterwards.  His time was 15.55, with Aran Cooper storming in, in a very speedy 14:25 to claim the team 21st place overall. 

A great trio of  Bo Algate 16:36, Martha Peters 16:27 and Annie Silvers 17:18 in the Under 15 race showed excellent determination in a highly competitive race which helped them achieve a 52nd position. 

Showing great strength in depth as always enabled the under 17 Stratford Girls to field two  teams. The first team being Maisie-Joy Spriggs 14:44, Niamh Hillard 15:08 and Olivia Robinson 15:17 finishing 23rd. The second team  of Abbi Cooper 17:02 ,Tilly Campbell 19:47 and Lucy Thomas 17:33 finished 43rd.  

Everyone competing commented on how exciting the relays were and how great it was to run on part of the recent Triathlon Commonwealth 2022 course.

The strong performances and team spirit across the age groups bodes well for the club in the first West Midland Cross Country race in Walsall on Sunday. 

Team Stratford
Max and Suzie Ross
Tim Hutchinson and Kate Wright.

Rugby 10 

9th October 2022


Report – Peter Sugden


Athletes from across Northamptonshire and Warwickshire met in the small village of Barby, which sits just on the Northamptonshire side of the boarder and to the south of Rugby, on Sunday morning for the penultimate race of the Northants Road Race League, the last race of the Warwickshire Road Race League (WRRL), and for those from Stratford upon Avon AC the last race of our 2022 Grand Prix competition. 

Hosted by Rugby and Northampton AC, the Rugby 10 (miles) is a hilly route comprising two loops starting and finishing in Barby.

The first loop takes runners down to the adjacent village of Kilsby, then further downhill to Hillmorton on the south eastern fringes of Rugby.  The route follows the A428 for ¾ of a mile before then heading south to return to Barby.  At mile 5 the benefit of the downhill enjoyed by the runners is repaid as the road climbs steadily then steeply up to Barby. 

The route then continues going up as it commences its second loop, finally taking the competitors to the aptly named Ridgeway at the 7 mile mark. 

The next mile or so of relatively level ridgeway allows a good pace for those runners with strength left in their legs from the previous two miles of ascent. 

The final mile and a half of the route comprises a quick descent into Kilsby, then a return to Barby up and back along the same route the runners left Barby sometime earlier.

The weather afforded good running conditions in autumnal sunshine, with a noticeable breeze on parts of the route. 

Continuing his rich vein of form, Matt Burdus-Cook was first back for Stratford in 6th place overall and as V45 age group winner in a time of 57:23. 

Richard Liggatt was the second Stratford runner to finish, just within the hour in a time of 59:45 and in 10thplace overall.  Kate Wright continuing her own phenomenal run of results was next to return, second lady overall and taking the V55 age group first place, not for the first time this season, in a time of 1:03:13. 

One place behind Kate in 22nd overall was Tim Hutchinson, also enjoying a return to form, in a time of 1:03:46.  Next was Seth Turner in 29th place in a time of 1:05:48.  James Coy finished in 36th place in a time of 1:08:20, and Peter Sugden finished in 41st place in a time of 1:09:08, a mere 5 mins faster than his previous quickest time for the course set in 2018. 

Rob Gisborne finished in 60th place in a time of 1:13:24, taking it steadily following a strong showing in the Stratford upon Avon AC track hour just four days before. 

WRRL stalwart Stuart Griffiths finished in 75th place in a time 1:17:14.  The second Stratford lady to finish was Suzie Ross in 86th place, 16th lady overall, in a time of 1:19:08, one second and one place ahead of husband Max Ross, who following his track hour victory was nursing a sore calf. 

Susan Hunt was Stratford’s third lady to finish in 118th place, 32nd lady overall in 1:28:38, no doubt still recovering from her Loch Ness Marathon just seven days earlier.  Dave Maundrell finished 138th place in a time of 1:39:02 and claiming his Ever Present status having competed in all ten 2022 WRRL races.

The race was won by David Green of Rugby and Northants AC in a time of 54:03.  First lady to finish was Hayley Munn in a time of 01:02:37 and also of Rugby and Northants AC.

We await the final results of the WRRL with huge interest.  Individual places are sorted by taking runners’ best 6 places over the 10 race series.  Matt Burdus-Cook started the race in first place and is expected to be confirmed overall winner as well as MV45 age group winner when the final results are published. 

Overall Team and Masters Team competitions are based on the best placed six men and best place four ladies from each club in each race.  In the overall team competition we expect Stratford men to finish second, just behind Kenilworth Runners.  In the Masters Team competition we expect Stratford men to finish first following strong team results in the Rugby 10 race and in the previous Balsall Common 10k race on top of earlier results.

Maisie-Joy Spriggs – First female finisher no less. Well done MJ.
Father and son John and Albert Bettles.

Alcester Autumn 10k

Report – Hannah Osborne 

 Sunday saw the perfect Autumnal morning for a race. Blue sky, a fresh chill to the air and the sun highlighting all the beautiful colours of the trees right now and on the doorstep was Alcester 10k.

This is a well known and loved local race which this year has seen the organisers Raceways, put on twice in the year – a Summer and Autumn addition (doing both gives you the opportunity to gain an interlocking medal).

The Autumn race saw lower numbers from Stratford AC due to a clash with the WRRL final event in Rugby on the same day, as well as other big events nationally and internationally, although the race had sold out.
Maise-Joy Spriggs ran this race in May as her 1st road race 10k, having turned 15 earlier in the year she was old enough to compete. MJ was back again on Sunday to have another go. 
Her race in her own words:

“I didn’t go into the race thinking I would do well as I’d raced in the track hour on the Wednesday and then National Road Relays in Sutton the day before. My aim was to come 1st under 18 female as that was where I finished in the May 10k. I set off and my legs hurt from the start but as soon as I got to the hill at 3.5 miles I knew I was past half way and I picked up the pace aiming for a negative split.

The final 1k I could see 1st lady ahead of me by about 70m and I made it my aim to catch her which I did and then passed her, finishing in a time of 39.05 which wass a 30 second PB on tired legs. I also, much to my surprise, finished 1st overall lady which I’m very happy about and I’m pleased with my race”

Next from the club to cross the finish line was John Peacock in 44:17, father and son John and Albert Bettles battled it out with John coming in ahead in 46:49, with a solid run from Albert in 47:17. Between the two saw Brian Boyle finish in 47:03. Brian commented “the cheeky hill at halfway was no longer that daunting (compared to Ilmington), but gave way to a fast last mile battle with my former team, Run Alcester. 47:03 saw 105 seconds chipped off my previous course best.”

Suzi Graham has continued her strong summer of running, finishing in 49:10, next were Dave Wolstencroft 54:57, Lisa Stevens 56:18, Cara Reynolds 58:16, with Roger Wilson (81) back racing his 1st road race in 3 years, in 58:34.

Then it was Kate Sergent who has recently suffered with injury finishing in 1:04:30, Kate commented “Just to say how happy I was to run and although I was 5 minutes slower than in May I managed to run pain free. Rosie struggled and she thinks it was after her great effort at the track hour. Beautiful weather, great course and so much support. Also it was good to run with my old running friend Sue Mothershaw”. Sue finished in 1:05:57, followed by Allan Coldicott 1:06:05, Jill Wilson 1:08:00, John Butler 1:14:31 and Rosie Slocombe 1:21:19. 

Andy Cox and Dan Southam
That feels good – Dan Southam.
Proud to wear the vest – Andy Cox.
Chicago Marathon
 Dan Southam’s race
Having spent a few days exploring “Chi-City” and trying to stay on the right time zone (waking up at 4am), Sunday morning arrived and it was time to take on my second major marathon and my 15th attempt at the infamous 26.2. 

A trip to Dunkin’ Donuts on the way to the start line with Andy was the first port of call, and then we dropped the bags, warmed up and entered into the start corral.

Following a typically exuberant blast of the American national anthem it was go time! 

WOW. The cacophony of noise heading through downtown Chicago was absolutely breathtaking. Cow bells rattled and people screamed as I rounded through the first 5k in under 19 mins, a little ahead of the goal split but riding the wave of noise.

This momentum carried me though half way in 1:20:09 and on plan for the sub 2:40 attempt.

As I rounded the neighbourhoods of Chicago, the noise never stopped but unfortunately the quick start and inconsistent training block was starting to chip away at my pace as I dropped to sub 2:42 pace at around the 30k mark.

It was time to dig deep into the well and battle through the rest that the marathon throws up.

With around 5k to go my goal of a PB had drifted so I pulled back the pace and soaked up the phenomenal atmosphere that makes Chicago one of the best races in the world. 

I crossed the line in a time of 2:46:38, certainly not a disappointment and I never stopped smiling down that last 5k (even if the race photos suggest otherwise!).

Another marathon down, lessons learned and fire in the belly to keep on improving.

If you haven’t raced Chicago yet, get it on your list immediately. It does NOT disappoint!
Andy Cox’s race
What a great city! 
Having had to bring my own breakfast because of a 4am wake up call, I met up with Dan Southam at 5:15am and we headed down to the corrals in the moonlight.

Being the only Major that starts at 07:30AM, the wait was very cold at 4 degrees, until sunrise around 7:00AM.

After a few warm up laps of the spectator meet and greet area, we headed off to Corral A with a few moments to spare.

As the start horn went, we crossed the line and off we went in between the skyscrapers.

GPS was non existent for the first 5K and having reached the 5k marker in a very quick time, it was decision time, carry on or throttle it back.

Heading out of the City towards south beach, the 10km marker soon came around and we headed back towards the City, as I approached half way I stopped to meet the family and have a quick Maurten Gel and nature break.

I headed out on second half with some serious doubts on my pacing. We headed towards China town, after a few rights and left turns and the odd wind tunnel between the buildings, we approached the 21 mile marker, the next 4 miles were a bit of a blur as I headed towards the finish, having spotted a friend of Dan’s, Scott, I pushed to catch him, we turned right up the only hill of the course, and headed left towards the finish line! Finishing in 2:58:29!

Next up London 23.
Royal Parks Half Marathon

Jamie Hall completed the London Parks Half Marathon last weekend in the superb PB time of 1:17.48 to finish in 28th place overall. The winner was Patrick Corcoran in a time of 1:15.40.