3rd place triumph.

The U11 girls team – Maggie Silvers, Evangeline Harris, Emily Lambert, Martha Edwards, Layla Sparrow, Jasmine Mothershaw and Amelie Marshall.
U11 boys team – Arthur Chadburn, Eli Ford, Callum Linforth, Toby Ledgard, Henry Thomas and Tyler Li. A proper rogues gallery – lovable rogue obviously!
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Junior XC is back!

Along with the Club Champs, the start of the junior XC season is an absolute highlight of the club calendar for me and Sunday’s performance of our team, at a sunny Walsall Arboretum, certainly didn’t disappoint.

These are big events. Last Sunday saw close to 750 athletes compete across 8 races, with 123 in the U11girls race alone.

As Rachel Steven’s superlative report says, the club finished in a superb 3rd place out of 21 clubs taking part, with 59 of our junior endurance runners doing the club more than proud.

Kate Wright embarked on a new discipline for her, the duathlon and it will come as no surprise to any of us that she performed superbly, finishing 3rd lady, just 5 seconds off 2nd place.

We also have Ade Mason and Richard Liggatt’s reports on the Oxford and Bath Half Marathons. Many thanks both.

Finally there are a set of Nick Campbell’s wonderful photos from last Sunday at Walsall Arboretum.

Take care

Best Wishes

David Jones
No fewer than 115 on the start line of the U11 boys race. It was somewhat manic.
Ready for the off  and watches at the ready – The U17 women’s team on the start line. 
Here they are before the race – Maisie-Joy Spriggs, Lucy Thomas, Niamh Hillard, Alice Cottam, Tilly Campbell and Emily Cottam.
Callum Linforth with Eli Ford and Arthur Chadburn in hot pursuit.

West Midlands Young Athletes Cross Country League

Fixture 1 – Walsall Arboretum

SUACC Juniors swoop in at 3
rd position in preliminary performance of season

Report by Rachel Stevens.

With the 2022 track season all but a distant memory, last Sunday heralded the opening of the West Midland Young Athletes Cross Country League at Walsall Arboretum. A complement of clear blue skies, autumnal mildness and a night’s light rain relieving the ground of its summer firmness culminated in ideal running conditions for fifty-nine of Stratford’s finest young athletes. The new and even flatter course hinted at fast times. And it didn’t disappoint. 


The U17 Women set the tone giving determined and resolute performances – especially note-worthy given the entire team has just moved up an age-category. A highlight was the gripping finish between Maisey-Joy Spriggs (720/15:59) and Niamh Hillard (716/16:00), with MJ clinching 5th and Niamh, 7th just one second later. Of further note was Abbi Cooper (712/17th/17:23) finishing in her highest placement yet. A delighted Abbi drew the admiration of her team-mates for improving so early in the season. Imminently was a strong looking Lucy Thomas (721/21st/17:42) and rising to the occasion in their debut U17 performances were Emily Cottam (714/39th/20:08), Alice Cottam (713/42nd/20:28) and Tilly Campbell (711/44th/21:07).

Overall, a marvellous team effort placed the ladies in an impressive 2nd position in the league table.

A welcomed wide neck at the start of the course meant the more experienced U11 boys could avoid the dreaded tussle evoked by the starting hooter, whilst one or two of our younger novices were observably stunned by its volume. After a guiding shout of, ‘That means run!’, they were jolted out of their shock and took off with fervent focus. Belying his lack of experience, debut runner Toby Ledgard (791/31st/06:00) paced himself splendidly and was first in for Stratford. Next was Callum Linforth (793/68th/06:27) with a terrific sprint finish, just pipping Eli Ford (790/69th/06:28). Then within seconds came Henry Thomas (795/76th/06:31) and Arthur Chadburn (790/79th/06:33) bolstering the team performance, resulting in 10thposition in the league. It was particularly pleasing to see young Tyler Li (792/104th/07:05), still only in Year 4, don his yellow vest with pride and successfully overcome his nerves to finish the day grinning – a great reminder that not all successes are measured by numbers. 


This reminder was further exemplified in the U17s Men’s race. Coming back after only two training sessions since injury, Stratford’s five times reigning WMYACCL champion Alex Adams (722/16:45) showed no complacency. Acknowledging his commitment to the sport, his SUAAC team-mates willed on Adams during the sprint finish for 2nd position in, arguably, the tensest moment of the day and what a sprint finish it was: Adams dug deep and dispatched his 3rd-placed challenger. Next in for Stratford were the four younger members of the team: Milo Cullimore (723/24th/18:15); Jaicob Ford (724/31st/18:40); Henry Wheeler (728/37th/19:03) and Hugh Markham (727/52nd/21:11). All four proved they are capable of the huge leap to U17 racing. That SUAAC can enter a team of five in this age-category is no mean feat and quite the rarity. Resultantly, the team started its season in 5th – a very promising position. 


The U11 girls applied themselves steadfastly with the top four performers separated by just 18 seconds. Emulating the U17 women, the two highest finishers, Amelie Marshall (785/20th/06:05) and Maggie Silvers (11124/23rd/06:13) were also separated by just one dramatic second. There were further determined performances from Jasmine Mothershaw (786/28th/06:19) with young Emily Lambert (784/40th/06:30) and Martha Edwards (781/62nd/06:51) displaying their running pedigrees. Evangeline Harris (783/97th/07:27) and Layla Sparrow (787/120/08:27) also gave robust performances in what was the largest pack of the day. Much promise from our youngest girls saw them also take an opening 5th position in the league. 


There were similarl fashionably close splits amongst the fraternity that is the U15s boys’ team. In a cracking run, the elder of the Lambert brothers, Zak (749/11:02), was first in for the club clinching an impressive 10th overall. William Mayes (751/13th/11:07) scuppered a ‘Lambert Double’ by finishing between the brothers as young Sam Lambert (748/11:17) became the third Stratford lad with an impressively decisive run to finish 18th overall. Promising new boy Thomas Fisher (744/22nd/11:22) and James Day (742/28th/11:38) both ran convincingly and were also soon over the line. Seb Hillard (747/51st/12:36) James Mayes – twin to William – (1123/53rd/12:40) and Josh Harrison (746/56th/12:51) formed a close trio of yellow vests with Ewan Sparrow (754/78th/14:21) yet again proving himself a dedicated and dependable member of the team. With an emerging reputation for reliable performances the U15 boys’ team lies deservedly in 2nd position.


Continuing their success from last season, the U13’s girls saw the ever-dependable Marijke Tear-Verweij (764/09:01) finish superbly in overall 5th. Thereafter was a swathe of yellow in the top third of the pack as Lois Ford (756/21st/09:38), Ava Sheppard (762/27th/09:44), Portia Nabney (757/29th/09:45), Amelia Peeke (758/35th/09:51) and Stella Sant (760/42nd/10:05) all finished within 27 seconds of one another. Georgia Sharpe (761/70th/10:47) and Rachel Sparrow (763/73rd/10:50) rounded off the team’s great efforts seeing it secure 3rd place in the league table. A very encouraging start to the season!


Not to be outdone by the girls, the U13 boys put in a stellar team performance clinching no less than five of the top eleven positions. Particular mention goes to Will Hovell (965/4th/08:01) who is usually more at home on the track. To his own great surprise, Will placed a phenomenal 4th overall in his debut club cross-country race and might just have been sufficiently inspired to see what he is capable of on the Welcombe Hills. Second in this formidable team was Aran Cooper (765/ 6th/08:15) replicating his strong 2022 track performances; then came the exciting prospect of Arthur Williamson (779/ 7th/08:19) who is new to the club this year. Arthur exuded great physical presence keeping a cool demeanour from start to finish and culminating in a remarkable 7th. Despite falling on a bend, Joel Ledgard (770/08:22) regained focus and motored home in overall 10th, with the agile Sam Plumb (774/08:23) hot on his heels securing 11th. First to finish in the younger sub-category was the promising new-comer Kipp Stevens (777/19th/08:45), translating his impressive work-ethic in training into an equally impressive 19th position. Arthur Mansbridge (771/08:59) and Alfie Musk (772/09:11) followed with focussed performances, both finding themselves easily inside the top half of the pack. Credit also to Toby Spriggs (776/78th/10:34) and Ben Harrison (769/ 93rd/12:03) for their resilient running in their first year as U13 cross-country runners. A thrilling start for the U13 boys taking top slot in the league!


The U15 girls finished off the day with a masterclass in keeping your head. The Stratford pack worked reliably despite the challenging pace, with one or two competitors saying they would have preferred a hillier course: Martha Peters missed playing to her hill-climbing strengths whilst Bo Algate humorously pined for the downhill bits! Nevertheless, Martha Peters (734/13:58) led the U15 girls home securing 35thwith Annie Silvers (736/42nd/14:08) second in for Stratford. It was especially great to see Tessa Parkin (733/55th/14:39) return this season, slotting straight back in as if she had never been away. The three Bs of Bo Algate (729/56th/14:40), Bayleigh Stubbins (738/72nd/16:23) and Brooke Rossney (735/82nd/18:00) were welcome additions to the U15s team this year and have already shored up this team’s reputation for committed performances. Overall, the team is holding its own in 6th position.


Ultimately, Walsall delivered on its promise of a fast and challenging course and the SUAAC young athletes showed they could rise to the challenge. All round, a splendid day’s work especially for those in their debut races and for those new to club. Opening in overall 3rd position, this year’s cross-country team are brimming with potential in what could prove to be a cracking season. Watch this space…

Will Dyche, Damian Wheeler, Joe Lee, Max Ross, Rich Shephard and Ade Mason.
Oxford Half Marathon
Report – Ade Mason

Oxford Half is a firm favourite of mine on the racing calendar with a “flat course” and great atmosphere. 

The race meanders through historic streets and University Parks in the city of dreaming spires (according to some poet!), passing the River Cherwell and Lady Margaret Hall, with live entertainment at every mile and amazing local crowd support lining most of the route.

The race typically attracts 10,000+ runners, but fell short on entries this year, partly due to Bath Half being moved to the same day, which is another fast flat race typically attracting the same sort of numbers. 

However, it was great to see a few more yellow and black vests at the start line this year and the weather conditions were almost perfect for racing, even if the sunshine did get a little warm towards the end.

Personally, I’m still carrying a bit of a hamstring niggle, so I certainly wasn’t going to break my course PB from last year, but nevertheless, I was happy to come in under 90mins with a time of 01:28:11 (7mins down on 2021).

Taking the glory for SAC was Alex Hill in a superb time of 01:17:57, finishing in 25th place, out of ~5000 finishers! 

The ever improving Max Ross ran a great race following a weeks rest with a tight calf, and despite pouring Lucozade over himself(!), finished in 01:26:08. 

Will Dyche was next over the line in an impressive 01:33:25, closely followed by Joe Lee in 01:35:11, supported by all his family. 

Owen Lewis finished in a time of 01:39:43, followed by Damian Wheeler who was flying at the start but ran out of steam (his words) after 10 miles, still finishing in a respectible time of 01:44:23. 

Rich Shephard turned up and ran around with his wife Ceri, finishing with times of 01:45:27 and 01:45:28 respectively and  to complete the SAC runners, was Richard Hartwell in a time of 02:08:41.

All in all a great race and good representation from the club.
Kate Wright
Tough Runner Sprint Duathlon 

Notgrove Estate.

Report – Kate Wright

Branching into a new area of sport I took on the Tough Runner Sprint Duathlon based at the Notgrove Estate, a pretty little area between Naunton and Bourton On the Water.

The race consisted of 2x 5k runs and 20k bike ride.

It was only once I arrived that I discovered it was an off road run in long grass and mud. My road shoes were not the best choice!

After a bit of Googling on how to execute a good duathlon, my plan was to start slow and finish strong.

The run route reminded me of the Welcome Hills XC course. It was tough. However I did have the fastest ladies run.

Once out on the bike section I dropped to 3rd lady but slowly clawed back time on the hills and came in only 2 mins behind the leader and 30secs behind second lady.

My legs were screaming at me on the second run and I was reduced to a few seconds walk up the hills until 2nd lady was in sight. Unfortunately she beat me by 5 seconds. I did however have the fastest 2nd run again.
1st lady beat the course record in 1hr 27. 2nd lady 1.30.02, me 1.30.07.
A library photo of Richard Liggatt

Bath Half Marathon

Report – Richard Liggatt

The Bath Half Marathon returned last Sunday following 2 postponements that, in a break from convention, were linked to roadworks rather than a global pandemic.

Having signed up over a year ago I managed to scribble it down into the wrong week on my calendar, so it was a nice surprise to receive an email last Wednesday telling me it was only 4 days until race day. Those who know me know I always bring an excuse to the start line, so the dates mix up gave me a ready-made reason to play down my hopes before the race.

Bath Half is a surprisingly flat course considering the city is located in a very steep valley. My PB came at Cambridge earlier in the year (which I only signed up for due to the first postponement of this race), so excuses aside this was a good opportunity. Clearly it is a good opportunity for many others as it attracts over 7000 runners and a very fast field overall.

The course starts at the famous Royal Crescent and loops its way around the edge of the city, along the river and, as a 40th anniversary treat, they added a killer hill to the final 200m.

I managed to get a decent position on the start line, only to notice that 2 of my closest rivals in the Warwickshire Road Racing League were there alongside me. No matter where I go, I always seem to end up racing against Leamington and Kenilworth!  They both set off like a bullet but I kept to my plan over the first 10k, feeling strong and confident for a PB. The other two were nowhere to be seen but I hoped my good pacing in the first half would put me in good shape for a strong finish. I continued to feel good until the final 3k where I was unable to hold the target pace and faded to finish in 1:17:27, about 40 seconds from my PB, and 80th out of 6759 finishers.

Despite closing in on my rivals in the final stages I didn’t manage to get ahead of them. The winner was Kadar Omar with a time of 1:05:03.

The only other Stratford AC finisher was Simon Nicol who finished in 519th position with a time of 1:32:14.

All in all it was a well organised event on a fast and scenic route, so I would recommend it to others for next year (although I’m biased since it is my home city).


Huge thanks to Nick Campbell who managed to capture every one of our athletes last Sunday with the exception of Toby Sprigs. More of that at the end of the photos!
Maisie-Joy Spriggs and Niamh Hillard
Tilly Campbell and Abbi Cooper
Alice and Emily Cottam
Arthur Chadburn and Lucy Thomas
Tyler Li and Callum Linforth
Henry Thomas and Eli Ford
Toby Ledgard and Henry Wheeler
Alex Adams and Hugh Markham
Jaicob Ford and Milo Cullimore
Amelie Marshall and Layla Sparrow
Martha Edwards and Maggie Silvers
Jasmine Mothershaw and Emily Lambert
Evangeline Harris and Bayleigh Stubbins
Tom Fisher and James Day
The results team – Sarah Bland and Georgie Campbell. Georgie swapping her running shoes for a keyboard.
William and James Mayes
Seb Hillard and Josh Harrison
Zak and Sam Lambert
Ewan Sparrow and Marijke Tear-Verweij
Ava Sheppard and Lois Ford
Amelia Peeke and Stella Sant
Georgia Sharpe and Portia Mabney
Rachel Sparrow and Alfie Musk
Toby Ledgard and Sam Plumb
Kipp Stevens and Aran Cooper
Arthur Mansbridge and Ben Harrison
Will Hovill and Arthur Williamson
Martha Peters and Annie Silvers
Tessa Parkin and Harriet Black
Bo Algate and Brook Rossney
Due to what Nick called a poorly timed technical hitch we haven’t got a photo of Toby Spriggs from Sunday, which gives me the perfect excuse for showing my favourite ever photo of Toby