A truly magical weekend.

And the winners were.

I’m not sure what the collective noun is for a group of wards winners – a fit of Award winners, a quick of Award winners ? Whatever.
From Saturday’s Couch to 5k graduation parkrun. Huge congratulations to those who completed the course. Welcome to the world of running – welcome to the world of Stratford Upon Athletic Club. You won’t regret it!
Our U17 women’s team at Newbold Revel last Sunday
Our ladies XC team all turned up okay at Crewe despite me saying it was at Stoke in last week’s newsletter.
Don’t believe all you read in the press.
Our men’s XC team enjoying the sunshine in Stoke last Saturday
Goodness me, when I said that last week’s lack of events was possibly the quiet before the storm, little did I realise that it was more like the quiet before a hurricane.

What a weekend. The 29 hours between the latest Couch to 5k group graduating at the local parkrun on Saturday morning and the finish of the U15 girls XC race at Newbold Revel on Sunday afternoon was a total whirlwind of club activity.

With well over 300 attending The Awards and close to 100 competing in XC or completing the parkrun, the weekend really did show our strength in depth. It also showed how strong we are as a club and how it is peopled by so many volunteers who make such a weekend happen, be it leaders of the C25k group, team captains of the senior XC teams, coaches and helpers at the junior XC fixtures, (not forgetting the parents, never forget the parents!) and finally the organisers who made The Awards so special. We really are blessed as a club to have such a posse of helpers but I’m sure both Paul Bearman and Paul Hawkins would say there is always room for more volunteers.

Many congratulations to the new C25k group, super well done to both of our seniors XC teams who ventured so far up north, a massive thanks to Paul and Carolyne for making The Awards so successful and for the many hours they put in. I’m sure they would be the first to want to thank the many others who helped both before the event and also on the night. Thanks also to Sarah Bland and her support crew for their efforts on behalf of the seniors..

Thanks also to our guests on the night one of who, Gwil Price MBE, rather summed it up when he said our club was “second to none”  and extra special thanks to Andrew Pozzi for his tireless contribution, a contribution that meant so much to so many of those attending

We have a couple of race reports this week. One from Paul Hawkins on the Senior XC races, with contributions from team captains Vicky Sharpe and Malcolm Bowyer and a superlative one from Rachel Stevens on the wonderful performance of the close to 60 juniors who performed so magnificently for us on Sunday. Thank you Rachel, a Booker Prize surely awaits. Rachel has asked that at future races could parents let her know on the day of any key moments or observations, so that she can include them in future reports.

That’s me done for the week.

Take care.

Best wishes.

David Jones.
View this email in your browser
The Annual Awards
If you were there you will know how special our Awards were.  You weren’t the only ones. Here are a few words from our esteemed guests on the night.

Second to none.

“Thank you for another very special evening. Sharing with Andrew and Bob was very enjoyable too!
The warmth, genuine care and appreciation for your athletes/ runners of all ages, coaches, helpers and parents in general  is so clearly reflected in all that you do, whether in training sessions, Club competition, supporting your individual athletes when representing club, county or country and last but not least staging another truly wonderful Presentation Evening.
What an example you set to all others!

All driven by the exceptional team you have so expertly built.
I love witnessing everything SUAAC,

I love the welcome I receive whenever I pop by and I love our many chats.

A Club second to none” 

Gwil Price MBE – England Schools’ Athletic Association.

“Thanks vey much  for asking me along.  I really enjoyed the evening. What a great club you have.  I was so impressed with how inclusive the awards were. It’s no wonder you can turn out so many very good athletes from all disciplines, they must all feel a valued part of the club.  Well done to you all for pulling it together.

A great night”

Bob Carey – Warwickshire County Athletics Association

Andrew Pozzi added that it was a pleasure coming back and how much he enjoyed seeing everyone and how much the club had grown and how successful it is

We must be doing something right.

Master and pupil! Paul Bearman and Andrew Pozzi.
Abbi Cooper, winner of the Allen Wood Endeavour Trophy – Female with Andrew.
Arthur Mansbridge winner of the Allen Wood Endeavour Trophy – Male with Andrew.
Carolyne Johnston and Sarah Bland helping the night run smoothly
Matt-Burdus Cook – Male Athlete of the Year plus multiple other awards. I hope you’ve upped your contents insurance at home Matt after the haul you went home with on Saturday.
Female Athlete of the Year – Emma Bexson.
And the winners were
U11 boys 
U11 girls
U13 boys
U15 girls

West Midlands Young Athletes Cross Country League

Fixture 2

Newbold Revel

Report –  Rachel Stevens

Requisitioned by His Majesty’s Government for the Secret Intelligence Service during WWII, Newbold Revel provided the backdrop for the second fixture of the cross-country season. This was particularly apt as it coincided with Remembrance Sunday. Hence, thoughts for the sacrifices of those gone before us were mixed with hopes for the sporting moments ahead. 

The fine setting and equally fine weather made conditions appear ideal. However, a very tight course with a carpet of leaves camouflaging many a pesky tree root and adverse camber promised unsettling conditions. Newbold Revel would be a test of ankle strength if nothing else.

Given it was Remembrance Sunday and its association with reflecting on the service of others, this report should begin with a note of thanks. Firstly, to Neil Musk and Eleanor Nabney and her partner Richard for volunteering as Race Marshalls for the day and then to the coaches and volunteers who made Awards Night the previous evening such an auspicious occasion. There were congratulations and thanks heard amongst the team and you could feel the motivating effect such public recognition had on our young athletes. Also, to our young athletes for supporting, congratulating and, at times, consoling one another throughout the day. Their ability to switch from thoughts of their own race to that of others was on full display. SUAAC’s reputation for wonderful team spirit is in safe hands. 


The U17 Women opened the day. After disappearing from sight for much of the race, there was a burst of excitement when, rounding the final blind bend, Niamh Hillard (15:50) burst into view in overall eighth to finish just as strongly as she had started. This time there was no battle for team top-slot. That exciting tussle was reserved for Maisie-Joy Spriggs (12th/16:28) and Olivia Robinson (13th/ 16:28) both vying for a Stratford second. Invigorated at the final bend, Olivia set her sights on MJ and kicked hard to finish what must have been a mere inch behind – a real thriller of a finish. Other back-to-back finishes saw the strong performances of Abbi Cooper (17:27) and Lucy Thomas (17:54) in overall twenty-first and twenty-second, respectively. Also, there was very pleasing progress for Emily Cottam (33rd/19:17) finishing six places higher than Walsall. And bang on trend, Abi Skinner who returns after being much missed (43rd/20:30) and Tilly Campbell (44th/20:49) also finished consecutively after solid runs. Confident and reliable performances all round see our ladies sit a mere single point behind the league leaders.


Next up were our U11 boys. For many, this was the first experience of lining up in two separate rows and having to navigate a dog-leg bottleneck one hundred metres from the start. However, the tension at the start was nothing compared to that of the finish for the supporters of Eli Ford (35th/06:49) and Toby Ledgard (37th/06:49). They agonisingly watched each boy overtake the other (and then again!) on the final stretch. But it was Eli who clinched the top Stratford slot, improving on his Walsall position by a whopping thirty four places – the biggest improvement across the whole squad. Next in was Arthur Chadburn (70th/07:16) also climbing an impressive nine places overall. Then was Callum Linforth (79th/07:27), Henry Thomas (106th/08:21) and Tyler Li (107th/08:35). A particular mention is due to Henry for overcoming breathing problems at the start: by focussing hard, he regained control to complete a steady run and finish smiling. The U11 boys team currently has 678 league points.


Next in the U17 Men’s race, Alex Adams – riding high from his splendid 10th place finish in the British Athletics Cross Challenge the previous day – reasserted his dominance to win the race convincingly in 16:41. Next for Stratford was the ever-dependable Milo Cullimore (25th/18:54) and then Jaicob Ford (26th/18:58) who, learning from Milo’s experience with great pacing, ran with improved control over the first half enabling him to pick off runners in the latter stages. This resulted in a delighted Jaicob finishing five places higher than at Walsall. The Stratford men maintain their fifth position in the league.


Next up and not to be outdone by the U11 boys, the U11 girls provided an equally thrilling race. Battling from start to finish were Amelie Marshall (17th/06:56) and Jasmine Mothershaw (18th/06:56) with Amelie clinching it over the line. However, Jasmine should feel deservedly happy as she leapt up ten places compared to her opening race. Maggie Silvers (27th/07:03) also ran a fabulous race and finished particularly strongly. Soon up was Martha Edwards (44th/07:18), emulating Jasmine by improving by a huge eighteen places overall. Just behind was Emily Lambert (48th/07:20) who had given Martha a run for her money all the way round. Then it was Evangeline Harris (80th/07:53) and Ruby Whyman Bean (109th/09:00) who, in her debut race, put in a really confident performance. Both girls added to the plethora of smiling faces amongst the team at the finish line. Similarly to the men, the U11 girls remain fifth in the league. 


A bolstered U15 boys’ team saw Zak Lambert (7th/10:08) maintain his top slot for Stratford and improve his finishing position by three places, inching ever closer to the top of the board. Then mirroring the Walsall team placings came the yellow vests of William Mayes (14th/10:19) just ahead of the younger Sam Lambert (15th/10:23); then it was Thomas Fisher (23rd/10:42) and James Day (25th/10;52) both having run consistently. Opening his season confidently in forty-fifth was Charlie Clayton (11:22) and it was progress too for James Mayes (49th 11:27) finishing four places higher overall than Walsall. Luca De Freitas Pires (59th/11:47) secured his first cross country time of the season, followed by triathlete Josh Harrison (65th/12:04). Ewan Sparrow (86th/14:21) completed the boys team. Despite feeling disappointed by his own performance and in, perhaps the most sporting moment of the day, Ewan exemplified what it is to give back to your sport: no soon as he had spotted the nerves of some younger runners, he put his own feelings aside to reassure them about their task ahead. A considerate and selfless act.


Thereafter came the U13 girls, with six of the seven girls moving up positions on the finishing board. A delighted Marijke Tear-Verweij (10:39) set the standard by finishing in a stupendous second place – three places up from Walsall and currently sits at second in the league. Lois Ford (11th/11:12) was next in, jumping ten places; Ava Sheppard (21st/11:39) was up six places; then it was Portia Nabney (25th/11:51) and Amelia Peeke (31st/11:55) both jumping up four places. With one of the largest improvements of the day, Rachel Sparrow (54th/ 12:47) leapt up an enormous nineteen places. Georgia Sharpe (79th/13:40) completed the girls’ team and helped it move up to second in the league. 


It was back-to-back exceptional team performances for the U13 boys. The strategy was for sprinter Will Hovell to draw the front four quickly to the first bottleneck, ensuring they were in a safe position for the remainder of the narrow course and what a tactic it was because not only were they safely dispatched but it was a sea of Stratford vests that flooded five of the top twelve final positions! Will led the boys home for overall third (09:46) but pushing him all the way was the incredible Aran Cooper in fourth (09:49). With what appeared a rocket-fuelled final fifty metres, Joel Ledgard (5th/09:49) closed in on Aran to finish a fraction behind and, before you could catch your breath, it was Sam Plumb running superbly over the line in seventh (09:55). Having locked his sights onto the front fab four from the outset, young Kipp Stevens (10:11) delivered a cracking performance picking off runners to jump up eight places, finishing 12th overall. Thereafter, came a close trio of Stratford vests: Alfie Musk (28th/10:51) ran a terrific race improving on his position from Walsall by eight places; Arthur Mansbridge (31st/10:55) was spurred on by deservedly receiving the Allan Wood Endeavour Trophy the night before; and Morgan Nabney confidently secured his first cross-country time of the season (33rd/10:57). Also improving on his position was Toby Spriggs (66th/12:01) leaping up twelve places on Walsall. Making his debut appearance for Stratford and completing the team was Jamie Dewhurst (76th/12:55) who delivered a really confident performance from start to finish. After two races, not only is the U13 Boys’ team holding onto top position in the league, but it is putting distance between it and Wolverhampton and Bilston in second. An outstanding team performance! 


The day concluded with the U15 girls. In fine form, Annie Silvers (20th/12:29) led the girls home, finishing a huge twenty-two places higher than Walsall. Also showing significant improvement on the previous race were Tessa Parkin (35th/13:03) up twenty places, and Bo Algate (38th/13:18) up eighteen places. Bo even managed to overcome a nasty spiking just after the first bend, made all the sorer for it ruining a new pair of shoes. Next in for Stratford was Martha Peters (50th/13:54) who was one of a few athletes running back to back races this weekend. Hannah Wilkinson (64th/14.35) was a late addition to the team and ran superbly.  It was particularly great to see Charlotte Skinner (67th/14:45) running in a Stratford vest once more and start her season with a solid opening performance. Then it was a close finish between Bayleigh Stubbins (72nd/15:16) and Brooke Rossney (73rd/17:18) who progressed by nine places. Overall, the girls moved up a place to fifth in the league.


The runners unanimously concluded the course was tough: tough on the feet, balance and head due to some stretches feeling endless. And the supporters counted their blessing it was dry and warm twice in a row. Thoughts now turn to Warley Woods where those who love the climbs can play to their strengths and see if Stratford might build on its current overall position of third in the league.

A Mexican wave as debutant Bridget Richards approaches
Our men ready for the off

Senior Cross Country Leagues

Saturday 12 November

Report – Paul Hawkins, Vicky Sharp and Malcolm Bowyer.

Both men’s and women’s teams from Stratford Upon Avon Athletics Club were racing in their first league match of the season

The Ladies laced up for the first race in the Midland Women’s league in Division 1 which took place on Betley Farm, Crewe in Staffordshire just on the Cheshire border. Despite the venue being the furthest away of all the league races, they still managed to put out a 13 person strong team and pull off a fabulous performance. Continuing her fantastic start to the XC season Georgie Campbell (23:50) came 7th overall and was the 2nd Junior to cross the line. Also placing extremely well within her age category, Kate Wright (25:31) finished 6th Master and 30th overall. The next finishers in running order were Emma Bexson (27:23) 60th, Emily Orton (28:22) 76th, Vicky Sharpe (29:02) 85th, Suzie Ross (29:44) 89th, Bethany Swain (30:24) 94th, Kate Barney (31:16) 102nd, Emily Carr continuing her return from injury (31:50) 108th, Clare Goodwin (32:30) 116th, Pip Bell (34:43) 129th, Rebecca Pridham (35:42) 133rd and Bridget Richards (38:41) 143rd. Special mentions go to the XC first timers Beth, Kate, Emily, Clare, Pip and Bridget who gave it their all in the race and didn’t let being in the top division phase them. An extra special mention goes to Bridget who joined the club last week, offered to run for the team immediately and was the recipient of a Mexican Wave from the team as she raced into the finish line. 


Meanwhile, the men’s team were competing in Division 3 of the Birmingham & District Cross Country League which was also in Staffordshire but they were at Park Hall Country Park at Stoke on Trent. With the sun shining there was a strong team of 15 runners running for Stratford.

It was a hilly woodland course comprising of three laps making a distance of approximately 10k.


It was an encouraging pointer for the future that there were three juniors competing with the senior team for the first time. 


There were four Stratford runners in the top 15: Alex Pester in 4th place, Ned Campbell in 9th place, Richard Liggatt in 13th place and Taylor Stubbins who was making his senior debut in an excellent 15th place after taking a tumble. Alex, Ned and Taylor are all under 20’s. In 39th spot was Adam Linforth and making the final position in the A team was, Mr dependable, Tim Hutchinson, in 41st place.


For the B team, Paul Faithfull was just behind Tim in 44th place. There was a battle between Sam Wilks in 52nd place and Dave Teasdale in 53rd place. Peter Sugden was in 72nd place and Max Ross was 81st place, taking the final place for the B team  followed by the always smiling John Raby in 88th, and making his debut was Rob Gisbourne in 93rd place, followed by Nick Cooper 108th place and Nick Campbell in 120th place who battled it out to the finish line. All told there were 254 runners taking part in this race in 21 teams taking part and the Stratford A and B team both finished in second place in their competitions so are well placed on being in a top three promotion place.


Stratford are hosting the next race at the Welcombe Hills on the 3rd December at 1:30pm and they will appreciate the home support.

More Awards photos. Many thanks to Max Ross.
For the full set of Max’s photos from Saturday night please follow this link

Female Junior Athlete of the Year – Catherine Reynolds
Male Junior Athlete of the Year  – Alex Adams
I think I’ll wear a white T-shirt, I’m sure nobody else will be wearing one..
More Junior XC photos. 
Many thanks to Mike Sheppard and Nick Campbell
The U17 women’s race
The U17 men’s race gets underway.
Neil Musk and Eleanor Rabney, who along with partner Richard helped the fixture run smoothly.