Across The Channel – 37 and counting.

The club took over Stratford Parkrun last Saturday and we put on a pretty good show as this photo shows.
This was also a recruitment drive in an attempt to attract new members to the club with many members leafletting the event
There was a fabulous turnout of club members at the club’s takeover of last Saturday’s local parkrun on a weekend that also saw several members competing in the Coombe 8 and Susan Hunt crossing the Channel to run in the La Rochelle Marathon, her 37th no less.

Meanwhile Alex Adams confirmed his return to full fitness with a 6th place finish in the British Athletics Cross Challenge in Liverpool and Phil Brennan added to his haul of medals, this time with a gold in the British Masters 10 Mile Challenge in Gravesend.

This weekend is a huge XC weekend. On Saturday the Welcombe Hills will be alive with XC runners as the club hosts the next league fixtures for both the Midland Women’s Cross Country League and the Birmingham & District Invitation Cross Country League, with both of our senior teams competing and on Sunday our talented endurance runners will be competing at Warley Woods in the West Midlands Young Athletes Cross Country League.

Good luck to all of our runners.

Take care

Best wishes

David Jones
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Under starters orders
Aran Cooper and Joel Ledgard who finished in 8th and 10th place respectively, both recording PB times of 18.54 and 19.02.
John Butler, Kim Lee and Rosie Slocombe.
Ned Campbell who finished in 2nd place and Abbi Cooper who was 4th female finisher in a new PB time of 21.12.
Rich Liggatt, Rob Gisbourne and Matt Birdus-Cook
Kate Wright and Richard Dobedoe.
Sarah Bland’s comments on Saturday’s turnout.
“Well done to everyone for a great turnout at the Parkrun takeover on Saturday – organisers, pacers, marshals and scorers, as well as a sea of yellow vests running with smiles on your faces. Huge thanks to Max for some fabulous photos too, and big credit to Beverley, Chris, John Raby and Louise who headed it all up.
Drew Sambridge, Sarah Odell, Max Ross, Joe Lee, Suzy Ross and a trio of Lee offsprings!
Coombe 8

Report – Becks Pridham

Have you ever had that desire to do an extra few miles when running the cross country league? What would be your perfect race? For me, Coombe 8 comes very close to topping my favourite races.

It’s eight miles of off-road fun, running through woods, churning up fallen leaves, jumping over tree roots, even a stream crossing to tempt the braver souls out and about on a Sunday morning.

Well, I’ll be honest, I actually only decided to do the race about 20 minutes before leaving the house as Drew Sambridge messaged me with “on the day entries available!”. 

It was a relatively small, but bold contingent of Stratford AC runners, with Drew leading the team home in 53:32 (18th). Max Ross finishing strong in 57:10 (30th), and, like Drew, making his debut at the event.

Joe Lee, supported by Kim and the boys cheering loudly, finished in 58:02 (33rd). Next was the turn of the Stratford ladies, with an on-form Suzy Ross in 01:07:45 (92nd) just ahead of Sarah Odell (01:10:02, 108th) who has been making her training count in recent months. Finally, I brought home the small Stratford team in 01:19:01 (168th), feeling strong and yes, I was still smiling.

Put this one in your diaries for 2023. It’s a fabulous race, small, friendly and off-road and you get a most welcome hot chocolate when you finish too.
Susan Hunt – nice wind jacket Susan!
Susan and her fellow “old birds” – her words not mine.

Marathon de La Rochelle

Report – Susan Hunt

My mate Linda and I had always fancied a seaside marathon so we entered Blackpool in 2020. After it was cancelled twice due to COVID, we decided to upgrade to La Rochelle instead.

Our posher seaside destination meant we soon persuaded some fellow FV50s to join us and last weekend the “old birds” went on tour (a slogan which went on our hoodies, and totally bewildered the French).

La Rochelle marathon is the 2nd largest in France (after Paris) and this was its 31st edition.  The hardest part of a marathon can often be making it to the start line this was definitely true in our case. 

First, we’d had to obtain the mandatory medical certificate (in a time when getting an appointment with your GP feels akin to securing an audience with the Pope) and then we’d had to endure a horrifyingly bumpy 11 hour cross channel ferry ride and survive a 4 hour drive on the wrong side of the road.  

Running 26.2 miles was going to be doddle!

The flat 2 lap course took in the harbour, old port and medieval city centre and finished with half a mile on every marathon runners’ favourite surface: cobbles.

Of the 12000 runners, about half were solo and the rest were in relay teams of either 2 or 4. 

The atmosphere was just incredible, with crowds lining the route telling us to “allez” and 12 bands playing (one every 2km).

It was my 37th marathon and the first where oysters were offered at aid stations. It was also the first in my SAC vest, which drew lots of comments from French runners (happily most were about Shakespeare and none were about Brexit).

At the end, we were rewarded with a great medal, a box of 6 oysters, a wind jacket (look out for me showing off in it at track night) and the ladies also got a rose.  Oh and a rice pudding. 

I may be slowing down but I was proud to have run every step and my time of 4:23:02 was a significant improvement on last month’s marathon at Loch Ness, where I ran 4:23:50.

Now to decide which marathon we’ll do next instead of Blackpool…

Alex Adams
This graphic shows how close Alex was to a 5th place finish.


Report – David Jones

The 3rd round of the 2022/23 British Athletics Cross Challenge Series took place in Sefton Park in Liverpool at the weekend for the European Cross Country Championships trials with our very own Alex Adams competing

UKA’s Strategic Lead for Major Events Cherry Alexander said, “The Cross Challenge series is a fantastic opportunity for those athletes developing in the sport and it also provides competitive domestic racing opportunities for our British athletes to prepare them for Championships in the future”

Moving into 2023, the final fixtures will take place in Perth on the 14th January and The British Athletics Cross Challenge Series Final will once again take place at Prestwold Hall in Loughborough, at an event which also incorporates the UK Inter Counties Championships. 

Alex Adams, the club’s “Male Junior Athlete of the Year” missed the first of these events in October due to injury but competed in Milton Keynes on 12th November, finishing in 10th place with a time of 19.46. The race was won by Connor Bell from Central AC in a time of 18.17.

Following his recovery from injury, last weekend in Liverpool he moved up to finish in 6th place with a time of 17.42, closing the gap on Connor Bell, who finished in 5th place, to just 2 seconds. The race winner was Isaac Morris of Cambridge & Coleridge AC with a time of 17.06.

I’m told that following his injury, such has been his determination to get to back to full fitness that Alex has forgone playing his beloved football and prioritised his running. Apparently he has also given up socialising with his mates, choosing training instead. Impressive or what ?

The competition now moves on to Perth in Scotland in January, where Alex is hoping to compete. It will then be on to the final in Loughborough on 14th March.

Alex’s hopes for the remaining 2 fixtures are a top 5 place and medal in Perth and hopefully a top 5 place at the final.

His comments on the Liverpool race were as follows “ Liverpool Cross Challenge at Sefton Park. 5.5km in 17:42. I went off strongly but not too quick and settled into the front group.  The pace picked up and the field strung out but I was sat in the chase group that eventually broke down into the field.  I picked up a few places on the last lap but was outrun in the finishing straight.  I felt good and very strong the whole way round. I possibly could have run harder and made an earlier move but I was happy with the result”.

These races also give Alex the opportunity to meet up with and compete against runners he competed against on his international debut last March in Wales.

A library photo of Phil Brennan when he was a lot younger!
Mr Brennan does like an undulating course!

Phil Brennan won the gold medal in the M80 BMAF 10 mile race at Gravesend last Saturday.
He was rightly pleased with his 9 minute mile pace time of
1:29.37. Six and a half laps of Gravesend Cyclopark in the drizzle apparently. 
And Finally

We continue to enjoy excellent coverage in both physical and online versions of The Stratford Herald