Medals, medals and more medals.

Team Gold for our U17 ladies team. L to R Lucy Thomas, Olivia Robinson, Maisie-Joy Spriggs, Niamh Hillard, Tilly Campbell and Abbi Cooper
It looks like the sleeve for their first album. Our very own U13 boy band and team gold winners.
L to R: Kipp Stevens, Joel Ledgard, Will Hovell, Aran Cooper and Arthur Williamson.
It has been a week of both individual and team glory.

At the Warwickshire County Cross Country Championships we enjoyed our own Super Saturday. The club were overall winners with an all-time club best of five team golds, three individual golds, four silvers and five bronzes.

Just read that again

At the Warwickshire County Cross Country Championships the club were overall winners with an all-time club best of five team golds, three individual golds, four silvers and five bronzes.

thaPretty remarkable I hope you will agree.

The club have been knocking on the door for the last few seasons. In 2018 and 2019 we were 3rd with Coventry Godiva in pole position and in 2020 we were 2nd to Birchfield Harriers. There were no Championships last year. In 2019 and 2020 we accumulated 583 and 623 points respectively and this year we didn’t just knock on the door, we smashed it down with 973 points.

Paul Hawkins commented that he was both thrilled and excited and that this was a real biggie and the culmination of years of building.

Paul Bearman commented that it was great job by Paul Hawkins and his coaching team as well as the athletes of course. He went on to say 
“I believe this extraordinary success is one of the most significant things that the club has achieved in recent years and coupled with the T& F champs successes it firmly establishes our club as the premier club in Warwickshire ……if not beyond”.

Yes it was that big.

Not to be overlooked, this past week is Neil Gardiner’s fantastic achievement of representing Team GB at the Triathlon World Championships – Standard Distance in Abu Dhabi.

Many congratulations Neil.

Take care

Best Wishes

David Jones

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Yes it really is a fact. We are now the holders of the trophy for both the best T&F club overall and the best cross country overall in Warwickshire.

 Hugely impressive.
U13 team gold winners Lois Ford, Ava Sheppard and Marijke Tear-Verweij
Junior Team Gold winners Alex Pester, Taylor Stubbins and Ned Campbell.
Stratford’s finest. L-R Paul Hawkins, Taylor Stubbins, Tim Hutchinson, Huw Crossweller, Richard Dobedoe, Ned Campbell, Nick Campbell, Rich Shephard, Max Ross, Alex Pester and Peter Sugden.
We are The Champions  – Pretty convincing or what

2022 Warwickshire County Championships

Championship win For Stratford AC

Report – Rachel Stevens and Paul Hawkins

It was gold galore for Stratford AC at the 2022 Warwickshire County Championships on an icy, frosty day at Welkin Farm, Easenhall! An all-time club best of five team golds, three individual golds, four silvers and five bronzes saw their way home to Stratford after a magnificent day’s running from our athletes, meaning that Stratford won the overall championships, the Graham Heeley Trophy, for the first time in their history, to go alongside the Track and Field Championship which Stratford has won for the last six seasons.

The final scores for the Graham Heeley Trophy for the leading teams were

Stratford AC            973 points

Coventry Godiva        810 points

Birchfield Harriers        456 points

Royal Sutton Coldfield        388 points

First to line up on a frost-laden field of ridge and furrow were our U13 boys. After asserting their team dominance from the off, it was Arthur Williamson (2nd/09:21) who led SUA home, taking an incredible silver. Next in was Will Hovel (3rd/09:27) achieving a well-deserved individual bronze. Then it was Aran Cooper (4th/09:31) as third man home to secure them as Team Champions!  Running equally strongly was Joel Ledgard (5th/09:35) finishing mere seconds behind Aran and completing the team with a respectable run was Kipp Stevens (12th/10:41). 

Before the dust had settled, it was double glory for Marijke Tear-Verweij (13:15) who, after an incredible run, was not only first girl home for Stratford in their team gold performance but was first for Warwickshire, thus becoming individual County Champion!  Sharing team victory thanks to their cracking runs were Lois Ford (5th/14:05) and Ava Sheppard (6th/14:32). Challenging all the way was Amelia Peeke just one second after (7th/14:33) with Portia Nabney (9th/14:41) and Rachel Sparrow (15:40) both running well to round off the Stratford contingency.

It was yet another team gold in the U15 boys’ race! Fantastic running from Will Mayes (3rd/13:08) also saw him clinch a brilliant individual bronze as well as join the other deserved team medallists Tom Fisher (5th/13:24) and James Day (8th/13:51). Completing the team were James Mayes (15th/14:30), Charlie Clayton (19th/14:56) and Ewan Sparrow (22nd/17:43) all putting in solid and reliable performances.

In the U15 girls’ race, the team was strong and secure placing them second team home for a Team Silver. Martha Peters (10th/16.26) led the girls over the line in a typical determined run followed by Bo Algate (14th/16:41), with Tessa Parkin (16th/17:13), Hannah Wilkinson (18th/17:49) and Charlotte Skinner (20th/18:38) completing the team. 

In the U17 Men’s race, reigning champ as an under 15 from 2000, Alex Adams (1st/17:36) comfortably retained his individual title and pocketed another individual gold! Henry Wheeler (14th/21:42) also gave an assured run to finish a respectable fourteenth despite being unwell. 

Headed by an impressive Niamh Hillard (4th/18:49), our U17 Ladies became the fourth Team Champions of the day! Olivia Robinson (5th/18:59) and Maisie-Joy Spriggs (6th/19:05) packed in close to Niamh in consecutive positions to place the ladies comfortably above their rivals, supported by the ever improving Abbi Cooper (10th/20.17), Lucy Thomas (13th/21.13) and the consummate team player Tilly Campbell (16th/24.06)

The penultimate race of the day was the combined Junior, Senior and Masters Women’s race over a longer than usual 7k distance. As this was combined with the Worcestershire race there was effectively six competitions within one races which made it difficult for both athletes and spectators to keep track of who was where in the race. The leading two Stratford runners, both under 20’s, had no problem though as they were both amongst the leaders from the start. First year Junior Charly Marshall had a superb race to finish 4th overall (25.31) followed by Georgie Campbell, 6th in 26.00 who were not surprisingly first and second juniors. 

The Stratford Senior team ran brilliantly to pick up an unexpected bronze team medal led by team captain Vicky Sharpe (15th, 31.06) closely followed by Suzie Ross (17th, 31.45) and Emily Carr (22nd, 32.57). Making up the Masters Team who came 4th,  just missing out on medals with some excellent performances were Emma Bexson (5th, 29.02), Hannah Osborne (24th, 33.52) and Suzi Graham (28th, 35.11) followed by Ginny Davis (46th, 40.27) who was making her cross country debut in the race.

Finally, as with the women, the senior men’s race included three age groups and two counties but with a 10km course and our Junior under 20 team dominated their race, always maintaining a place amongst the leaders. As has often been the case this season, they were led home by Ned Campbell in 23rd overall and third junior in 35.03 with Alex Pester (26th, 4th junior, 35.09) close behind. Taylor Stubbins (27th, 5th junior, 35.20) had led the Stratford contingent for most of the race but illness took its toll on the last lap. The three juniors were delighted to take gold medals in their race. The fourth junior to finish was Koda Spriggs (80th, 7th junior, 40.05) who unfortunately limped over the line with a calf strain. 

In the Masters competition, the Stratford team took a well deserved team Silver along with Rich Shephard (29th, 35.31) running very strongly to take an individual bronze. Other team members pleased to be collecting their medals were Tim Hutchinson (11th Master, 39.40) Huw Crosweller (17th,40.26) and Peter Sugden (24th,42.14) ably supported by Max Ross (25th, 42.19), Richard Dobedoe (26th, 42.27) and Nick Campbell (34th, 43.47) the fourth member of the Campbell to run so well in the Stratford team.

Team Gardiner
You were certainly not an imposter Neil
Finishing the swim.

Triathlon World Championships – Standard Distance

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Report – Neil Gardiner

My goal to represent Great Britain at triathlon had been five years in the making.  I did my first triathlon with a pool swim in East Leake in 2017.  In 2019, I qualified for the GB Team in a race at Grafham, where the swim was cut short because the water was so cold (11 degrees). 

The World Championships were meant to be in 2020 but they were postponed for two years due to COVID (so glad I didn’t ‘let myself go’ over lockdown). 

Finally, it was on…Abu Dhabi, 26th November.

As the event got closer, I got a massive case of Imposter Syndrome…I didn’t think I deserved to be there and kept waiting for some official to tap me on the shoulder and say, ‘there’s been a terrible mistake, you’re not actually meant to be here’.  With this in mind, I’d set myself two realistic goals, 1. Get to the start line injury free, and 2. Don’t come last.

Swim    1.5km, time 29:36

The water was 27 degrees, so too hot for wetsuits.  As swimming is not my strongest discipline, my plan was to take it steady and stay in contact with the other competitors.  By the first buoy, the field had thinned out and I’d found someone who I could draft.  This meant I could take it -relatively- easy, apart from when I had to fight for position as we overtook a couple of others. I deliberately never went above 7 out of 10 for effort, saving myself for the bike and run (as the saying goes, let the pain come to you).

Bike    40km, time 1:01:49

The bike is my friend and I enjoyed giving it some beans having cruised the swim.  Although there were 4 U-turns, it was a very fast bike course, and I averaged a smidge over 24mph.

Run    10km, time 50:34

It was getting hot as we approached midday and I had the feeling that I might have over-cooked the bike.  I wasn’t running particularly fast but my heart rate was already high.  As people went past me on lap 1, I let them go knowing that I would blow up if I tried to chase them.  I walked the aid stations, only 10 metres but it allowed me to have a proper drink, get an ice sponge down my back then go again.  On lap 2 I was still slow and I could already feel the blisters on my feet, but I was picking off a few racers whose wheels had come off completely.

Overall time was 2:28:22, finishing 34th out of the 50 finishers in my Age Group.

Despite my nerves in the build-up, I love race day and this event was extra special because my family were there to soak up the atmosphere and cheer me on.  Finally, I’d like to give a big Thank You to my club mates who make training 9 hours a week social, fun and competitive, and to the coaches who give up their time to help others achieve their goals.

Peter Sugden, Tim Hutchinson and Huw Crossweller.
Tessa Parkin and Hannah Wilkinson
Alex Adams and Henry Wheeler
Charlotte Skinner and Bo Algate
Martha Peters
Will Mayes and Tom Fisher
James Day and Charlie Clayton
Rachel Sparrow
James Mayes and Ewan Sparrow
County Champion and gold medal winner Marijke Tear-Verweij
Portia Nabney and Amelia Peeke
Charly Marshall and Georgia Campbell
Vicky Sharpe and Suzie Ross
Emily Carr
Emma Bexson and Suzi Graham
Hannah Osborne and Ginny Davis
Koda Spriggs
Niamh, Lucy, Abbi, Olivia and Tilly
And Finally
Our junior endurance runners done get to be as good as they are without putting in the hard yards. Last Sunday morning on the Welcombe Hills. Training in a Winter Wonderland