2 Gold and 4 Bronze medals.

Gold medal winners Alex Adams and Georgie Campbell
U20 bronze medalists: Taylor Stubbins, Alex Pester, Ned Campbell and Koda Spriggs
This week we report on the many successes club members enjoyed at last Saturdays Midlands XC Championships, with 2 individual golds, an individual bronze and 3 team bronzes.

There are also reports on the last running of the iconic NTRIX.

Next week I am hoping to have an article on the history of this race, which believe it or not was first run in November 1967 with just 12 runners competing. If you have any particular memories of this race please let me know. When thinking about writing this article I remembered that it was the first official competitive race I had run in since schools days. That was in 2008 shortly before I joined the club.

It was great to see the latest crop of Couch to 5kers at the track on Monday night, embarking on their 9 week introduction to the sport so many of us love.

Wednesday night saw the 2nd of this year’s Shakespeare Race take place with close to 60 runners competing in pretty much ideal conditions.

This weekend we have a few of our members competing in the British Universities and College Sports (BUCS) XC Championships in Wales. Good luck to those who are competing.

Take care

Best wishes

David Jones 
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February Shakespeare Race

Wednesday night saw the 2nd Shakespeare Race of the year take place with almost 60 members on the start line in Maidenhead Road.

As the provisional results below show, the top 2 places were occupied by the same runners as in January but whereas last month Jamie Hall triumphed over Matt Burdus-Cook, this month the places were reversed, with Matt coming out on top in a time of 30:26 against Jamie’s 30:48. In his first time running this race U20 Ned Campbell secured 3rd place with a time of 31:33.

Kate Wright was first lady finisher in 7th place with a time of 34:23. 2nd place female runner and first junior female was Maisie-Joy Spriggs in 12th place with a time of 36:56 just a day after her 16th birthday!

For the full set of results please follow the link below:


Bronze medalist Charly Marshall.
Stratford’s Fab Four: From the top: Suzi Graham, Becks Pridham, Suzie Ross and Ceri Shephard.
Stratford’s Got Talent – our men’s team.

Midlands Cross Country Championships

Newbold Comyn, Leamington

28th January 2023


Report – Rachel Stevens, Suzie Ross & Paul Hawkins

The Midlands Cross Country Championships are the first of the major championships of the season and represent a step up in quality from the County Champs before the National Championships in February and March. 

The course at Newbold Comyn is a regular venue which many in the Stratford team know well and the parkland course was mostly firm underfoot with some very muddy parts and The Ditch on each lap. 

The Under 13 girls were the first race of the day, which was a delayed start but nevertheless our girls snapped back into action and took on the 3km run with steely determination.

In a field of sixty-two of the Midlands’ best, it was the confident and poised run of Lois Ford (30th/10:47) that saw her efforts translate to first in for Stratford. Then, neck-a-neck throughout the whole race, it was Stella Sant (35th/11:01) who just pipped Portia Nabney (36th/11:01) on the line with both girls having produced terrific runs. Ava Sheppard (42nd/11:22) and Amelia Peeke (48th/11:40) also rose to the occasion, both obliterating their minute/mile pace produced at Pingles just a fortnight before – a similarly flattish course.

Overall, our U13 girls finished a solid 7th out of 15 teams.

In the U13 boys’ race Arthur Williamson (9th/09:18) had a cracking start and managed to protect his position from start to finish. Running, as ever, with such outward serenity (although he swears he’s going like the clappers inside), Arthur finished within the coveted ‘top-ten’ – a real accolade given the calibre of the field.

Soon after it was Will Hovell (13th/ 09:28) who, undistracted by a niggly knee, ran with fervent focus and steadfast maturity to finish a deserved second for Stratford. The light-footed and unwavering Aran Cooper (15th/ 09:34) was third home after successfully subduing an angry leg muscle. Then it was a wonderful day’s racing for young Kipp Stevens (27th/10:00) who was stoked to be fourth man home  – his highest team placing and in his fastest minute/mile pace run to date and that’s despite the testing ditches and stickiness underfoot. 

Next up were Arthur Mansbridge (42nd/10:25) and young Morgan Nabney (45th/10:29) who both delivered the goods with controlled yet unyielding runs.

A superb team performance saw the boys secure third position with Arthur, Will, Aran and Kipp all earning bronze medals!

There was particular valiance amongst our U15 teams: Annie Silvers (33rd/15:12) ran resolutely from start to finish with an unwelcomed stitch but refused to let it dominate. Thereafter, it was Martha Peters (51st/16:47) who negotiated a tricky starting position and some early slips to finish strongly over the line. A focussed Hannah Wilkinson (56th/17:27) once again delivered a fine performance and was the third Stratford girl home for the second consecutive race.

The moment of the day occurred in the U15 boys’ race. Forgoing any recovery time or any self-congratulations for finishing a fantastic first for Stratford, Zak Lambert (18th/12:52) crossed the line only to turn instantly on his heels searching out brave brother Sam (22nd/13:04) who had run the entire race in considerable pain due to a nasty knock earlier in the week. Reminiscent of the Brownlee brothers in the 2016 Triathlon World Series, Zak threw an arm around an exhausted Sam and ensured he safely cleared the finishing pen [And on recalling this, the lump in my throat returns. Honestly, dear reader, it was a real tear-jerker!].

No less than three seconds later and third over the line for Stratford was Will Mayes (26th/13:07) after yet another robust and resolute performance. Inching ever closer to a Stratford ‘top three’ finish was a thrilled Tom Fisher (29th/13:14) who ran, arguably, his best race this season despite finding the ditches ‘very slippy’.

Following was the focussed and unfaltering run of James Day (41st/13:38) and namesake James Mayes (52nd/14:07) also finished purposefully to round off the U15 boys’ team.

Upon hearing the news that they had finished in overall third, the team punched the air and promptly dispatched Zak, Sam, Will and Tom to collect their bronze bling!

In the U17 women’s race, Niamh Hillard (14th/19:08), powered on by a generous application of Tiger Balm, crossed the line after an eye-wateringly strong final 250m – quite literally. Directly following was Maisie-Joy Spriggs (15th/19:17) after yet another determined and dogged performance. Taking third spot for the Stratford Ladies was Abbie Cooper (25th/20:42) who successfully held off a challenger down the final 250m. Lucy Thomas (38th/22:09) was in next, adding her points to the team’s total, with the ever-reliable Tilly Campbell (45th/25:28) seeing our ladies safely home.

Ultimately, our U17 ladies found themselves but one point short of bronze medals – an agonisingly close result and a painful reminder that every place counts.

The final race of the junior programme was  the  U17s Men’s where a meticulously measured performance by reigning champion Alex Adams (1st/16:40) saw him lead from the off to win comfortably, earning him the individual gold medal!  Completing this unusually ‘compact and bijoux’ team of two was the splendidly solid run of Jaicob Ford (40th/19:37). 

Not to be out done were Stratford athletes in the two under 20 races. First off were the women where early into the race Georgie Campbell took on the lead with Charly Marshall in close attendance in third place. While the order then stayed the same the front two of Georgie and Wolverhampton’s Beth Rawlinson battled it out for the rest of the race only for Georgie to pull away in the last kilometer. 

In the junior men’s race the four Stratford runners all ran well despite various ailments that they carried into the race and were rewarded with team silver for the squad of Taylor Stubbins (9th up from 31st last year, 23.46), Alex Pester (13th 24.34), Ned Campbell (18th 25.11) and Koda Spriggs (28th 27.07) who all met their individual goals and were delighted to be all selected for the Warwicksire team in the Inter Counties where they will make up half the team. 

In the senior women’s race last year Stratford didn’t enter a team but this year came a very strong 13thplace.

Suzie Ross reports that ” four of our (brave) senior women lined up on the start, one of them getting there with two minutes to spare thanks to some out-of-date parking directions (thankfully, Pete Sugden was on hand to assist with quick fire number pinning).

The Team of Ceri Shepherd, Becks Pridham, Suzi Graham and myself were realistic of the fact that we possibility weren’t going to trouble the brightest & best of the Midlands XC league but inspired by Georgie Campbell and Charly Marshall’s success in the Under 20’s, were determined to give it their best shot!

Newbold Comyn is one of my personal favorite courses, not too hilly, but enough natural features to keep it interesting. Although a bit slippery in places, the ground held up well and it ran shorter then the advertised 8k, which meant that we all found that ‘extra’ bit in our legs to hold onto our positions in the finishing straight.

I managed first for Stratford in 31.44 (69th), followed closely by Ceri Shepherd 32.13 (78th) who ran a strong race. Suzi Graham stormed in next in 35.07 (112th) and then to complete the team in style, Becks Pridham 37.23 (131) who ran the race of her XC season (thus far). 

We were greeted at the finish line by Rich Shepherd with cups of tea (never has a sight been more welcome) and then we all stuck around to cheer on the Senior Men who put in their own superb performances. 

On a personal note, XC is my favorite SAC pastime – the adrenaline rush of completing something quite challenging, paired with the camaraderie of the SAC team makes for some enjoyable (if not chilly) winter afternoons. Highly recommend. 5 Stars”.         

 The final race of the day was the senior men’s run over three laps, officially a 12k course but generally thought to be short at 11k although probably long enough! Stratford had a team of ten who almost matched the women and finished in 14th place a big improvement on last year again. The team was Richard Shephard in 77th, 37.44, Tim Hutchinson (143, 40.59) and Adam Linforth (145, 41.02) who battled each other the whole race with Tim just getting the nod on the line, Phil Reading (164, 42.10), Dave Teasdale (168, 42.25), Max Ross (199, 44.33), Joe Lee (233, 46.22), Peter Sugden (240, 46.47) & Chris Spriggs (282, 50.19).

Overall, it was a thoroughly enjoyable day at Newbold Comyn for all our members racing. They certainly rose to the occasion in what were the toughest races of the season so far for all, but a special mention to our individual gold medallists, Alex Adams and Georgie Campbell and bronze medallist Charly Marshall. Congratulations also go to our U13 boys, U15 boys and U20 men, teams for medalling today. The senior results were much improved this year and they should continue in future years. So all in all, a good day for the Stratford team who will now focus on their final league races of the season in mid-February, followed by the National Championships in February and March plus the BUCS next week for some.

Ade Mason
NTRIX – Not the Roman Nine

Report – Adrian Mason

Sunday 29th January 2023 saw 289 runners finish Stratford AC’s annual race – NTRIX (Not the Roman IX), for what will be the last time in its current disguise.  With a great turnout of volunteers and runners from the club and running clubs far and wide, it marked a fitting end to a historic race, some 50 years after its initial running. 

I was fortunate to be able to run (and help out afterwards) in a race which marked a return to some sort of competitive racing for me.  Having been on what feels like a long road to recovery following a hamstring injury 7 months ago, this was the first test for me at full race pace for a long time. 

With weather conditions almost perfect following the recent cold spell, everyone looked very excited to get going.  The air horn sounded at 11am and we were off. 

The race went pretty much to plan, aside from the herd of 10-15 rather large deer that decided to cross the Banbury road right in front of us (a beautiful sight, if not a touch scary, thinking…. how do I hurdle a deer!), but once the heart rate had steadied, normal business resumed. 

We had 19 Stratford club runners competing (many also helping out in some way).  I was delighted to be the first Stratford vest to cross the finish line in 16th place, with a time of 46.26 (6:14/mi) and I can now hopefully build on my return to form and progress with my training for London (under the careful watch of my Physio!). 

I was was closely followed by  Max Ross (47:13/21st), Huw Crosweller (47:37/24th), Rob Gisbourne (48:44/34th) and Joe Lee (49:11/37th). In-form Max ran a superb race, having run the previous day in the Midlands Cross Country league at Newbold Comyn and he took a whole 4 minutes off his time from last year’s NTRIX.  Huw also ran amazingly well, considering his heavy legs from last weekend’s “Winter Wychavon Way” 40 mile Ultra.

The next Stratford runner to finish and our first lady finisher was Emma Bexson (51:30/58th ).

We also had a couple of age category winners in the form of John Peacock (54:16/85th) and Ginny Davis (1:06.49/207th).

The race was won by Andy Lawrence in a time of 40:15 and the first female finisher was Rachel Cooke (46:50/18th) from Buckingham and Stowe Running  Club.

Other members who finished the race were: Ted Burch 53:00; Owen Lewis 54:42;  Emily Carr 58:02;  Mark Barker 1:01:07;  Pip Bell 1:03:16;  Kevin Zwolinski 1:06:43; Karen Gisbourne 1:07:03;  Caroline Skelton 1:17:42;  Caroline Mann 1:17:42;  Sandie Owens 1:17:21;  John Butler 1:34:00.

I’d also like to thank all the volunteers for the great support on this home course, it really helps having your own club cheer you on and I also overheard many other runners commenting about the great motivation (and shouting 🙂 ) our marshalls provided.
Ginny Davis
Ginny’s NTRIX
Report – Ginny Davis
There should be someone marshalling the toilets” was a murmur I heard – probably from one of the many visiting invaders, I mean teams. Imagine that! High viz traffic management to guarantee safety and good direction to and from the portaloos.

The start … that first half k during which I felt I’d be able to run forever.  The feeling wore off and the first full k felt endless.  After that they seemed to come quicker. Until the last one.   

After some very pretty running along a lane we turned left onto the Banbury Road and that’s when the slog started and the beat went on and on and on.

Left again to Loxley and ahead lay Everest and my pace slowed and breathing got harder and it was hard to find the joy, but it lay at the top and I got there eventually and the views were glorious.

 Not a good moment for sight seeing. Nor for a phone call so I ignored the ring. Carried on. Breathing OK now – less noisy!

 Sneakily beyond the first Loxley mountain was another rise .. not as bad, phew and then whoosh downhill out of Loxley and by now I was quite looking forward to going home. First though, a long bit, relatively flat until, goodness me, another hill up to The Croft School. This is when it proved useful to be in a club because as I flogged and flagged and faltered to the summit I thought about stopping ..’Keep going” said Kevin Zwolinski, my guardian angel in an SAC vest and so I did.  Downhill all the way to the 11k mark and all that was left was the final k even if it did feel like more.

What was lovely about the finish was that once I turned into the school it’s right there .. not another mile away as is the case in other races.     

Fantastic support and marshalling all the way round from generous hearted club members. Thanks to each and every one.  And the socks will make an exciting addition to my drawer, though my penguin socks (with ears) have been lucky up to now, so I may have to wear both pairs.

Paul Hawkins

Midland Winter Racewalking League

Report – Gemma Smith

Sunday was the third and final race of the Midland winter race walking league series at the University of Warwick, Coventry. The course, a 1km lap, was set out in a quiet corner of the University grounds, in close quarters to the Godiva Harriers home turf.

The route was mainly flat, starting on a slight decline, making for a fast race from the get-go.

It was a cold and wintry start to the event, later the chill was softened by the sun streaming onto the racewalking concourse, made good conditions for the race walkers.

Two Stratford racewalkers took part. I set out first in the 5Km race, finishing in a time of 36.35, almost three minutes quicker than the same event a year ago and winning the series 5km handicap competition.

Paul Hawkins competed shortly after in the 10 km race, finishing in 74.04, a strong performance and consistent with his two previous 10km events.

Paul’s next race, in February, is at Lee Valley Stadium where he has been selected for the Inter area match for the Midland Masters team to compete against other regions and home countries, an indoor 2000m race.

The race winners were Jacqueline Benson 29.25 (5km) and Mark Williams 59.12 (10km)

Jaicob Ford
Lucy Thomas and Tilly Campbell
Abbi Cooper
Bronze medalist William Mayes and brother James
Niamh Hillard followed by Maisey-Joy Spriggs
Bronze medalists Zak and Sam Lambert.
James Day and bronze medalist Tom Fisher
Hannah Wilkinson and Martha Peters
Annie Silvers
L to R: Bronze medalists Arthur Williamson, Will Hovell and Kipp Stevens with Morgan Nabney and Arthur Mansbridge
Bronze medalist Aran Cooper and Lois Ford
Stella Sant and Portia Nabney
Ava Sheppard and Amelia Peeke