cold and Gold in Reykjavik.

Lewis Byng – back row 4534 – as part of the England team in Reykjavik, where he won a gold medal.
This past week has been the sort of week that show’s the diversity of our club across all disciplines all age groups.

Lewis Byng has been in Reykjavik as part of the England team, where he picked up a gold medal in the shot put.

At the Loughborough Indoor Open a group of our junior T&F athletes were proving that maybe all that hard winter training was worth it, while a couple of our older T&Fers have also ventured indoors.

There were PBs galore at last weekend’s Warwick Half marathon with just over 20 member competing on the difficult undulating course. Don’t you just hate the term undulating?

A quartet of our members were competing at the BUCS (British University and College Students) XC Championships in Wales. Fin Hutchinson’s excellent report states that the BUCS party, which finished at 4am, was followed by hill reps on the way home. I’m not sure that all of the quartet were involved in these hill reps. I may be judging them harshly of course!

The Stratford Herald have given the final running of the iconic NTRIX race extensive coverage over the last couple of weeks, for which we as a club are extremely grateful.

This weekend, sees among other events, theU20/U17 & U15 Championships in Sheffield. This will be used as a trial event for the DNA U20 Indoor Showcase in Madrid, Spain, on 22 February 2023. There are also the final XC league fixtures of the season for our juniors and senior men and ladies with, lots of medals for the taking.

Good luck to all of our athletes competing in the above and in any other events taking place.

Take care

Best wishes

David Jones

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Jazmin Sawyers gets to meet Ruby Edwards. Lucky Jazmin.
I’m not sure what the collective noun is for a group of shot putters but here we see competitors in that event in Reykjavik, with the guy at the back being even bigger than Lewis.
You certainly need to wrap up warm in Reykjavik

The Reykjavik International Games and Loughborough Indoor Open

Report – Paul Bearman

The Reykjavik International Games are part of the World Athletics Challenger indoor tour 2023 and are also one of Iceland’s largest sporting events, with nearly 2000 competitors from more than 40 countries around the world participating in 15 sports.

The event attracts a high calibre of athletes from across the World, many aiming for qualification for upcoming indoor championships and England have sent an Athletics team to the event twice, the last time in 2020 (pre-pandemic). 

After an impressive start to 2023, Stratford’s Lewis Byng was selected to compete in the Shot. He was looking to build on this early season success and lay down an even stronger foundation for the 2023 outdoor season.

Lewis has been consistently throwing the Shot over 18 metres recently and against some giants in the competition he threw 18.09m to win Gold for the England Team.

Lewis said afterwards “it was good to put the England vest on again and I really enjoyed the competition and now I’m looking forward to the UK champs next month”. He added “Iceland was very, very cold but a good experience”.

They Loughborough Indoor Opens are ideal competitions to test how the winter training has gone, gain some experience and for some build confidence going into this week’s England Athletics national championships in Sheffield.

The hurdlers were first to compete with all the athletes having the opportunity to run twice. The races were often mixed ages and so it was the performances and times that were the most important outcomes rather than positions.

First up was Freddie Clemons for his first indoor 60m hurdles since moving into the Under 20s due to the pandemic.

A fast start and quick pick up gave Freddie the confidence that all was well with his technique and his time in the first run of 8.54s confirmed this. “It was good to get back into competition and I had two smooth runs so there’s more to come” was Freddie’s’ verdict afterwards.

Under 15sToby Thomas and Will Hovell, who was part of the club’s winning Under 13 Cross Country team at the Midland Champs the previous week (age groups are out of sync this time of year for T&F and XC) had their first ever indoor hurdles competitions and their performances gave both of them a confidence boost with both improving their times in their second runs; Toby from 10.44s to 10.19s and Will 10.37s to 10.28s

Not content to just do the Hurdles Will (8.80s) competed in the 60m with Alex Wood who shaved 2 tenths off his PB to 8.15s.

Joel Masters has stepped up to Under 17 this year and after a quick run in his heat of 7.27s, racing against Under 23 athletes in his second run he ran a shade quicker in 7.26s.

Megan Thomas had 2 fine runs and after a good start in her second run she ran 8.39, a full half a second quicker than her heat.

Joel Milner and Otis Tustin are close training partners and their second runs were again their best with both finishing with PBs: Joel 7.71s and Otis 7.82s.

With the field events being held on the Sunday Ruby Edwards….apart from being thrilled to be competing alongside Olympian Jazmin Sawyers…..enjoyed her first outing of the season and despite a rather shady decision by the official giving her a no jump on what would have clearly been her best she cleared 4.83m a new PB.

MiIllie Leighton is a Loughborough student and on her home from home track she jumped a new indoor PB in the Triple Jump, 11.30m.

From a coaching point of view, these events are perfect for assessing the way things and I was really impressed with all of our athletes. It’s been an up and down preparation training wise due to the variable weather, but competing indoors is a welcome respite from the winter slog and apart from giving us some benchmarks it’s also good experience and confidence building.

For Alex, Joel Masters and Freddie it sets them up for what will be a big step up in competition this weekend at the England Champs but they’re looking good.

Kate Wright
Kate commented on the race  “Ben, Matt and Max had a phenomenal race…. Me not so. It was a perfect day for it but I should have told my legs that. They felt unusually tired and I struggled up the hills. It was a mental battle all the way. My legs saying STOP and my head saying DONT!

Strangely I still managed a slightly faster time than last year and came second once again”.

Ben Kruze on his way to a new club record time of 1:09.21 in the Warwick Half Marathon.
The Wigley Group Warwick Half Marathon

5th February 2023


Report: Max Ross and Matt Burdus-Cook

Warwick half is always a local favourite for the club, and just over 20 SAC members joined the 1800 runners for 13.1 miles of Warwick and its surrounding countryside. 

Sunday morning had calm skies, fresh but sunny – other than a nippy wait at the start line, it was perfect racing conditions, and the results confirm it! 

First across the finish line at the Warwick Racecourse was Jake Watson for Worcester AC in 1 hour and 9 minutes and 20 seconds, having only just overtaken Stratford AC’s very own Ben Kruze who completed his race in 1:09:21, still nursing a niggling injury but securing an 18 second HM PB! and anew club record.  First lady was Natalie Bhangal for Leamington Cycling and Athletics Club in 1:24:23 who was followed promptly by SAC’s Kate Wright. 

Stratford’s second runner across the line, taking 16th place was Matt Burdus-Cook in 1:15:29 and securing a 9 second HM PB. Third for SAC was Max Ross in 1:23:38 for 65th place and also claiming a 1m 39s PB. Kate Wright was next in 82nd place with a time of 1:25:28 taking around 30 seconds off her time on this course last year. Next was Joe Lee in 1:29:41 and 161st, with a 4m38s HM PB! 180th was James Coy in 1:30:26 and 350th was Jamie Howkins in 1:38:45. 

Not to be overshadowed by Hubby Joe, Kimberly Lee finished 447th in 1:42:29 and claimed a new PB by nearly three minutes! 556th was Emily Carr (1:44.22) completing her first half marathon since joining the club and a 14 minute PB at that! 557th was John Devine in 1:45:17, cheered on by quite an entourage of supporters, and 672nd was Mark Barker finishing in 1:48:55.  

Ian Greaves finished in 1:50:04, a 4m5s PB, Hannah Percy in 1:50:12 and Stuart Jackson in 1:55:42. Ginny Davis came 1222nd in 2:02:15 with a 2m 25s PB followed by Lisa Lambourn in 2:08:55 and Kate Sergent in 2:18:56. Sandie Owens finished 1600th in 2:20:39 and Lindsey Anderson in 2:30:01. SAC’s last two runners were Miranda Maloney in 2:33:19 and Christopher Wilkinson in 2:33:56. 


Report – Ben Kruze

A bittersweet race for me but I was genuinely pleased overall.

It’s been a few years since I last took part in the Warwick Half.

It’s a lovely, but tough undulating course. This year it fell really nicely in the training schedule for the build up to the England masters representative race, being held in Chester, during March. 

The weather was great and a perfect day for running. I went out with no time goal in mind, just with the aim of listening to the body and settling into a nice rhythm.

Myself and another runner settled in behind the leader who pulled away on the first 7/8km. At this point you could see he was starting to struggle a little, so we gradually caught up with him and continued the progress, pulling away from the rest of the pack.

The race continued to follow a similar pattern with the Worcester runner and myself swapping positions throughout. He would pull away a touch on the downhills and I would then make up the distance again on the uphills. 

Through 15k I still felt strong and comfortable so kicked on with the intention of putting a bit of distance between myself and 2nd, again this did not materialise as he stayed on my tail.

Once we hit 19k I went again and this time managed to pull 60m clear going into the final 400m entering the race course. The rest is a bit of a blur as I maintained my pace, but I could hear the Worcester runner gaining and the line came painfully 4/5 metres too late as he overtook me in the final strides.

A real shame, but I was very pleased to clock a sub 70 min half (1:09.21) on a tough course, and a really pleasing result to build upon after a few frustrating months of niggling injuries and illness. 

Also a huge shout out must again go to all the great Stratford runners, recording some brilliant times with plenty of PB’s. Always an incredibly supportive and inspiring bunch to be around.
 Mine’s A Half

Report – Ginny Davis

Slogging up Maidenhead Road on Wednesday evening I had decided definitely NOT to do the Warwick Half Marathon.

A couple of days later I let slip to a fellow club member (Stuart Evans) that it was on my mind but that after the Not the Roman IX and the Shakespeare Race this week I didn’t think I’d manage a half marathon, especially since the furthest distance I’ve done in a while is 12k. 

His reply:  DO IT! 
So I thought about it a bit more and looked back at how I’d felt about the Warwick Half last year and saw that I’d actually really enjoyed it.  So I signed up but made no promises to myself to actually run the race.  I’d see how I felt on the day.

It started at 9 am so there wasn’t much time for dithering around and before I was fully awake I was on the start line, freezing cold, feeling slightly sick (nerves or a hangover, wasn’t sure) and off.

 All the roads were closed and last year I played music all the way round, so I decided to do the same and not bother with mini races I have with runners around me that they don’t know are races.   

I decided to just enjoy it and see if I could complete the distance.
The weird thing about the Warwick Half is that despite being uphill the entire way (and other runners will back me up on this) the finish is the same level as the start.

The “undulating” countryside is glorious though – houses I’d like to buy with tennis courts and llamas.  Lots of supporters.  The weather was dry and the air was cold and easy to breathe in.

At Hampton on the Hill the wheels nearly fell off but it was close to home so there was no point stopping.

The last mile, as usual, was actually about 3 miles, I swear.
I never look at my time during a race because I’m usually doing my best already and don’t want to be dis-spirited but at the end I did and blow me, it was my PB for a half marathon, 2:02.15 – 5 minutes faster than last year. I was 2nd in age group behind Jane Kidd who is an astounding athlete from Kenilworth and came in almost half an hour before me.

I’ve felt great ever since.
Lovely to see some yellow and black vests and to see that the men were on the leader board again. I wish I’d been at the finish though – Ben Kruze only needed 3 more seconds to win outright. 
Fin Hutchinson, Imy Sheppard, Georgie Campbell and Alex Pester.
Imy Sheppard (113), who, it is fair to say is a lot more at home on the track, seen here at what I am told was the “social end of the field”. I couldn’t possibly comment.

The 2023 BUCS Cross Country Championships

Report – Fin Hutchinson

These Championships took place at Pembrey Country Park, Wales on Saturday 4th February.

This is an annual National Championships for Higher Education athletes.  Myself and 3 other SAC Members took part in representing our various universities. 

We competed against teams from 74 Universities, with over 2000 athletes entered, over 4 races, a shorter B race and longer A one for respective male and female athletes. 

With a small team from Plymouth I entered the A race – 10,500m

The field of runners was unbelievable; it’s quite a thing that I can say I have run with GB athletes, although it may have only been for 10m at the start !! 

The course was flat and fast but undeniably cross country with the bonus obstacles of log jumps.

I was happy with my finish position of 218 in a Gun time of 43.36 min, which gave me a new offical 10k P.B.

The Plymouth team stayed at an airbnb 40 mins away and this made the weekend a great experience being all together. It was topped off with a great night out at the BUCS after party finishing the night with a hill rep on the way home at 4 in the morning!

My fellow club members all had a good races. Georgie Campbell and Imy Sheppard, both representing Birmingham University, ran the 6060m course, finishing with times of 23:06 and 30:58 respectively. Georgie finished in a superb 22nd place out of 406 athletes competing.

Alex Pester, running for Loughborough University, completed the 8280m course in 29:51, finishing in 130th place out of 540.

Paula Williams.
Track and Field

The Return
Report – David Jones
As Paul Bearman’s report on the Loughborough Open attests to, after a long hard winter of training, our T&F athletes are starting to compete again and to see if all of the hard work was worth it.

Among these, you won’t be surprised to know is Paula Williams.

Paula has already been in action at 3 indoor events this year, showing improvement in the 60m at each event. On 21st Jan she was in Sheffield where she ran 8.60, this she improved on at Sportcity Manchester the following weekend with a time of 8.57 and last weekend, back in Sheffield, she lowered that to 8.54, just 1/100th of a second of her best time last year.

She also competed in the shot at both Sheffield events, throwing 12.69 at the first and 12.49 at the 2nd and in Manchester she ran the 60m hurdles in 9.81.

I competed in my first indoor event for 3 years at Cardiff on 22/1. Targeting a time of 3:00 for the 800m, I managed 3:00.02! I’ll settle for that. I got the applause on the finishing straight reserved for the old guy at the back!

I’d also planned on running the 1500m but decided there wasn’t enough recovery times between the two races.
The Stratford upon Avon Herald have given extensive coverage over the last couple of weeks to the final running of the iconic NTRIX race. Last week reporting on the race itself and this week on the history of the race – I’m not sure why the photo of Alex was included though!
NTRIX – Not the Roman 9

The History

Following the final running, after 55 years, of this iconic race on 29th January, The Stratford Herald agreed to feature a report on the history of the race (see above).

In a year that saw the first human heart transplant, the Six Day War, the release of Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles and not forgetting Sandie Shaw’s memorable victory in the Eurovision Song Contest with Puppet on a String, what seems to get overlooked is the first running of this race.

I’m not sure why that would be the case.

The following article, printed in this week’s Herald, is an attempt to right that wrong.

I have compiled it with the invaluable assistance of Richard Morris (the original race organiser), Ashley Sherren (for many years the race director,) Tony Jackson, Paul Hawkins and Sarah Bland. Allan Coldicott also gave me access to his exhaustive collection of press cuttings, which included the photo of the original race back in November 1967.

Many thanks to you all.
The start of the first race in November 1967, a start that included, somewhat controversially, two ladies at a time when mixed races were not allowed under AAA rules.
Original race organiser Richard Morris
The start of the 2014 race.
Kate Sergent centre stage. Nice hair Kate!

Not the Roman 9 (NTRIX) – The End of an Era


Little did Richard Morris and his pals realise when they organised the first of what became known as the Roman 9 and subsequently Not the Roman 9,  back in November 1967, that this race would go on to be named one of the Top 25 races in the country, have its capacity capped due to its popularity and still be being run 55 year later, however that is exactly what happened.


In 1967, Morris together with a few members of the original Stratford Athletic Club got together to hold a Sunday morning race starting and finishing at Stratford Rugby Club. 


There were just 12 of them, including somewhat controversially two ladies from Stratford AC, even though at the time the AAA didn’t allow mixed races.


The first winner was Roger Wolaston from Nuneaton, with Stratford member Tony Carr in 2nd place. Carr went on to win the race in 1968.


Sadly soon after this the original Stratford AC collapsed with many of the original members going to run for Leamington.


In 1975 Morris and brother Chris started the race again. They also wanted to see the return of Stratford AC due to a revived interest in running and also there were now many youngsters wanting to join a local club.


By 1977 the race had become so popular that the brothers, along with Phil Bennett, could no longer cope with organisation, so in 1978 with the reformed Stratford AC growing into a large and progressive club they were happy to hand over the race organisation to them. 


Around this time the race was sponsored by Ray Ziel of local garage Roman Motors, hence the race’s name.


The race was now bringing in much needed funds for the club, which was now based at the Home Guard Club in Tiddington and it was decided to move it to the club’s new HQ which had a lot more space than the Rugby Club.


During the 1980’s the reputation of the race grew nationwide with it regularly being voted as one of the best road races in the country. Indeed, The Herald reported in February 1991 that 3 years after being named as one of the Top 100 races in the UK, it had been voted into the Top 25 by readers of Today’s Runners magazine. Club chairman John Dell commented at the time that it was a great honour for the club, to all of the members who made it a great event and also to the sponsorship of Ray Ziel of Roman Motors.


When the athletic club moved from it’s base at the Home Guard Club to it’s current HQ at the Sports Club in the town centre, the problem was then to find a suitable alternative venue for the race


With club’s chairman and secretary Paul Hawkins and Tony Jackson both being employed by NFU Mutual in Tiddington, NFUM became the race HQ and greater usage of their facilities ensued. 


However, this change of venue meant a re-design of the race route, which in turn meant a change in the race distance.


The club still wanted to retain the good reputation and links to the original Roman 9 so it was re-named Not the Roman 9, or as it became better known, NTRIX. Current Club Secretary Tony Jackson having come up with this new name.


When redesigning the course, one of the problems was that with the start in Pimlico Lane, competitors had to cross the Loxley Road to reach Boundry Lane and beyond. This meant stopping the traffic in both directions until all runners had crossed. This was overcome by making the start on the other side of Loxley Road, with runners having to walk/jog up Knights Lane and cross over the Loxley Road to reach the starting area.


As well as using the NFU Mutual Sports Club pavilion as the race HQ, much of the parking was in their grounds and also in the Bowls Club opposite. In addition, Alveston Primary School on Knights Lane allowed the club to use their facilities for some changing and also parking for helpers and officials.


With Health & Safety becoming more important in obtaining a race permit, the club’s race director at the time, Ashley Sherren, undertook a detailed risk assessment exercise for the whole course, so that all helpers, in particular marshals, would have much more information as to their role, depending on whereabouts on the course they were officiating. 


With the race becoming increasingly popular a limit of 700 had to be imposed taking into account the parking and the traffic on the narrow country roads. Fortunately the club had a good relationship with the local police, who were kept informed at all times and who would help with safety each year by holding the traffic for the left turn out of Boundry Lane onto the Banbury Road.


As well as Roman Motors sponsorship, Warwick Sports had a stall on race day selling shoes and kit. There was also a small amount of sponsorship from DLF Trifolium Seeds & Sciences. However, later on, the main sponsorship came from local company SimplyRun, with the finishing memento at the time being a souvenir coaster with “SimplyRun Not the Roman IX” printed on it.


One innovation introduced by Sherren was that the souvenir T-shirts and sweatshirts had the names of the runners printed on them. Once the race entry deadline was past, he would send the list of names to the manufacturers to get them printed in time for race day. This was originally a list from the previous year but with improvements in turnaround time it became a list of the entries for the current year, which no doubt helped the sales. 


With it being held so early in the year, the race used to advertise a reserve date in case bad weather caused postponement. There was just one cancellation due to snow and ice and one year the start had to be delayed due to thick fog.


Unfortunately a change of senior management at NFUM meant that they no longer allowed their facilities to be used. The club then managed to use the school as their base with some limited parking at the Caravan Park opposite. This meant a reduced race capacity and lower income from 2019 onwards.


Traffic and runner safety was always a concern and the race going along the Banbury Road was never ideal. With additional housing being built on Knights Lane it got to the point where providing a ‘safe’ route was an increasing challenge. 


The costs involved in the closure of the Banbury Road, a situation Chairman Paul Hawkins totally understands, has unfortunately led to the club making the regrettable decision that the 2023 race would be the last time this iconic race of national standing would be run.


The club, while recognising that these costs ultimately led to their decision to end the race, are also of the opinion that the decision by NFU Mutual to withdraw their generous support was by far a bigger reason for the race’s demise. This decision has never really been explained and it is a decision that would appear to run counter to other community initiatives they support. Had their facilities, including the use of their car park still been available, far more participants would have been able to compete, generating more than enough income to meet any road closure costs.


Alveston School are also affected by the club’s decision, as they benefited from the hire of their own facilities.


Stratford Athletic Club will need to replace the income generated by NTRIX, so the race is on (pun intended!) to organise an alternative and hopefully that may well go on for another 50 years.

More photos from the Warwick Half marathon
Ben Kruze, left, with his bag of goodies for coming 2nd
Kate Wright with her bag of goodies for coming 2nd lady.
Kim Lee
Joe Lee
Matt Burdus-Cook
James Coy
Emily Carr followed by John Devine
And Finally

Last weekend saw the last Sunday training session on the Welcombe Hills for our junior endurance runners before the final league fixture of the season in Wolverhampton this coming  Sunday.

A happy and enthusiastic group of some of these young athletes are seen here with Adam Linforth.

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