3 + 20 = excellence.

Ben Kruze and Matt Burdus-Cook
Another varied week.

We start with the news that there will be a local parkrun on 25th March in memory of Christine Cooper who passed away 12 months ago. Christine did so much for the club and was a big fan of parkrun, both as a helper and as a participant. Please try and join us to remember this special person at this special parkrun.

It was a week when 3 of our seniors were representing their country and a record 20 of our endurance group runners were selected to represent their county. We must be doing something right.

Ben Kruze, Matt Burdus-Cook and Phil Brennan were doing themselves and the club proud by representing their country at the Chester 10k last Sunday, a race that incorporated the England v Welsh Masters International fixture. Phil also competed at Lee Valley in London, some 200 miles south, the previous day. As he says in his typically self deprecating report ” there’s no fool like an old fool.”

As the XC season finally draws to a close with the English Schools Champs at Nottingham this weekend, we have a report on last weekend’s Inter Counties XC fixture, with a record 20 of our athletes selected to represent their county. At that event, Alex Adams finished in 4th place overall in the UK Cross Challenge series of races held over the entire season.

Vicky Sharpe, like many senior members, is in full marathon training mode and to this end she competed in the Oundle 20.

As well as Phil Brennan, Dave Battersby was also reacquainting himself with indoor running at the newly laid indoor track at Lee Valley and we have his report on this.

For Becks Pridham it was back to school days as she took part in the Burghley 7, revisiting both her old school and the course she ran on as a school girl just a year or two ago!


Owain Jones has been a member of SUAAC since the Under 11s and he’s now studying at Leeds Beckett University where he is currently doing a dissertation on “understanding current social media usage and practices being implemented by the club.” the results of which will be of benefit to the club. Please help with his research by completing his questionnaire.

Over the last couple of Saturdays many of the club’s coaches have benefitted hugely from the First Aid courses that were held at the Pavilion. I now know how to bag an amputated limb! Seriously, it was an extremely beneficial course and, as Paul Bearman’s report states, potentially life saving.

 Finally, another photo of some of last Sunday’s Band of Brothers and Sisters at the Welcombe Hills. Bless.

Take care,

Best Wishes

David Jones 

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A Parkrun in memory of Christine Cooper

Dear members and friends

A year ago we lost a much loved and respected club member Christine Cooper to cancer.
Chris was a big advocate of parkrun, running 54 of them and volunteering at 43, even when undergoing her treatment.
She was press office at SAC right up until 10 days before she lost her battle to the disease.
We would like to run a parkrun on March 25th in her memory, where her husband and fellow club member Steve Cooper and their son Sam and partner Molly will be present.
Please come and support if possible by running, walking, volunteering or cheering!

It would be lovely to have a show of yellow, a colour she loved, either club kit, a flower or anything you can think of.

Beverley Brigden is race coordinator on the day. 

Thanks everyone
Kate Sergent.
Christine, 4th from the right, after her last parkrun in February last year.
Phil Brennan on top of the podium.
Matt Burdus-Cook in full flight.
Photo courtesy of awol adventure

Chester 10k

Report – David Jones

Three club members were representing England at Sunday’s Chester 10k, a race that also incorporated the England v Welsh Masters International fixture.

Ben Kruze, Matt Burdus-Cook and Phil Brennan had all been selected to represent their country by meeting the qualifying criteria at a race in Regents Park in January.

To be selected the athlete’s had to meet the qualifying times and also finish in the top 3 of their age group categories. Ben, matt and Phil are in the M35, M45 and M80 age categories respectively. Their required qualifying times were 33:45, 35:45 and 65:00. They comfortably met this criteria, recording times on the day of 32:40, 34:19 and 52:51

This fast course at Chester starts from Nuns Road, next to the iconic Chester Racecourse and heads north-west out of the City along wide roads, allowing runners to rapidly settle into race pace. It then passes close to the picturesque village of Mollington, before returning to the heart of Chester City centre, passing the historic Victorian town hall and Medieval Cathedral, before finishing on Eastgate Street with a spectacular backdrop of the Eastgate Clock.

The Stratford runners had mixed fortunes leading up to the race, with Ben having spent the week prior with a bad back and then managing to pick up a cold. Despite this he finished in 13th place overall out of almost 3200 runners. He was 7th in his age category out of 278, finishing in a time of 32:12. He professed himself to be pretty happy with his 13th place finish in a very strong line up and felt his time was not too bad given his chequered preparation. He was just very glad to have made the start line.

Matt was 84th overall but more importantly 9th out of 203 in his age category with a time of 34:09. He feels he need to be a good minute faster, possibly 2, to be in the shake up for the England podium places for his age group. His focus now shifts to England 5km qualifying, which is panel selected from recent form rather than qualification events.

Phil Brennan has had a torrid time this year, particularly with a hamstring injury. Despite this he not only competed in the Chester 10k on Sunday but on Saturday he ran in the British Masters 3000m indoor Championships at Lee Valley, London, where he finished on top of the podium with a time of 16:00.40. At Chester he had another podium finish, finishing 2nd in his age group with a time of 56:16.

No Fool Like An Old Fool

Phil’s words not mine – I wouldn’t dare!

Report – Phil Brennan

The week started badly with Mrs Brennan telling me to get my hair cut.

A hamstring injury had ruined my winter season. I had to miss the last of the Tempo Series races and drop out of two crucial indoor meetings.

Although the injury is on the mend, I was left uncertain as to my fitness and too scared to train at more than a jog. I wasn’t quite sure how to rescue the situation and then, in the optimistic spirit of Michael Caine at the end of “The Italian Job”, I had an idea….
I still had two races left in my calendar: it was time to forget the lack of quality training and just get on with it.

Unfortunately, they were both on the same weekend.

British Masters Indoor 3000m Championship.

Having not raced indoors for three years, I ran the worst possible distance, in a mixed-category race, with the inevitable consequences. After one lap I was praying to anyone who would listen to get me out of there (“Beam me up, Scotty” never works) and could feel myself getting slower and slower.

I was amazed to finish in a time which was not quite truly awful-for-age (16 mins), and delighted to get no reaction from my leg and of course, the title, as the only one in my age category.

That just left Sunday to get through…

Chester 10k/ England Athletics Masters v. Wales

I had qualified for the England team in January, alongside Ben and Matt.

Despite Saturday’s antics, I had to make a very early start to get there in time for a long recovery/ warmup. Another good idea which didn’t work. It was just warm enough for one layer, but with a chilly wind.

The usual problems with a large field and a narrow start meant that we were penned far too early and by start time I was frozen, with my pulse down to “sleep”.

It didn’t take long to realise I shouldn’t be there and spent most of the time like Captain Scott hauling a sledge through the snow. It was probably scenic.

The only cheering thing was to see Ben and Matt powering homewards towards the head of the field on the return leg. I actually speeded up a bit at that point.

 I was was four minutes off seasons best, bad enough to come second and got a prize. I also had the unique embarrassment of some of the other EA team members taking selfies with me because they couldn’t believe I was so old and still alive. If they saw me the next morning, they wouldn’t bother.

I’m not quite sure where that leaves my season……but hang on a minute, I’ve got an idea……..


Dave Battersby in XC mode as opposed to track mode.

At the same meeting as Phil Brennan at Lee Valley Indoor Stadium in London, Dave Battersby was competing in the 400m.

He commented “I ran the indoor 400m as an open race as part of the Southern Masters Pentathlon Championships at Lee Valley in London.

Running 58.38 – my fastest for a few years either indoors or outdoors.  I was quite pleased especially as it was a bit of a time trial with the other athletes being in older age groups. 

It’s somthing I would recommend people to have a go at – running quickly on a banked track. It’s great fun and feels like you you are whipping round the track like some sort of fairground watlzer especially with the newly laid track which is much smoother than it was a few years ago”. 

Alex Pester and Taylor Stubbins
Koda Spriggs and Ned Campbell
Alex Adams
Zak and Sam Lambert. It looks like you’ve lost a shoe there Sam!
Arthur Williamson – mud, mud, glorious mud
Will Hovell and Joel Ledgard.
Apologies for there being no photos of William Mayes and Aran Cooper.

Inter Counties Cross Country
Prestwold Hall, Loughborough,
11 March 2023


Report – Paul Hawkins

The long cross country season is now drawing to a close and one of the traditional highlights is the Inter Counties Championships where county teams from throughout the United Kingdom compete over all the age groups from under 13 to senior, with eight athletes selected in each age group/gender county team.

This is probably the highest quality domestic event of the season so it was good that after a successful season, especially in the Warwickshire Championships which was a trial race, Stratford AC had twelverunners selected in the Warwickshire team spread across the ten races which is their best ever.

The course returned to the usual route after the experiment of 2022 when it was run in reverse, so the undulating course provided a challenge for the runners especially with the very soft surface following the recent snow melt.

Much to the relief of the majority of the runners the start returned to pens, which avoided the chaotic start of last year where there were many fallers. 


Fortunately, the weather was dry if a little windy but the conditions underfoot were very muddy, especially compared to recent races which have been generally firmer.


The Stratford representatives were a good mix of the regulars at this level and younger less experienced runners. 

The Stratford athletes were: 

Under 20 men in the first race over 8km where half the Warwickshire team were from Stratford AC were led by Taylor Stubbins who was very happy with 48th place (31.11) after being 217 last year, he was closely followed by Alex Pester 66th (31.55) also pleased with improving by 75 places, Ned Campbell, a little below par in 99th (33.13) although still an improvement on last year and then Koda Spriggs 155 (38.19) who is looking forward to the start of the track season! All contributed to a fine 9th place in the team event. 

The next race was the Under 13 girls over a 3km course where Lois Ford was making her County debut and came a creditable 244 in 16.06. Lois will have learnt a lot from the experience.

The under 15 boys team was 20th and included three Stratford runners, Sam Lambert (103rd, 15.56), Zak Lambert close behind (104, 15.57) and William Mayes (195, 16.40).

The Under 17 women’s team who were 19th had four Stratford runner. After a bad fall in the race last year Maisie-Joy Spriggs had a cautious start but worked her way through well to be 101st in 23.51, closely followed by Niamh Hillard (112, 24.07), Olivia Robinson (171, 25.05) and Abbi Cooper (211, 26.31)

Alex Adams in the Under 17 men was happy with his run, being in the leading group for the whole race and finished 7th in 20.47 on the 6km course and clinching a 4th place overall in the UK Cross Challenge series of races held over the season. 

The under 13 boys race was next and featured four of Stratford’s rising stars, the first two making their debuts in the County team in their first cross country season: William Hovell (56, 13.10), Arthur Williamson (99, 13.33), Joel Ledgard (101 up from 217 last year, 13.35) and Aran Cooper (103 from 155 last year, 13.37) all contributing to 9th place team.

Finally for Stratford was Charly Marshall in the Under 17 women’s race, who was delighted to finish in 11thplace with a very strong run. 

Under 13 Marijke Tear-Verweij and senior Georgie Campbell were also selected to run but missed out due to illness, meaning we had twenty athletes selected for the county team, our best ever in this competition. The final cross country event of the season is next week with the English Schools Champs at Nottingham where many of the team will be running again. 

Charly Marshall
Niamh Hillard and Maisie-Joy Spriggs
Lois Ford
Olivia Robinson and Abbi Cooper
Vicky Sharpe.
Oundle 20

Report – Vicky Sharpe

Along with half of Stratford AC, I’m running the London Marathon at the end of April and was searching around for a 20 mile race to test out how I’ve been getting on.

Being too slow to get a space at the usual favourites of Ashby and Gloucester 20’s I found Oundle 20 in Northamptonshire was still open.

I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a 20 miler in the future, it’s a relaxed atmosphere but with some still very good competition turning up! 

It’s an open road race, which means you’ve got to keep paying attention to what is going on around you but the roads are fairly quiet, which makes overtaking other runners fairly easy. 

For me, the race was to test quite a few things out; kit, fuelling strategy before and during the race and running my own race instead of getting caught up with racing others.

Somehow none of these went horribly wrong, which was a good sign for London!

Starting at a very social (compared to triathlon) 9:30am, I admittedly did get carried away for the first mile before settling into the well practised marathon pace (4:59/km or 8min/mi).

A few runners I guessed to be around my time started to pull away early on which makes you question your pacing entirely when your fresh and full of energy but I stuck to my plan (thank you Sarah Bland!) and eventually reeled a lot of them in in the later stages.

Thinking I knew where I was and coming into Oundle for the final stretch, which I was informed was all downhill or flat, I started to push hard up ‘the final hill’ but was unpleasantly greeted by a welcome sign for a different village (Glapthorn) and not Oundle!

Not wanting to lose the 10 or so places I had just gained, I decided to try and sustain this pace for as long as possible and I was able to regain a few more places over the last few miles.
Having given my spectators an approximate finishing time of 2hr 40mins I was very pleased to finish in 2hr 40mins 36sec, averaging a pace of 4:58/km or 7:59/mi – I’m calling that bang on perfect!

I finished 100th overall (/400), 18th female (/166) and 7th Senior female (/40).
Roll on London!
Stratford 2 Munich 0

Becks Pridham and Hannah Osborne  at the Riemer (near Munich) parkrun on 4th March. Hannah was first lady and Becks was second lady! It was a Stratford Ladies 1-2!

The following weekend Becks was competing in the Burghley 7. see her eace report below

This race had been on my radar for a few years now, most significantly because it is partially run around the grounds of Burghley House, where I did cross country years ago as a school girl!.

The race heads out of the ‘bottle gatehouses’ onto the main street leading into Stamford, past my former school. There is a comfy downhill start to the race, then a 180 degree turn on the bridge and back out to come through the north gate back into the Capability Brown designed grounds of the stately home.

The run takes the competitors past the big house and out onto the country roads heading east, with a slow and steady uphill climb for the next 3 miles, turning south and then back west into the southern gate of Burghley. The final mile is pretty much downhill and you finish at the front of the stately home. 

It’s not a flat race by any means but the downhill first and last miles give you a good warm up and then push for the final line. 

I finished 127th woman (out of 775 women) and 15th in my age group (out of 114 women in the 45-49 category) with a time of 1:00:46.

It’s one race I would definitely do again and a really attractive route, with closed roads and plenty of support from the local residents.

The winners were Eliot Smales (00:36;13) and Natasha Martin (00:44;24).

Owain Jones
Hopefully the lower picture might embarrass him
Butter wouldn’t melt!

Social Media

Your help please

Report – Paul Bearman

Owain Jones has been a member of SUAAC since the Under 11s and he’s now studying at Leeds Beckett University…..you may recognise him from the attached pictures and ran alongside or with him.

Having supported the club and Warwickshire over the last 12 years he’s now asked for our support with his Uni research for his dissertation which aims “to understand current social media usage and practices being implemented by the club. After the research is undertaken and completed the results will help to shape a set of recommendations for the club to take on board to benefit members and followers on platforms in the future”…..so a win win.

The study should take you around 10-15 minutes maximum to complete perhaps over a cup of tea and a digestive.

Please click on the link below and thanks in anticipation for supporting Owain.

Paul Bearman


 First Aid

Report – Paul Bearman

Nearly 20 years ago a friend’s 13 year old son who had Cardio Myopathy and was also the brother of a junior club member, had a heart attack at the entrance of the High School.

A passing stranger who knew First Aid administered lifesaving CPR before the ambulance arrived and thankfully my friend’s son survived and is still alive and doing well.

From that point I decided that it would be a wise thing for all our coaches to have First Aid knowledge and we’ve run courses every 3 years since.

Today, under common law, voluntary organisations like ours and individual volunteers have a duty of care to each other and others who may be affected by their activities.

In recent times UK Athletics now regards First Aid as an essential skill for all Coaches and considers that they have a responsibility to maintain their competency in this area. In fact, it is now a mandatory condition of the Coach licencing scheme for new Coaches and Leaders to have First Aid training and for those who are renewing their license every three years.

Carolyne Johnston was tasked with setting up 2 x 4 hour courses for our coaches on 4th and 11th March in the Pavilion and 28 coaches covering T&F, RR, XC and Triathlon attended the courses. Another 4 have already done their course via their workplace and Carolyne is sorting out a “mop up” for the remaining dozen or so who couldn’t make the dates.

Firstly, thanks to Carolyne for sorting the courses out but mainly a big thankyou to our coaches who gave up their time, to not just meet the licence requirements but more importantly to also make everything we do safer not just within the club activities but also in the wider community.

A footnote…..one of our coaches, who has been a part of our team for over 25 year as an athlete and coach, was due to attend her course on the 11th but was in Scotland for a family occasion.

While there her 93 year old granddad collapsed with heart failure but as she had done several of our First Aid courses over the years, she administered CPR and kept her Grandad going before the ambulance arrived.

Fortunately, her Grandad is alive and kicking thanks to her speedy actions although he’s still in hospital recovering. He’s OK but she’s still coming to terms with it all.

I went into complete panic and although the 999 handler was very good, I knew what I needed to do…..worst experience of my life but he lives to fight another day”.
It goes to show the training courses had given her the confidence and skill to save her Grandad’s life. Very proud of her
And Finally
A group of our junior endurance runners on the Welcombe Hills last Sunday along with coach Mike Sheppard. It looks like the start of, hopefully, some lasting friendships.