London Calling.

Looking on a popular search engine for suggestions as to what the collective noun for a group of marathon runners might be and there were several – A crew, A tension, A relief, A field.

Whatever it is, we have one shown above.

Let’s say a crew of our Spring marathon runners, including some of those who ran at Manchester, Brighton, Newport and London.

18 shown in all, that’s almost 500 miles of running. Another suggestion was “an asylum”. Maybe that’s more appropriate.

Well done one and all and many thanks to Robin for the photo,
In 1979 The Clash sang “London calling to the faraway towns”. Well at the weekend that call was certainly heeded by 18 senior and 3 junior members who travelled to the capitol city to compete in either the mini or full marathon, doing themselves and the club proud.

Between them they raised many thousands of pounds for worthwhile causes. They should be very, very proud of themselves. We mere mortals certainly are.

A super well done to all of them.

We’ve got reports, in their own words, from over half of them in this week’s newsletter. A huge thank you to Karen Gisborne for hassling all of those with weary legs to send reports in by Monday and huge thanks to all of you who responded.

This speedy response enabled us to meet the challenging deadlines for coverage in this week’s local press. Many thanks to Sam Swanepoel and Paul Hawkins as well as Karen for helping to make this happen.

There are also a few photos at the end of the newsletter to show that there was life outside of London this past week.

Take care

Best wishes

David Jones.
L to R: Robin Langhorn, Seth Turner, Andy Cox, Ade Mason and Hannah Percy. 
London Marathon
Below is a report that was compiled for the local press and gives an overview of the event from a club perspective.

Report – David Jones

Club’s marathon record broken in London

More than 48,000 runners took part in this year’s TCS London Marathon, returning to its traditional April date for the first time since 2019.

Before the full marathon it was the Junior’s Mini Marathon on Saturday.

Unlike the full marathon, competitors have to qualify to take part in this event, unless they live in any of the London Boroughs.

This race has a wonderful pedigree, with the likes of Mo Farrah and Jake Wightman having competed in it as juniors and 25-year-old Emile Cairess, who finished 6th in the full marathon this year, competing in it as recently as 2015. 

All finishers experience the thrill of crossing the finish line on The Mall before receiving their medals.

The course is over 2.6k for school years 5-12 and we had 3 of our talented junior members competing for the West Midlands Team.

U17 Maisie-Joy Spriggs had taken part in this event previously and she should be well pleased to be the 5th finisher for the West Midlands team, a mere second behind the 4th placed finisher. Her time of 9.41 placed her 155th out of 410. 

For U13’s Arthur Williamson and Joel Ledgard this was their first experience of the event with both of them finishing in the top half of the field and 5th and 6th respectively for the West Midlands. Arthur was 190th out of 424 with a time of 9.14 and Joel was 200th in 9.30.

18 senior members of the club competed in the full marathon, half of who were attempting the distance for the first time.

Three members were able to compete having won their places in the club’s own draw. All  registered UK Athletic clubs are awarded places based on their size. To qualify for this draw, members have to show that they have tried to enter the marathon but been unsuccessful in the ballot.

First home for the club was new member Andy Lawrence in a superb new club record time of 2:37.00,  almost 2 minutes quicker than the previous record and 19 minutes quicker than his Manchester marathon time of jut 12 months ago.

Three other members were under the magical 3 hour mark. Dan Southam finished in 2:43.22, some 44 seconds quicker than his previous best marathon time in Boston last year. He also recorded a negative split.

Next to finish for the club was Seth Turner (2:57.52) just 4 seconds ahead of the club’s 4th placed runner Andy Cox (2:57.56) who was running his 8th London Marathon in 9 years. 

Next it was Ade Mason in (3:28.25)  followed by the club’s first lady finisher Kelly Milner (3:29.41) also running her first marathon. 

It was then the turn of another 3 first timers. Peter Sugden (3:29.46)  followed by our 2nd lady finisher Vicky Sharpe (3:39.23) who in turn was followed by Robin Langhorn (3:47.00). 

John Devine (3:54) has run the full marathon distance before but only as part of a triathlon. This was his first stand alone marathon. John was running to raise money for Cyclists Fighting Cancer. 

Another of the many first time marathon runners was Hannah Percy, running to raise money for The Schools Consent Project charity.  She followed her recent 1:50 in the Warwick half with a time of 4:03.08. Hannah was followed by another 7 of our lady members, starting with Sarah Odell (4:06.09) in her first marathon since 2018. She was running to raise money for the Rigby Cancer Unit who treated her father last year.

Sarah was followed by first timers Emily Carr (4:09.58), Emily Halderthay (4:15.12), Bev Brigden (4:39.37) and Rachel Swain (4:50.37). Bev was one of the 3 who were successful in the club’s draw.

Kate Sergent, competing in her 17th marathon, finished in a time of 5:02.55. She was 24th in her age category.

Kate and Sarah had a pleasant surprise after the race, when on their way back to their hotel they bumped in to Maureen Lipman who gave them £20 to donate to Sarah’s chosen charity.

Finally, just a few weeks after her Brighton Marathon run, Miranda Maloney, who was also successful in our club draw, finished in 5:55.07.

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Joel Ledgard and Arthur Williamson
Joel Ledgard runs past Buckingham Palace
London Mini Marathon

Three of our talented junior endurance runner’s qualified to represent the West Midlands at the London Mini Marathon last Saturday.

Below they report on their experiences at this iconic race.

Joel Ledgard

‘I journeyed down to London on Friday afternoon with the rest of the West Midland team. We were staying in the ‘Mini Marathon’ Hotel with the other young athletes from all over the UK.

That evening, we were lucky enough to be treated to an interesting Q and A with Jake Wightman who gave lots of good racing and training tips along with some interesting facts.

On Saturday morning, I had a great time on a great course – the ground even felt quite bouncy at the start.

Overall it was a brilliant experience and I will definitely be attempting to qualify again.’

Maisie-Joy Spriggs
Maisie-Joy Spriggs
Once again it was an early morning ready by 7am, after a fun night in the hotel on Friday with Jake Whiteman.

 The course was different this year due to the protests along The Embankment, so we started on Horse Guards Parade, past the roundabout and an out and back on Birdcage Walk, then the finish down The Mall.

It felt so much longer than I thought it would but it was lovely to see team mates running along the other side of birdcage walk.

I had a good run and thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere and the experience of a very competitive race.

Running past the supporters in the stand on The Mall in the sprint finish really helped with the final push for the line.

I completed the 2.6k course (although I recorded further) in 9:39 which was a little slower than my time in October, although the courses were different and I am looking forward to the many road races to come.
Arthur Williamson on the right of the picture.
In Their Own Words

Over half of our runners in the full marathon responded to the request to submit a report on their experience, for which many thanks.
They are printed below in alphabetical order
Bev Brigden
I want to say a big thank you to whoever pulled my name out of the club draw for a London Marathon place.

I was never convinced that I wanted to run a marathon despite Sarah Bland saying that everyone should give it a go.

I felt so privileged to get one of the three coveted club places that it really changed my outlook. From that point on I was fully invested and it turned out to be the most amazing journey.

I loved the training and the chatty long runs with Rachel. I loved the banter and support on the WhatsApp groups. I loved how Robin checked in with us keeping us amused and sane, Sarah Bland for being the calm voice of reason and Malcolm for suggesting a hotel with parking for a speedy getaway!

It really felt like a team despite everyone having their own personal reasons to participate.

The day was fantastic, emotional and inspiring. I don’t even mind that I am not shown as a finisher, due to the tracker stopping at mile 13. 

Thank you all for your concern. I will now echo Sarah, “everyone should do one, once, if they can”. 
Andy Cox

2023 was my 8th London Marathon in 9 years. It is by far the best supported marathon event, whilst the conditions and temperature were great for running. Hats off to all the support throughout the course, particularly all our SAC members who made the trip down to shout at us at many locations.

This year, I ran for my favourite charity PHAB, a charity that inspires and supports disabled and non-disabled children, young people and adults to make more of life together and raising £2,350 along the way. 

Supporting such a great cause certainly keeps you motivated when the going gets tough.

John Devine
John Devine

What an amazing couple of days the London Marathon Experience was.

For the past 4 years I’ve entered the London Ballot with no success.

As most know who have tried it, getting a ballot place is hard to come by! So when I found out CFC (Cyclists Fighting Cancer) were offering a couple of entries for the event, I jumped at the chance. It helped keep me focused knowing I was raising money for such a worthwhile charity and I’m so grateful to everyone who sponsored me, I raised £2000.

I’ve never done a marathon race before or a race of this size, my only other ‘long run’ experience was doing an Ironman, which meant running a marathon after swimming and biking, so I was excited and nervous to see what I could do and how the body would cope. 

The race itself was a cold and wet start but luckily I had Sarah Odell from SAC in the same pen start, so we kept each other company.

As we set off I felt really comfortable, pacing was good, nutrition sorted and the crowds were absolutely amazing. I got a severe case of nipple rash which had me diving to the side of the road to reapply more vaseline!

With 2 miles to go my legs stiffened up, luckily the crowds kept me going and I was delighted to finish in a time of 3:54.

It’s given me a buzz and I would like to do another now and see how I can improve and maybe aim for 3:30.
Emily Halderthay managed to have a photographer friend taking shots at the finishing line
Ade Mason
Ade Mason

London was truly amazing.  Living up to its hype, with awesome crowd support and family support like no other and with so many SAC vests entered, it certainly added to the occasion seeing clubmates racing.  

My race was tough.  Hampered with injury throughout training, the race unravelled into a tale of two halves.  The injuries were thankfully kept at bay due to recent physio and rest but I faded in the second half, having had no real training in the last 5 weeks. 

I was on for another sub 3hrs at the halfway point and felt really fast and fresh for the first 12 miles but I knew deep down I’d never hold it. 

I dialled the pace back sensibly for the second half as my legs fatigued to ensure I finished and collected the awesome medal.  

Painful cramping kicked in during the last 6 miles but happy that the injuries didn’t flare up and it was just down to stamina. 

I ‘ran out of puff’ and the legs didn’t have the training strength they needed.  

I was very happy with my finish time of 03:28:25, considering I could well have not finished or even started.  

I made the very best of the situation and really enjoyed the whole weekend. 

Incredible London with an incredible atmosphere.

Sarah Odell
Sarah Odell

I was lucky enough to get a club place for 2023, so I decided to make use of it and raise money for the Rigby Cancer Unit who treated my dad last year.  

After chatting with Kate Sergent we decided to run together. This all went to plan until we found out we were on separate starts and different times.  

Plan B came into play. 

On race day it was a little wet, which continued most of the race.

My plan was to enjoy the atmosphere and as always the crowds were amazing and carried you around.

I so was pleased to see  Buckingham Palace and the finish line in sight.  

After having an injury in 2020/2021 and thinking I would never do another marathon I was so  happy with my time.

On way back to hotel we bumped into Maureen Lipman, had a chat and she gave me £20 for my charity! 

Now what’s next!!
Hannah Percy. 
 ‘Canary Wharf was torturous’!
Kate Sergent

Kate Sergent
After having to withdraw from London in October due to a meniscus tear I was able to enter again with a  Good For Age place with my time from Belfast marathon in May 22.
I was very nervous, even though I have trained hard as I worried my knee would not let me get to the finish.

I had a great run and think I paced myself well.

The crowds were simply incredible and my name rang in my ears all the way round.

I was pleased with my time 5.02.55. 
Mine and Sarah Odell’s marathon were made complete by meeting Maureen Lipman by our hotel, who asked us how we got on and gave Sarah £20 towards her charity! 

Last marathon… In the words of the greatest ever rock band 
“maybe the last time I don’t know”
Vicky Sharpe close to the blue line!
Vicky Sharpe

London was my first ever marathon and what a place to start!

The crowd and atmosphere was like nothing I have experienced before and they really did help carry me through an early lull.

Even after being told multiple times to watch out for going off too fast on the first 5km with fresh legs and a downhill start, I did exactly that and was super excited.

I managed to spot Pete Sugden at mile 3 and after a quick hello told him to go on without me and went back to glueing myself to the blue dotted line (apparently this is the 26.2mi line, deviating means running further!).

Spotting another Stratford runner, I found Robin Langhorn around mile 6/7 and was pleased to stay with my training partner off and on for around 5miles.

I had been told to prepare myself for Tower Bridge but it is honestly like nothing I have ever experienced – I assume that’s what it’s like to walk out into a packed out stadium!

Around mile 14 I accepted I wasn’t going to keep a sub 3:30 pace but decided to jump straight to plan B – Finish with a smile and don’t walk.

The last 3 miles were tough but such an incredible experience I managed to find a spur of energy to finish quickly down The Mall in 3:39:16!
I ran the marathon in memory of my mum and managed to raise £2743 for the British Heart Foundation, which I am as proud of as I am the time and know she will be too. 
Dan Southam.
I get the impression he’s pretty pleased with himself !
Dan Southam
After a drizzly wait in the Yellow start pen, it was finally time to hit the streets of London in what promised to be a big day! 

The gun went, and I settled into an easy pace for the first 5k, with the plan to ease in and hope that the slower start pays off in the second half of the race.

Once the first 5k was ticked off and the rain continued to come, it was time to up the pace into the goal race pace of circa 6:10 min miles as we headed towards Cutty Sark.

With the heavy rain, the paving around Cutty Sark was slippy, so tiptoeing through there was key! Danger averted, it was head down and get to Tower Bridge! 

The atmosphere was INSANE as we crossed Tower Bridge, filling the body with adrenaline and kicking me into the second half of the race!

I upped the pace by a few seconds and with Canary Wharf looming it was time to embrace the grind and try and get through unscathed.

My goal was to get to miles 20-23 feeling good and with the GPS going awol around The City (clocking me at 4:40 min miles at one point!) I ran by feel and hoped the time worked out! 

Moving into the back end of the race, I still felt strong so I picked up the pace a little again, hoping the crowd down The Embankment would give me the extra boost!

The crowds were absolutely bonkers and my easy start really paid off as I still had enough in me for a big 5k kick to end the race.

I spotted my girlfriend just before mile 26 and her screams helped me light the afterburners and kick on for the finish line! 

I finally crossed the line in a new PB of 2:43:23. I ran my perfect race with a negative split and all the hard work and injury frustrations came out as I sobbed my way to get a medal!

The London Marathon done. My third one. It’s the greatest race on planet earth, bar none! 
Peter Sugden
Peter Sugden

Nerves, doubt, worry… despite following my 16 week training plan fairly well and achieving my longest runs to date, plus a better than expected time at Ashby 20 a month ago, I arrived in London on Saturday with crippling self-doubt and a general lack of confidence for my first ever marathon. 

I took the trip to the ExCel to collect my number on Saturday afternoon.  It was there.  I really was running a marathon the next day. 

I then took the tube back to central London and carried out a recce of Horse Guards Parade to check where to meet friends and family afterwards. 

I bumped into Robin Langhorn and his wife there.  It was great to see a familiar face to help settle some nerves.  Then, back to my hotel and more pasta.

I was relieved to wake Sunday morning to find it wasn’t raining.  I forced down some porridge, then made my way to London Bridge station to catch the train to Blackheath.  I began to get a sense of the scale of the event seeing the masses of runners piling on to the train and then spilling back out once at Blackheath.

Once in the starting area with about an hour to wait for my start time I decided to join one of the many lengthy queues for the toilet.  I didn’t really need to go but decided it would kill some time and by the time I reached the front of the long snaking queue I probably would need to go. 

It was then it started to rain. I was very glad of the plastic poncho I had.

With 10 mins to go, we were called to our wave gate, number 4 for me, where I waited nervously, glad of the warmth radiating from several hundred people crowded closely together.  Then the gate was opened and we were making our way to the start line, first at a walk, then at a jog, and by the time we crossed the start line at marathon pace, or slightly quicker.

A ginger bread man ran passed me. I caught up with and passed a man dressed as a star. I felt great.  I’d decided I was going to target 3:15-3:20, rather than the 3.5 hours I forced myself to believe was possible before I began my training in the first week of 2023. 

Shortly after the convergence of all the different starting points just before 3 miles I felt a tap on my back.  It was Vicky Sharpe, beaming as usual.  We realised our paces weren’t going to be matched today, so we wished each other luck and I carried on at my marathon pace, or slightly quicker.

It was chucking it down as we ran from Woolwich to Greenwich.  It didn’t matter.  It was cooling without being chilling.  The weather certainly hadn’t deterred the crowds lining the route. 

Thank you Hannah Osborne and MJ for being there and shouting support.  Thank you Cindy Brittain and Annie Threadgill.  Thank you whoever knew me and shouted my name at about the halfway mark.  Thank you anyone else who shouted out but I missed you in the cacophony of the roaring support. 

I passed numerous amazing runners in costumes; a man carrying a surfboard; one of the famous Rhino suits; a lady in wellington boots; a man running barefoot; a man wearing crocs!!!  There were bands and choirs and drummers.  It was everything I’d hoped London Marathon would be.

I completed 10 miles in 75 mins.  I eased off slightly.  I didn’t need to go this pace.  3 hours 20 mins would be fantastic.  I was feeling good for the next hour, ticking off the miles at 7:40 pace.  Then, it all started to feel quite hard.  I reached 20 miles in 2 hours 34 mins, two minutes outside of my Ashby 20 time.  I now needed to run a steady 10k.

At 22 miles I developed a debilitating stitch.  One that stops you in your tracks.  I walked for a bit, letting out some huge breaths to try to expunge some of the lactic acid build up.  It worked.  I was going again but the stitch was symptomatic of the fact that my early pace had truly caught up with me.  There was little left in my legs. 

Time was no longer the priority, finishing now was.  It was all I could do to jog for the last four miles.  Mr Star went passed me. The Minion I’d been catching was pulling away.  3.5 hours was beginning to look a tall order.  I plodded on.  The embankment went on forever.

Eventually, we turned right up Birdcage Walk, then right again into The Mall.  I was going to finish.  Not only did I finish, but within 3.5 hours, in a time of 3:29:46. 

Ignore the detail – a perfectly executed 3.5 hour marathon, at marathon pace, or a bit quicker.

A truly amazing day!  Thank you everyone who was there supporting.  Well done to all Stratford runners who ran London Marathon 2023. 

Seth Turner

Training for and running a marathon takes serious commitment and dedication but the rewards can be profound.

London lived up to and exceeded all my expectations. The crowds, the atmosphere, the sheer enthusiasm made it one of the most memorable running experiences I have had.

I was really pleased with my performance and only sorry I couldn’t cross the line with my clubmate, inspiration and training buddy Andy Cox who ran a virtually identical time to me but started in a different wave. I imagine we made for some exciting racing for those following on the live tracker!

If you ever get a chance to run London grab it with both hands, you won’t regret it and the memories will last forever”
Go Mo

This great photo was taken by Ade Mason’s wife Karen.
And Finally

Just a few photos to show that there was life outside of London last week
Sunset at The Track after last Thursday’s junior endurance group training session.
A group of our younger members (plus Ned Campbell in his coaching capacity !) take a break during last Sunday’s training session on the Welcombe Hills.
You may well be reading reports of some of this group competing in London full and mini marathons in the future.
Arthur Chadburn elated at pipping Layla Sparrow in the Sunday morning relay race on the Welcombe Hills.
A Wednesday night group, just about to start the Milcote to railway carriages section of the Greenway.