Tilting at Windmills

Catherine Reynolds on top of the podium after being crowned U20 Midland Counties Champion in the 400m at the Midland Counties Senior and U20s Championships last weekend.
Despite a strong headwind and extremely hot sun her time of 56.54 was sufficient to secure her victory.
We start this week with news that U20 Catherine Reynolds was crowned Midlands U20 400m County Champion at the weekend following her victory in the Midland Counties Senior and U20 Championships at Nuneaton.

Several Senior members took part in and enjoyed the Tysoe Windmill 10k last Saturday, where there were quite a few individual successes.

Neil Gardiner and Joe Lee competed in the Cotswold 113 Middle Distance Triathlon at the Cotswold Country Park near Cirencester.

The Parkin family aren’t ones for taking the easy option, so it was no surprise to hear that father and daughter Dave and Tessa took part in the challenging Original Mountain Marathon in the Lake District last weekend.  

Gerard Thompson and Ian Greaves ran the Edinburgh Marathon to raise funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK a charity close to both of their hearts.

I spent an enjoyable afternoon last Saturday competing in the Iffley Road Festival of Miles. There were 15 one mile races at the Iffley Road track in Oxford where Roger Bannister was the first person to break the 4 minute mile some 69 years ago.

There is an interesting article from club Welfare Officer Alison Gravelsons on nutrition, together with details of an upcoming webinar on this vitally important subject.

For any junior members contemplating giving duathlon a try there is notice of an upcoming event that might be of interest plus contact details.

Finally, John Butler was in action at the Royal Sutton Fun Run last weekend, running the 8.5 miles in pretty hot weather.

Good luck to those of you competing in the Two Castles or Midland Masters T&F  Championships at the weekend. Indeed good luck to any of you who are competing anywhere.

Take care

Best wishes

David Jones 
Team Stratford
2nd place finisher Drew Sambridge alongside first female Donna Allen. Okay I know Donna’s wearing a Hook Norton Harriers vest but SAC are her 2nd claim club, so that more than justifies her photo.
Age shall not weary them!
Phil Brennan and Ginny Davis, age group winners both
Sue Mothershaw approaches the windmill.

Tysoe Windmill Run 

Saturday 3rd June

Report – Lisa Lambourn

The weather was sunny but with a cool breeze for the Tysoe Windmill 10K run, which wasn’t appreciated as we waited for the start but was definitely appreciated on the run. 

Stratford had 10 x 10k runners out of a field of 88 and one had opted for the 5K race.

As this was my first time, I niavely thought that the hill up to the windmill was ‘the hill’ in the race but just before setting off I was warned there was another hill after but that it wasn’t as bad as Larkstoke – famous last words!   

The run set off through the village and we were soon running up through fields to the beautiful Tysoe Windmill where the 5K runners turned and retraced their steps.

The 10k runners were directed down the hill and across fields meeting a road after a short distance. 

Then began the climb up, which to me seemed to go on as long as Larkstoke with a similar number of flat bits that, to the uninitiated, could be mistaken for the top. 

After some steep sections on hot tarmac, I was relieved to be directed into a field on my left, rather than up the next steep bit of road but the relief was short lived as we were faced with yet another hill – this time in a field.

Once at the top, the views were stunning and helped to take my mind off my lungs ,which were not happy and the heat which seemed to be building. 

Most of the rest of the run was across beautiful fields full of wild flowers with blue skies and amazing views but there were a few more uphill sections so the hard work had not yet finished. 

I was relieved to eventually run down a hill and into the next field in which I was surprised to find was the Tysoe.  Then we just had to retrace our steps back down the hill and through the village to the very welcome finish line where we presented with a lovely locally made pottery medal.

Having been told it was not as bad as Larkstoke, I checked Strava and found that the elevation gain is greater.  I also spotted on the website a very apt description for the run which perhaps I should have read before – ‘If the hills don’t take your breathe away, the scenery will”.

Stratford runners had some fantastic results with Drew Sambridge in 2nd place in 43.07 followed in third place by Huw Crossweller in 43.35.  Next to finish was Ted Burch (48.23) and John Bettles next.  Ginny Davis was first woman home for Stratford in 60.51 winning an age group award.  Phil Brennan was hot on her heels (61.27) and he was also awarded an age category prize.  I was next in just after Phil, having admired his ability to keep running up every hill when I had to give in and walk at several points.  Kate Sergent was the next Stratford runner in followed by Lindsey Anderson and Miranda Maloney.
Sue Mothershaw sensibly opted for the 5K run but clearly had far too much energy left, so ran out again to meet the Stratford runners coming in from the 10K and took some fantastic photos on her second run. 

Thanks Sue.

Altogether I found it to be a friendly, well organised and absolutey beautiful run with a few too may hills for my taste.  However, I would recommend it and would go back and run it again but hopefully with more hill training under my belt.
Ginny’s Race

Report – Ginny Davis

‘How was that?” Someone kindly asked once I’d managed to stand up again at the end of this race.  “Complete and utter hell.” I answered.  It was knackering.

However I’ve forgotten all that now and think back to the warmth of the sun, the fabulous views, the tiny children running the 5k, to the care that had been taken to mow the paths we ran around Compton Wynyates, and to the support and camaraderie of other club members.

At the start I was running alongside Lisa Lambourn. She set a strong pace and it was only a matter of time before she left me puffing in her wake.  

Phil Brennan was solidly ahead, appearing not to notice the stamina required to achieve the summits of not only the Tysoe Windmill hill but several more after that. 

 Other club members had set off earlier or later so I didn’t see anything of them.  

Periodically I gained ground on Phil only to lose it again as the air thinned on the ascents and I walked, convincing myself I was going faster than I could run.

Actually the breathers were useful. Impressively, Phil never stopped running.

I figured that if I broke back into a run just before the peaks I might not drop too much overall time.

Eventually there were some downhills – lovely freewheeling, arm windmilling moments of total lack of control. I think Phil and Lisa must have taken some of these more sensibly than me as I hurtled into the valleys of the shadow of death, fearing the evil of another uphill.

The final km was, as usual, at least a mile long if not two but Tysoe has some pretty cottage gardens to admire along what was, I swear, another slight upward slope to the sports field and welcome finish. 

It was all worth it for the medal – a beautiful handmade ceramic pendant, and a very pretty tile for coming first in my age group. Phil got one too.

Midland Vets T&F League (MVTFL)
Our Vet’s T&F team will be hosting and competing in the 2nd fixture of this season’s MVTFL next Wednesday 14th at the Stratford track.

This event has involved a considerable amount of work and effort by team manager Hannah Osborne and others. A small army of officials and helpers has been assembled to meet the strict criteria involved in putting on an event of this nature, so why not pop along to the Stratford track and cheer the team on.

It promises to be an enjoyable and competitive evening.

I realise Wednesday evening is club night but the last event isn’t until 21.10 so there’s still time to pop along after your run.

There is a parents evening at the school on Wednesday, so no parking in the school car park but parking will be available on the field next to the track. 
The Happy Couple.
Neil Gardiner and Joe Lee.

Cotswold 113 Middle Distance Triathlon

Cotswold Country Park, near Cirencester

Report – Neil Gardiner

I always like to use the first race of the season to shake off the cobwebs and practice the logistics of a race.  It’s even better when you can do it on a great course, in the sunshine and with a mate, the ever-chilled out Joe Lee. 

Swim    1.9km, time 35:40

Waking up at 4am on Sunday you do question your choice of hobby (and so does your spouse).  But getting into the cool, clear water at 6:30am felt invigorating.  The swim went great, my breathing was under control and I was actually overtaking people.

This lulled me into thinking I was going faster than I actually was; still I swam a PB but I know there’s more in the tank.

Bike    90km, time 2:36:27

My TT bike is in for repairs at the moment so I was on the road bike for this one. 

A nice flat course but littered with potholes.  To keep my head warm after the swim, I’d put on a cycling cap under my helmet.  The only problem was, when I was in the aero position, the peak obscured the road a bit and made the potholes harder to spot. 

I spent the first 10k trying to shove the cap into my helmet or to rip off the peak.  

It was great to see Joe on the course and we shouted encouragement to each other.  Not so great was seeing after the race that I picked up a 5-minute penalty for drafting!  I think this was when a couple of lads with disc wheels went past me and I was reluctant to let them go. 

Lesson learned for next time.

Run    21km, time 1:56:01

Like many runners, my niggles and injuries mean I’m almost always in maintenance mode.  My knee felt ok to run but the lack of running miles was always going to catch up with me.  Three laps through woods around the lake made a great venue and I walked the three aid stations on every lap to make sure I got a drink and to reset my running form. 

I was going pretty slowly anyway but by kilometre 18 the wheels came off and I just about managed a jog to the finish.

Overall, it was cracking day out, so good to be racing with a buddy.  I beat my expectations for this race and learned some lessons for next time. 

I was dog tired though and as Joe and Kim took their young family off to the water park for the afternoon, I was very grateful that my daughters are now teenagers who are happy just watching TV.



Dave and Tessa Parkin

OMM – The Original Mountain Marathon


Report – Dave Parkin

On a beautiful, cloudless day in the Lake District on Saturday 3rd June, my daughter Tessa and I tackled the OMM (the Original Mountain Marathon) ‘lite’.

The idea is simple – as you cross the start line in Grasmere, you are given a map with checkpoints across the surrounding fells. Each checkpoint is given a number of points, based on distance, elevation and navigational difficulty – we were doing the ‘short’ course and so had 5hrs to get as many points as we could and back to the start line.

Late finishers are penalised pretty heavily.

After a quick glance at the map and having worked out an overall rough plan of attack, we were off to our first checkpoint.

Mixing ‘power walking’ with running the downhills, we made good progress – while we weren’t the fastest over the ground, we knew the area pretty well and could navigate as we moved.

Our first big hill was Loughrigg which we powered up for a 40 point checkpoint and we were then down into the valley to Elterwater. We were then back up the other side of the valley and onto Lingmoor, for our only bit of ‘heather bashing’ of the day to find a 50 pointer.

By this point we were a couple of hours in and it was getting hot – we decided to skip another climb and head down into the Langdale Valley, where a spurt of energy (and other competitors in front of us) saw us jogging along at good pace to the bottom of the last hill, which was a beast of a 400m ascent in full sun.

Pretty much crawling over the top, we had one last checkpoint to find in open fell on the other side and we were then running back into Grasmere.

We were delighted to finish in 4hr52min, hitting 15 miles, 1200m of ascent and 9 checkpoints giving us 15th place out of 59 mixed teams.

Not a bad day out for our first mountain marathon!

For those interested, the event is happening again in the first weekend of June 2024.

On the Saturday there are more traditional races of 5,10 & 17k, and a full marathon on the Sunday.

The orienteering event that we did is a two day event with ‘long’ and ‘short’ course offerings – as a first outing we opted for the short course and only a single day but we’re planning the two day event next year. See you there!

Gerard Thompson and Ian Greaves

Edinburgh Marathon

Report – Ian Greaves

Myself and fellow club member Gerard Thompson ran the Edinburgh Marathon. on 28th May.

We both ran London last year but had no luck in the ballot so chose Edinburgh as it looked an interesting course and well supported event.

It was due to be a comfortable 14 degrees on the day but we woke to bright sunshine and a warm start to the day and it only got warmer!

The marathon starts in the centre of the city, past some well known landmarks and heads out to the coast near Leith, then along the sea front at Portobello and onto Musselburgh, then following an out and back route along the coast road to Gosford Bay.

As we hit the coast at mile 5 we were hoping for a sea breeze to counter the heat but the day was very still with very little shade along the route. 

We decided to train and run together as we were running for Alzheimer’s Research UK a charity close to both of our hearts.

As we passed mile 18, Ian began to suffer in the heat and found it really tough going but Gez kept us both going and we finished together in 4 hours 16 mins.

Roger Bannister breaks the 4 minute mile in 1956.
Iffley Festival of Miles
Report – David Jones

Last Saturday I wandered down to The Iffley Road track in Oxford to take part in the Annual Festival of Miles, an afternoon of one mile races on the very track that Roger Bannister ran the first sub 4 minute mile back in 1954, some 69 years ago.

There were 15 races on the day, starting with a race for visually impaired runners and finishing with an Elite Women’s Race and finally an Elite Men’s Race.

The races were seeded by expected running times so no surprise that I was in the first of the Open Races.

I was okay with my time of 6:44.7. It was 14 seconds quicker than my Shakespeare Mile in March. It was very hot with a strongish headwind on the back straight – us runner’s have to have excuses don’t we ?

My time rockets me up to 4th in the current UK rankings for my age group.

Spoiler alert.

There are only 4 on the list!

Must try harder.

The fact that the Elite Men’s race was won in a time of 4:02.98, some 3.58 seconds slower than Bannister’s time 69 years ago is a measure of what an awesome achievement that run was and he couldn’t wear Vaporfly, Alphafly, Adidas Adizero Adios Pro etc etc either!

Next year will be the 70th anniversary of his run so it might well be worth giving it a try.


Alison Gravelsons

SUAAC Welfare Officer

Although the webinar detailed below clashes with the next Shakespeare Race it will be recorded and can be viewed afterwards.

A Zoom link will be sent to all members shortly.

Quite simply Nutrition is the study of food and how it works in our body and includes all the stuff that’s in our food, such as vitamins, protein, fat, and more.

We know it’s important to eat a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, dairy products and grains so that we have what we need to grow and be healthy and to perform to our best when we are training and competing.

As a part of our duty of care to our athletes we are aware that we need to encourage good Nutrition to ensure the fuel we put into our bodies is sufficient to promote a healthy body to sustain our training and competition regimes.

As the club’s Welfare Officer, I am looking at ways to help our athletes physical and mental wellbeing.

A while ago we ran a survey for 8 of our junior female athletes managed by a Nutritional Biochemist and the main finding was that in most cases there was no balance in their diet, which was having short term issues and without some adjustment could have led to longer term issues.

The parents ensured there was turnaround in most of the girls’ diet and this had a positive effect on their health, performance and wellbeing.

We have tied up with some Nutritional experts who will be running a Zoom webinar on 21st June at 6.30 to 7.30 and this will included time for a Q & A.

The webinar is aimed at everyone involved in the club and especially for our juniors and their parents.

The title of the webinar is Unveiling Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (REDs): Balancing Performance and Health in Athletes

“Join us for an important and informative webinar on Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (REDs), brought to you by 4thDiscipline, leaders in high performance.

4thDiscipline apply the same principles used with professional athletes to everyday athletes, clients, and business leaders, optimising performance and health.

Claire Fudge, founder and director of 4thDiscipline is a clinical dietitian and high-performance nutritionist with over 18 years of experience in the field. As a competitive endurance athlete herself, Claire possesses the knowledge, skills, and experience to apply science-based evidence with practical solutions.

Rachel Dervish is a high-performance nutritionist with extensive experience in sports and a competitive endurance runner herself.

With a wealth of knowledge and a deep understanding of the challenges faced by athletes, Rachel brings practical insights and evidence-based strategies to optimise performance while prioritising health.

During this webinar, Rachel will cover:


  • 1.      Understanding REDs and its implications for athletes.
  • 2.      Identifying warning signs and symptoms of REDs.
  • 3.      Exploring the multifaceted factors contributing to REDs, including nutrition, training load, and hormonal balance.
  • 4.      Practical strategies to prevent and manage REDs effectively.
  • 5.      Cultivating an approach within training clubs for achieving peak performance and well-being.

Make sure to mark your calendars for Wednesday, June 21st, from 18:30 to 19:30, as we understand the impact good nutrition has on our daily lives, you can then apply high-performance nutrition principles to your own athletic exploits and maintain optimal health.

An email with signup details will be sent out at the end of the week, so keep an eye on your inbox (or junk) and secure your spot for this essential webinar.

We look forward to your participation in this webinar and if you have any questions, please contact me.


For any juniors who fancy giving Duathlon’s a try, this may well be the perfect event. For further details please contact Richard Harrison


And Finally
John Butler ran 8.5 miles in scorching heat at the Royal Sutton Fun Run in Sutton Park last weekend
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And Finally Finally

Reading the reports on the Tysoe Windmill Run made me think of the truly wonderful The Windmills Of Your Mind.

They don’t write ’em like they used to.

The Windmills of Your Mind

Round like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel

Never ending or beginning on an ever spinning reel

Like a snowball down a mountain, or a carnival balloon

Like a carousel that’s turning running rings around the moon

Like a clock whose hands are sweeping past the minutes of its face

And the world is like an apple whirling silently in space

Like the circles that you find in the windmills of your mind!

Like a tunnel that you follow to a tunnel of its own

Down a hollow to a cavern where the sun has never shone

Like a door that keeps revolving in a half forgotten dream

Or the ripples from a pebble someone tosses in a stream

Like a clock whose hands are sweeping past the minutes of its face

And the world is like an apple whirling silently in space

Like the circles that you find in the windmills of your mind!

Keys that jingle in your pocket, words that jangle in your head

Why did summer go so quickly, was it something that you said?

Lovers walking along a shore and leave their footprints in the sand

Is the sound of distant drumming just the fingers of your hand?

Pictures hanging in a hallway and the fragment of a song

Half remembered names and faces, but to whom do they belong?

When you knew that it was over you were suddenly aware

That the autumn leaves were turning to the colour of her hair!

Like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel

Never ending or beginning on an ever spinning reel

As the images unwind, like the circles that you find

In the windmills of your mind!

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Alan Bergman / Marilyn Bergman / Michel Legrand

The Windmills of Your Mind lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC