Another busy week and a fond farewell.

Some of Team Stratford proudly displaying their medals after the Big 10k.
This week’s newsletter kicks off with a brief piece on Wednesday night’s Shakespeare Race followed by reports from last weekend’s Stratford Big 10k and half marathon, events that saw lots of success for the circa 65 members who were competing in the intense heat.

The ageless Phil Brennan, who not content with doing the Big 10k, was on the podium 24 hours earlier at the British Masters T&F Championships in Derby. Paula Williams and Brian Gravelsons were also competing with Paula coming away with 3 gold medals.

Adam Evans and Andy Cox were visiting the capital to compete in the London Big Half, both completing the course in super quick times.

We have a really thoughtful and appreciative note from Emma & Dave Parkin, thanking all of those who have helped and supported her daughter Tessa as she departs the club to concentrate on her burgeoning success in rowing. We all wish you well Tessa. You’ll be missed.

It was great seeing the success of 5 of our junior females Poppy Fox-Rowe, Nikola Wodzisz, Niamh Hillard, Caitlin Boyle and Ruby Edwards competing with our sister club Rugby in the Young Athletes National Final in Manchester on Sunday, with all of them winning medals. The team finished 2nd, so it was another successful day for some of our athletes on a national stage. We’ll hopefully have more on this at a later date.

It’s a huge weekend this weekend as the T&F season draws to a close. On Saturday our Midlands League team travel to Abingdon for their final league fixture of the season and on Sunday it’s the Big One, our very own Club Championships. If you haven’t entered why not pop along to soak up the atmosphere of this superb meeting . It will be warm!

Take care.

David Jones
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The kid’s are alright – Fin Hutchinson and Cameron Black during Wednesday’s Shakespeare Race.
Kate Sergent and Sam Swanepoel
Emma Vickers and Suzie Ross lead the pack
September Shakespeare Race

Report – David Jones

Wednesday night saw over 60 club runners competing in this month\s Shakespeare Race. In sweltering heat the race started outside the Encore on Waterside before making its way through numerous motorcyclists on just over a 5 mile course to finish outside the Alveston Manor.

Richard Liggatt was the race winner in a time of 30.52. First female finisher and first junior was the in-form Maisie-Joy Spriggs (11th – 35.16). Emma Bexson (15th – 36.37) was 2nd lady finisher.

Following Richard and in 2nd place was Seb Wolsencroft (31.13) with just 12 seconds separating the next 3 runners: Louis Byers (3rd – 32.20), Max Ross (4th – 32.24) and Seth Turner (5th – 32.32). 

Fin Hutchinson was 1st male junior in 14th place with a time of 35.52 beating his dad Tim (22nd – 38.29). Another father and son battle saw Cameron Black (17th – 37.16) edge out his father Graham (20th – 37.39).

The next Shakespeare Race is the 5000m at the club Championships this coming Sunday.

For the full results please follow the link below:
Above and below. Maisie-Joy Spriggs, first junior female in Big 10k and Phil Brennan among the medals again at BMAF T&F Championships. Just the 65 years between their ages!
British Masters Athletic Federation (BMAF) T& F Championships
Stratford Big 10k

Phil’s Weekend

Report – Phil Brennan

You know the one where you enter various races and discover at the last minute that you’ve double-booked a weekend?
Well last weekend was interesting.

I’ve had a quiet summer sorting out a few issues – my last competition was at the beginning of June – but I hadn’t entirely stopped training.

Last weekend was a clash between two days at the British Masters T&F Championships, doing a couple of races and watching Paula win things and then one of my favourites, Stratford Big 10k.

The sensible thing would have been to concentrate on one or the other, so I decided to do a bit of both.

Saturday: Those of you who do age-category racing will appreciate my chum Vic. Every five years, as soon as his birthday puts him at the bottom of his age category, he appears from nowhere, breaks a few records, wins everything and disappears again. Especially annoying when we’re in those races where you have your name on the number. His says “Victor”.

As he’s a bit younger than me, we met for the first time in nearly five years in the British Masters 1500m final. He did me a huge favour by towing me round into second place, albeit over 20 seconds behind and an unbelievable 2nd fastest time in the UK.

So no complaints. It was “only 1500m, so no worries for Sunday….

Sunday: Big 10k, Glorious day, wonderful SAC people everywhere. Stuck to my game plan: took it easy for the first hilly 4k, then completely lost interest in the heat until it was all over.

Vague memories of cheery club members passing on the Greenway. Provisional results say 2nd in category (again!) but I think it’s gone to appeal.
A library photo of Paul Hawkins

Paul’s Big 10k

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Walker

Report – Paul Hawkins
It was a lovely warm day (or brutally hot) and from a personal point of view it was great to be racing locally with crowds of supporters and to be part of the Stratford AC team.

I last raced the course in 2019 when I did 62.33. A lot’s happened since then so I know I was nowhere near that level but hoped to get about 70 minutes but not in the heat, so I was pleased with a chip time of 75.19.

I thought I walked ok but obviously there were no pesky judges.

There was some nice banter with runners as I mostly overtook people down the Greenway and only one or two seemed annoyed by a walker going past them.

I’ve got a few 10k’s planned for autumn starting with Balsall Common so I hope I can pick up the pace in better conditions.
Ginny Davis – somewhat exhausted!

Ginny’s 10k

Every Picture Tells A Story

Report – Ginny Davis

Oh what a beautiful morning in Stratford for over a thousand runners to gather together in homage to our sport.  

Pre run nerves as usual. Needed the loo but had been about six times already so ignored that. Walked to start and felt quite emotional hearing the wave of applause for the half marathoners.

Still needed the loo.

As I headed for the bushes the hooter went so I turned round, set my watch and Strava and I was off. Uphill.

To be honest from the roundabout onwards it was all a bit of a slog. Just one of those days. Maybe it was the heat. Maybe I should have gone to the loo again but also I’ve grown to hate my regular playlist and if I hear Baby We Were Born To Run one more time … there’s a job for the next time, if there’s a next time. 

I was determined not to stop and I didn’t stop so I felt good about that at least. The views were spectacular and the Greenway didn’t seem as long as it is, so that was nice.

I’d had a bit of a head to head with a girl in my village whose pace is similar to mine. She won but it was close.

I was thankful that once we got back into town we didn’t have to run all round the Stratford landmarks because I was absolutely done by then. Anyway finally I got my wish to stop at the finish. A wreck. After downing three bottles of water, I face planted myself onto the grass till I felt better and then had a lovely chat with legendary club vets and that made me feel better too.   First in age category. Very pleased with that. 

Great event, really well organised. Thank you Tempo.

Me, alongside Emma Vickers with Phil Brennan lurking in the background.  Obviously taken before The Greenway, hence the smile.
It was good to be back
Sort of

My Big 10k

Report – David Jones

One of our junior endurance runner’s asked me a few weeks back if I was running the Big 10k.

No I instantly replied

Then I thought – why not ?

It’s local, I know the course, it’s fairly flat (funny how the memory can play tricks on you), so I entered.

I ran the course on the Wednesday before the race to familiarise myself with it and I was glad I had. I knew there was a hill after you turned right towards Milcote but I hadn’t realised it was almost a mile long. “It’s not much of a hill” said one of our juniors before the start – he finished in the top 20 – we agreed to differ. 

I was glad I tried it out as it enabled me to manage my expectations on the day.

It was my first Big 10k for 9 years when I was a mere slip of a lad. Indeed it was to my first external road race for almost 5 years.

It was a glorious day but very hot!

The atmosphere at the start was superb with so many yellow and black vests in the almost 1000 10kers and the 200 who had chosen the 13.1 mile half marathon option.

After chatting to an Aston Villa fan on the start line – yes I was in a good mood – we were off.

I’ve always prided myself as someone who can pace a race, not on Sunday I didn’t.  I went off far to quickly. 7.28 for the first mile.


The Greenway was as tortuous as ever. It really is a psychological battle running along that.

It was very hot

There was very welcome water station along the Greenway as the kilometre signs appeared to be further and further apart.

Then it was the finish line and it was all over.

Following my Wednesday trial run I’d aimed for 52/53 minutes and finished in 53.00 but with my final mile being almost 2 minutes slower than my first, it was shocking pacing on my part.

The atmosphere at the end was truly wonderful and the race itself was really well organised.

Job done.

Maybe I’ll give it a try again next year.



Observations on the 10k and half marathon

 In the 10k there were some 50 club members competing with our very own Andy Lawrence winning the race in a time of 32.33, Jamie Hall was 4th in 34.17 and Richard Liggatt 7th in 35.11.

I was particualrly delighted to see the strong performance of some of our junior endurance runners with 16 year old Zak Lambert finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th place with a superb time of 36.00. Zak’s 15 year old brother Sam was 25th in 37.37 and sandwiched in between them were Alex Pester (14th – 36.20). Alex is now a senior, 15 year old William Mayes (17th – 36-33) and the ever improving 16 year old James Day ( 20th – 36.50). Amongst these young top 25 finishers was Ade Mason (22nd – 47.17) and first in his age category.

The imperious 16 year old Maisie-Joy Spriggs was 39th in 39.29. She was 3rd female and first junior female.

The results of our junior endurance runners certainly augurs well for the upcoming XC season. Yep, it’s nearly that time the year again.

In the half marathon our first finisher was Sam Wilks in 7th place with a time of 1:23.04. Sam was absolutely delighted with his run, as well he might be with a 4 minute plus improvement on his previous best time for the distance. Sam was closely followed by Max Ross in 9th place with a time of 1:25.52. Our first female finisher was Susan Hunt, long distant runner par excellence, in 81st place with a time of 1:52.58.

The 10k had 948 finishers and the half marathon 205.

For the full results please follow the links below

Paula Williams, Phil Brennan and Brian Gravelsons
British Masters Athletic Federation (BMAF) T& F Championships
Report – Paula Williams

It was a gorgeous warm weekend and a lovely setting for the British Masters Track and Field Champs.
My day one started with a win in the 80m hurdles. We were already running 30 mins behind schedule and my race was made even more challenging by one of the flights of hurdles set incorrectly at a higher setting – spicy. 

My afternoon started with my heat of the 100m. My time being the fastest going in the the final.
A couple of below par releases of the javelin secured me the gold before dashing over to win the final of the 100m.
Unfortunately due to a timetable change, my shot put in the Sunday moved from 11:15 to 16:15 so I was unable to stay to compete but I was more than happy with my weekend’s work.
Always an enjoyable champs- 3 golds – 3 SAC athletes – bliss.

Brian Gravelsons finished 5th in the second heat of the M50 100m in a time of 14.22s, setting up a good benchmark for next year.
Adam Evans and Sarah Boundy with Riley and Bryce

The Big Half – London

Report – Adam Evans

Last weekend Andy Cox and I hit the streets of London to run in The Big Half (coincidently Mo Farrah’s last race in London).

The race itself starts near Tower Bridge and you do mostly the reverse of the London Marathon course. So you head out to Canary Wharf, come back, over Tower Bridge, then follow the Thames around and finish at the Cutty Sark.

Sarah, the boys and I made a rookie mistake of driving down the morning of the race. Upon arrival we found out the trains were on strike. Which meant I had a nice warm up run to meet Andy ????.

After all that, the start of the race was great. I got off to a bit of a flyer. I went through half way at 40mins flat. Running over Tower Bridge was a great experience. After that I started feeling a bit sore and backed off a bit.

I ended up finishing in 1:22:24. I’m pretty happy with the time. The goal leading into the race was sub 1:23. So tick!

Andy also had a good race. It was his 3rd time doing the event. He ran it in 1:27:10. Another cracking time. He’s looking good heading into his marathon block. 

Next up for me is the Winter Series and Coventry Half!

The Seven Ages of Tessa.
A Fond Farewell

A thank you note from Emma and Dave Parkin

A Big Thank You!
Just after her eighth birthday, Tessa Parkin was finally able to join Stratford-upon-Avon Athletics Club and it’s been quite a journey for her since then.

There has been many a cross-country race, frequent track and field events and too many training sessions to even try to remember.

She’s loved her time with the club, particularly her cross-country and hurdles but with her rowing commitments moving up to six sessions a week as she joins the J15 squad, there are now direct clashes with her athletics schedule. So, it’s with great reluctance that she is taking a step back.

She didn’t want to go without saying a big thank you to her coaches, including but not limited to Emily Adams, Paul Bearman, Lucy Edwards, Paul Hawkins, Carolyne Johnston, David Jones, Paivi McMillan, Wayne Vickers, as well as the Campbells, Hillards and Sheppards and plenty of others.

They have been hugely supportive throughout the highs and lows of the last seven years.

Thanks are also due to all the other athletes and parents who have supported her from the sidelines and become great friends along the way.

As indicated by her recent 16-mile traverse in the Lake District from Patterdale to Threlkeld, taking in Helvellyn and a host of other hills, Tessa still enjoys her running.

For those of you wondering if this means seeing the back of the Parkin family, I’m afraid Dave and I will still be continuing as senior members so you don’t get rid of us just yet!