And so it begins.

Robin Gallagher made his club XC debut at Walsall Arboretum on Sunday and finished in a magnificent 2nd place out of 112 runners in the boys U11 race.
Niamh Hillard on the finishing straight and on her way to a 3rd place finish in the U17 ladies race. This was Niamh’s highest placed XC finish for the club.
And so it begins indeed.

Last Sunday saw the opening races in both this season’s junior XC league and Winter Series, a sure sign that winter is on the way.

Our junior endurance runners were in action at Walsall Arboretum with some 50 competing in the West Midlands Young Athletes Cross Country League fixture, where we finished in 5th place out of 22 clubs competing.

Team manager Paul Hawkins felt this was a slightly disappointing result but understandable considering the absences of several key players. He feels confident that things will improve.

However, despite this, as Rachel’s Stevens’ superb report below states, there were many notable performances, with a 2nd place finish for debutant Robin Gallagher in the U11 boys race and a 3rd place finish for Niamh Hillard in the U17 ladies race. There were also several more individual top 10 finishes.  Our U17 ladies were overall winners in their race, as were our U15 boys. Indeed everyone of our runners, without exception, put in gritty and determined performances.

We also had the first of this season’s Winter Series races  at Illmington, with club runners securing the top 3 places. Some 40 club members competed in this race out of 307 finishers. I am indebted to Jamie Hall for his report.

Monday night at the track was a wonder to behold. There was the first of the club’s latest Couch to 5k group’s sessions, many of this large contingent were starting off on their running journey. Welcome. Alongside this were the normal sessions by Sarah’s Boundy and Bland plus a sprinkling of the sprint group going through their winter training routine. The net result of this was some 80 members or possible future members happily training.

As I said, a wonder to behold.

We also have a fabulous report from Huw Crossweller on his Langdale Marathon experience plus a reminder of the upcoming Club Awards Night. Be there or be square!

There is a list of this month’s 100 club winners and details of how you can join if you aren’t already a member.

Finally there are lots more photos from last Sunday’s races.

Enjoy the rest of your week.

Take care.

David Jones
The rest of our victorious U17 ladies team clockwise from top left: Abbi Cooper  Maisie-Joy Spriggs, Oceana Lindgren, Alice Cottam, Tilly Campbell and Martha Peters.
Our victorious U15 boys team. L to R: Tom Fisher, Sam Lambert, Aran Cooper, Will Hovell, Sam Plumb, Josh Harrison, Joel Ledgard and Logan Greenall.
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Our U11 girls team : L to R Maggie Silvers, Martha Edwards, Jemima Elsworth, Amelie Marshall, Tiffany Li, Emily Lambert and Elsie Pipitone ( Saskia Atkins is missing – photo below )
U11 boys L to R: Ollie Harris with his seemingly permanent trademark smile, Dexter Sharpe, debutant Robin Gallagher who finished in a stunning 2nd place, Tyler Li and hiding at the back Callum Linforth
Our U13 boys, L to R: Kipp Stevens, Reece Yarnold, Alistair Durrance, Joshua Elsworth, Morgan Nabney and Carter McKenzie.( Eli Ford missing – photo below.)

West Midland Young Athlete’s Cross Country League (WMYACCL)

Fixture 1

Walsall Arboretum

Report – Rachel Stevens.

As a prelude to this season’s first report, please may I ask parents/carers to email me any significant details they observe in a race so that I may include them in my reports. The day whizzes by and I miss many an interesting moment which could warrant inclusion. Anything from overcoming nerves, styling out a tumble, overtaking a competitor, finishing with a huge smile on their face. It doesn’t have to be a moment of great glory although sharing those would be great too!

My email is . Thank you, and now to business…


With timely grey skies, sodden grass and a car park with everything but spaces (pace yourselves, parents, we have a full season of this ahead of us), the West Midlands Young Athletes Cross Country  League (WMYACCL) 2023/24 began last Sunday in earnest.  Walsall Arboretum welcomed in the 23/24 season, albeit in stark contrast to the blasting sun and solid ground of twelve months ago, catching out the odd athlete with a last-minute hunt for longer spikes (I’ll mention no names, Tilly Campbell!)


First off were the junior club’s matriarchs: the U17 ladies. With a team of seven competitors – quite the rarity at U17 level – the ladies set the tone for the day’s racing and what a tone it was with some highly impressive individual performances. Of particular note was Niamh Hillard’s highest ever league placing in a time of 16:20. This was even more remarkable given she was forced to stop and detangle herself in the penultimate field after a course stake rather rudely attacked her. Not having any of it, she wrestled it off, the indignance of which only set to renew her vigour and she launched past her nearest rival to secure a magnificent third place. Moreover, there were further ‘top ten’ finishes for both MJ Spriggs finishing in ninth place (17:00) and a euphoric Abbi Cooper in tenth (17:07), also her highest ever league place. In her debut run for SAC was an impressive Oceana Lindgren (12th/17:17) who was the first in of the younger year group. Then followed the solid efforts of Martha Peters (38th/19:09), Alice Cottam (41st/19:24) and Tilly Campbell (49th/22:57) who is regularly found, not just racing on cross-country courses, but giving back to her sport by coaching our U13s on a Tuesday evening. With the top three finishers at this age contributing to the team points, our U17 Ladies secure first place in the league table: a superb day’s work! 


Next up were our youngest boys: the U11s. It can’t be overstated just how overwhelming a debut cross-country run can be, especially when you are only in Year 5 or 6: the interminable wait on the line, the panic of the first dash and the cheers and hollers of the crowd. However, it was in this race we saw the highest finish of any club member, with Robin Gallagher crossing the line in a stupendous second place (5:34) – what a debut cross-country run for his club! Second in for Stratford also in his first race and following in his sister’s footsteps was young Dexter Sharpe (54th/9:29). Then it was the fine efforts of Oliver Sollis (65th/6:57), Callum Linforth (91st 7:10) and Tyler Li (94th/7:19). Overall, the U11 boys open their season in 9th place.


Our U17s Men also submitted a bolstered team with six runners. In his debut race as an U17 athlete, Zak Lambert (15:48) finished with huge determination to overtake a competitor in the last 50m and finish in overall fifth position – an outstanding result! Will Mayes was second yellow vest in and secured a coveted top ten slot (10th/16: 14); with James Day (30Th/17:05) kicking to the last to beat a competitor. Then it was the ever dependable Henry Wheeler (33rd/17:11) and James Mayes (38th/17:29), also pipping a competitor on the final approach after a determined drive towards the line. With resolute performances all round, our U17 Men open their season in a promising 3rd place.


Our youngest girls, the U11s, were up next: the continued friendly rivalry between Maggie Silvers and Amelie Marshall – always a highlight of the cross country meets – saw Maggie reel in Amelie over the last 20m to finish a hair’s breadth in front – both finishing in a time of 9:24 with well-deserved ninth and tenth spots, respectively. You never fail to entertain, girls! Next in for Stratford was a fine run by Emily Lambert (23rd/6:43), and just two places after was Elsie Pipitone (25th/6:45) in her fantastic debut run. Next in were the smiles of young Jemima Elsworth (53rd/7:08) also in her debut run and Martha Edwards (61ST/7:16) and to complete the team were the steadfast Tiffany Li (97th/7:46) and Saskia Atkins (110th/8:10) – again debuting on the cross-country scene. Overall, the girls are 5th in the league. Saskia had quite a day. Arriving late due to heavy traffic, she made her way to the club tent while her mother parked the car. She then got changed and went off to find the start line, unfortunately arriving after the race had started. “I missed it” she said plaintively. However, being made of sterner stuff, Saskia agreed to have her number pinned on with a solitary safety pin and set off in pursuit of the rest of the runners, who by this time had at least a couple of minutes start on her. Such was her determination she then managed to catch and overtake 9 runners before the finish. A magnificent, brave and courageous performance.


In a hotly anticipated race, our U15 boys produced strength and vigour throughout. First in for Stratford was the ever-awesome Sam Lambert (10:32) securing a highly impressive fourth place as he simply powered over the line. Breaking into the top ten for the first time as an U15 was a delighted and ever-improving Tom Fisher (9th/10:54). Then came our younger U15s: multi-eventer Will Hovell (10:59) showcased his stamina by finishing in an impressive twelfth place. But one place behind and breathing down Will’s neck was the graceful but strong stride of Joel Ledgard (13th /11:02). Then it was Aran Cooper, a steely effort to the end (21st/11:28); and then triathlete Josh Harrison (30th/11:45) with his trademark dramatic sprint to the finish line. Next, making a successful leap up to the U15s was the ever- dependable and focussed Sam Plumb (38th/12:01); and then to round off the team it was the fine effort of Logan Greenall (73rd/13:55). Collectively, our U15 boys were the second of our teams to open their league standing in first place. Excellent work, boys!


The U13 girls’ team was, unfortunately, somewhat diminished in number, putting them at a disadvantage for team and club points. Nevertheless, that didn’t deter the girls from putting their best foot forward. Finishing a clear first for Stratford was the strong run of Portia Nabney (20th/10:12). Thereafter, came the trio of Jasmine Mothershaw (74th/11:11), Rachel Sparrow (84th/11:22), and Georgia Sharpe (88th/11:35) with all three giving their best. Overall, the girls are placed 14th in the league. 

In the U13 boys and after a period of sustained illness, it was a solid opening race by Kipp Stevens (15th/9:20) that finally saw him become first boy home in the U13s team. In an impressive debut run for the club, fellow school-mate Reece Yarnold (24th/9:29) was second Stratford vest home, with both runners steadily picking off competitors in the latter half of the race. Thereafter, Morgan Nabney (55th/10:10) ran reliably, with a young Eli Ford (59th/10:17) proving himself worthy of the leap from U11s to U13s this season. Next it was a close finish between Josh Elsworth (62nd/10:28) and further debut runner Alistair Durrance (63rd/10:29) who put in a fine performance. Also successfully converting his nerves into an effective run and proving to himself he could do it was Carter McKenzie, again in his debut cross-country race. Overall, the U13 boys open their season in 5th place.


To wrap up proceedings, it was our U15 girls who also struggled to field a full team. Finishing first for the club and showing she is more than ready for racing at U15 level was Lois Ford (36th/13:23). Thereafter, it was secure and solid running by the familiar trio of Brooke Rossney (67th/15:06), Bayleigh Stubbs (70th//15:27) and Harriet Black (73rd/15:55). Overall, our U15 girls take 11th spot in the league.


Overall, Stratford Athletics Club opens its season in fifth position. A few absences and injuries meant a hit to club points but with the promise of a bolstered team at the next meet, there is every chance we could improve on the current standing. Regardless, it was great to see familiar faces and welcome new ones to the club tent and we look forward to seeing you all at the next meet: Newbold Revel on 12th November. Until next time…

It’s almost time for our Annual Awards.

Be sure to book your place


Stratford upon Avon School

Saturday 11th November 2023.

Doors open at 5.45pm for a prompt 6pm start.


Our annual Awards Presentation Evening is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the whole club and in particular our athletes and is always very popular.


Apart from the major annual awards that includes Athletes of the Year, trophies and medals will be presented for the Club Championships and our successes in the various Cross Country, Road Running, Triathlon and Track & Field competitions we have been involved with which means that will probably cover most of our members.


A lot of preparation goes into making our awards a special evening for our athletes and we hope you will come along and enjoy the celebrations, so please be prompt in letting us know you will be attending.


You will no doubt remember we were extremely unhappy and disappointed with the hall set up last year. We can assure you that we have gone to great lengths for this not to be the case this year and everyone will have a perfect view of the presentations as in previous years.


The evening will be FREE and there will be goody bags for the young athletes. There won’t be a licensed bar and so you are welcome to bring your own refreshments and snacks.


As usual we are anticipating a big turnout for the awards as we have so many members across the whole club and as space is limited, we may have to limit numbers of tickets per athlete/family. It will be first come first served, so please reserve your seats now. The closing date is 6th November.


Please follow the link

to reserve your seats for the evening.


We will be running a raffle of hampers made up from the generous donations of goodies from everyone, so please bring something along on the night. All funds raised will be donated to charity. Thank you.


We look forward to seeing you

SUAAC Executive

Team Stratford at the first of this season’s Winter Series races.

Tempo Winter Series 2023

 Race 1


Report – Jamie Hall

The Winter Series always seems to come around so quickly and it definitely marks the beginning of running in the dark and cold again. Not the nicest of thoughts. With that said, the weather was surprisingly mild and dry compared to the constant downpours earlier in the week. 


I had done some training runs before race day to try and get myself physically and mentally prepared for Larkstoke but it is just brutal every time! There is not many 10k races where you feel completely fatigued after just 2k but at least you have the downhill after halfway to remind you of what it is like to run fast and not like you are running on the spot. 

The race went well for me personally, I found myself in second after 100m and stayed in that position for the rest of the race. I finished with a time of 36:11 which was a minute quicker than my time from last year. So, I’ll definitely take that!

The Winter Series is always a great atmosphere and this race was no different. There were so many yellow vests with around 40 SAC runners taking part. We were definitely the best represented club.

Last year’s winner, Andy Lawrence, started his defence with another win in a time of 35:13, a minute a head of myself in 2nd and Matt Burdus-Cook completed the SAC 1,2,3 with a time of 37:05.

The top 10 finishers included Adam Evans in 6th (38:49) and Adrian Mason in 8th (39:35).

Following this we also had: David Teasdale (11th – 40:18), Max Ross (13th – 41:00), Ian Stevens (17th – 42:21), Rob Gisbourne (19th – 42:52), Joe Lee (21st – 43:33), John Bettles (47th – 48:42), Keith Jewett (56th – 49:42), James Cusak (66th – 50:53), Mark Barker (70th – 51:27), Chris Bloomfield (72nd – 51:46), Sarah Dichard (77th – 52:21), Kimberley Lee (79th – 52:39), Clare Goodwin (87th – 53:39), Emily Carr (94th 54:19), Emma Davis (115th – 56:45), Pip Bell (116th – 56:46), Lisa Stevens (128th – 58:36), Anne Gardner (132nd – 58:49) Phil Brennan (139th – 59:40), Daniel Hodgkin (140th – 59:47), Rebecca Pridham (147th – 1:00:36), Richard Hartwell (149th – 1:00:48), Charlotte Crouch (156th – 1:02:03), Lisa Lambourn (158th – 1:02:09), James Morrison (161th – 1:02:24), Simon Curran (166th – 1:02:58), Sandie Owens (210th – 1:06:52), Karen Gisbourne (222nd – 1:08:15), Emma Lee (224th – 1:08:16), Clare Eynon (231st – 1:09:05), Lindsey Anderson (249th – 1:11:28), Abby Stewart (261th – 1:12:53), Miranda Maloney (274th – 1:14:57) and Angela McLean (295th – 1:19:56).

For the full results please follow the link below:


Stunning views

Langdale Marathon

Fell race without the mud


Report – Huw Crossweller

Warning this report contains many excuses. 

I have a love of the Lake District and hills, so when a close friend, Aaron, a Godiva Harriers runner suggested the Langdale Marathon as a substitute for the Stratford Marathon cancellation I was signed up in a flash. 

September rocked around quickly and an old adductor tendonopathy injury started to niggle. Hoping it would disappear I finally saw Sam Thomas two weeks before race day to try and rescue my legs enough.  I tempered my target to 3hrs 30 and hoped, if feeling good on the day, I would sneak closer to 3hrs 20. 

Thanks to Storm Babet, a good 8hr drive,  ‘carb loading’ on the last sandwich from the services and a sleep in a tent was my pre-race preparation. 

A mass race start for both half & full marathon runners from the New Dungeon Gyll Hotel gave a great atmosphere.

There are 2 flattish miles in the route 1st and 14th. At the end of which you are greeted with the first of several 25% gradient signs and a good climb from Great Langdale valley over to Little Langdale valley.  It’s then a lovely undulating run down the valley passing various signs reaffirming the road is steep in parts. 

Around 5 miles you’re diverted off the main road and along a sealed path through some lovely beech forest. 

At 7 miles you drop down into Skelwith Bridge and cross over the picturesque river Brathay. It’s then a lovely 25% gradient climb up close to Loughrigg Tarn. 

You’re surprised with wonderful views back up the Great Langdale valley and Langdale Pikes. Then you drop down to Elterwater and the final water station. It’s then approximately a 3 mile undulating run back to the start. 

Coming up to the end of lap 1 in 1hr 41. I was feeling like I paced it well and hadn’t over exerted myself.  Going over the start/finish line and commencing my second lap my head started questioning why I was doing another loop.

The further up the valley I got the harder it all felt. Adductor and shin splints started to twinge.

The climb over to Little Langdale resulted in me walking some of the steep sections and first signs of cramp appearing.  I gulped down some isotonic drink at the water station at mile 16 to try and stave off the cramp. 

Passing Aaron at a cafe sipping coffee probably didn’t help the spirits. 

It got progressively worse from there. Running on complete empty and cramp in both quads I had flash backs of my first ever marathon where I was scavenging jelly babies dropped by other runners. No joy this time unfortunately.

Given in to walk/running going forward. I tried to soak up the good views. On the final big descent down into Elterwater I stopped next to Aaron and was on the verge of pulling out.  Aaron declared he had no food except a lone Lotus biscuit left from his coffee. I shovelled that down and made my way to the final drinks stop. 

Any chance of hitting a target time long gone and both legs still cramping. With just 2.5miles to go I decided I wasn’t going to give up.  My goal then was to finish under 4hrs. 

I finally made it over the line in 3hrs 59s and 34th place out of 141.  It just wasn’t my day for a combination of reasons but I would encourage anyone to give the course a go. 

Time to recover now and looking forward to getting back off road with some cross country fun.

Below are this month’s 100 Club Winners.

I see Mr Hawkins is in the money.

If you’re not already a member why not join at the Awards Evening in time for December’s draw or alternatively email Helen Roach

More photos from the opening fixture of this season’s West Midlands Young Athletes Cross Country League at Walsall Arboretum last Sunday.  

With many thanks to Tilly Campbell

 Saskia Atkins had quite a day. Arriving late due to heavy traffic, she made her way to the club tent while her mother parked the car. She then got changed and went off to find the start line unfortunately arriving after the race had started.
“I missed it” she said plaintively.
However, being made of sterner stuff, Saskia agreed to have her number pinned on with a solitary safety pin and she set off in pursuit of the rest of the runners, who by this time had at least a couple of minutes start on her.
Such was her determination she managed to catch and overtake 9 runners before the finish.
A magnificent, brave and courageous performance.

Zak Lambert and Will Mayes
James Mayes and Henry Wheeler
James Day and Eli Ford
75% of our Under 13 girls team. L to R: Portia Nabney, Georgia Sharpe and Jasmine Mothershaw
The other 25% – Rachel Sparrow
Bayleigh Stubbins and Harriet Black
Brooke Rossney and Lois Ford
Winter Series

Race 1

Plenty of smiles on the faces.
Lisa Lamborn and Becks Pridham
Lisa Stevens, Phil Brennan, Pip Bell and Emma Davis
Joe Lee and Rob Gisbourne
Max Ross and Ade Mason
Emma Lee and Karen Gisbourne
Emily Carr and Matt Burdus-Cook