They went, they saw, they conquered.

Vicky Sharpe, Kim Lee, Graham Black, Wayne Vickers, Sarah Gillard and Pete Sugden.
Our Super Six who took part in the Original Mountain Marathon in North Wales last weekend. A two day event that sounds scaringly difficult but, as you might guess, they managed it and apparently even enjoyed themselves.
It never ceases to amaze me the variety of events our members compete in.

Last weekend saw a two pronged invasion of North Wales by a couple of intrepid groups of senior members, both embarking on challenging events. Actually I’m not sure the word challenging does justice to their respective events.

Six members took part and completed the OMM,  Original Mountain Marathon. Apparently this is a self-reliant 2 day journey through the UK’s finest mountain terrain, with teams of two participating. Each couple is given their map at the start line, at which point they can plan their own route between optional point-scoring-checkpoints and reach a halfway overnight campsite for the first night. 

Are you still with me ?

The second day is simply the same in reverse, with a new map and fresh set of checkpoints.  For an extra challenge, the map is modified with most labels removed! !! Really ?

Needless to say  Vicky Sharpe, Kim Lee, Wayne Vickers, Graham Black, Sarah Gillard and Pete Sugden completed the course and apparently enjoyed the experience. Go figure.

On Saturday another group of hardy souls continued the invasion of Snowdonia by yellow and black vests, by taking part in Marathon Eryri. Led by a veteran of this event, Tim Hutchinson, competing for the 7th time. Tim had somehow convinced fellow club mates Richard Dobedoe and Nick Campbell that this was a good way of spending a Saturday. Go figure again. Anyway the intrepid trio along with Ian Greaves and Kate Barney completed the race in some style.

Went, saw and conquered indeed. 

Hats off to all of you.

Talking of veterans of a particular event, James Cusack just can’t get enough of running the Dublin marathon in the rain. This year completing it for the 8th time and, like Tim Hutchinson and Snowden, he’s threatening to run it again next year.

In his quest to complete the Superhalf Series of 6 international half marathons, Stuart George opted for the dry and flat Valencia Half and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Well done Stu.

We had 6 members opting for a trip down the A46 to compete in the Coventry Half.

Finally, rising start Maisie-Joy Spriggs finished 1st junior and 2nd female overall in the Redditch Kingfisher 10k. Another superb performance from MJ. Mum Hannah Osborne was competing in her 1st road race for 16 months at Redditch. Also competing was John Butler in what was most definitely not his 1st road race in 16 months.

Finally we have another reminder for the upcoming Club Awards night at Stratford School on 11th November. If you haven’t already, be sure to book your place by 6th November. It’s free. What’s not to like ?

Many thanks to those of you who submitted reports this week. As well as being pretty good athletes you also right a mean report.

Take care.

David Jones
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Pete Sugden enjoying the view
As is Vicky Sharpe
A sprint to the finish line. Graham Black and Wayne Vickers.

The 54th Original Mountain Marathon (OMM)

28th – 29th October

Report – Kim Lee

What do you get if you cross one navigational mastermind, three members of the dodgy-knee gang and two OMM virgins?

Three perfect couples to represent Stratford AC at the OMM, the gold standard in mountain challenges.  The Males: Graham Black and Wayne Vickers. The Mixed: Pete Sugden and Sarah Gillard. The Females: Vicky Sharpe and Kim Lee.

The OMM is a self-reliant 2 day journey through the UK’s finest mountain terrain, with a new challenging terrain each year.  This year was Snowdonia – a classic.  Pitched at the end of October to ‘guarantee bad weather’. It is a true test of navigational skills, resilience, and a sense of humour. 

Each couple is given their map at the start line, at which point they can plan their own route between optional point-scoring-checkpoints and reach a halfway overnight campsite for the first night. 

The second day is simply the same in reverse, with a new map and fresh set of checkpoints, with the finish line being the HQ starting point from day 1.  For an extra challenge, the map is modified with most labels removed, leaving the contours of the landscape, a few broken paths, and the river systems.  Plus, you carry all your camping equipment and food for the weekend.

After Vicky supported me for the first two days of cycling John O’Groats to Lands End last year, it was my turn to return the favour and join her for this challenge.  As a former Venture Scout, I confidently declared my navigational and camping expertise, despite it being well over 20 years ago since I navigated and camped wild in this way.

Without conferring beforehand, Vicky and I both turned up at the Friday Stratford meeting point with a tray of cakes each – cupcakes from Vicky, mince pies from myself.  A clear sign that we were a perfectly in-tune couple.  The rest of the team were very grateful.  I thought some may go to waste, as we are all such athletic, health-conscious individuals – how wrong was I!

We arrived in Bethesda on the Friday night at the HQ campsite after a long convoy drive.  The longest part seeming to be Wayne’s fantastic detour back through the centre of Stratford to reach the Birmingham Road Tesco for his food for the weekend. 

We soon got the tents erected and headed to the HQ main tent to compare notes before the event started early Saturday morning.  Having not done the event before, I listened intently, learning that it was going to rain, be freezing cold, and the halfway campsite was likely to be on boggy marshland.  

The Saturday start line was a buzz of energy as couples were handed the highly anticipated map, spent 5 minutes strategizing and set off in different directions. 

Vicky and I chose to stay in the valley for the easy, sheltered checkpoints and warm-up, prior to a water gully climb to the highest point.  The day was going well until we decided to then head ‘straight’ towards the finish to bag more ‘easy’ checkpoints near the finish line.  The ‘straight’ option was a disaster, involving a bouldering descent down Pen yr Ole Wen (7th highest mountain in Wales).  Reaching the halfway campsite 50 minutes over the 6hr allowed time, we ended up with significant time penalties, that reduced our overall score to 4.  Not even double figures, meanwhile the lead score was over 600.

Embarrassed by the terrible route choice and physically broken by how strenuous and time-consuming the death-defying descent turned out to be, we were still in good spirits with a great story to tell.  We couldn’t imagine anyone else would make such an awful route choice . . .  until Pete and Sarah explained they had made the same mistake, which was actually much worse as Pete led Sarah back up the Pen yr Ole Wen, after they had already descended for checkpoints on lower ground.  Pete’s comment “I think there was another way round” was surprisingly well received by Sarah whilst too far committed to the uphill climb to turn around. 

Meanwhile, Graham and Wayne finished beaming with a great result, doubling the score from their 1stday in the prior year, covering a mountainous 22km and 1,300m of elevation in under 6 hours.  Graham was extremely flattered by Wayne complimenting him on being able to run and climb uphill so quickly.

The campsite at halfway was a considerable improvement on prior year by all accounts, set in a glorious Welsh valley.  Our tents withstood the heavy rain and winds overnight, and we woke at 6am to bagpipes.  As we were packing up the tent, Vicky unexpectedly shouted, “Oi, Princess, don’t forget your eye mask!”. Yes, I let myself have one luxury item to make it into an almost glamping experience.  Efficiently packing up the site, we were soon all set for the second day of adventures.

The pressure was on for Graham and Wayne to build on their epic first day.  Whilst Pete, Sarah, Vicky and I were focused on finishing in one piece with well thought-through route choices.  Vicky and I confidently headed off, again completely in tune – no steep climbs, calm decision-making, and direct routes only.  Our first checkpoint appeared and required an unavoidable steep climb, which meant we were even more determined to commit to the second two goals.  We confidently went from checkpoint to checkpoint, cautiously ensuring we had the optimum route choice throughout.  The highlight was striding through three rivers and a boggy marsh, soaking wet but enjoying the warm autumnal sun.

Just before the final checkpoint, we were chatting too much and missed the turn to allow a gradual climb to the highest-scoring checkpoint.  When we realised our mistake, we were faced with another steep climb instead, thankfully we were still in great spirits and bounded to the top.  We also got to see Pete and Sarah just prior to our ‘sprint’ finish.  Comparing notes at the finish line, whilst tucking into the finisher’s meal, our minds turned to Graham and Wayne, so we set up the tracker to see their progress.

The next hour of tracking Graham and Wayne turned quite bemusing.  Graham, the navigational mastermind and his side-kick Wayne, missed an easy checkpoint and then meandered in the wrong direction through an out of bounds area.  They corrected themselves and headed straight to the finish, where we greeted them through the finish line.  Our hearts sank as we saw the disappointment on their faces.  It just shows how the time pressure and fatigue from a weekend of mental and physical exertion can make navigation so challenging. They covered 19km, including another 1,300m of elevation, finishing with a total of 588 points.  Not quite enough to pip the overall winning score of 1310!

We all thoroughly recommend the OMM.  A friendly, well-run, and extremely popular event.  Next year it is set in the Southern Highlands.  Graham and Wayne have already entered . . . not sure if Wayne knows that yet!  It was an unforgettable adventure and bonding experience for us all, forming new friendships and solidifying existing ones, with no cross words and plenty of laughter.

Kate Barney and another stunning view
Stratford’s Got Talent. Ian Greaves, Tim Hutchinson, Richard Dobedoe and Nick Campbell.
A fleet footed Kate Barney.
Job done.
Richard, Nick and Tim.

Eryri Marathon

Report – Kate Barney

Eryri marathon was one of those where I entered the ballot and didn’t fully think of the consequences if I was to get a place. When my place was confirmed on New Years Day, I felt a mixture of excitement and apprehension. Fast forward 7 months and I was slowly beginning to realise that Eryri was becoming a metaphorical mountain not just physical. 

It seemed that all the illnesses I had managed to avoid training for Manchester Marathon had been banked for this training block.

The weeks off and abandoned runs were starting to affect me mentally and a month out I was questioning if I could realistically make it to the start line. Luckily, I had plenty of sympathetic ears at the club who would listen to my tales of woe including Sarah Bland, who made me see sense that attempting 19 miles with a cold was most likely going to end in heartache – who would have thought?

From the outset, my expectations for Eryri were always to complete it and have a good time. So, with all the ups and downs it didn’t change what I wanted to get from it.

With restored confidence from the final 3 weeks of training I arrived in Llanberis looking forward to the challenge ahead. I collected my race number in the morning and headed down to the start line. 

The route takes you out of Llanberis up to Pen y Pass – fortunately the night before I drove down that road so I knew what to expect, which paid off as I could pace myself on the incline.

As we all know what goes up must come down, meaning that upon reaching the top there was a welcome reprieve of a downhill section followed by a long flat section to Beddgelert – the miles ticked by and gave me ample opportunity to snap some photos of the landscape; Eryri initially took my interest because I knew it would deliver on views and I can honestly say it never disappointed me. 

Upon arriving in Beddgelert the crowds thickened and a family friend was there cheering me on which lifted my spirits and carried me up towards Waunfawr.

I was still feeling really comfortable and thoroughly enjoying grinding through the miles. Now, as I mentioned earlier, what goes up must come down – well the opposite is also true and upon approaching mile 22 the final significant uphill section was waiting. From the outset I had made peace that I would walk this section and boy was I glad I did. Everything was burning and just as I was slowly beginning to resent the sight of hills the final descent to Llanberis emerged.

The downhill started as trail before merging with the road – it was steep but I was happy to be running again and this time I knew it was towards the finish line.

Turning back onto the final straight I miraculously had enough energy to muster a sprint finish and crossed the finish line to the shouts of cheering crowds. Immediately, a massive smile plastered my face and could not be wiped for at least an hour after. I had conquered not only the physical mountains but the metaphorical ones I had experienced along the way. 

Eryri surpassed all my expectations. It is an amazingly supported marathon and the aid stations were probably some of the best I have seen at recent races. I would recommend it to anyone that fancied the challenge! 

Tim’s Marathon.

Report – Tim Hutchinson

Marathon Eryri or Snowdonia marathon as we English call it is described as Britain’s toughest marathon. As you can imagine it’s not quite flat and it’s not all road either.

This year was the 39th edition and my 7th! You can probably guess I quite like this event. 

This year was going to be a good year, I had plans to beat my 2017 pb, however due to a bit of a change in career in the summer my main training block didn’t happen. I seemed to manage even less training than last year but thought I’ll give it a go, not least because this year I’d managed to convince Richard Dobedoe and Nick Campbell to enter too.

It was great to actually be on the start line with club mates, in previous years I’ve often been the only yellow and black vest. As plans changed it was going to be a ‘get round’ kind of race, I’d be happy with 4 to 4.5 hours I thought. The bonus of this being that I can enjoy the scenery and atmosphere a bit more. 

The first half I think is the most beautiful and luckily this is where you have the most energy. The second half always feels a bit more of a grind, with fatigue kicking in around 18 – 19 miles, this year it came early at 16 miles. I hadn’t really fuelled as usual, partly because in my head going slower meant I’d need less.


I’d already decided that I’d walk the last, steepest of the three main climbs but when I started walking I developed a really painful click in my left ankle. Every step was really hurting. At the top of the climb the aid station at mile 24 has tea, cake and sandwiches. So I stopped for a cuppa and something to eat, fabulous crew on this station! 

Now the down hill into Llanberis, all two miles of it and mostly off road. I thought I’ll run this, once I got my ankle moving again that pain subsided but was replaced by the most agonising cramp starting in my calf and working the way around what seemed like every muscle in my legs, meaning multiple stops on the way down to stretch and relieve the pain.

Finally onto the high street and the finish came into view. Needless to say I was happy to see the finish archway and more importantly my 7th slate finishers coaster, which has pride of place in the mantle piece (although I’m only allowed it there for a week! ????). 

It was great to see Richard and Nick at the finish already who’d both had fantastic runs and will hopefully be back again next year, I know I will as long as I can get an entry.



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

James Cusack seemingly enjoying the Dublin rain. I guess he’s used to it!
Dublin Marathon.
Report – James Cusack

On Sunday 28th of October I took on and completed my 8th Dublin marathon which is my home town marathon.

I had done very little training and to be honest I was debating whether I might have enough in my legs to complete the distance. There was a doubt in my mind if I would even start.

However after meeting two Stratford Upon Avon Team teammates Emma Bexson and Emily Adams in Dublin at Fairview Parkrun on Saturday, I was convinced to get to the start line and to have a go. (Emma was in Dublin for Hyrox competition and came second overall too, awesome as always).

I was delighted that I did have a go,I trotted around Dublin Marathon in the lashing rain and took in the amazing atmosphere that Dublin 26.2 always has to offer.

The supporters were out in their droves and the rain was no deterrent for anyone of them. 
The highlights for me were: –

– Excellent merchandise in the bag as always, beanie hat and superb finishers top. 

– Two crazy club mates, Emma and Emily following me throughout the marathon on Dublin City rental bikes, cheering me on loudly at several points in the race and along the home straight when I most needed it.

– The atmosphere in Dublin was electric, before, during and after the Marathon, camaraderie on the course between competitors was amazing.

– The tremendous medal with commemorating the Irish poet William Butler Yeats.

Next year will be number 9, I’ve registered already but I will most definitely be more prepared. 

Chip time 04:12:07, more than an hour over my PB, but I’ll gladly take it and it’s been a great motivator to get back into regular training.
Stuart George collects his race number.
Proud to wear the vest.
Is it my imagination Stu or do the glasses of alcohol get larger with each race ? Goodness knows what you’ll be drinking out of at the Berlin half in 2026.

Valencia Half Marathon

Report – Stuart George

A few weeks after my Copenhagen adventure me and my pal Andrew headed over to Valencia for the much heralded half there. 

The last time I went to Spain with Andrew it was his stag do, it’s safe to say the years have mellowed the pursuits we sought out on a lovely warm Valencian weekend.

Spain’s third largest city but one that feels far safer than most European cities and one where sport clearly plays a massive role. 

The river flooded the city badly in the mid 60’s so they diverted it further afield.  Where the river once ran is a beautiful park for the want of a better term.  One massive long recreational space.  We had our shakeout run on Saturday morning there.  They have every type of sports pitch there too, countless footy pitches, rugby, basketball courts, for miles!!!  A truly epic place for a run and unique cityscape.

The race is known as a fast one and they seem to know how to nail it from beginning to end.  Great crowds who were full of Spanish passion, wide avenues with an orange racing line so you can go the shortest distance.  A start time of 8:25 which is brilliant as in late October it only really gets warm after midday. 

So a lovely 13 degree start compared to the viscous 22 I experienced in Denmark a few weeks back. Plus who doesn’t love a pack of tenderstem Broccoli once you’re finished (I was confused too reader!!)

The start waves were impeccably followed and everyone was super polite about me moving as far forward in my wave as I could.

I really didn’t know what kind of shape I was in, 5  weeks out from a big PB and overcoming my recent niggle I thought I maybe able to have another crack at getting below 1:26.  However I did feel a little out of sorts but thought that was my mind playing tricks on me.

Once I got started in the race and dodged out of the poor fella who fell over after 50 meter’s, I hit my stride and managed to hit the first 2k on time for a sub 1:26.  I was thinking that with the much better weather for running I would be able to keep it up but I just felt a bit nauseous pretty quickly and it all felt a bit too hard.  So I took my foot off the gas slightly and kept in contention for a bit until I knew it just wasn’t going to be the day for a pb.

So I just ran within myself, cheered by the many many drummers that sprung up on various corners and soaked it all in.  

And im not going to lie, it felt good. I was so so chuffed to take 90 seconds off my PB in Copenhagen but it was hard.  Like really not enjoyable hard.  This felt great and it felt like a celebration of being able to run, one for all those hard Monday track sessions and out and backs on the Greenway to pay dividends and let me enjoy the day and the long weekend.

As always I can’t tell you one thing I saw on the course I just get too engrossed in the running but the crowd was loud, the road’s were smooth and it basically felt like 19 k of 21 were heading downhill. 

I am definitely going back and having a crack next year as the course felt super quick.

The Final 1k is measured out with huge blue signs each one 100m from the last.  It was wonderful to feel like I had something left in the tank and I even managed to get a bit of a sprint finish on.

I was really happy to finish in 1:27:03 – 30 seconds off my PB but with so much left to give. I’m really happy with what the last year of running has given me,

Two weeks off is my reward and I have to say im loving the rest.  However I cant wait to see just how inadequately a pancake flat couple of Half marathons prepares you for Cross Country Season .  

Lastly just to say, it’s a great city, the food was unreal and it was all very modestly priced.  I am going back and it would be great to have some of Stratford runners there for the ride ( registration opens in December and its cheaper the quicker you pay ). The first 5,000 entrants is really cheap (I was like 5,700 but it was still ok).  There was great UK club representation. This was my third half marathon of the Superhalf Series and I have 3 left ( Lisbon , next March, Prague in 2025 and Berlin Half in 2026). Give it a google and see if you want to take part in this fun run series. 

Coventry Half Marathon

Report – Adam Evans

On Sunday a few of us ventured up the A46 to run the Coventry Half. I must admit I think we had almost the perfect running conditions. About 10 degrees, blue skies, and no wind.  

For the first 5 miles of the race, I was yo-yoing back and forth with a local YouTuber (Middle Aged Running Man). I watched his video later and unfortunately I didn’t make the cut ☹. He’s a bit more chatty compared to Ryan Baker’s videos.  

The middle few miles were a little undulating, then there was a nice 5 mile descent back into Coventry.  

My aim going into the race was to run 1:21 and I finished in 1:19:58. So I smashed my goal and crept in under 1:20 ????. 

Maisie-Joy Spriggs sprints for the finish line
Maisie-Joy with her medal and trophy. She was 1st junior to finish and 2nd female overall..
Maisie-Joy with her mom Hannah Osborne who was competing in her first road race for 16 months.
Redditch Kingfisher 10k

Report – Maisie Joy-Spriggs

It was an early start at 9am but thankfully we had had an extra hour of sleep.

The route started and finished at the marketplace and went through Arrow Valley Country Park before coming back to the finish, a 2km of straight uphill.

There were quite a few twists and turns in the route which I wasn’t aware of but I had a quick start anyway and finished in a time of 39.55. I was the first junior back and 2nd female and overall 21st. The first female was Lisa Thomas from Bromsgrove and Redditch who I also ran against at Alcester 10k 3 weeks before. She ran a time of 38:07 (11th) and the overall winner was Ben Jones from Cambridge and Coleridge in 32:21.  

My mum Hannah Osborne was 123rd in 51:08 and her first road race in 16 months. John Butler was 349th in 01:17:42.