Proving that we not only play hard but we also work hard, as well as the wonderfully successful Awards Presentation evening on Saturday we had close to 100 members, young and not so young, braving the elements to compete in XC races last weekend. There are a couple of wonderful reports on these meets from Paul Hawkins and Rachel Stevens.
Many thanks to Nick and Tilly Campbell for the XC photos.
It’s always a pleasure to receive a report from Kim Lee and I’m delighted to say we have one such this week. Last weekend she was competing in a 10k at Alton Towers, which is apparently where hubby Joe first told her he loved her. Pause for a collective ahhhh.
Well that certainly was one heck of a weekend. I’m now going to give the one finger I use to type with a much needed rest.
The summer is over which means it’s time for the colder weather to set in and the cross country season to begin!
On Saturday, 15 women headed over to Pittville Park in Cheltenham to compete in their first fixture in the Midland Women’s League and had a very successful day to finish in 7th team position in the first division and 11th Masters team.
Thankfully it was a sunny and autumnal day, however the first challenge was getting past the traffic jams of Evesham en route. Fortunately everyone made it with some time to spare for kitting up and the ever necessary pre race toilet stop.
We were expertly organised by our team captain, Vicky Sharpe (who unfortunately couldn’t join us on the day due to injury), with Emily Adams stepping in to ensure we were all safety pinned and numbered up.
The race started off in early afternoon sunshine.
The course took us on two loops of the park, containing some undulations and a stream to traverse.
First home for Stratford AC was Charly Marshall in an impressive 31st place and 10th junior. There were a few members of all ages making their XC country debut, with everyone appearing keen to give it a go again next time!
One debutant was Olivia Robinson (62nd and 18th junior) in her first senior race, who just pipped Jess Sheppard (64th) who looks to be coming back to form. In fourth place for the club was Masters athlete Emma Bexson (88th and 21st master) followed by the second counting master, Emma Vickers (135 & 51st master).
Next was another junior in her first senior race, Onna Dowling (145 & 31st junior) who looked strong all the way. Completeting the team were a debut performance from Camilla Cresswell (150, 57 master), Sarah Gillard (154, 60 master) running her first cross country, Suzi Graham (155, 61 master), Hannah Osborne (165, 70 master), Pip Bell (171, 75 master) Emily Adams (179, 80 master) making a welcome return to cross country, Sam Swanepoel (186), Philippa Paddock (187, 84 master) and Kath Pester (193, 89 master)
The men’s team raced afterwards and had the gruelling task of three loops of the same course in a big field with divisions 1 and 2 running together.
The sun had disappeared at this stage so they impressively trudged through an increasingly muddy course in colder temperatures.
The club’s cross country runner of the year and overall male athlete of the year,, Ned Campbell was the first Stratford man to finish in 14th and 3rd junior man, followed by Jamie Hall in 19th and then Alex Pester (22nd and 5th junior) although he was disappointed with his race.
Next was Robin Hughes (44th) in his first cross country race, who showed his inexperience by making a very fast start before losing some places. Fin Hutchinson (53rd) had made the journey from Plymouth to race for the club and he was closely followed by Matt Burdus-Cook (57) to complete the A team for the club and also our first masters runner.
Close behind were Richard Liggatt (63) and Sam Willks (67) followed by Tom Southall (91), David Teasdale (96), Drew Sambridge (98), Ade Mason (124), Rob Gisbourne (130), Sam Mercer (131), Steve Batsford (135) a last minute addition to the team and making his club debut, Chris Beck (138), Tim Hutchinson who was a little under par in 147 but just holding off Max Ross (149). Next was Chris Spriggs (183), Mike Sheppard (207) and completing the team Owen Lewis (213).
Overall it was a pretty successful day for the men, in their first match in Division 2 following promotion last season, coming in as 4th team, 2nd B team, 5th Masters team, 4th Masters B team.
An enjoyable day for all, topped off with an even more enjoyable Award Ceremony back at Stratford in the evening.
Let’s hope we have similar weather for the rest of the season…
Members of our U11 girls XC team
And members of our U11 boys team.
The U15 girls team.
We are top of the league we are top of the league!
Our U15 boys
Our U13 boys ready for the off.
West Midlands Young Athletes XC
Report – Rachel Stevens
Race #2 of the WMACCL was held this Remembrance Sunday at Newbold Revel, home to the HM Prison Service College. This course is well known for its retaliatory root-ridden sections, awkward adverse cambers, and punishingly protracted stretches. Given the slippery conditions underfoot, it threatened to be even more torturous on the feet and ankles than normal.
Our team finished in 4th place overall on the day despite the absence of some key players. This is an improvement on our 5th placed finish in the opening fixture and moves us up to 4th place overall in a league of 22 teams.
First up were our U17 Ladies. Proving her previous meet’s highest league placement was no fluke, recent recipient of the U17 Ladies Most Supportive Person of the Year, Niamh Hillard (3rd/16:13), finished once again in a fantastic third position. Niamh is currently placed 2nd in the league overall. Next in and breaking into the top ten in just her second race for Stratford was the impressive performance of Oceana Lindgren (10th/17:04). Then it was Junior Female Cross Country Athlete of the Year, MJ Spriggs (13th/17:11); then Junior Cross Country Most Improved Female Athlete of the Year, Abbi Cooper (17th/17:34), followed by Bo Algate (28th/18:28) all pushing hard in sticky conditions. Firming up this strong contingency was Martha Peters (42nd/19:52); Alice Cottam (43/20:37) and Junior Club Person of the Year, Tilly Campbell (46/23:01), resulting in one of the largest U17 teams we have entered in a while. Our U17 Ladies were 4th on the day and are currently in 4th place overall.
Next were our youngest lads: the U11 Boys. Newly crowned U11 Boys Club Champion, Robin Gallagher (2nd/6:01), once again ran with great aplomb to take second place out of 134 competitors. He has managed this feat in two consecutive meets and marked himself as one to watch in the future. In his debut cross-country run for the club was a confident run by Club Championships bronze medallist, Arthur Fawcus (57th/7:19); then the focussed legs and smiling face of Oliver Hollis (71st/7:28), with further debutant Reuben Wheeler (84th/7:46) also pleased to have got his first race under his belt. Then soon after it was young Dexter Sharpe (86th/7:51) then Callum Linforth (100th/8:07) and Tyler Li (102nd/8:10) with smiles all round to complete the team. Our U11 Boys finish in 3rd place on the day, just a point shy of 2nd place. They are currently in 2nd place overall.
The day’s first dramatic moment occurred in the next race: the U17 Men’s. Halfway through the second lap and whilst comfortably within the top ten, Junior Male Cross Country Athlete of the Year, Zak Lambert (18:25), was not only ‘de-shoed’ but also took a very nasty spike to the foot. In true Lambert style, he valiantly battled on – no mean feat (no pun intended!) especially given the atrocious conditions underfoot. However, what Zak lost in position, he gained in respect from his team-mates for finishing the race wearing just one shoe and still coming in overall twelfth position. He is currently in 5th place overall. Three places after was a solid Will Mayes (15th/18:48) who is in 8th place overall in the league and then it was Henry Wheeler (34th/19:49), James Mayes (38th/20:06) and James Day (50th/21:27). Overall our Men are in 3rd place overall having finished 4th on the day.
And the drama didn’t stop there. No sooner had the horn blasted to set off the U11 girls, it became apparent a poor girl had also unceremoniously lost a shoe. What followed was the surreal sight of her mother attempting to chase down the pack and reunite said girl with said shoe in what can only be described as a quirky mixture of maternal heroism and Benny Hill-esque comedy. Undeterred by the drama, we saw Amelie Marshall (9th/6:10) and Club Championships silver medallist, Maggie Silvers (10th/6:13), powering home to hold onto their coveted top ten positions where they are placed 7th and 8th respectively (apologies for the last report’s error – the preliminary results had the girls in the wrong order). Then up five places on her previous result was Emily Lambert (18th/6:19) also riding high from her Club Champs gold and joint winner with team-mate Martha Edwards of the U11 Most Supportive Female Club Person. In her debut cross country run was Lyla Turner (30th/6:37) proving the slippery conditions were no match for her. Elsie Pipitone (36th/6:40) also ran well and was next Stratford vest home and then both improving on their previous results were said shield winner and Club Champs bronze medallist, Martha Edwards (47th/6:46) up fourteen places, and Saskia Atkins (62nd/110) up a whopping forty-eight places! Overall, our youngest girls were 3rd on the day and are in 3rd place overall.
In the U15 boys’ race, Junior Cross Country Most Improved Male Athlete of the Year, Sam Lambert (10:18), improved by one position to break into that coveted top three spot. Sam is currently placed 2nd overall in the league. This was witnessed by a particularly delighted official – his mum who was volunteering on the finish line (another timely reminder we always need volunteers to help the officials at each race). Thereafter, it was more improvement for Tom Fisher (8th/10:54) as he was up a place to finish yet again in the top ten, this time in eighth position. Aran Cooper (20th/11:24) had a splendid race and broke into the top twenty and was third man home for Stratford, with Joel Ledgard (21st/11:26) close on Aran’s heels. Then it was Josh Davis (30th/11:46) in his first run of the season and a steadfast Sam Plumb (33rd/11:55) shortly after. Rounding up the team was winner of the Junior TriStar3 Male Athlete of the Year and U15 Most Supportive Male Club Person of the Year, Josh Harrison (44th/12:11). Overall the U15 boys are in 1st place overall having finished 1st equal on the day. They have a 23 point cushion over 2nd placed Wolverhampton and we currently have 4 boys in the top 20 in a league of almost 100 competitors.
In the U13 girls there was a change in the team pecking order: improving by an amazing seventeen places and taking her first top slot for the U13 team was young Jasmine Mothershaw (57th/12:44). Thereafter, it was also an incredible improvement by Rachel Sparrow (58th/12:44) as she also finished up a staggering twenty-six places! Not to be left out, Georgia Sharpe (75th/13:10), riding high from winning the U13 Most Supportive Female Club Member of the Year, also ran an improved race finishing up thirteen places on her season’s best. Overall, the girls are in 14th place overall having finished in 12th place on the day..
In the U13 Boys’ race, it was U13 Most Supportive Male Club Member of the Year and U13 Male Club Champs silver medallist, Kipp Stevens (22nd/10:34), in first for the U13 boys, with Reece Yarnold (23rd/10:36) showing much promise just two seconds later. Morgan Nabney (45th 11:14) also ran a strong race, improving by an encouraging ten spots on his previous. Tom Yates (50th/11:20) proved he could cope with the demands of running at this level with his first U13 run. Thereafter, it was Josh Elsworth (68th/12:26) and Henry Thomas (89th 16:19) also making his first jump to U13 cross-country racing. After a brave run that saw him round much of the course, poor young Carter Mackenzie succumbed to the damp air with breathing difficulties and, having got a bit lost, reluctantly walked the last bit of the course. Overall the boys finished in 7th place on the day and are in 7th place overall with a cushion of 168 points over the 8th placed team.
Finally, and tolerating the worst of the ground it was our U15 girls. In an impressive season’s first run, it was U15 Most Supportive Female Club Member of the Year, Annie Silvers (12th/12:36), as first Stratford vest home. Then up an amazing twelve places on her previous U15 performance was Lois Ford (24th/13:26). Also, in their first run as U15s it was the dependable running of Amelia Peeke (55th/14:41) and Ava Sheppard (57th/15:53). Bayleigh Stubbins (64th/15:29) had a fine race improving her season’s best by seven places and refusing to be beaten by tummy cramps from the off, Harriet Black (72nd/16:04) put in an exceptionally brave performance to complete the race. Our U15 Girls are currently in 10th place overall having finished in 7th place on the day
Overall, Newbold Revel, did fulfil its promise of being a particularly punitive course on the feet and ankles; and the drop in temperature was an added shackle around the lungs for many too. What with more than the odd shoe or two being sacrificed along the way and with a nod to the poppies of Remembrance Sunday, you do wonder if, in a few years’ time, there’ll be a vibrantly coloured field of cross-country shoes blooming forth from the ground.
The next meet’s venue is the more liberating (at least when running the downhill bits) Warley Woods! Until the 3rd December…
Kim Lee with sons Dexter and Oscar
Alton Towers 10k
11th November 2023
Report – Kim Lee
Is there a more romantic way of celebrating our 15yr wedding anniversary than booking a 10k run at the location my husband, Joe, first told me he loved me?!
The Alton Towers Theme Park is home to a weekend running festival at the start of November each year, with the rides open for runners and spectators each day. A luxury when it’s technically closed to the public through the winter. The 10k and kids race fall on the Saturday with the half marathon and 5k options on the Sunday.
The Saturday 10k has a civilised 10am start, pushed back to 10.30am due to traffic and late arrivals. It’s a twisty, undulating route, with narrow sections to keep you alert throughout. The advantage being it flies by as you head along winding paths through the key rollercoaster and entertainment kilometre markers:
1km: Rita, Queen of speed: appropriate for all those that headed off too quick,
2km: The Smiler: yep still smiling, too early for the grimace to set in,
3km: The Teletubbies: realising my Ironman physique has slipped recently, but it could be worse,
4km: Mutiny Bay and The Runaway Minetrain: there is no running away, almost half-way and fully committed,
5km – 7km: large loop of the car parks: finally straight sections to get into a rhythm,
8km: Back into the theme park and up to Galactica: feeling like I’m free flying as I approach the 1km-to-go sign.
9km: Haunted Hollow: No chance of being caught by the zombies, I’m revving up for the sprint finish,
10km: Finish line overlooking Spinball Whizzer: appropriate for the course map.
Happy with 51mins 31 seconds and finished in the top 7% of ladies. Disappointing lack of bananas or sausages at the finish line, as that has been the general theme for races I’ve taken part in previously, but the medal is impressive, plus received some free Carmex lip balm and a hydration drink.
Locating the Team Lee support crew was straight forward enough . . . the events area where they’d had a blast doing Asics treasure hunts and sourcing the freebies – three giant foam hands, 3 water bottles, and more lip balm.
Onto the ‘1km’ kids race, which was closer to 1 mile. Staying on a simpler route inside the park, with crowds lining all of it. Our 3 boys were ecstatic to be greeted with endless tubs of sweets and a giant medal at the finish line.
And finally, the main event, where the Team Lee logistical juggling capabilities came into play: How do you maximise the daily when the three biggest kids – myself, Joe and Josh – want to go on all the big rollercoasters, but the youngest two are happiest in Cbeebies Land?! Of course, we nailed it! With all thrill-seeker and family-friendly rides completed in a new PB of 5 hours 22 minutes.
Around 7,000 people take part in the 10km, with these plus spectators it still makes for a busy day with the usual long wait times for the big rollercoasters, plus you need to arrive early to avoid traffic into the park itself. Nevertheless, we would thoroughly recommend this as a great day out and hope to come back next year.
I’m so sorry Ruby.
In my Awards Special I erroneously and unforgivably missed listing Ruby Edwards, pictured below, as the worthy recipient of the Allen Wood Endeavour Trophy – Female.
I really can’t resist photos of our XC runners running over, or in most cases through muddy streams. Huge thanks to Nick Campbell for the photos
A few of our junior XC runner’s were missing from the team photos so here they are.
Many thanks to Tilly Campbell for the photos
Alice Cottam and Bo Algate
Martha Peters and Abbi Cooper
Maisie-Joy Spriggs and Oceana Lindgren
Tilly Campbell and Niamh Campbell
Henry Wheeler and James Day
William Mayes and Georgia Sharpe. I don’t seem to have one of James Mayes. Sorry James
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