Floods, cake and a swarm!

Our U17W gold medal winning team in the Warwickshire County XC Championships..
L to R: Maisie-Joy Spriggs, Niamh Hillard (individual gold medal winner), Tilly Campbell, Bo Algate and Abbi Cooper.
Our U15 boys gold medal winning team.
L to R : Joel Ledgard, Sam Lambert, Will Hovell, Tom Fisher and Aran Cooper.
Happy New Year.

It’s safe to say that athletic activity was somewhat diminished over the Christmas and New Year period due to er the slightly damp conditions.

However there have been exceptions.

We start of this week’s newsletter with a delayed report on the success of our XC teams in December’s County XC Championships. The delay was caused by the lateness of the final results being available.

There’s a report on multi eventer Lucy Lane confirming what we should all know by now, that there is no substitute for hard work, guts and determination, especially when faced with adversity. Well done Lucy. 

There’s a nice report from Pip Bell on the Fladbury Festive 5 where the main motivation seemed to have been cake. Was it ever thus?

Wednesday night saw 81 of our runners’ compete in the first of this year’s Shakespeare Races in somewhat chilly conditions.

Despite the muddy conditions following the recent flooding, there was an excellent turnout of our junior endurance group on the Welcombe Hills last Sunday, where I half expected to see Noah and his Ark ready to take the runners in two by two.

There’s a photo of yet more endurance runners who turned up at the Rec for a session despite the floods. Unfortunately the session was cancelled.

Finally a few photos from the last juniors’ track sessions pre-Christmas.

Good luck to our various XC teams who will be competing at Nuneaton, Warley Woods and Bromsgrove at the weekend.

Take care.

David Jones

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2023 Warwickshire County XC Championships

Report  – Paul Hawkins

It was golds galore for Stratford AC just before Christmas at the 2023 Warwickshire County Championships on a wet and muddy day at Warley Woods, Smethwick!

An all-time club best of five team golds equalling last years result plus a silver together with two individual golds and four silvers were claimed by the Stratford team.

While it was a sparkling performance from the team unfortunately the organisers performance was less so, as the overall team results have only just been released.

After winning this last season, we slipped to third place, close behind Birchfield and BRAT Club but comfortably ahead of major clubs such as Royal Sutton Coldfield, Leamington, Kenilworth and Rugby.

Unfortunately the Stratford team were fewer in number than previously due to injuries and illness which affected to overall result.

The overall team results, showing us finishing in 3rd place out of 20 teams competing.
Lucy Lane on top of the podium.
Lucy Lane

Report – Paul Bearman

After developing a back problem in the summer of 2022 that was suspected to be growth related, Under 20 multi eventer Lucy Lane has finally returned to competition.

After a long bumpy period of doing nothing and then, after a late diagnosis of fractures in a lower vertebrae her doctor said it was something that could be lived with and after a long slow grind of exercise and rehab Lucy tentatively was able to start competing again in August 2023. 

After 12 weeks of winter training Lucy enjoyed a low key run out over 60m hurdles and Long Jump in December with thankfully no ill effect on her back or a foot problem she suffered in the summer and so Lucy entered the England Athletics combined events Pentathlon championships in Sheffield last weekend.

With limited technical work under her belt and not feeling particularly well, the first event, the 60m hurdles was a resounding boost to her confidence with Lucy comfortably winning her heat and running 9.53s, a half a second PB.

High Jump was the next event with a best clearance of 1.51 which was just below her PB,  this was followed by a “below par” Shot of 7.65m and a Long Jump of 4.82m, again just outside her PB showed things had generally gone well. The final event was the 800m and as a sprinter/jumper the 800m is never something to look forward to but despite not feeling great Lucy decided to push on and give it a go and in her first 800m since 2019 Lucy managed to run a PB of 2:51.5 giving her a final points total of 2771 in her first Pentathlon.

Afterwards Lucy reflected “I’m really pleased to have managed to finish! Hurdles was my best event and was half a second quicker than in Loughborough a few weeks ago but I know I can still go quicker with more training. High Jump and Long Jump were OK but Shot and the 800m were shockers”. She added “I was completely exhausted but really pleased to have finished 12th overall but even more pleased to get the gold medal as the first Midlands athlete”.

From my and a coaching perspective I couldn’t be more proud of Lucy with her guts and determination to get back on the track and do so well. It’s been a long road nursing her back to be able to compete again, especially as combined events is a very exhausting  event.

This result gives us a benchmark and we can continue working on things that makes the outdoor season something to look forward to. ????
Team Stratford
Cake – It’s why we compete!
Proud age group winners.
L to R : Jan Turner, Pip Bell and Rob Gisbourne.
Fladbury Festive 5 2024
Report – Pip Bell

In late 2022 Susan Hunt told me about a race that I MUST do in January 2023 called the Fladbury Festive 5 but she told me not to dilly dally on entering as spaces are limited.

Well, I was too slow and didn’t manage to get a place booked in time. I was not going to let that happen again and I made sure that I got a place for this race this year!

I also managed to convince a few other club members to enter as well and told them all that we would be rewarded with cake at the end.

Needless to say they wasted no time in entering!

Fladbury Festive 5 is not very festive, but it is a 5 mile route, although it had to be changed due to flooding. The organisers did a fabulous job in salvaging the event and I can honestly say that is was a great way to start off 2024.
It was a mixture of road and trail, so the topic of conversation that morning (except about the lovely cakes) was which shoes should we wear?? 

About 150 runners set off on a sunny but cold morning and all of our SAC runners were amazing. Rob Gisbourne, Jan Turner and myself won our age categories and were happy to be presented with trophies for our efforts. 

I am so glad that I managed to get a place for this race and I encourage you all to give this delightful event a go! See you there in 2025! 
Competitors in the 2nd race ready for the off.
January Shakespeare Race

I’m not sure what the collective noun for a group of runners is but looking at the photos below I rather favour “a swarm”. These photos show this swarm buzzing to get started in somewhat chilly conditions on Wednesday night in the opening Shakespeare Race of the year.

81 members competed with Jamie Hall finishing in 1st place with a time of 33.33. He was followed by Richard Liggatt (34.23) in 2nd place and Seb Wolstencroft (36.08) in 3rd.

The first lady to finish was Maisie-Joy Spriggs (41.16). MJ was 19th overall and edged out Emma Bexson (41.54) who was 2nd lady and 21st overall. Emma Hawkins (43.47) was 3rd lady finisher and 26th overall.

For the full provisional results please follow this link:

And they’re off. The start of the first race.
The Welcombe Hills
Sunday 7th January
To paraphrase The Beatles, after the rains came they didn’t run and hide their heads. Our junior endurance group were out training last Sunday. After a Risk Assessment by Tim Hutchinson and sound advice from him on footwear the session went ahead. To say it was muddy would be a massive understatement, as the photo of my trainers prove.
Above and below – members of our junior endurance group who braved the extremely muddy conditions on the Welcombe Hills last Sunday.
Did I mention it was muddy ?
While on the subject of our hardy endurance runners, in the absence of the track last Tuesday, Paul Hawkins had organised a session on the Rec. Despite the simply appalling conditions, which led to the session being cancelled, these committed youngsters turned up.

L to R : Will Mayes, Kipp Stevens, Sam Plumb, Aran Cooper, Niamh Hillard, Abbi Cooper and Martha Peters. 
Unfortunately this photo missed the photo special but it shows Paul and Carolyne’s T&F group suitably attired at their last session of the year just prior to Christmas.
I know these photos featured in the Photo Special that was sent out on 28th December but as some of you didn’t receive it due to the size of the file I thought I’d show them again.

They’re from the junior endurance group’s Christmas Games Session held on 21st December and show the start of the Dress the Santa and Mince Pie and Spoon relays and the Line Game.
To say it was frantic would be an understatement.