A new British record.

Paula Williams

A new British Record

Paula started the year in much the same form as she showed during 2023.
Last weekend at Loughborough she broke the British indoor record for the shot put with a PB throw of 13.56. This throw would have ranked her 2nd IN THE WORLD last year and was almost 3 metres further than any other female UK athlete threw indoors last year.

Paula is now number 1 in the UK of all time, having thrown 93cms further than the 2nd placed athlete on that list.

She also ran 8.50 in the 60m and 9.81 in 60m hurdles.
This past week has been quite a varied week in the life of our club.

I’d like to start by welcoming quite a few new subscribers to what, for the most part, is a weekly newsletter. I know some of you with junior members in the club have been signed up for a month or two and will not, as yet, have received the newsletter. I hope you enjoy them going forward..

Last weekend saw the indoor track and field season get off to a start at Loughborough. We had a handful of junior members using the meet as a warm up for this weekend’s Midlands Championships. Mark Illingworth from our vets team competed in his first indoor 60m race and Paula Williams, as noted above, started the year off by breaking the British indoor shot put record. Huge congratulations Paula.

All three of our cross country teams were in action and we have reports on the men’s and ladies performances from team managers Malcolm Bowyer and Vicky Sharp. I hear say that at the men’s meeting there were comedy rocking portaloos and a highly scandalous Stratford athlete disqualification. These don’t feature in the report but I guess what happens on the XC course stays on the XC course.

We should have a report on the junior’s XC next week with the official league tables having only just been published. Our junior’s finished in a truly magnificent 2nd place out of 22 teams competing.

Last Saturday saw the culmination of the latest of our free to enter Couch to 5k programmes with many of the successful group graduating at our local parkrun. Many congratulations to all of those who took part. They were expertly led by Robin Langhorn and his team throughout.

Andy Cox, Ben Kruze and Matt Burdus-Cook travelled to Dorney Lake on Sunday for an early season road race at the popular flat course and finally we have some comments on last Wednesday’s Shakespeare race from James Morrison, a visually impaired club member. 

Take care

David Jones
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Ruby Edwards in action at Loughborough last weekend

Loughborough Indoor Open

Report – David Jones

And so it begins.

A handful of our junior T&F athletes made the journey to Loughborough last weekend in preparation for this coming weekend’s Midlands Championships.

Added to these juniors were Mark Illingworth and Paula Williams from our Vets. Mark made his inaugural 60m indoor debut, finishing with a best time of 9.16. Okay it’s early days but this puts him top of the UK rankings in his age category. Mark assures me has taken a screenshot to preserve for posterity. His somewhat self deprecating comments on his debut were “ the race was awful. First time out of blocks and I messed it up. I effectively stood up when the gun went, did the Hokey Cokey with my right foot and then started running. By then I was a few metres down.

Luckily for ranking purposes I was beaten by two M70’s.

Top speed was okay so I must get my start sorted out. Sprinting is quite a technical event!”

As the item at the top of the newsletter states, Paula started the year in much the same form as she showed in 2023 by breaking the British indoor record for the shot put with a PB throw of 13.56, 

Paula also ran 8.50 in the 60m and 9.81 in 60m hurdles.

U17 Sam McKenzie recorded a time of 7.77 in the 60m, with Freddie Clemons running a best time of 8.81 in the 60m hurdles and Ethan Winning ran 9.26 in the same event.

Ruby Edwards was competing in both long jump and triple jump. Her long jump competition was over in 20 minutes. Unfortunately she recorded 4 no jumps, just millimetres over, one of which was measured at 4.98 metres which would have been a PB. Very cruel. She recorded a best jump on the day of 4.59m. Her triple jump was a similar story with a best jump of 10.19. Both events were good practice for this weekend’s Midland Championships.

Stratford’s got lots of talent.
Our ladies XC team

Ladies XC report

Warley Woods

Report – Vicky Sharpe


The sun came out to shine on the Stratford ladies at Warley Woods for potentially their 2nd time this season if they also ran at counties last month.

The 6.2km (3.8mi) course consisted of 1 small loop, staying inside the bowl which makes up the main park and 2 big loops taking in more hills and some muddier woodland – what more could you want from a XC course?!

Some of the local universities, who are in the league, used the event as a qualifier for BUCS XC which meant that there was a very strong field of 202 runners giving it their all.

Stratford ladies rose to the challenge and finished 11th team (out of 18) overall and 11th (out of 13) in the masters race. 


First home for Stratford in her first race this season was Gerogie Campbell (24:27) who was able to keep in stride with fellow Birmingham Uni team mates, finishing 16th overall and 9th senior women.

The next 3 in quick succession were Jess Sheppard (26:27) Olivia Robinson (26:44)  and Emma Bexson (27:22), all achieving top 30 in their respective junior/senior/master categories.

Imogen Sheppard (28:57) kept her promise to race at least one race per year despite her track focus. She finished 50th senior.

Suzie Ross (29:38), Emma Vickers (30:32) and Bronwen Mansel (31:07) continued their consistently strong performances, particularly showing their strength in the final lap making gains and over-taking the competition.

Finding the energy to smile all the way around were Sarah Gillard (32:00) and Kate Barney (32:05) who clearly enjoyed the fun course and sunshine.

Next, in her first year of the junior season was Onna Dowling (32:51), quickly followed by some familiar XC faces Suzi Graham (33:00) and Pip Bell (33:24).

Grabbing the opportunity to compete instead of cheering on her fantastic children was Hannah Osbourne (34:09). Completing the 18 ladies team was Sam Swanepoel (37:46), Kath Pester (38:34), Philippa Paddock (39:49) and Sue Mothersaw (41:30) who were greeted home by the patent pending Stratford Wave (think mexican wave but yellow and black).

A final shout out to all the people who came to join the Stratford Ladies support crew, I believe we totalled 11 people and 4 dogs – maybe some SAC dog shirts are needed!

And yet more talent. Our men’s team

Men’s XC report.


Report – Malcolm Bowyer.

It was a sunny winter’s day for Stratford’s men at their third cross country race taking place at Bromsgrove.

The course was 3 laps which was won by Alex Adams (Bromsgrove and Redditch) in a time of 32,40.

It was fairly flat but very boggy under foot, making it hard going.

There were over 200 runners competing.  

Stratford had an excellent turnout with a strong team of 20.

First for Stratford was Alex Pester,19th, in a time of 35:37, who battled it out with Ned Campbell 31st, in a time of 36:10.

Hot on his spikes was Taylor Stubbins, 41st, sprinting over the line in 36:55.

The next three runners ran together for the three lap course until Sam Wilks 47th (37.07) just pulled ahead towards the end. The ever reliable Matt Burdus Cook was 61st,(37:40) and then Tom Cox 67th (37:54)

This was a great result for the A team runners.

The next six Stratford runners who make up the B team were Richard Liggatt 70th (38:11) followed closely for the whole race by David Teasdale 83rd (38:20), Drew Sambridge 93rd was working hard to finish in 39:58.

Never missing a cross country race is Tim Hutchinson 100th (40:22) and always smiling Rob Gisbourne 118th (41:07). Hue Crosweller 126th (41:43) made up a strong B team.

The next eight Stratford runners worked there spikes off to back up the A and B teams with Steve Batsford 127th (41:46 ). Not far behind was Stuart George 133rd (43: 18). Making a welcome comeback was Graham Black 145th (44.12). Ever improved Damian Wheeler 149th (44.29) was followed by David Battersby 154th (44,50) and Chris Beck 162th (45,39), Michael Sheppard  169th (46,17) who all ran a great race. Then Paul Baird 198th (58,19) who is one of our senior runners showing that age is just a number and it’s never too late to compete for his club.

The mens A team came 5th out of 13th teams and the B team is currently 2nd out of 6 teams.

We are now in 4th place overall with one more race left in the season.

Cross Country Results

All 3 of our teams, ladies, men’s and juniors were in XC action last weekend and the full results are listed below.

Mens’s results :


Ladies results:


Juniors’ results:


Juniors’ current league tables:


Pre race.
Post race. Actually that wasn’t too bad !

C25k Winter 2023-2024 Report

 Report – Robin Langhorn.

The end of October 2023 saw the start of our most recent Couch-2-5k programme and with some savvy Facebook exposure and word of mouth marketing, we managed to get a rather impressive 32 people sign up!

Based on some runner’s community research and previous club C25k feedback, Sarah Bland and I decided to extend the typical NHS 9-week course out to 12 weeks. The hope was that the intervals would be more manageable, enabling more people to complete the whole course and ultimately allow them to confidently continue running afterwards.

After a first few nervous encounters both from my side (this was my first foray into leading a group) and theirs, the group quickly settled into a good rhythm.

As the course progressed, the sessions got longer, the weather worsened (rain, ice, wind, floods!) but the enthusiasm to turn up week in, week out and put in the effort was never dampened and the group spirit and camaraderie really started to form.

In fact, as the chat on the WhatsApp group picked up the pace, so did they! Plus, as I was keen to point out, if they could complete this course with the awful weather and training through the Christmas break, then running for the rest of 2024 and beyond would be a breeze in comparison!

The final day of the plan was to graduate the C25k by completing the Stratford ParkRun.

Saturday 13th January met us with a cold, crisp air and surprisingly firm soil underfoot; it was perfect running weather and to think that the week before the Rec was more use as a swimming pool. It was remarkable that we managed to get our run in at all!

On the day our group consisted of 15 intrepid (and perhaps slightly nervous) runners as well as a team of SAC pacers. We set off amongst the throng of 368 others to put the last 12 weeks of persistence, dedication and enthusiasm into practice.

Lap 1 was very busy, with a lot of the group jostling to get comfy and find some space. As lap 2 approached, everyone was hitting their stride and the sun came out to warm things up nicely. The extra effort everyone was putting in combined with the warmth from the sun meant the C25k group were very quickly jettisoning many hats, gloves, jackets and fleeces to prevent over-heating.

And so to Lap 3, the final stretch of the C25k course. Everyone put in a great effort for the final lap with some rather impressive sprint finishes up through the carpark and into the funnel.

The whole group, including the SAC pacers and supporters were fantastic, cheering every runner home. So much so that we had numerous enquiries from other Parkrunners about what was going on and how people could get involved.

Medals awarded and with the obligatory team photo snapped, just like that, the C25k course was complete.

All that was left was a short wander into town to Prospero Lounge for a well-deserved celebratory brunch. (Huge thanks to the team there for accommodating 19 of us on a Saturday morning when they don’t usually take bookings.)

I’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone who helped make this course happen. It’s been a huge success and at the time of writing, we had 12 C25k graduates join us for the very next (freezing) Monday night track session and six have already joined the club as members, with hopefully more to come.

So if you see some new faces around, please do make them feel welcome and encourage them as they embark on their SAC running journey.

Ben Kruze
Matt Burdus-Cook and Andy Cox
Cox, Kruze and Burdus-Cook set early season benchmarks at Lake Dorney

Report – Matt Burdus-Cook

Andy Cox, Ben Kruze and Matt Burdus-Cook travelled to Dorney Lake on Sunday for an early season road race at the popular flat, but sometimes headwindy, course. The conditions were very cold but near dead-calm, and almost perfect for the trio’s efforts. All five of the day’s races started en-masse with the 5km, 10km, Half Marathon and 2 Duathlon distances creating a good depth and breadth of competition.

Cox and Kruze opted for the 10km race option with Burdus-Cook electing to haul his weary carcass around the 5km variant having wallowed in the Cross Country mud at Nuneaton the day before.

Cox showed his underlying speed, fitness and form over a far shorter format vs. his more common marathon distance where his consistent class shows with sub-3 hour marathon times posted year on year since 2021. He finished first in his age group, in a time of 38:10, which is just 11 seconds adrift of his 10k PB time.

Kruze set a clear marker for the season ahead, winning the 10k race overall in a time of 31:53 which was 6 seconds quicker than his fastest recorded 2023 10k performance.

Burdus-Cook had hopes of a 5k PB attempt thwarted by the leg sapping terrain of the non-tarmac cross country course at Saturday’s league race, and an equally over ambitious and foolish plan to run races on consecutive days. He was, on reflection, pleased with his sub-17 minute finish time, crossing the line in 2nd place in a time of 16:54 with nothing having broken, snapped, strained or fallen off during his efforts.
An apology and a thank you
James Morrison

Happy New Year everyone and well-done to our couch to 5km on completing the course. Every one of us have been where you are right now, whether that’s been starting in the gym, walking or wherever you started your journey. 

Next thank you to all the marshals who helped with last week’s Shakespeare race. It was a brilliant run and I’m sure we all had fun but I do want to apologise to the marshal that I told to “move” and hope that it did not take anything away from your experience of marshalling. I know it can come over as me being rude but it actually comes out of fear, as I’m always worried that I’ll cause an accident while out running because I cannot tell the distance of where you are actually standing and the last thing I want to do is put anyone at risk while I’m running for fun. It scares me every time. I could not care about my PB or even my own safety but what scares me is that I’ll end up causing an injury to a fellow marshal or runner, so hopefully you’re reading this and know that without you many of us would not be able to race when we did. I was not sure who you were when we got back to the club so I could not apologise then, hence I’m taking this opportunity just now.

As for the experience/experiment itself I totally loved it and learned a few things, I’m always learning when I run and this race was no different and I learned that while racing, the bag that I run with is actually no use, it’s ok for a stop start run but if I’m going to run further and for longer then I need to find a better bag. I need to grab a gel every 60 minutes and a piece of fudge ever 30 minutes in between. Also I learnt that if I’m wearing trail shoes they are not going to keep me that safe if the ground below me is icy. It also taught me another route to keep my walks interesting in the summer.

Coming back to the club for the meal was also really good and showed me that instead of going into town for drinks and food when I’m out and about, to actually go to the club instead as they are giving so much back to the community rather than it going to a corporate company who are not giving back to the community.

All in all a great night and I can’t wait till the next one.
And Finally

More Couch to 5k group photos
Okay I’m biased but hey, I get to choose which photos appear in the newsletter so why not.

This is my son Adam sprinting to the finish line – truly words I never thought I would ever type.

Proud of him.
Rebecca Rumsey, a member of the latest c25k group entering in to the Christmas spirit during the last programme.
The Sports club’s new swimming pool during the recent floods