Club Wins Team Prize

The start of this year’s Bourton 10k where we picked up the team prize.
Last Sunday saw the club scoop the team prize in the ever popular Bourton 10k with Andy Lawrence finishing in 2nd place and Jamie Hall in 10th.

There is an extremely important article by Brian Gravelsons on the subject and importance of officials. As Brian states, athletic meetings simply cannot go ahead without officials. Please give the article the attention it deserves.

A quartet of our members were competing at the British University & College Sports (BUCS) Championships, a meeting Paul Bearman ranks alongside the English Schools in equal measure as the best events for young athletes.

We had 3 members selected to represent the Midlands at the Inter Area Challenge in London last weekend, an event the Midland’s won, with Paula Williams competing in 6 individual events and the 4 x 200, winning them all. Apparently that’s her idea of tapering for the upcoming European Masters in Poland.

There is a brief synopsis of the latest Winter Series season plus just recognition for junior member Noah Burdus-Cook on being awarded Junior Parkrunner of the year at the annual Parkrun anniversary awards. The award was for his commitment and attitude at adult Parkrun. Many congratulations Noah.

Take care

David Jones
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Dave Teasdale who finished in 54th place with a time of 36.56.
Bourton 10k

It was another successful day for many of our runners at the ever popular Bourton 10k last Sunday.

Andy Lawrence finished in 2nd place with a PB time of 31.39. Andy was just 8 seconds behind the race winner Ed Banks from Birchfield Harriers.

Jamie Hall was 10th in a PB time of 33.20, almost a minute quicker than his time last year. Matt Burdus-Cook won his M45 age group in coming 16th with a time of 33.53.

Kate Wright was our first lady finisher in a time of 38.35. Kate also won her F60 age category.

I’m told we won the team prize. Excellent.

The first lady finisher was Gemma Kersley from Basildon AC in a time of 34.27. 642 competitors completed the course.

For full results please follow the link below:

Andy Lawrence commented on the race “a huge PB and 2nd place  in a race stacked with quality throughout!

I’m absolutely over the moon to level up my Personal Best to 31:39!

Four of us went under 32 minutes and although the winner was only 8 seconds ahead of me,

I was never in the lead and can’t complain at all. I just couldn’t quite reel him in enough but I was honestly aiming for top 5 before today.

I paced it like a 5k (basically set off too quick ) but sometimes that tactic pays off!
That was the last race before London Marathon. A few more weeks of really tough training and then the taper can begin.
Jamie Hall in full flight.
Jamie’s Bourton 10k

Report – Jamie Hall

I ran this race for the first-time last year and it was definitely one I wanted to do again this year. However, I forgot how popular the race is and of course it sold out on the day and I was put on the waiting list. Luckily, like many other SAC runners I managed to get a place.

The race conditions were perfect and the setting made it an even better event. It is my first PB attempt of the year (can’t really call the Winter Series PB racing). Last year, I failed to run sub 34 minutes for 10k, with my best time being 34:01 at Northbrook so that was the goal. Although, I did have ambitions to run faster as I felt fitness was in a good place.

The race always has a fast start with two laps around the village before heading out and back. I didn’t want to go too hard to soon but I also knew that finding a good pack might help to pull me along to a PB.

Of course, I started hard but felt surprisingly comfortable. I had found a good group and was working my way through the pack. I decided to make a bit of a break with two other runners at the 5k mark and I went through half way in 16:29 (5k – PB). 

I was well under my goal but remembered from last year that my watch ran long so knew I needed to not rely on the watch. The race in the second half began to spread out but luckily, I could see runners slowing and had a target to keep my focus as the fatigue began to kick in.

I felt like I was slowing but the splits suggested otherwise and managed to keep my splits consistent and finished in 10th in a time of 33:20,  big improvement on last year, finishing in 19th and with a time of 34:17.

Delighted with the outcome. Even better is that we managed to win the team prize! Even if I did leave my prize at the track on Monday.


Definitely one for next year and hopefully I will be reminded of when the race is released so that I don’t have the worry of not getting a place.

Athletics Meetings Cannot Take Place Without Officials
The happy camaraderie amongst the track judges.
Field judges close to the action.

Athletics Meetings Cannot Take Place Without Officials

Brian Gravelsons

It is the last day of February already and the 2024 outdoor athletics season is almost upon us. However, none of the events can take place if we don’t have the volunteer officials in place. In this article I will review the 2023 season and outline why we need more help in 2024.

I have already made a point of thanking each individual that helped officiate for the club last season. I want to thank you all again, as without you we just wouldn’t be able to compete in athletics events at all.

Since I created the role of Officials’ Rep for Stratford AC and have done my best to fulfil its requirements, I am delighted to say that more people in the club have come forward to help out. That is how it should be: many people doing a little bit, rather than a few people doing a lot but I still think that we have a way to go before the former is really true. We were able to avoid having to cancel one of the Heart of England league fixtures last year due to a lack of officials in place, but it was close.

In the individual official disciplines, it is the starter’s assistant and time keeping where we particularly need more additional support.

I am delighted to announce that Alison Gravelsons has achieved a level 1 as a starter/starter’s assistant but we do need a couple more people to be able to help as a starter’s assistant, especially when we host our own meetings and it looks like we may be hosting four different meetings in 2024!

The 13 meetings, excluding the club champs, where we needed to supply a time keeper last year were covered by just four people, with one person doing the majority of the time keeping at 10 meetings.  This is why the club could really do with your help as a time keeper. An additional two time keepers would essentially mean that each time keeper would only need to cover two meetings each across the season. And if we had a few more on top of this we get to the stage of just one meeting a year each: many people doing a little bit.

In the other official disciplines, we are more blessed. The 14 meetings, excluding the club champs, where we were required to provide at least one track judge, were covered by eight people. Yet still we had two track judges attending nine events each, but this was more due to the love of officiating rather than not having sufficient cover.  However, having more track judges is essential if we are to get to the stage were many people just do a little bit.

Following the field judge course that was put on at Stratford AC last year, we have increased our field judge cover. There were 27 people that covered the 14 events, excluding the club champs. However, those of you that are good with numbers will instantly recognise that that is just under an average of two people per meeting, where really we need to have a field team of four or five at each event! Therefore there were quite a few people covering many more events than they needed to if we had more volunteers: 12 people covered three or more events during 2023.  I am also delighted to say that Alison Gravelsons has achieved her level 2 as a field judge and so we have a bit more cover for Sandy Green and Tony Jackson. Though it is not possible for Alison to be a starter and a field judge at the same time! A clear example of few people doing a lot. Also it is likely that Tony will take a less active role after this year. It is an England Athletics requirement that a level 2 field judge leads the field team and so we do need more people to progress to level 2 as a field judge otherwise we run a huge risk of not being able to run a meeting and/or be banned from taking part in the leagues that we are involved with.

It is the Heart of England league where we really do need more volunteers, and no experience is needed before you volunteer! At these events last year, we struggled to get the wider support with the same people helping out time and again. So this year we will expect every parent/carer (one per athlete) to help out at least once during the year for at least one event during the meeting.  Paul Bearman will communicate who is expected to help out at each event in advance. You will then no doubt find out how enjoyable the camaraderie is, as well as being close to the action and maybe want to make the experience count. If that is the case then please let me know and the club will support you to obtain qualifications as an official from England Athletics. I imagine a day when we have over 50 field judges helping to officiate across the season and so we truly do have many people just doing a little bit.

Please do get in contact if you would like to volunteer (especially as a time keeper or starter’s assistant) or would like to know more about anything to do with officiating:

Harry Sugden, Freddie Clemons, Catherine Reynolds and Nick Butler.
Catherine Reynolds

British University & College Sports Championships 2024


Report – Paul Bearman

The British University & College Sports Championships (BUCS) are the breeding ground for many British track and field stars and the championship combines good club standard athletes with established junior and senior internationals’ which makes the event so special.

Universities from the length and breadth of the UK descend on The English Institute of Sport in Sheffield who host the championships, with the athletes wearing the unfamiliar colours of their respective universities as opposed to their clubs but wearing them with the same tribal commitment and passion.

Away from the familiar surroundings of their home environment, this year the new breed included 4 Stratford AC athletes competing and continuing their athletics careers that started in their primary school days, through secondary and now in the last phase of their education journey.

Nick Butler is based at Sheffield Uni and his weekend started with the heats of the 60m, an event that attracted over 110 athletes in 14 heats. He rarely runs 60m but it showed his training had been going well with a seasons best of 7.45s in his heat just a tenth outside his PB.

It set him up for his main event the Triple Jump and he was hoping for 13.50m which should have been good enough to get him to the final. However, he later found out that his best jump of 13.24m in the first pool was 5cms short after several athletes in the 2nd pool surpassed his distance, leaving him just one place short of qualification.

Hurdler Freddie Clemons is still an Under 20 and is studying at Sheffield Hallam. BUCS hurdles are run at the senior 3’6” height….measure it to see how high they are….and in his first competition over the senior height and after battering an early hurdle that knocked him out of his stride, he still managed to finish in a decent time of 9.28s in his heat.

A week previous, Catherine Reynolds who also studies at Sheffield Uni, was competing in the UK champs and she was back on her home track, competing in the 400m.

With only the first 2 over the line in each heat guaranteed a place in the semi-final she ran in the 8th out of 10th  heats and it ended up as a superb exhibition run by Catherine from gun to tape winning in 57.8s.

The semi-final the following day was when the big guns really stepped their game up with only the winner guaranteed a place in the final along with 2 fastest runners up. 

In her semi, Catherine held onto the coat tails of a Canadian athlete Raquel Tjernagel finishing 2nd in 56.42s and good enough to get into the 6 athlete final that was going to be run with just a couple of hours to recover.

With international Emily Newnham from Loughborough in imperious form and Rachel McCann the new Irish students record holder in the final, the race was going to be a battle for the bronze medal; and so it turned out with Newnham breaking her own championship record.

As always Catherine ran a committed and brave race finishing 6th in a mad dash for the line in a time of 56.85 and just to finish her day off a very tired Catherine ran the 2nd leg in her teams 4 x 200m relay.

Taking the positives out of it Catherine said” I’m happy with what I’ve run and to get to the final for the 2ndyear running and I’ve still got another one or two years to do better”.

Emily Field, who has recently returned to the club is studying at Bristol Uni. She ran 1500m in 4:37.94, a two second PB and commented ” it seemed a good race and I filled in the gap when one formed and then when I felt the front 3 surge at 600 to go I didn’t go with them but made up one place in a sprint finish at the end, just missing out on the final by 0.7 seconds”.

Carolyne and I have been going to BUCS for years to support our club athletes and enjoy the event and from my point of view it ranks alongside the English Schools in equal measure as the best events for young athletes….great competition and camaraderie amongst the plethora of Uni tribes.

Apart from our 4 athletes it was also good catching up with Imogen Sheppard, Alex Powell and Harry Sugden, there supporting our athletes and finding out what they’re up to.

Gemma Smith, Paula Williams and Paul Hawkins.

Masters Inter-Area Indoor Track & Field Challenge


Report – David Jones


Three of our members were selected to be part of the Midland Masters team to compete in this competition at Lee Valley Indoor Stadium in London last Sunday.

This is an annual competition between 7 areas of England plus teams representing Northern Ireland Masters and Welsh Masters.

It was a triumphant day for the Midland Masters team who won the overall competition with 574 points, with their nearest rivals Eastern Masters finishing in 2nd place with 556 points.

The Midland Masters ladies team were 1st overall with 294 points and the men’s team were 2nd with 280 points,12 points behind Eastern Masters.

For Paula Williams it was another hugely successful day following on from her gold medal haul at the same venue just 7 days previous.

Paula was entered in 6 individual events, winning them all.

Her results were:

Shot Put 12.73m

Long Jump 4.33m

Triple Jump 9.56m

High Jump 1.30m

60m Hurdles 9.78 seconds

60m 8.31s

Paula was also part of the victorious W50-59 4x200m relay team despite her best efforts to try and wriggle out of it.

After the competition Paula commented that it was a great last bit of preparation for  the European Masters Indoor Athletic Championships in Poland in March with no more track comps and just a couple of throws meetings plus low volume high intensity work for 3 weeks.

Unfortunately it was a less successful day for our other two club members who were selected for the team, both in the racewalking category. Gemma Smith and Paul Hawkins were both disqualified in their respective races.

Paul was particularly frustrated at his disqualification. He was in 2nd place in the M35 race, a considerably younger age group than the one he is used to, with just 30m of the 2000m to go when he was DQ’d

As someone who as struggled running on banked indoor tracks I can only imagine how difficult it must be to racewalk on them. Suffice to say it was an honour for these two members to be selected to represent Midland Masters at these championships

Winter Series

The Season’s Round-up

It was another successful Winter series for many of our club members with Andy Lawrence winning all five races for the series win.

Jamie Hall was second in all five races also extremely impressive
Dave Teasdale won the V35 category and Matt Burdus-Cook the V45 – Matt was also  5th overall
Stuart McClean won the V75 category
We had no female category winners this time but 24 women and 24 men ran in at least one race.

For the full series results please follow the link below:

Series Results 2023 – 2024.xlsx

A Chip of the Old Block

Junior member Noah Burdus-Cook seen here 
having been awarded Junior Parkrunner of the year at the annual Parkrun anniversary awards. The award was for his commitment and attitude at adult Parkrun.

Both Noah and his parents were rightly proud of this achievement.

Noah can often be seen out sprinting father Matt in the finishing straight at our local parkrun.

You need to work on that finishing speed Matt.

Noah got chocolates and a certificate. Richly deserved.