A mile of smiles from Ollie.

Sam Lambert (1258) in his Warwickshire vest

Last Saturday at Wollaston Park in Nottingham saw the Inter Counties Cross Country Championships with British titles and selection for the World Cross Country Champs at stake.

As you might expect there were some cracking performances by our junior endurance runners, the highlight of which was probably U15 Sam Lambert finishing in 11th place out of almost 300 runners.

Talking of talented juniors, U15 Will Hovell competed in a pentathlon in Sheffield last weekend at the England Athletics U17 & U15 Indoor Combined Events Championships. On a highly successful day Will saved his best to last and showed the XC season had been good preparation when he stormed to top spot on the times for the 800m running 2:11.90 which pushed him 7 places up the leader board and he finished 12th overall with 2184 points, a new PB.

I realise Brian Gravelsons’ article on the need for club officials was featured in the newsletter a couple of weeks ago but that week there seemed to have been some problem with distribution and as it is such an important topic I felt it merited being included again. There is also an additional item about courses for assistant officials from age 14 and above. 

Wednesday night at the Stratford track saw 60 members compete in the annual Shakespeare Mile race and although it wasn’t exactly 8-80 it was pretty close with runners aged 10 to 79 taking part. There were some stunning performances with 5 of our juniors finishing in the Top 10. A particular highlight for me was seeing U11 Ollie Hollis comfortably winning his heat by some 8 seconds while sporting his trademark smile all the way round. Many spectators who saw him fly off at the start commented “he won’t be able to keep that up”. Well he did and he was 24th quickest on the night.

It’s always a pleasure to receive a report from Dave Parkin. This week it’s about him and his daughter Tessa taking part in the Beast of the Blacks in South Wales, consisting of 20.5 miles and 5000ft of climb. It was the bit where he said “through mist, bog, and eventually snow, before reaching the zero visibility summit of Pen Y Gadair Fawr.” that made me think – Not for me. Hats off to Dave and Tessa though. Dave tells me he has entered a 24 hour race in November so watch this space.

Good luck to those running the marathon in Rome this weekend, the Grizzly in Devon, the English Schools XC Championships at Pontefract Racecourse and to those competing in the Open meeting at The Pingles Stadium in Nuneaton and to anyone else competing anywhere.

Take care

David Jones

View this email in your browser
Georgie Campbell (919)

Inter Counties Cross Country


Report – Paul Hawkins

British titles and selection for the World Cross Country Champs were at stake at Wollaton Park in Nottingham last Saturday.

The recent wet weather threatened to put a dampener on the event but after strong winds during the week the courses ran fast and true on firm ground, if shorter than advertised.

There were a number of Stratford upon Avon AC runners representing Warwickshire over the different races and first to race was Georgie Campbell making her debut in the Senior Women’s race held over 8,000m who was satisfied with coming 57th out of just over 250 competing. She was also second in the Warwickshire team. Also in the race was former Stratford athlete, Daisy Musk, running for her new county of Dorset and coming 5th for her team in her longest ever race. 

The next race was the Under 15 boys racing over 4000m featuring Sam Lambert in a superb 11th place out of almost 300 runners.  He was in the top 20 throughout the race and managed a very strong finish. Also in the race was Tom Fisher who has had a great breakthrough season and was a minute behind Sam in 114, but third for Warwicks. Sam and Tom crucially made up half of the county team who were 12th from 41 teams. 

The Under 17 women were next and raced over a slightly longer course. Maisie Joy Spriggs and Niamh Hillard have been neck and neck all season and this time it was Maisie Joy in 109 and Niamh in 155 and again providing half the county team in second and third places. 

Zak Lambert was the only Stratford runner in the U17 6000m men’s race and pulled out a tremendous run to finish 62nd and second in the county. Zak found it a tough race but certainly deserved the good result. 

The under 13 boys ran 3000m and included Reece Yarnold placed third in the Worcestershire team. Reece should be very happy with his run. 

The penultimate race involving Stratford runners was the Under 20 women where Onna Dowling completed her debut cross country season with a strong race to come 4th in the county and was pleased with her race, which was longer than she’s used to. Onna will now return to football before getting into the track season.

Finally, the under 15 girls raced over 4000m. Marijke Tear-Verweij seems to get stronger with each race and led the Warwickshire team home in 112 followed by Annie Silvers in 195 with the county teams coming 31st once again with half from Stratford. 

Most of the Stratford runners will move on to Pontefract Racecourse next week for the English Schools Championships to finish the cross country season. 

Will Hovell above and below

Coming off the back of a good Cross County season, Under 15 Will Hovell turned his hand to the England Athletics U17 & U15 Indoor Combined Events Championships held in Sheffield, competing against the best young multi eventers in the UK.

This was his first opportunity to dip his toe in the gruelling world of multi events since last summer and as always at this time of year preparation for technical events have been severely hampered by the weather, but Will surprised himself with some of his performances.

His day started with the 60m Hurdles and ran 9.94s and a new PB. This was followed with the Long Jump and a best of 4.94m that was marginally below his PB.

Training for the High Jump has virtually been written off but Will still managed 1.41m and his Shot was one of his surprise events throwing 7.99m and a new PB.

Will saved his best to last and showed the XC season had been good preparation when he stormed to top spot on the times for the 800m running 2:11.90 which pushed him 7 places up the leader board and he finished 12th overall with 2184 points, a new PB.

Afterwards Will said ” I’m generally pleased with how I performed and feel with more work on my technical events the outdoor season will be very good”.
Athletics Meetings Cannot Take Place Without Officials

I realise that this article was featured in the newsletter a couple of weeks ago but there seemed to have been a problem with distribution that week and it is such an important topic that I felt it merited being included again.

There is also an additional item on Assistant Officials open to anyone over 14 years old.


Athletics Meetings Cannot Take Place Without Officials

Brian Gravelsons

It is 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 and Tony. 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: 


There are also opportunities for our young athletes to get involved with volunteering as an official. I believe such opportunities can help develop our young athletes in terms of team work, leadership and communication skills. Being involved in such an experience can be useful when it comes to citing good examples in competency based interviews that our young athletes will be bound to experience at some point in the future! Below is a link to a course that is being run locally that may be of interest, with a reminder that the club will reimburse the costs of attending the course, if they then go on to help the club by officiating at some of the events. This could be done on Wednesday the 12th June when we are hosting a Midland Vets League match. The Midland Masters League will give the club £20 per young official (to a maximum of three) that helps with the officiating at this event.

For details please follow this link:


March Shakespeare Race.

The Shakespeare Mile.

Wednesday night at the Stratford track saw 60 members in 8 heats compete in this annual 1 mile race. 

Okay, the age range wasn’t quite 8-80 but it was 10-79, which is still pretty impressive.

In pretty decent conditions apart from the obligatory strong head wind on the back straight, there were numerous strong performances.

A particular highlight for me was seeing U11 Ollie Hollis comfortably winning his heat by some 8 seconds while sporting his trademark smile all the way round. Many spectators who saw him fly off at the start commented ‘he won’t be able to keep that up”. Well he did and he was 24th quickest on the night.

Sam Wolsoncroft-Dodds recorded the quickest time of the night with a time of 4.50, finishing off with a blistering last lap of 66 seconds. Sam edged out U15 Will Hovell in 2nd place and Matt-Burdus-Cook in 3rd, both were given times of 4.55. Just one second behind these two was Richard Liggatt in 4th place. Richard was followed by 3 of our juniors, U17 James Day (5.08) was 5th, U15 Joel Ledgard (5.15) 6th and U20 for track running, Maisie-Joy Spriggs (5.18) was 7th. MJ was also first female finisher.

Rounding off the top 10 was, in 8th place, Max Ross (5.20). Max ran a lightning quick final 100m. Richard Gubby (5.22) was 9th and U17 for track running Annie Silvers (5.24) was the 5th junior to finish in the top 10.

For a full list of the provisional results please follow the link below: 

Ready for the off. The start of the final heat of the night.
U15 Joel Ledgard about to finish the penultimate heat of the night as a comfortable winner with a time of 5.15, the 6th quickest time of the night.
Sam Wolsoncroft-Dodds about to cross the finish line in the final heat of the night in a time of 4.50 after a blistering final lap of 66 seconds. Sam beat U15 Will Hovell, in 2nd place and Matt Burdus-Cook in 3rd, both recording times of 4.55.
The penultimate heat of the night.
Ollie Hollis. You’re going to have to believe me on this one but he really does seem to have that smile on his face the whole time. It was certainly in evidence as he stormed across the line some 8 seconds ahead of his nearest rival in the Shakespeare Mile on Wednesday.
Tessa and Dave Parkin
Beast of the Blacks

Report – Dave Parkin

My daughter Tessa, an ex-club member, and I headed over to the Black Mountains in South Wales for what was a return to fell racing for me, and a first big mountain race for Tessa.

We woke up on race morning in a rather impoverished race camp site, with low cloud, driving rain and 3C on the thermometer. A rather inauspicious start, but probably to be expected in Wales in early March. The weather had eased a little by mid morning, and, after a kit check and race briefing we were on our way at 10am. 

The first mile was road running, to be enjoyed while it lasted. Off the road we were straight up a steep hillside, the first of four substantial climbs to be tackled, but then leading to some fast, enjoyable running down across a Welsh hillside. The route took us down into the valley, and then up onto open fell – a full 5-mile steady climb through mist, bog, and eventually snow, before reaching the zero visibility summit of Pen Y Gadair Fawr. A quick descent down the other side and we reached the halfway checkpoint at 10 miles, with 2 hours 30 minutes and 3 seconds on the clock. Time to start chasing down an under 5-hour finish!

The second half of the race was more runnable, although still no shortage of mud and bog, and we started to recover time. By this time we started to bump into the 40-mile runners, who were on the return lap having started a couple of hours before us – fair play to them!

There was one final beast of a hill at the 17-mile mark, just over a 1000ft up to a trig point, and then the final 2-mile run down into the finish in the village of Llanbedr. Final stats were 20.5 miles and 5000ft of climb in 4 hours and 56 minutes, placing Tessa a very solid 26th out of 65 women in the race and, we believe, the first and only junior!
Georgie Campbell alongside former Stratford athlete Daisy Musk who was running for her new county of Dorset and came 5th for her team in her longest ever race.
Daisy did always favour pink socks as the photo below shows!