Down to the wire.

 

Our U11 girls team. Left to right : Amelia Peeke, Lily-Mae Pagan, Lois Ford, Ava Sheppard, Marijke Tear-Verweij, Annie Silvers and the race winner Tessa Parkin.
The U13 boys team. Left to Right : Joe Lewis, Henry Wheeler, James Day, Seb Hillard, Alex McMillan, William Mayes and Hugh Markham.
It’s been a busier week this week. 

Once again our junior XC runners excelled. Despite the absence of two key runners due to injury and another top runner being injured during the race and not being able to finish, the 63 team members earned the right to go in to the final fixture of the season a mere 18 points off top spot, having accumulated 18631 points against Wolverhampton and Bilston’s 18649. Birchfield Harriers are in 3rd place on 18436 points.  It could hardly be closer. The final fixture is the 9th February on Wolverhampton’s and Bilston’s home patch. Down to the wire !

Elsewhere our Senior and Masters male and female XC teams did us proud, battling the elements. Ferguson Allison enters the new year in fine form following a prolonged period of injury. Drew Sambridge and Rob Minton were in excellent form in Anglesey and finally, four of our intrepid runners competed in the Fladbury Festive 5.

Best Wishes

David Jones.

The U15 boys team. Left to right : Theo Skirvin, Taylor Stubbins, Caleb Spriggs, Adam Taylor, Alex Adams, Tom Francioni and Ed Holcroft.
Our 3 race winners, from the top : Georgie Campbell, Alex Adams and Tessa Parkin.
One of the performances of the day was by Marijke Tear-Verweij

 West Midland Young Athletes’ Cross Country League.

Report – Dave Parkin

Our junior XC runners secured three individual victories in the West Midlands Cross Country League at Nuneaton, a first for the club.

The course was being used for the first time since 2014 and it presented a significant technical challenge for our young athletes – heavy mud, tight corners, minimal overtaking spots and short, sharp climbs.

We were able to field full teams in all eight races with individual wins for Georgie Campbell (U17W), Alex Adams (U15B) and Tessa Parkin (U11G).

Sixty-three athletes participated for Stratford and the club finished 3rd on the day. We now sit in 2ndposition in the league with 18,631 points, just 18 points behind rivals Wolverhampton and Bilston going into the final race in February.

The U17 women’s team were weakened by the loss of Ellen Taylor, but fielded a full team nonetheless. Georgie Campbell (1st, 15:50) led from the start and eventually won by a dominant 40 seconds from Louise Hackett of Wolverhampton & Bilston, the biggest winning margin of the day. Gigi Thomas (20th, 18:53) ran very well and secured her highest position of the season and Charlotte Gravelsons (42nd, 23:00) completed the team and the scoring positions.

Maxime Verstraeten (10th, 08:15) has battled illness for much of the Christmas period, but had a solid return to racing, starting well and holding his position throughout the U11 boys’ race. Verstraeten now sits fifth in the league. Joshua Davies (26th, 08:52) had another consistent run, followed closely by Samuel Plumb (34th, 09:04) who achieved his best result to date. Aran Cooper (41st, 09:17) led in a flurry of yellow and black Stratford vests, with Harry Francioni (50th, 09:28), Arthur Mansbridge (54th, 09:31) and Alfie Musk (55th, 09:31) close on his heels. Josh Harrison (64th, 09:44), Henry Sims (77th, 09:54) and Ewan Sparrow (96th, 10:24) completed the team.

The returning James Mucklow (16th, 19:20) added strength to the U17 men’s squad. Looking powerful and in control throughout the race, Mucklow will be pleased with another solid top twenty finish. Tom Crowfoot (19th, 19:29) and Will Crowfoot (21st, 19:37) worked hard together for much of the race before Tom pulled away in the final lap. There was a strong Stratford contingent in the middle of the race, with Cameron Thomas (28th, 20:03), Josh Dobedoe (31st, 20:31) and Ned Campbell (34th, 20:49) particularly catching the eye as they made solid inroads up the field. Joel Watson (36th, 21.10) ran well and Fin Hutchinson (38th, 21:49) had a positive outing and a strong finish, and Thomas Mayes (40th, 22:15), Cameron Black (41st, 22:18) and Harry Gravelsons (48th, 25:05) put in good performances to make up the team.

In a fast, bunched start to the U11 girls, Annie Silvers took a tumble, and, despite running valiantly for much of the race, wasn’t able to finish. Tessa Parkin (1st, 08:05) running comfortably in second position, and again choosing her tactics carefully, accelerated into first off the top of the last climb to secure her second successive win. Overall performance of the day goes to Marijke Tear-Verweij (9th, 08:38) who was combative throughout to secure her best ever league position. Lois Ford (31st, 09:24) struggled at the start to find her position, but continues to have an excellent debut season. Amelia Peeke (44th, 09:52) ran brilliantly, particularly given that she ran almost the entire race with one shoe, and the team was completed by Ava Sheppard (51st, 10:03) and Lily-Mai Pagan (78th, 12:13).

Alex Adams (1st, 12:17) won the U15 boys’ race by a considerable margin, leading from the start and giving him an unprecedented 17th successive league win. Theo Skirvin (20th, 13:30) had a great race, full of heart, to give him a first top twenty position of the season. Taylor Stubbins (34th, 14:04), Adam Taylor (38th, 14:06), Caleb Spriggs (40th, 14:09), Tom Francioni (42nd, 14:14) and Edward Holcroft (54th, 14:53) were well bunched in the middle of the field, with special mention due to Spriggs for his explosive finish. 

In the U13 girls’ race, Stratford were weakened by injury to County Champion Niamh Hillard, but Maddie Linfoot (9th, 10:34) had a consistently strong race, finishing in the top ten for the second outing in succession. Abbi Cooper (22nd, 10:56) ran the first lap in close formation with Caitlin Boyle (34th, 11:20) before Boyle slipped back and a persevering Maisie-Joy Spriggs (28th, 11:01) moved impressively up the field. Tilly Campbell (47th, 11:38) improved again for her best performance of the season and worked hard throughout alongside Emma Francioni (48th, 11:40). Lucy Thomas (52nd, 11:46), Martha Peters (55th, 11:50), Martina Grace ( 69th, 12.16) Ella Peeke (78th, 12:48), Katie Pridham (85th, 13:37) and Ruby Edwards (86th, 13:42) completed the Stratford team. 

The U13 boys had a tough day, with several athletes struggling to get through the congested pack in the first half of the race. James Day (34th, 10:44) was first home for the team, with William Mayes (38th, 10:46) chasing hard, but not quite able to reel him in. Seb Hillard (46th, 11:09), Joe Lewis (52nd, 11:14) and Henry Wheeler (60th, 11:28) made up the scoring positions. Alex McMillan (69th, 11:43), in his first outing of the season, and Hugh Markham (85th, 12:39) comprised the remainder of the team.

The U15 girls were led home by another fine performance from Charlotte Marshall (2nd, 14:09), her best placing of the year, and sufficient to move her into joint first position in the league going into the final race. Olivia Robinson (6th, 14:33) couldn’t quite keep with Marshall in the second lap, but this was an excellent run for her second top ten finish of the season. Molly Bullock (41st, 16:33) ran well with a fighting finish for her best place of the year. Abigail Skinner (46th, 16:46) and Holly Newton (53rd, 17:22) made up the scoring positions, with Georgie Pridham (76th, 22:18) completing the team.

In what has become Stratford’s best season in recent memory, thanks must go to the officials, coaches and parents who make the league possible.

Our ladies XC team, with a friendly intruder from Leamington.
Stratford’s finest – our men’s XC team.

Senior Men and Women’s Cross Country Race 3.

Report – Paul Hawkins and Tony Jackson.

 

A late change of venue saw the Senior Men head to Coombe Park for the 3rd fixture of the Birmingham & District XC League (Division 2) season where a relatively flat but muddy and wet parkland course awaited.

Pre race favourite Shaun Evans (Royal Sutton Coldfield) 31mins 30secs was a comfortable winner with 13 intrepid SAC runners behind him giving chase.

It was perhaps no surprise that the first 3 back were Rich Shepherd (17th 34:20), Josh Newman (18th34:26) and Matt Burdus-Cook (31st 35:09) but their finishing positions don’t tell the full story of the race. 

Not quite back to his best following illness, Josh still went out in typically determined style and whilst he tired slightly towards the end he was always towards the front of the field. In contrast Rich, suffering from a mild chest infection, went out conservatively and it was only when Matt caught and passed him just after half way that he decided to go all out and the result was striking as he made up a dozen places on the last lap, overtaking Josh close to the finish.  Matt is in terrific form at the moment and motivated by Rich being in his sights for so long he hung on for another excellent finishing position.

Behind them was an intriguing battle of experience v youth and whilst Tim Hutchinson (54th 36:54) was behind Owain Jones (59th 37:05) for most of the race his relentless pacing finally saw him assert his authority in the latter stages. However, Owain, who finished 6th Junior, can take great credit out of this race which saw a huge improvement in his placing from his previous run and greater experience will undoubtedly see even further improvement.

Completing the A Team was John Raby (95th 38:28) with a very solid run and the overall team score of 275 points resulted in an 8th position of the day and after the 3 races the team maintain their very satisfactory 8th position.

New member Richard Liggatt (118th 39:20) had a good run and he led home the B team with a very promising performance that augurs well for the future. There was a close race for the next 3 positions with team captain Malcolm Bowyer (155th 41:24) reversing the form of recent races to finish ahead of Max Ross ((163rd 41:38) with David Smyth (165th 41:51) always close behind and ensuring that those ahead couldn’t ease off.

Ben Twyman (219th 48:37) is always a consistent performer and it was great to see Mike Barrie (225th50:20) tackling the elements and he managed to hold off Phil Marshal (229th 51:21) to complete the B Team scorers. The B Team score of 1045 points meant they finished 10th on the day which means they slip back a couple of places to a still excellent 6th position.

Very worthy of note is that after 3 races in the individual competition Rich Shepherd is in 4th position.

The final race of the league season is on the 8th February at Telford (actual venue tbc). 

Meanwhile the Women’s team had a longer journey to Park Hall Country Park on the outskirts of Stoke. The course was the complete opposite to the men’s as it was very hilly but with excellent drainage the conditions were mostly firm grassland underfoot.

There was a disappointing number of Stratford runners with the team hit by various absences but the seven athletes who made up the team all had strong runs and did the club proud, finishing as 14th team and confirming their place in the top division with a match to spare. 

Cadie Hibberd (19th, 29:12) had travelled up from university in Bristol and was delighted with her top 20 position. Cadie had a very fast start to ensure that she was in a good position before the technical parts of the course and held her position throughout.

The next Stratford athlete to finish was Sophie Dobedoe (47th, 31:15) who is in her first season with the team and has been the leading light of the league team since joining. Daisy Musk (80th, 33:51) who has just moved up from the junior team was pleased with her run as she has settled well to become a regular scorer for the club. Yet another newcomer to the team this season is Vicky Sharp (89th, 34:46) who showed her importance by being the final counter for the club. Sarah Vernon (103rd, 37:05) completed the team with her best performance of season so far.

In the Masters competition Amy Hinton (94th, 35:21) found the hills tough but led the team home coming 40th in the separate scoring Master race followed by Liuba Pasa (105th, 37:14, 46th Master) who seems to be thoroughly enjoying her first cross country season in England despite the different weather conditions.

Yvonne Gajny (106th, 37:23, 47th master) showed fantastic commitment to the club having been ill but despite being far from her best made sure Stratford completed a team which finished in 11th place.

The final race of the season for the women’s team is at Leamington on 8 February where Stratford should have a better turnout with the relatively local match.

Fergus Allison.

British Milers Club (BMC)

Report – Paul Hawkins.

 

Fergus Allison has unfortunately had a long period out through injury so it was good to see him racing in two BMC indoor 800m races and looking to race his way back to his best.

The first was at the Lee Valley open where he had a strong race finishing in 2.01.41 despite having to run a lot of it wide in lane 2. Fergus faded a little in the final 300m but was very encouraged by the race. 

Four days later the second race was at Sheffield where Fergus was in the D race, which turned out to be an excellent test as he won in 2.01.39 only a hundredth ahead of the second place athlete from Corby.  He is now looking forward to a couple of more races before getting back into training for the outdoor season.

Top : Rob Minton and below – Drew Sambridge.

Anglesey Ultra (32 miles) and Half Marathon.

Report – Phil Brennan.

 

Extreme challenges are nothing new to SAC’s adventurous athletes, but even Drew Sambridge and Rob Minton were taken aback by conditions in these two races.

Both courses were described by the organisers as “strenuous”   with large stretches following rocky footpaths round the island’s mountainous coast, with the carrying of survival kit mandatory.

The half marathon, longer than the standard distance, involved climbs of over 2,000ft, while the ultra challenge had over 3,500ft ascent. Add in rain and gale force winds reaching 60mph and it’s obvious why one competitor summed it up as “awful”.

Despite this, both Drew and Rob did well, with Drew completing in a brilliant 5th place in 5:51:22. There were 61 starters of whom 12 failed to finish.

Rob was 6th in the more popular half marathon in 2:21:49, another excellent result in an event where merely finishing was an achievement. Just under 100 finished the race.

 
Lisa Dallisson, Chris Whateley, Jean Hill and Liuba Pasa. 

Fladbury Festive 5.

Report – Phil Brennan.

 

Marking the end of the festive season and the beginning of the New Year, Fladbury in Worcestershire hosts a 5 mile off-road challenge along the banks of the Avon.

Over 150 runners were hardly surprised by the muddy conditions, but the four from Stratford AC managed particularly well.

The overall winner was Jonathan Barnes from Cheltenham, whose time of 34:30 reflected the difficulty of the course.

First in for Stratford was Liuba Pasa, 42nd, 47:21. She was followed by Lisa Dallisson, 55th, 48:35, Chris Whateley, 59th, 49:21, and Jean Hill, 125, 1:00:49.

Lisa was 3rd in her age category, while both Liuba and Chris were first and prize winners in theirs. All four enjoyed the unusual finishers’ prizes of tomatoes and socks. 

 

Next week is the start of the club’s latest Couch to 5k group.

If you know of any friends or family who would like to take part please pass on the details below to them. The more the merrier.

Let’s get Stratford running with Stratford Athletic Club, Couch to 5K

Want to get into Running? Set some new goals for 2020,  have a laugh and full support along the way ?

Stratford Athletic club has the perfect running group to help you get started! It’s free and the only cost is you time.

The group follows the NHS Couch to 5K running plan. Over 9 weeks we’ll build you up to running 5K in one go. The next group starts on Monday 20th January 2020 and there are 3 runs a week to complete. You can join us for all three or you can do one or two in your own time.

The group will meet as follows:

Mondays at Stratford High School by the running track meeting at 6:45pm. 

Wednesdays at Stratford Sports Club (near the cricket ground) meeting at 7pm.

Saturday again at the Stratford Sports Club, meeting at 9am.

To find out more information or to sign up please email

robminton@hotmail.co.uk
 

And Finally

More photos from the weekend’s XC. Dave Parkin takes the juniors XC photos and he says that if anyone would like a high res copy please contact him :

david.parkin1@gmail.com

 

Harry Francioni and Cameron Thomas.
Henry Sims and Ned Campbell with Josh Dobedoe in hot pursuit.
Annie Silvers and Lois Ford.
Olivia Robinson leads Molly Bullock, Abigail Skinner and Georgia Pridham.
Amelia Peeke and Martina Grace.
Max Verstraeten and Josh Davies
 
Seb Hillard and Tom Francioni.
James Mucklow and James Day.
Kate Pridham and Ruby Edwards.
Theo Skirvin and AdamTaylor.
Will and Tom Crowfoot.
Martha Peters and Maddie Linfoot.
Alex McMillan. Cameron Black being pursued by Fin Hutchinson.
Gigi Thomas.
Charlotte Gravelsons. Henry Wheeler with Seb Hillard in pursuit.
Charley Marshall on her way to a 2nd place finish.
Joel Watson and Sam Plumb
Thomas Mayes and Aran Cooper.
Emma Francioni.
Left : Abbi Cooper leads Caitlin Boyle and right – Emma Francioni leads Tilly Campbell and Lucy Thomas.
Caleb Spriggs sprints for the finishing line.
Vicky Sharp and Caddie Hibberd.