Some members of the Stratford winning Sportshall team & coaches
It’s been one of those wonderful weeks with success for club teams and members right across the age range, literally from from 8 to 78.
At the risk of being accused of bias, I’m starting off with the British Masters National Championships held at Lee Valley Stadium last weekend. It was the final meeting of the Masters indoor T&F season with four of our Masters athletes competing. I’m happy to report that all four of us returned with medals.
The remarkable Paula Williams won no less than 2 golds and 3 silvers, with Peter Coote and myself being crowned age category British Champions in our respective events of javelin and 1500m. To say I was delighted would be something of an understatement. Phil Brennan won silver medal, beaten only by a runner who broke the British record.
You can also read how, in the Warwickshire Sportshall Athletics League, our juniors once again dominated the season with no fewer than 117 of them competing during the season. 117 – is that pretty impressive or what ?
In the Under 11,13 and 15 West Midlands Regional Sportshall finals a record 27 of our Juniors were selected to represent Warwickshire.
With the seemingly never ending XC season drawing to a close, 9 of our athletes were selected in the Warwickshire team at the Inter-Counties Championships. Alex Adams won a superb bronze medal in the U15 boys race despite being in the first year of his age group. There was also a top 20 finish for Georgie Campbell as well as superb performances all round.
Over in Spain, Fern Hordern was once again competing for Great Britain in the ETU duathlon Championships, while closer to home the triathlon season got underway with gold medals for Charly Marshall and James Mucklow in the opening fixture of the 2020 Midlands Triathlon Series. Senior member Vicky Sharpe made her aquathlon debut in Tewksbury and Graham Hill and Adrian Mason were competing in the Burghley 7 road race and Draycote Water 20 mile race respectively.
There’s a mouthwatering week ahead, with the Teddy Hall relays happening as I type, there will be a presentation to our hugely successful junior XC team members on Thursday evening in the pavilion – there will be cake ! At the weekend it is the English Schools Cross Country Championships at Liverpool, which is probably the highlight of the junior XC season. We have 20 of our juniors in the Warwickshire and Gloucestershire schools teams, which is the most ever.
It’s also the Banbury 15 and Ashby 20 and I daresay several other events I’m not aware of.
If you are competing at the weekend, I wish you every success but most of all, remember to enjoy yourselves.
Paula Williams’ haul of championship medals. Two Golds and three Silvers.
Brothers in Arms – Phil Brennan and David Jones.
British Masters Championships.
Report – Peter Coote
Three British Champions at Stratford AC!
Stratford athletes had a very successful time at the British Masters Championships last weekend with a total of four gold and three silver medals.
David Jones rounded off a rewarding indoor season when he was crowned 1500m British Champion in his age category. His 5th indoor event in a seven week period saw him run a tactical race, only taking the lead coming off the final bend, to win in a time of 5:50.49.
This victory helped somewhat to mask his disappointment at the cancellation of the European Masters Indoor Championship in Portugal next week, where he was due to make his international debut for Great Britain.
Paula Williams also continued her excellent run of form finishing with 3 silver and two gold medals. Starting with silver medals in quick succession in the 60m hurdles, shot, and 60m on the Saturday, with a seasons best time of 8.44 in the 60m sprint.
Then on the Sunday, she dominated both the triple jump and javelin for her age group, winning gold in both with strong performances, despite having had very limited opportunities to train at either over the winter.
Peter Coote was similarly unprepared for his javelin and discus events, having spent the last six weeks travelling in South America. Despite pouring rain and a howling cross wind, he managed to take gold in the javelin for his age group with a club record throw. In the discus he was less successful and finished well down against a strong field but with another club record throw.
Having abandoned track and speed training this winter to concentrate on endurance for road races in Spring, which will now not go ahead, Phil Brennan took silver in his age group 1500m, by way of a consolation prize. He was only beaten by Peter Giles who broke the British record to win the race.
Some members of the Under 15 Girls squad
Holly Newton; Kate Richardson; Caitlin Buckley; Sophie Smart; Vienna Davies; Lucy Lane; Poppy Fox Rowe; Issy Newton; Eleanor Clark
Left to right in yellow….Otis Tustin ; Josh Roberts ; Alex Winning
Warwickshire Sportshall Athletics League.
Report – Paul Bearman.
Stratford AC Juniors have again dominated the indoor Warwickshire Sportshall Athletics League during the winter and have emerged again as champions but they didn’t have things all their own way after meeting stronger competition than they’ve had in recent years.
117 young athletes competed for the club over the season with each one contributing to the success.
The Under 11 Boys won their age group and it took a combined Leamington and Coventry team to push the girls into second place. The Under 13 girls and boys were run very close but clung on to win their age groups.
The Under 15 girls were run away winners but a depleted boys’ team were beaten into second place by a very strong Leamington Athletics Academy team.
The overall strength in depth across all the age groups was the crucial factor in winning the overall championship and Under 15 team manager Mike Sheppard said afterwards “it has been a tougher and more competitive league this year and credit for this success goes to not just all our superb athletes but the support they get from the volunteer coaches and officials; it has been a real team effort”.
Stratford Athletes of the Year were Alex Winning and Kate Richardson.
Under 11, 13 and 15 West Midlands Regional Sportshall finals.
Report – Paul Bearman.
Indoor Sportshall athletics combines a tremendous amount of variable skill sets like speed and mobility within a relatively confined space and a record 27 Stratford AC Juniors were selected to provide the lion’s share of the Warwickshire team with athletes from Rugby, Coventry and Leamington, that performed brilliantly in the West Midlands Regional Sportshall finals held in Solihull.
The regional final pits the youngsters against teams from Birmingham, Hereford & Worcestershire and Shropshire, with the Stratford contingent giving the team a really competitive edge and genuine team spirit.
Apart from winning the regional competition, also at stake for the under 13s and 15s is the chance to go to the national finals and the expected strong competition particularly from long-time rivals Birmingham didn’t disappoint the packed crowd
In this type of competition every point is crucial and the strength of the Warwickshire teams picking up points from the middle finishing positions in the events made a considerable difference to the results.
The U13 girls and both the U15 teams won their respective age groups, defeating their perennial rivals from Birmingham and the U13 boys finished second behind a dominant Birmingham team, which rounded off a hugely successful day with the 3 teams through to the national finals in Sheffield in April.
Under 15 Girls
The Under 15 athletes compete in a 3 event All-rounder competition and the stand out performance from a Stratford athlete came from Caitlin Buckley whose consistency across her 3 events 2 Lap race ((2nd), Speed Bounce (4th) and the Vertical Jump (3rd) earned her the overall silver medal.
Poppy Fox Rowe finished 6th overall and won the 6 Lap race whilst Lucy Lane (4th) and Holly Newton (12th) were the epitome of consistency across their events with Lucy winning the silver in the Standing Long Jump.
Josh Roberts finished 5th overall and won bronze medals in the Shot and Standing Triple Jump and Joel Milner finished 13th adding valuable points to what turned out to be a close competition with only 4 points separating Warwickshire and Birmingham.
Linden Williams (Speed Bounce), Harry McDonald (Vertical Jump) and Tom Weaver (Shot) won Gold medals. Seb Hillard won Bronze in the 4 Lap race and James Verralls was just outside the medals in the 2 lap race. Luca De Freitas Pires was unfortunately injured and couldn’t take his place in the team.
Maddie Linfoot won silver in the 6 lap race and also competed in the Shot (5th) filling in for Lucia Cassidy who couldn’t make it back from a tennis tournament in Kent in time to compete. Both Antonia Leece (4Lap) and Caitlin Boyle finished 5th in the Vertical Jump
The Under 11 event is a knock out competition with no progression to a national final and the Warwickshire girls competition finished with the girls in 2nd place behind Birmingham and the boys in 3rdposition behind Birmingham and a surprisingly strong performance from Shropshire.
Stratford AC athletes
Ella Taylor Noble
Alex Adams (right) on the podium.
Maddie Linfoot and Niamh Hillard.
Inter Counties Cross Country. Prestwold Hall, Loughborough
Report – Paul Hawkins
The long cross country season is now drawing to a close and one of the traditional highlights is the Inter Counties Championships where county teams from throughout the United Kingdom compete over all the age groups from under 13 to senior with eight athletes selected in each age group/gender team.
This is the highest quality domestic event of the season, so it was that after a successful season Stratford AC had nine runners in the Warwickshire team spread across six of the races.
The course at Prestwold Hall is good undulating parkland and after the wet winter the going was definitely “soft” with very sticky thick mud.
For Stratford the highlight of the day was a fine bronze medal for Alex Adams in the under 15 boys in his first year in the age group, building on his 4th place as an under 13 last year.
Alex was clearly in good form going into the 4.3k race and confidently stayed with the leading group from the start. This group was soon whittled down to five, until about halfway when England Champion Lewis Sullivan pushed ahead and Chris Perkins went with him. Alex and the two others held back and a gap opened up. Ultimately Sullivan continued his unbeaten season to win with Perkins second. The next three battling for the final medal were neck and neck for the rest of the race, with each testing the others periodically. Adams bided his time until the final 250m where he surged away up the hill to pull ahead and finish third in 14:45, seven seconds behind Perkins but a clear 40 seconds ahead of Ethan Scott in fourth and Ben Peck in fifth.
After the race Alex said “It was a very tough race in a high-quality field. I gave everything in the last 100m or so to get away and come in front of Ben for the first time and to podium. Good conditions but a muddy course made it hard to get into a nice rhythm but that’s the joy of cross country. Apart from that I really enjoyed it.”
Before that, the first Stratford runner was Owain Jones (171st, 43:33) in the under 20 men’s race. Jones is mostly focusing on 400/800m on the track so the race advertised at 8k was always going to be a tough one and so it turned out, especially as the actual distance was 9,100m. Despite this Jones maintained a good pace throughout but will be pleased to have a shorter race at the English Schools championships next weekend.
Next up were Niamh Hillard and Maddie Linfoot racing in the under 13 girls race over a 3.4k course. Both girls started off at a steady pace in the middle of the pack in a big field of over 300 runners. Niamh kept the pace going well to finish 94th in 15:49 while Maddie (149th, 16:19) found the clinging mud tough and faded a little but was still pleased to finish in the top half.
The next race was the under 17 women where there were two Stratford runners among the 272 finishing the 5300m race. Georgie Campbell made a strong start and held a top twenty position throughout the race and was pleased to finish 19th in 22:36 to lead the Warwickshire team home after a tough battle up the finish straight. Ellen Taylor (208th, 27:07) has had a disrupted build up to the race with injuries so will be happy with her run.
In the under 20 women’s race of 6k, Daisy Musk (110th, 32:25) continued her excellent season coming second of the Warwickshire team after a committed run with the course conditions deteriorating as the mud got even thicker.
The final Stratford athletes were in the under 15 girls race ran over 4.3k.
Possibly one of the most improved runner of the season has been Charly Marshall who seemed to be the only runner in the second half of the race quicker than the first, as she constantly overtook other girls to finish a marvellous 93rd in 19:01.
Olivia Robinson (226th, 20:49) found it a hard race and said that she enjoyed it but the mud was very tough.
The final cross country event of the season is next week with the English Schools Champs at Liverpool where many of the team will be running again.
Fern Hordern under a blue sky.
ETU Duathlon Championships.
Report – Fern Hordern.
I went to the ETU Duathlon Championships in Punta Umbria, Spain to race the standard distance (10km run, 40km bike, 5 km run) age group 45-49years.
Amazing weather, location on the sea front, fast flat course for both run and bike – I executed my race as planned, although having suffered from a bit of a bug in the lead up, I didn’t run as well as I would have hoped. I finished in 6th place in a smallish section – The British contingent was particularly strong in my age group. I enjoyed the race and the sunshine (best conditions I have raced in ever!)
2020 West Midlands Triathlon Series.
Report – Kate Marshall.
Double Youth Gold for Stratford Triathletes
After the winter break, the triathlon season is underway again. Burntwood was the setting for the first event of the 2020 West Midlands Series with an aquathlon (swim, run), in testing cold and windy conditions. Stratford AC’s junior triathletes were out in force competing to gain crucial early points for the series.
Freya Preece started off the Stratford representation in the youngest Tristar 1 (TS1) division. Preece had an excellent swim followed by a solid 1.5km run and was narrowly nudged into 8th place (13:50).
Next up for Stratford was Ben Harrison making his TS1 debut with a big step up in distance from the TriStart category. He put in a fine performance to finish 9th (13:42).
TS2 was highly competitive (250m swim and 2km run). Hannah Wilkinson’s Stratford AC debut saw her achieve a finish in 22nd (24:20) and Josh Harrison had a great race finishing 14th (16:27).
Millie Preece and Theo Skirvin undertook the tough 400m swim and 4km run of TS3 and like her sister Preece finished solidly in 8th (23:54) while Skirvin had an impressive run to secure a podium place in 2nd (20:27).
Then came the open races. Stratford had two athletes in the Youth category competing at the full distance. James Mucklow and Charly Marshall, fresh from winter training in Spain, both won Gold in their respective category taking maximum points for the series. When including adult participants, Mucklow was second male (24:35) and Marshall achieved an impressive overall event first female (28.22).
It was a great turnout for the club with lots of points gained for the series in both the individual and team competitions. Next up is Black Country Triathletes Aquathlon on 21st March where we look forward to more success.
Tewkesbury Aqauthlon Series.
Report – Vicky Sharpe.
I competed in my first aquathlon on Sunday as part of the Tewkesbury Aqauthlon series and thoroughly enjoyed the event finishing 7th female and 5th in the FV Open category!
My swim time over 400m has come down significantly since last year thanks to all the help and hard work at Saturday morning club sessions.
The run was changed to 4 laps of a muddy field, so all the recent x-country definitely paid off, with me being able to overtake a strong field on the way round and enabled me to cross the line with a strong finish.
I also noted that turning up in a Stratford Club swimming cap and running vest made the Tewkesbury Tri Club coach ask his athletes to swim/run that bit quicker for some friendly rivalry.
It was a great event and I would highly recommend it for first timers as well as experienced aqauthletes!
Burghley 7 Road Race
Report – Graham Hill.
The Burghley 7 Road Racewas the first time the event had been organised using the Burghley estate as the main venue.
A sensational course linking Burghley and Stamford. With incredible access to the private areas of the Burghley Estate, this is a real adventure through the many places that make the area amazing to run round.
The race flows through the beautiful town of Stamford down the main High Street, around stunning landmarks, local communities, beautiful villages and the surrounding countryside, through areas of the estate not normally open to the public and finishing in front of the Elizabethan Burghley House.
It was an early start to get to Burghley for 8am, ready for registration and warm up and an 9am race start.
The weather was almost perfect with clear sunny spells but in some of the exposed areas the wind made the route a little testing at times but with plenty of water stations along the route of mainly roads, it made the run thoroughly enjoyable.
With the final few miles back into the Burghley estate a grand stand finish was possible, with a final sprint to the finish line.
Despite the slightly windy conditions, a good pace was set and maintained for the 7 miles, so I finished with a respectable time of 49:34, finishing 58th out of 1242 runners and 16th in my age category.
The event was very well organised and supported. After picking up the finishing medal and running vest, it was time to head off into Stanford for a well earned refreshment..
Running around the Burghley estate and the Stamford is well worth it and a pleasant place to visit.
Draycote Water 20.
Report – Adrian Mason.
I ran the Draycote Water 20 mile race on Sunday. Four laps is certainly mentally challenging around there!. Thankfully we had a storm free weekend but the wind still whips up around Draycote and the headwind on the finish straight was pretty fierce.
However, aside from the wind, weather conditions were great with plenty of sunshine and I was delighted to hold a good pace to finish 15th out of 156 runners, with a chip time of 02:25:08 and 6th in my age category.
On to Bath Half this Sunday, all being well.
More photos from the Inter Counties XC and Sportshall.
From the top : Niamh Hillard, Owain Jones, Ellen Taylor and Daisy Musk.
The Under 17 women’s team. Ellen Taylor – 4th from left and Georgie Campbell – far right.
Kate Richardson & Sophie Smart and Poppy Fox Rowe and Issy Newton