Sam Plumb picks up his award. Is that the Ghost of Christmas Past I see in the background ?
Martha Silvers and Lois Ford.
In the absence of our usual awards evening, this week has been less a case of the Red Carpet and more a case of the Red Track Awards.
As I’m sure you will have all become aware of, in this most difficult of years, a worldwide pandemic is not going to get in the way us of doing what we do. In this instance it was a case of rewarding so many in the club, primarily the juniors, for what they have still been able to achieve, despite the huge restrictions placed upon them.
Please read Paul Bearman’s excellent report on these awards that were held on Tuesday and Thursday night at the track, after training.
Elsewhere there is what I consider to be a really fascinating article on Stratford Athletic Club 1.0 – formed in 1964 no less.
This is something I was not aware of until last week. If The Paul Hawkins Archives are the Holy Grail then this story is akin to The Dead Sea Scrolls. It includes details of a 13 year old club member who was to go on and become a Hollywood star. I implore you to read it.
Alex Adams has been back to doing what he does, winning XC races.
We have news of the imminent return of Virtual Racing from John Raby, one of our Team Virtual supremos and finally Hannah Osborne invites senior members to a Rule of Six, socially distanced Christmas Run.
Tessa Parkin, Seb Hillard, Ruby Edwards.
Elfric McKenzie and Charly Marshall.
The Socially Distanced Covid Secure Awards.
Due to the current Coronavirus situation we are obviously not able to have our normal Awards evening. However, the junior Age Group Leaders still wanted to recognise the performances and success in the Cross Country and the Sportshall leagues pre lockdown and also the Club Champs post lockdown.
To maintain our protocols e.g. social distancing we couldn’t have any ceremony, so no handshakes or official recognition, which was disappointing, but much like the rest of this year, we have to stick to the rules.
Without a Track & Field season to speak of and the wholesale disruption of our normal training programme, the AGLs felt it was neither possible nor fair to award the normal annual trophies like Much Improved, Athlete of the Year etc.
Warwickshire Sportshall League
SUAAC’s dominance of all the various age groups in the Warwickshire Sportshall league was tested by some spirited opposition and we didn’t win all the age groups, but we did what we always set out to do, that was to win the league, which we again achieved.
The Age Group Leaders, expertly juggled the 120 athletes who competed and with the old adage that “points make prizes”, every point made a difference to SUAAC retaining the league championship. Great job everyone!
West Midlands Cross Country League
Our Cross Country athletes, led by Paul Hawkins and along with the endurance coaching team, keeps getting better and stronger each year. We had a fantastic and best ever cross countryseason in the West Midlands League with over 80 athletes competing,
Despite a challenging year for the organisers to even put the events on against the backdrop of Coronavirus in the latter part of the season, over the full season we came second in the league close behind Wolverhampton & Bilston with the final result in doubt until the last race of the final fixture.
We also won five individual medals, three of them gold, and four of the age group teams won medals – both under 11 teams, the under 13 girls and the under 17 women.
With the full cross country season completed we are able to award our annual Junior Cross Country Awards…..
Female Athlete of the Year – Georgie Campbell
Male Athlete of the Year – Alex Adams
Most Improved Female – Charly Marshall
Most Improved Male – Max Verstraeten
Against the odds the Club Championships were put together quickly, in a small window of opportunity, after coronavirus restrictions were eased and our small army of officials and helpers made it a big success.
At the time we were thrilled by the 120 plus athletes who competed and produced so many personal bests. However, in recent weeks and because so many PBs were achieved, the performances for the sprints and horizontal jumps have been re-designated by UKA as being “wind assisted and for consistency it has to be applied to all the performances” and thus annulled from the Power of 10.
Naturally this is something we object to greatly and it has resulted in some sharp correspondence with UKA’s chief statistician.
We are not disputing that on occasions over the 5 hours on the day there was probably wind greater than 2.0m/s that would have affected some performances, but most definitely it didn’t affect all the performances.
What we consider is unfair and unreasonable is that a unilateral and arbitrary decision has been made from afar to effectively annul all the 100, 200m and horizontal jumps performances by re designating them as wind assisted, without discussion or trying to find out what the conditions were actually like. This discussion is ongoing.
Nevertheless the day went without a hitch and all the athletes who competed will receive a medal and congratulations to the top 3 in each category :-
2nd 91 Points Lois Ford & Martha Silvers
1st 94 Points Holly Clifford
3rd 121 Points Joel Ledgard
2nd 122 Points Elfric McKenzie
1st 125 Points Sam Plumb
3rd 116 Points Martina Grace
2nd 118 Points Ruby Edwards
1st 129 Points Tessa Parkin
3rd 135 Points Tom Whorrod
2nd 139 Points James Day
1st 150 Points Seb Hillard
3rd 146 Points Holly Newton
2nd 150 Points Poppy Fox-Rowe
1st 156 Points Lucy Lane
3rd 176 Points Alex Adams
2nd 185 Points Charlie Whorrod
1st 192 Points Joshua Roberts
3rd 148 Points Ellen Taylor
2nd 157 Points Catherine Reynolds
1st 166 Points Millie Leighton
3rd 180 Points Freddie Clemons
2nd 181 Points Acelin Smith
1st 187 Points George Fox-Rowe
3rd 85 Points Georgina Campbell
2nd 139 Points Charlotte Gravelsons
1st 163 Points Imogen Sheppard
3rd 98 Points Nicholas Butler
2nd 182 Points Alex Powell
1st 185 Points Matthew Millward-Brooks
1st 167 Points Paula Williams
3rd 96 Points Ben Kruze
2nd 143 Points Mark Illingworth
1st 145 Points Simon Curran
Organising and running the training and teams for competitions by our volunteer coaches is a mammoth task and the club is indebted to everyone who steps up all year round come rain or shine.
On a personal note, we can’t give all the volunteers who contribute to our ongoing success as a club a round of applause, but if we were in the school hall in the normal awards I would ask you to take a bow. You also unknowingly help with the wellbeing of our young athletes and particularly this year in such challenging times you make a difference.
Great team work everyone, it couldn’t happen without you. Thank you
Have a safe Christmas
This photo was probably taken about 1965 on the rec opposite the theatre. It shows the start of the Stratford Ladies XC race. The young lady nearest the camera is a 13 year old Sarah Douglas who went on to become a Hollywood film star. She is perhaps best known for her roles in Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980) and also in one episode of Supergirl as recently as 2018. Mind you, we’re used to having Super Women in our club aren’t we ?
This photo is of a Stratford AC 1.0 race and was taken at the bottom of Sheep Street on Waterside on Boxing Day 1966. Apparently the runners ran two circuits around the main streets.
Here is an early picture of the reformed SAC about 1980 with Alan Wood standing at the back with fur hat and on the right, in blue track trousers, is Jim McMorran junior. Apparently both McMorran boys were very talented runners.
SAC 1.0 circa 1964 !
Who knew ?
With many thanks to Richard Norris.
The black and white photo above opened up a whole new world to me, that of a Stratford Athletic Club that predates the formation of our own club, one that was formed in 1964.
Until last week I was totally unaware of this, although I am sure there are a few senior members who did know of it.
Last week Danny Tolhurst put me in touch with Richard Morris who was involved in the formation of this earlier version of our club and who was also around at the time of the formation of the current club.
Below is Richard’s fascinating story..
He tells me that the original SAC was formed by himself, his brother Chris and a few others in the autumn of 1964 after the magical Tokyo Olympics.
Apparently they were lucky enough to have Michael Long who was a member of the AAA, together with one or two enthusiastic members, including his dad Fred who were willing to work on the committee.
Richard went on to say “in the 1960/70’s people running around the roads were regarded as perverse and hysterically funny, especially if wearing shorts. Then the jogging boom started in the USA and this eventually took off in the UK as well.”
For such a small town Stratford apparently had some very talented athletes, plus ça change, but unfortunately after a few years the whole thing fell apart through a lack of both facilities and an administrative structure. This resulted in some of the members joining Leamington C and AC.
Richard and his brother then went to live in Australia for several years and when they returned they helped start up Stratford AC version 2.0, which is what we have now.
Luckily there was then more willingness to participate in the admin side of things plus the jogging boom was taking off in the UK and as such more people were interested.
Richard says “one of the big problems back then was the difficulty in getting the results, which is why so many athletes bought Athletics Weekly, as this would include race results from around the country but even then you probably had to finish in the top 50 to be included. Now you would expect to have a certificate with your time and place as well as a medal”
Apparently some major innovations came about from the jogging boom, particularly in the area of shoe design. Richard tells me that due to the fact that jogging was essentially aimed at overweight people trying to get fit and who would strike the ground heavily, heel first, this meant the soles became much thicker and softer. Those who considered themselves as “racers” were used to shoe soles that were thinner and much harder but they would then be running on their toes (one of the reasons so many of them suffered from tendon problems he thinks).
I asked Richard when SAC 1.0 fell apart, to which he replied “ This is a difficult one to answer. As I mentioned previously one of our biggest problems was the lack of any facilities and we simply didn’t have enough members as a club to be included in many track meetings, so the few male athletes left and went to join Leamington C and AC in 1968. There were about six ladies who continued as Stratford AC with their coach Don Scruby until they finally gave up about 1972.”
As previously mentioned Richard and his brother then spent four years living in Australia until they got news that their father was ill. When they returned in 1974 they rejoined Leamington C and AC but they were already thinking about creating some local races.
They restarted the Loxley 9 mile race in 1976 and it suddenly became very successful and thanks to sponsorship from Ray Ziel at Roman Motors they were able to promote the race.
Eventually it became so successful that they couldn’t cope on their own and handed over control to the new SAC and it became their best event and, as the Not the Roman Nine, this remains the case 44 years later.
Richard says that the second version of SAC was formed in 1979. There was a demand for a local athletics club, particularly for youngsters and eventually, in 1979, Alan Wood took it on but he quickly realised that he had no experience in athletics or organising a club and Richard and his brother Chris helped out. Chris then joined the committee. Richard says that his role in the new SAC was fairly minimal but that his brother Chris put a lot of time and energy into it.
The black and white photo above this article shows the race winner Tony Carr on the far left. Richard is the one looking at the camera and his brother Chris is on the far right.
Apparently Tony was a champion boxer before taking up running and at his best ran 50 minutes for 10 miles and 14.15 for 5k. 10 miles at 5 minute mile pace and 5k at 4.35 mile pace – those are hugely impressive times, in fact his 5k time would put him just outside the top 50 in this year’s UK rankings and at 50 minutes for 10 miles he would be ranked 2nd in this year’s UK rankings !
Richard says “ Tony was an incredible athlete and I think he should have been better recognised by the Warwickshire AAA and chosen for events such the international cross country championships. He held the fastest time for the Loxley 9 mile race for many years at 45 minutes something (although we called it a 9 mile race it was actually about 200 metres over distance, so his time was probably equivalent to 49 minutes for 10miles). Incidentally I eventually managed to win the Leamington club 10 miles in 50.52 “ – This would place him 4th in this year’s UK rankings !
One of the things that interests Richard is that he feels the general standard of times of club athletics has actually, in many cases declined since the 1970’s, particularly at long distances and he has often wondered why. He also thinks that when athletics became professional it created a huge gap between the pro athletes and the regular club athletes. Much of his disillusionment with top ranked athletics was, he says, the obvious involvement with drugs. The women’s 800metres on the track for example went very quickly from just under 2 minutes to 1.53 and indeed the current world record of 1:53.28 is held by Jarmila Kratcochvílová and was set in 1951. This year’s fastest time is 1:57.68, which perhaps shows the effect of better controls.
He tells me that originally local club runners could be lining up next to Steve Ovett or Dave Moorcroft until athletics became divided into professional and amateur.
As a result of this he and like minded local runners were becoming disillusioned by international class athletics, so when they restarted the Loxley 9 mile race in 1976 they saw it as a fun event that they wanted to be something more like the parkrun is today. The rest, as they say, is history.
Before I was rudely interrupted ! Alex Adams competed in a Derby Runner 5k XC race at Prestwold Hall at the weekend. He finished comfortably in 1st place in the U17’s race. His time of 17.37 was 22 seconds ahead of the next placed runner. Well done Alex.
The Return of Virtual Racing.
**Alert** Virtual Racing is back. Hurrah I hear many shout, along with not again from others……. As a club we are mighty good at this Virtual racing thing are, so we’ve found a great competition via England Athletics where as mixed teams our results collected together.
It’s a 5 mile event between the 26th December to the 10th January.
With regards to the teams don’t worry about this part, as the system will automatically put you in the Stratford team once submitted.
Now even better than this the Virtual Shakespeare team of Matt Burdus-Cook, Ryan Bakewell, Sarah Bland and David Smyth (maybe) are coming out of hibernation and are going to give you an impressive whirlwind of data and updates with the Shakespeare races about to return…… Even better the first one will be 5 mile race. Coincidence some might say but great that in one hard effort you can submit your result to the England Athletics event and to the Virtual Shakespeare team.
So do think you can topple Matt for the crown in the men’s or Kate Wright in the ladies. Maybe even for an age group win, where we could see the fearsome rivalry of in the 45-49 category of Wayne Vickers, Seth Turner and Andrew Cox as only a couple of points separated them in 2020.
Whatever the case the Virtual racing team will bring to you as professional a set up as possible, until we can get back out racing again together.
One of the best social occasions for club members is the annual Christmas Run. I know a few people wanted to host this year but although we can’t go to someone’s house we can still get festive and run in socially distanced groups of 6
Grab your hats, tinsel, snowmen outfits and join in a run this *Sunday at 9am*.
No routes are planned but I am sure we can all be sensible, and remain socially distanced and in groups (Max 6) of similar pace and decide how far we want to run.
Off road shoes recommended as it’s muddy out!
Remember the club house changing rooms/showers are not open for use.
*picture used just because it’s cute and to get your attention
Hope to see some of you at the club on Sunday morning.
Back at the Track…..momentarily !
Blink and you’ll have missed it but it was huge fun while it lasted.
We were back at the track for a couple of weeks, with all age groups taking advantage of this brief window.
Below are a couple of photos of the juniors in training plus lots from the Tuesday and Thursday night’s Awards.
Charlotte Gravelsons, Catherine Reynolds & Harry Gravelsons……Jodie Watson is in the background
These are some of the U13 hurdles group,,,,,Seb Hillard, Olivia Hawkyard, Libby Walton, Jess Moore, Ruby Edwards, Tessa Parkin wishing everyone a Happy Christmas
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