STRATFORD AC were forced to settle for second place in the Midland Veterans Track and Field League at the end of a successful and promising season.
The club were without several key team members, whilst a clash of events did nothing to help matters, as Stratford were only able to contest 21 out of 34 women’s events and 32 of 34 men’s events.
This led to a fifth-place finish for the men’s team and a seventh-place finish for the women’s team in the finals at The Pingles Stadium in Nuneaton.
The highlight of the day belonged to Elaine Ledden who achieved three first-place finishes – the club’s only wins at the finals.
Ledden triumphed in the 100m (15.10 seconds) despite dropping down to the W50 age group, the W60 triple jump (7.31m) and the W50 400m (74.28 secs) which she won by almost seven seconds.
And Ledden was rewarded for her fine performances throughout the season after she was named as the league’s Female Athlete of the Season.
The accolade comes after Ledden picked up Stratford’s Athlete of the Year and Track and Field Athlete of the Year in 2021.
Ledden competed in six events in total along with Christine Coote who took part in the W60 100m (17.66 secs), W60 hammer (12.31m), W60 shot put (6m), W50 discus (11.46m), W40 triple jump (6.03m) and also ran a leg of the 4x100m relay.
The pair competed in all of the ladies field events in which the club took part with the exception of Emma Bexson (W35 shot put, 4.30m) and Kate Sergent (W70 shot put, 3.08m) with the former having completed a 100-mile time trial earlier in the day.
Stratford’s lady racewalkers enjoyed success as Kate Sergent placed second in the W60 category (14:24.5) and was third in the W70 1oom (26.82 secs) whilst Gemma Smith was fourth in the W40 racewalking category (14:51.58) and Paul Hawkins (13.47.04) took part in the M60 racewalk.
And Sarah Wheeler, who made a welcome return to the team this season, endured a tiring day as she dropped down a couple of age categories to compete in both the W35 3000m (13:11.4) and W35 1500m (6:17.66) and also ran a leg of the 4x100m relay.
Recent recruit Sharon Samuel, who previously competed for Bromsgrove and Redditch AC dropped down an age group to record a time of 14.98 secs in W40 100m and ran a leg of the 4x100m relay.
The Lee family, Joe and Kim proved their versatility once again as the latter competed in the W35 category and ran 87.6 secs in the 400m and 39.73 secs in the 200m whilst the former ran 11:27.91 in the M40 3000m and a leg of 4x400m relay.
Stratford’s Peter Sugden started the day dashing between the 200m hurdles (33.56 secs) start line and his annual pole vault competition (1.6m) as he finished third and second respectively.
He also ran in the M50 200m (30.02 secs) as well as a leg of the 4x400m relay along with Joe Lee, Andy List and Drew Sambridge whilst List and Sambridge also ran in the 4x100m relay along with Dave Battersby and Mark Reynolds.
And Sambridge also had a busy day as he competed in three M35 events – 200m (2:22.97), 1500m (5:06.37) and triple jump (9.39m).
Despite still suffering from the effects of long Covid after seven months, John Peacock was able to compete in the M60 800m (3:02.10) and 1500m (6:15.23).
Recently recruited sprinter Reynolds made his team debut by running 13.43 secs in the M40 100m and jumped 4.40m in the M35 long jump.
And Richard Dobedoe rolled back the years to compete in his first sprint since his schooldays, recording a time of 15.34 secs in the M50 100m and then ran the M50 3000m in 11:07.05.
List and Battersby ran in the M60 and M40 200m races respetviely, recording times of 70.70 secs and 61.73 secs.
And List also ran the M60 100m in 14.15 secs, while Dave ran the M35 200m in 27.53 secs and clinched second-place in the M35 high jump with a jump of 1.40m.
Elsewhere, David Jones took second place in the M70 high jump, with a jump of 99 centimetres before throwing 5.41m in the shot put and ran times of 17.12 secs in the M70 100m and 36.14 secs in the 200m at the end of a long and tiring day.
In the field events, Mark Illingworth threw 17.64m in the M60 hammer and 6.85m in the M60 shot put whilst Brian Gravelsons found time to throw 20.88m in the javelin alongside his officiating duties.
Lastly, the versatile John Boxall competed in four field events, throwing 7.49m and 19.64m in the M40 shot put and discus and jumped 7.91m in the M50 triple jump.
The club also had 40 members take part in the Stratford Big 10k race with close to 750 runners completing the course.
Stratford claimed four of the top-10 places overall as Richard Liggatt (fourth, 34:23 minutes), Matt Burdus-Cook (fifth, 34:33 mins), Alex Hill (sixth, 34:39 mins) and Jamie Hall (seventh, 35:22 mins) all excelled whilst under-20 athlete Alex Pester (36:14 mins) finished five seconds outside of the top-10.
And Hannah Percy (141st, 47:52 mins) was the first Stratford woman home with Kim Lee (47:55) in hot pursuit.
There were also age category wins for Burdus-Cook (M45) and Phil Brennan (M75, 53:48 mins).
Lastly, Stratford pair Lisa Stevens and Miranda Maloney took part in a Bog Snorkelling event which were held in mid-Wales as part of the World Alternative Games.
The rules state that each competitor must swim two lengths of the bog (each length is 55 yards) and cannot use any recognised swimming strokes with only doggy paddle arms and kicking legs allowed.
And athletes must keep their faces in the bog and are only allowed to look up for directions with a mask, snorkel and fins to be worn at all times.
The first lap must be completed in under two minutes to avoid disqualification and both Stratford athletes came away with medals.
Stevens said: “I completed the bog in 3 minutes 15 seconds with Miranda in 3 minutes 35 seconds, so we both received the coveted medals.
“We were very surprised to see our faces in both the national press and in Ghana, India and Thai newspapers the next day!”