STRATFORD Athletic Club’s veterans track and field team claimed an impressive third place at the Midland Veterans Track & Field Cup Final.
On a cooler than expected day at the Pingles Stadium in Nuneaton, Stratford’s veterans competed in the A Cup Final of the Midland Veterans Track & Field League.
Teams from across the Midlands were competing in a total of 67 events and Stratford finished in a magnificent third place. In 33 of the 64 events they took part in, Stratford members either achieved or equalled personal bests.
This was despite the fact the club are still relative newcomers to the league. This past season was only the fourth time Stratford have competed in a league which goes back to a fixture 40 years ago between Worcester and Stourport.
This wonderful performance by Stratford was, if anything, a victory for the strength in depth at the club. In more than 40 per cent of the events, the club were unable to field their strongest competitor for various reasons.
The result of this was that several of the 25 club members who took part were either making their debuts or were asked to compete in events they had either never competed in before, or had not competed in since their schooldays.
The epitome of this willingness to stand up to the plate was the debut performances for the veterans of both Penny Stainthorp and Angela Cox. Between them, these two ladies helped contribute 34 points to Stratford’s total, competing in running events they had never competed in before.
This points tally was the difference between the club finishing third, as opposed to fifth. Cometh the hour, cometh the ladies!
STRATFORD could not have got off to a better start. The first race of the day was the W35 200m hurdles in which Paula Williams totally destroyed the rest of the field, recording a time of 31.2 seconds to win by a scarcely believable 4.4 seconds.
Paula had a wonderful day, competing in five individual events, as well as the 4x100m relay. She recorded PBs in the 100m, long jump and equalled her PB in the high jump.
Suzi Graham is an athlete who continues to improve and she recorded a 16-second PB in the W40 800m.
Joan Roberts has proved a real find this year, filling the vacant W70 sprinter’s slot. Once again she earned valuable points by coming 5th in the W70 100m. Rachel Pearce, one of the club’s strongest triathletes and middle distance runners, recorded a 21.5-second PB by completing the W40 3000m in 11:33.4 to secure 4th place.
Maria Haslam is one of the finds of the season and her performances at the cup final helped to reinforce this statement. She recorded PBs in both the 200m and 400m, as well as competing in both relays.
Emily Adams, remarkably, competed in the Kenilworth Half Marathon in the morning before rushing over to Nuneaton to compete in both the W40 2km walk and a leg of the 400m relay.
Emma Bexson was another athlete for whom competing in just one event in the day was not sufficient. Having recorded a victory in a triathlon in Gloucestershire in the morning, she arrived at Nuneaton to run a season’s best 5:33.3 in the W35 1,500m, as well as a leg in the 400m relay.
Christine Coote was devastated to be advised that, due to injury, she should not compete in her favoured jumps and sprints. However, being the consummate team member and competitor, she offered to throw the shot put and discus in which she recorded a PB of almost a metre with a throw of 11.07m.
Michele Cottiss offered, at the last moment, to throw the javelin and finished in an excellent 3rd place. Paivi McMillan is another of this season’s finds and, as well as throwing the hammer, she achieved a superb 2nd place in the shot put, throwing 7.25m, a mere 5cm off her PB.
Kate Sergent continued her run of fine performances in the 2,000m walk, finishing in 2nd place in an event she is currently ranked 6th in the UK at. Kate also competed in her first long jump event since her schooldays, finishing in 5th place, to earn valuable points.
FOR the men’s team, Peter Coote competed in a remarkable eight events and accumulated 38 points, almost a quarter of the men’s total.
Peter was denied first place in the 100m in a photo finish, having being given the same time as the winner. In the pole vault, although finishing 4th, he cleared the same height as the second placed vaulter, only losing out on countback.
He was even table to find time to take Andy List’s place in the 400m, when Andy had to pull out through injury. Andy certainly had a mixed day as he achieved a PB in his 100m race, coming 2nd in a time of 12.6 seconds, 3/10ths of a second quicker than his previous best and just 1/10th second off first place.
He then pulled up with an injury, having just competed the first leg of the 4x100m relay, which meant, that as far as competing was concerned, his day was over.
Tony Humphreys, along with John Boxall, are two more finds of the season and Tony performed well in M35 200m hurdles, the M35 pole vault and a leg of the 4x100m relay.
John had a field day, if you pardon the pun, competing in the shot put, high jump, triple jump and javelin, in which he finished 5th, 4th, 3rd and 3rd respectively.
He also competed in both relays, standing in for Andy List at the last moment in the 4x400m relay.
Wayne Vickers, competing in his first high jump competition for some time, equalled his PB of 1.25m before having to run to the start line for the 800m.
He regretted joining the high jump competition at the 1m mark, meaning he had to complete several more jumps than necessary, and it would have been interesting to see what height he would have achieved had he not had to exit the competition early, having cleared the 1.25m mark with ease.
David Jones was disappointed with his times in both the 800m and 2000m walk – a case of tired legs, due to running too many miles the previous week. He was, however, relatively pleased with his 4th and 3rd placed finishes.
Brian Gravelsons has improved his sprinting considerably this year and in this competition he competed in the 100m, 200m and both relays. He also came a very creditable 3rd in the triple jump.
Phil Brennan recorded a season’s best in the 100m. His time of 18.0 was his quickest time since 2014 and his time of 5:58.4 in the 1,500m was his quickest time since 2013.
Richard Dobedoe had planned to run his 3,000m in 11 minutes. In fact, he ran a fabulous race in a time of 11:00.8 – a 7-second improvement on his recent run at Worcester.
Kieran Tursner recorded a throw of 7.09m in the shot put, whilst Graham Taylor ran his first 200m in a time of 28.6 and came 4th in the 400m in a time of 62.8.
Graham also took Andy List’s place in the long jump at 30 minutes’ notice.
David Smyth had a day to remember, recording PBs in both the discus and hammer and a season’s best time of 4:51.3 in the 1,500m, but perhaps his piece de resistance was his debut performance in the M40 2,000m walk as he won the race by 25 seconds in a club record time of 13:21.8.
He did, however, pick up two yellow cards on the way, one for an over enthusiastic hip swivel, causing him to bend his knee!
Thanks should be given to both John and Andy Turner, who officiated throughout the day. Without officials such as them, these competitions would not be able to go ahead.
The whole day was a triumph for the club and leaves everyone optimistic for further improvement when next season starts in 2017.
Report compiled by David Jones.