Friday, 22 December 2017

Striders review of the year 2017

As another year draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on how it's been another successful one for St Albans Striders!

We’ve welcomed new members, hosted races with rave reviews and even beat Nike to a World Record!

Here are some of the highlights, with thanks to chairman Graham Smith for pulling the information together for his AGM speech...




This year we had some closer competition than we’ve become used to in the Mid Week League, in the form of Orion Harriers, but in the end we triumphed to retain our title as overall winners of Division 1.

Individually Blake Vivian finished 1st for the men, Helen Cartlidge was 1st V35, Liz Walls 1st V55, and Graham Foster was 3rd Vet 50.


In the Chiltern League we haven’t done as well as recent years and had a lower attendance than in other years: an average of 8 women and 17 men at each fixture, compared to 14 women and 19 men the year before.

Men - 7th / 14

Women - 10th / 14

However, the overall position of St Albans for all age groups in combination with the Athletics Club was 4th reflecting a superb cross country season for the AC.

We finished fourth in the Chiltern League despite a lower turn out

Notable individual performances from:

James McMurray – 1st Senior Men

Liz Walls - 4th V55



It was a better story in the Sunday League, as we improved on last year’s results.

Men's team - 4th / 19

Women's team - 5th / 19
We improved on last year in the Sunday League

Paul Adams was 1st in the Senior Men category, Wendy Walsh 1st V45, Deirdre Heydecker 2nd V55 and Graham Foster was 3rd V50.


On the track we were very pleased to be able to help the Athletics Club take the top spot in the SAL League Division 3 North out of 24 teams. We also had some good results in the Masters League, where numerous new club records were set. 

Records were set by masters on the track


Striders men won the Herts Cross Country Championships for the second year running. 


The men won the Herts County XC trophy again

We performed well in our club champs races, in which 297 Striders took part, and thank you to Clair for organising these. Results included:

· Bearbrook 10k - winning both the men’s and women’s team prizes

· Festive 5 – 16 of the top 20 finishers were Striders

· Berkhamsted Half Marathon – Paul Adams 1st overall

· Fairlands Valley 3k Relays - we had a large contingent and dominated the medals.
Martin Whitworth ran a club record in the London Marathon

We did well at our own Fred Hughes race – with Tom Crouch 2nd and Steve Buckle 3rd overall - Pete Crowdell, Anna Ward and Penny Habbick took individual county medals and we won 1st women’s vets county team.

At the St Albans HM – Tom Crouch and Paul Adams came 1st and 2nd overall. Anna Ward, Deirdre, Jonathan Scott and Colin Singleton were all top 3 in their age categories.

At the London Marathon - Martin Whitworth was the fastest male Strider and set a new V40 club record. Anna Ward was the first woman, and both Jenny Maddocks and Charlotte Teare ran under 3:15.

Steve Buckle, Joe Dunn, Simon Fraser, Tim Searle – won the team of four prize in the St Albans Stampede. Laura Hicks (second claim) was 1st Female Solo and 2nd overall, Clair Drage was 2nd Female Solo and Alison Campbell 3rd.

Blake Vivian won the London Winter Run 10k in a field of 17,000 runners.

And more recently Deirdre Heydecker ran on the England Masters team coming 2nd V60 in the Chester Marathon.


A good number of club records have been set this year both on the road and the track.

James McMurray has been chewing up the men’s senior club records, this year setting staggering times of 14:48 for 5k and 30:31 for 10k beating his own record of last year.

James McMurray (centre) ran 30.31 to set a new 10k club record on the roads

Deirdre Heydecker broke her own previous 20 mile club record with a time of 2.35.20 at Bramley (which also made her the fastest female V60 in the country at the time).

Martin Whitworth’s 2:41:02 at the London Marathon was a V40 club record by three seconds, and Martin Halling knocked nine minutes off the V60 marathon record, a record which has stood for 13 years!

Last month, Anna Ward set a new V35 5 mile record at Hatfield in a time of 30.38.

Tom Crouch has improved his club records on the track since moving to Australia

On the track, Tom Crouch had a fantastic season setting PBs in the UK over the summer before moving to Australia with his family where his good form has continued. Still competing in his Striders vest Down Under, he’s set impressive club records of 14.57 for 5k and 31.08 for 10k - also a club record for the greatest distance from St Albans when achieved!

Other age group records on the track were set by Pete Crowdell, Colin Braybrook, Bobby Riddaway, Nigel Aston, Graham Smith, Wendy Walsh and Eileen Sindole.




Our flagship event the Fred Hughes 10 went seamlessly on a very cold, frosty January morning. There were 930 people entered with 758 running on the day, and a course record was set of 50:50 by Paul Martelletti, an elite runner who has previously won the Greater Manchester and Yorkshire marathons.
Paul Martelletti was Fred Hughes champ

Paul was a delight to have at the race, and his victory was made all the more impressive by the fact he was the last person to arrive having been held up by late trains and was literally run to the start by our race organisers.

Congratulations to race directors Ben Scott and Amy Heap for a successful event.
The Solstice 10k was another success



Our second Summer Solstice 10k had 285 finishers, compared to 178 in its first year. This race is really on the map now, providing a great combination of race and social event and really achieving its aim of appealing to all, not just serious club runners.

Thanks to race directors Stuart Middleton and Steve Alexander. 



The third running of the St Albans Stampede was another huge success for the club, directed by Amy Heap and Ben Scott and supported by a small army of helpers from the club.

Again, as with the Solstice 10k this was our biggest yet, with 269 entries, up from 186 in 2016.

It’s no small feat to lay on a 12 hour endurance race, and the day went almost without a hitch, the only minor drama being that our first aid support were caught up in a road accident on the way there in the morning, so we had no first aid cover for a short period, but all runners were advised of this, given the opportunity to pull out, none did, and we soon had a replacement first aider who by the end of the night was even helping to dish out pizza to the runners!
Race directors Amy and Ben pulled off another great Stampede

Feedback from runners was 100% positive, and a massive thanks goes to Ben and Amy who have now stepped down as Race Directors for the Stampede, but continue with Fred Hughes. They inherited this race as a fledgling event and now pass it on as a well loved fixture in the race calendar.

Across all these races, thanks also to Peter Blackaller, Martin Halling, Adam Mellor, Andy Normile, and everyone who helped to make these races so successful.


Our Run With Striders initiative has had a great year. This years course saw 40 participants, of which 36 successfully completed the course, both of which are records. Since it started we've introduced over 200 people to the club through Run With Striders, on top of those who join independently.
RWS introduced new members to the club

Many thanks to all the Striders who volunteered their support in some form, but specifically the Run With Striders Leaders, Andy Normile, Paul Cremins, Linda Green, Julie Curtis and Bernadette Newby.

Andy and Paul said: "It was incredibly gratifying to see so many new runners enjoy and participate in our sport, numerous personal bests, and the individual rewards all the participants achieved from their hard work. Too many accomplishments to list, but one that stands out is that two of our members in their first race as Striders (the Solstice 10k) were part of the winning women’s team.

"Just as importantly, many of the 2017 group are still regular participants in Striders events, and hopefully will be for years to come."




We set an unofficial world record at the start of the year at the Striders Starshot Marathon Relay. The idea was to beat the men’s marathon two hour barrier and for the women to beat Paula Radcliffe’s world record time, by a relay of 200 and 400m sprints. Both records were smashed, the men in 1:51:56 and the women in 2:14:39. It was a fantastic night and really brought the club together.

The marathon relay bought the club together in January


This year’s Weekend Away was in Swanage, and 43 of us enjoyed a long weekend at Swanage youth hostel. The weekend was fully catered, with activities including parkrun, mountain biking, and a trip to the local waterpark as well as a group run along the Dorset coast on the Sunday.
A trip to the seaside on the Weekend Away

Thanks to Stuart for his superb organisation of the event which continues to grow in size and popularity giving us a chance to relax and socialise together as well as being the source of many a good story.

Jack Brooks (centre) won a Service To Sport Award


Congratulations to Jack Brooks on winning the “Service to Sport” award at the St Albans & District Sports Awards this year, a well deserved achievement for all his selfless efforts over the years supporting other runners both within the club and beyond; Striders were awarded runners up in the Community Club category.


Another fun-filled Annual Dinner was organised by Emma Halldearn at Aubrey Park Hotel.

We ate, drank, danced and posed for a few silly pictures as well as celebrating our club’s achievements.

The award winners were:

Male Athlete: Steve Buckle

Female Athlete: Anna Ward

Most Improved Male: Chris Barr

Most Improved Female: Donna Irwin

Volunteer Of The Year: Hannah Martin

Strider(s) Of The Year: Amy Heap and Ben Scott
Deirdre Heydecker and Steve Buckle were the age-graded Club Champs winners

Male Club Champs winner: Mike Martin

Female Club Champs winner: Wendy Walsh

Age-graded Male Club Champs winner: Steve Buckle

Age-graded Female Club Champs winner: Deirdre Heydecker

Hall Of Fame: Mike Jubb and Roger Murray

Congratulations all!


In October, Ed Chaloner (treasurer), Lucy High (women's road captain), Emma Halldearn (social), Andy Auld (kit), Mike Jubb (coaching), Philippa Walton (catering), Laura Hussey (handicap) and Adam Mellor (special projects) all stepped down from their roles on the committee.

A huge thank you to all of them for their hard work and dedication to the club.

Thanks to Mike Jubb for all his track sessions

A special thanks goes to Mike Jubb as he steps down from his Tuesday coaching. As one long standing member put it:

“For as long as I have been a member, Mike has been at the majority of the Tuesday evening sessions and has been the first point of contact for many newbies. He always encourages others, even when he's been unable to run himself due to injury, and has turned out to run Tuesday sessions on cold, wet and dark nights around his own work and family commitments.

"Performance wise, back in the noughties he was representing Striders at a high level and his cross country club records from 2003 will take some beating - 12th in the Southern and 14th in the National."

So that's all folks for another year, enjoy the holidays whether you are parkrunning, racing or having a well-deserved rest.

We have plenty of plans for 2018 including another Weekend Away, the return of our three host races and lots more fun socials.

Merry Christmas and Happy PB-filled New Year to all Striders!

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