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Running Away From It All – May 2017

Running away from it all – Kathryn Ambrose

When I was offered the chance to take on the role of Stone Master Marathoners’ Mental Health Ambassador in November of last year, I seized it with both hands. I am passionate about running, and I am passionate about promoting good mental health. I am fortunate enough now to be in charge of my own mental wellbeing, and running plays a crucial role in this.

I first attempted to run at the age of 18, when – in the full grip of an eating disorder – I wanted to find any way I could to burn calories (whilst simultaneously not consuming them). Head pounding and woozy, I hauled my skeletal frame around a two mile loop, unable to run for more than around 100 metres before stopping to walk. Running, I decided, was far too painful. Following a long journey to recovery (which wasn’t to be fully complete for many years), I took up regular running in 2001. I found it to help me with my episodes of crippling anxiety and low self-esteem – it taught me to respect my body, not for what it looked like, but for what it could do.

Unfortunately, I was still vulnerable, and this became particularly apparent both during and after my first pregnancy. As so many women do, I hated the way my body was changing in front of my eyes and I had no way of controlling it. I continued to run, but obviously not as far or as fast as before. However, this activity, I was told, played a crucial role in saving my life. The birth of my son in September 2007 was both difficult and traumatic, and the mental scars endured long after the physical ones had faded. I was diagnosed with a severe form of PND and PTSD, and it took a long time to recover. Running, again, helped immensely with this. Six years later, after I had my little girl, I couldn’t wait to run again, and I’m happy to say that this time, the PND did not recur. At the time, my husband worked long hours, often away from home for weeks at a time, so I had to learn to be flexible and creative with my time management. This is partly why I started running with the buggy, as it not only gave me a good workout, it also sent my little girl to sleep!

Life has a habit of throwing challenges in your way, and in 2014 I faced something that I honestly believe – without running – might have sent me into a spiral of depression. After twelve years of marriage, I found out that my husband was having an affair. Running became my coping mechanism – my best friend when it seemed like everyone wanted to have an opinion but not listen, when I changed my mind every hour about what I should do, when I wanted to stop crying (because I can’t cry when I run). Then one day I had this crazy idea that I would do something I had always dreamed of but never dared to do  – an ultra. In March 2015, I completed the Millennium Way, 41 miles along canal and very boggy fields. As I crossed the finish line, elated, I felt something snap inside  – it was as if a fire had been ignited inside me and it gave me an inner strength that I never knew I possessed. If I could do this, I could do anything.

Eight ultras and a few marathons later, my life is completely different to the one I left behind. I feel happy, fulfilled, and at peace with myself. Of course, there are occasional days when anxiety rears its ugly head, but I have the tools to deal with it now. I have thought long and hard about writing this, as I am aware that it is a very personal account. On the other hand, I am also aware that many people deal with such struggles on a daily basis and my story is nothing unusual. At the same time, I strongly believe that awareness raising comes about as a result of people’s honesty, and that to break down stigma we need to talk about what we may prefer to keep hidden. For many years, I was the one with the happy face while I was slowly dying inside. These days, what you see is what you get. I have nothing to hide, and neither should you.

Much love x

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2016 Gala Presentation and Awards Dinner

2016 Gala Presentation and Awards Dinner

Oh what a night!….

By Victoria Hughes

What a fantastic night of celebrating success! The Stone Master Marathoners Gala Presentation Night was organised by our lovely ladies, Social Secretary Julie Ebrey and ably assisted by Michelle Miles.

The venue : The Upper House, Barlaston, a welcome glass of fizz on arrival and a delicious 3 course meal. We were barely recognisable on this Lycra free evening and our hair let down although I think most of the ladies would have swapped their heels for their trainers by the end of the night!

Our host, Chairman Tim Hulse, provided the perfect entertainment complete with aptly red coloured bow tie and witty repertoire. Our special guests were North Staffs Road Runners Association Director Ken Rushton and his lovely wife and Assistant, Sue Rushton. Ken was recognised for his ‘outstanding contribution to running’. Amy Gamble spoke of his running career and the huge amount of time and effort he dedicates to the sport of running in North Staffordshire. Stone Master Marathoners is hugely thankful for everything Ken has done for our club and the local running community as a whole.

Stone Master Marathoners welcomes all runners of all abilities and goals and this is reflected in the recognition and awards. It doesn’t matter how long you have been with the club, there was recognition for all abilities, from beginners to veteran runners, from supporters to marathon runners. It was an Oscar night for runners, with awards for outstanding contribution as well as special awards for ‘Club Person of the Year’ and ‘Runner of the Year’….extra special because our Bats had all been given the opportunity to nominate fellow club members for the two awards.

Such a great way to celebrate another year of successes for Stone Master Marathoners. Well done to everyone and here’s to another great year of running, having fun and being inspired to #makeadifference to our great and ever-growing running club.

This year’s winners:

Ladies Champion – 1st 2016;   Amy Gamble
Ladies Champion – 2nd 2016;   Anne-Marie Mountford
Ladies Champion – 3rd 2016;   Sam Hodgkinson
Men’s Champion – 1st 2016;   Paul Swan
Men’s Champion – 2nd 2016;   Tim Hulse
Men’s Champion – 3rd 2016;   Paul Phillips
Beginner of the Year 2016;   Tracy Triner
Supporter of the Year 2016;   Joyce Dutton
Veteran Lady 2016;   Pam Davies
Veteran Man 2016;   Kevin Uzzell
Marathon Lady 2016;   Angela Mensing
Marathon Man 2016;   Steve Fenney
Vernon Olivant Outstanding Achievement 2016;   Kathryn Ambrose
Most Improved Lady 2016;   Bonnie Seabridge
Most Improved Man 2016;   Paul Phillips
NSRRA Lady 2016;   Amy Gamble
NSRRA Man 2016;   Paul Phillips
Newcomer of the Year 2016;   Jo Bentley
Cross Country Lady 2016;   Victoria Hughes
Cross Country Man 2016;   Tom Wilson
Chairman’s Trophy 2016;   Brian Hall
Captain’s Trophy 2016;   Emma Dutton
Outstanding Contribution to Running 2016;   Ken Ruston
Club Person of the Year 2016;   Emma Dutton
Runner of the Year 2016;   Kirsty Stephenson

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My Running Mind – January 2017

Runner Of The Month – January 2017

Victoria Hughes

“No gameplan, no goal especially, just a chance conversation with a friend and a need to lose some baby weight in a relatively cheap and convenient way. I soon realised that running and running with a friend gave me a lot more than just that. I couldn’t wait for my husband to return home from work (I know what you’re thinking, but no) so I could get out and run! Don’t get me wrong, I love my family (we all do) and I did get out, it was just different to baby sensory, breastfeeding, talking about childbirth, development milestones, the colour of your baby’s nappy contents and being a Mum. I got out and ran, whilst offloading sometimes or listening to another life outside of my own and always felt better. I have laughed, vented, consoled, reassured, asked for advice and cried on all my social runs. I didn’t know I needed to be ‘fixed’, but running ‘fixed’ me, maybe even prevented me from a more heightened or undiagnosed post natal depression? Who knows? The important thing was I felt better in every sense. Better about myself too. A better Mum.

Soon running became my fix, a bug, a drug even and I was addicted. The company is a free counselling session, free therapy. I had experienced the high and I just wanted more. I was once asked if I was ‘obsessed’ with running, like it was a negative thing. I confidently said yes, I guess I am obsessed. Isn’t that just another word for ‘in love with’ so, yes, running is my thing. No apologies.


I just wanted to run more which meant finding people to run with to get me through the Winter dark nights in safety. A little push from another Mum (Sam Hodgkinson) and I joined a running club. My introduction to the racing calendar and my move to Stone Master Marathoners, has taken my running to a new level, a new high, another social circle and teamwork. Racing provided yet another perspective, another kind of buzz. The sense of achievement took my mind and confidence to another level, a level I didn’t realise I had. The desire to improve became another new feeling. The desire to make my kids feel proud, to set an example of fitness and wellbeing, the desire to aim longer and run my first marathon and raise money for a charity close to my heart.

Ok, so it’s not easy. I’m not a good self motivator. Some (non running) friends will say, ‘it’s easy for you because you run’. It’s not easy, I need a date, a commitment, the need to make it out of the door, so I’m not letting my running buddy down. Sometimes I fall out of love with running, when I’m tired, injured, when I’m training hard or run a ‘bad’ race. A running club or running with friends gives you that push, that push to get out of the door, even when the weather is awful, that commitment, that help to find your love again, a network of support to help find your mojo again, the push to run your first race, even when you’re scared, the support to keep on running.

The first race was easy, by the way. I ran it as a favour and to keep another friend company, I really wasn’t bothered about a time. No pressure, just have fun. The other races weren’t so easy after that! That same ‘bug’ now gives me a sleepless night, a bit of a stressful morning as I try to leave the house on time, nerves on the start line and a much tougher race, both physically and mentally. There is a new pressure now, one I put on myself but my mantra is effectively the same, ‘no pressure, try to enjoy it and do it for those that can’t’. It’s better that I share those nerves and pressure with so many running friends, my running family if you like.

I may fall out of love with running sometimes but I also can’t imagine my life without it. I’m addicted and unashamedly obsessed and Stone MM taught me that this is completely normal, in fact there are members more obsessed than me! Running with my friends keeps me sane, keeps me counselled, they have helped me more than they will ever know. Running is my thing, no apologies.”

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An Introduction To Mood And Exercise

An Introduction To Mood And Exercise

The link between exercise and better mental health has long been established, with many clinicians now recommending regular exercise not only to combat low mood and stress, but also as a treatment for depression and anxiety, alongside (but often in place of) conventional medicine. Writing for the American Psychological Association, Kirsten Weir (2011) notes that ‘within five minutes after moderate exercise you get a mood-enhancement effect’. Also, that ‘research shows that exercise can help alleviate long-term depression’. Compelling evidence indeed, and it has been shown that the mood-enhancing properties of exercise are enhanced when we train with others. So that’s why I always feel so good after a club run!

However, although we know that lacing up our trainers and going out for that run is going to make us feel better, it’s not always that simple. Family and work commitments, household chores and general life stress all seem to conspire against us when it comes to establishing or continuing an exercise regime. Here is where routine is key: promising yourself that you’ll keep an hour free on a Wednesday evening for a club run. Or arranging to meet friends for a chatty run (or, indeed, a speed session!) either before or after work, or when the kids have gone to bed.

Yet sometimes, even when we are physically able to go for a run, we can’t bring ourselves to do it. It could just be a loss of ‘mojo’. However, I know of many people (myself included) who suffer or have suffered from crippling anxiety. Unable to train for the sheer worry of what might happen if we step outside the door. Worrying about what people will think if they see you running. Worrying that you look fat in running gear. So what can be done about this? A term often used in modern counselling is ‘self compassion’ – in simple terms, being kind to yourself. To make small and manageable changes. To avoid ‘all or nothing’ thinking. What this might look like in practice: you’ve planned a run for an hour, but really don’t feel like it. So you don’t go at all and tell yourself you are pretty useless for not running. This is an ‘all or nothing’ scenario. The compassionate alternative is to go for ten minutes and see how you feel. Chances are, you’ll want to carry on. If not, you have the option of coming home. You’re still lapping everybody on the sofa.

Part of my remit as a Mental Health Ambassador is to encourage people to share their experiences in a safe environment, knowing that they won’t be judged. This starts with self-disclosure and I hope that some of you will feel able to open up too. There really is no stigma in suffering with ill mental health, and the more we talk about it, the less there will be. Over the coming weeks and months, I’m hoping to start a ‘runner of the month’ feature on the website, where I’ll invite someone to share how running affects their mood. In the meantime…I’m off for a run!

Kathryn xx

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Stone Master Marathoners – Our Races & How Members Can Help

Race Committee Co-ordinator and Chief Race Marshal, Brian Hall, has penned a piece to discuss our yearly races and how all members can play their part in keeping our club great!

I’m sure that when you see the emails from me begging for assistance at our events, your instant reaction is to think “here we go again – I’ve got to take the dog out, or wash my hair this weekend”, much more vital things to do than standing on a junction watching runners jog past without a word of thanks.

Please let me take a few minutes of your time to explain why our races are so important to our Club and to you, the members.

First, for the newer members, the events which we stage or participate in are:

  1. Spring Treble Challenge – the brainchild of one of our more senior members David Upton. As the name suggests, this is a series of three races on consecutive Thursday evenings usually in April. These are tough, off-road events each 5 to 6 miles long and have become very popular with local runners. Venues this year were Kibblestone, Milford Common and Barlaston Downs
  2. Westbridge 5 – usually in the first week of June and initially linked to Stone Festival, a flat, fast five mile loop along the canal to Aston and back categorised as multi terrain. This race is in the North Staffs Road Runners Association programme of races and is favoured by club runners and fun runners alike
  3. Also in June as part of the Stone Festival and to benefit the local community, we help to organise the Steeplechase and Dog Derby on the Monday evening of Festival week
  4. Flying Fox 10 – a ten – mile road race around the picturesque lanes of Standon, Chapel Chorlton and Maer. This is usually the last of the annual NSRRA races and attracts a field of between 200 and 300 runners
  5. Flying Fox Marathon – in 2017 we’re undertaking a huge commitment by organising our well-loved Marathon.

So, what is so important?

Primarily, income from the events, other than the Festival fun runs, is a vital supplement to the club’s finances and without this your annual subscriptions would at least double. The effect of this would, particularly in today’s climate, no doubt deter members from joining or renewing their membership. It is also possible, from this income, to donate to worthy charities and each year we give hundreds of pounds to charities usually nominated by the various Race Directors.

Members of Stone Master Marathoners join John Haine to hand over the £500 cheque
Members of Stone Master Marathoners join John Haine to hand over the £500 cheque

Organising races and similar events is also a good source of interaction between local clubs; we often exchange ideas and information at these venues which gives a useful insight into the world of running around us.

By no means least, the team spirit which is generated by all who take part in organising our events is excellent and spills over to the runners who all seem to enjoy themselves, no matter how tough the terrain! Your assistance is truly appreciated by the runners, the   management committee of the club and particularly by me. The numbers helping, certainly over the past couple of years has grown, making my job easy. We strive to make the events as professional as possible and this can only be done by working as a team, but it is vital that we have volunteer reserves for the future.

Westbridge 5Please remember that it is a rule of the club that all members should help with at least one event each year, a couple of hours out of the whole year is surely not too much to ask!

If you have not yet assisted and wish to do so, there are not just races but also several social events; just ask any one of the organising committee who will be delighted to point you in the right direction.

Thank you all very much for your help in the past, and in the future. It is your club after all! And best wishes for the forthcoming year.

Brian Hall

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SMM gifts £500 from Spring Treble to local charity

Stone Master Marathoners has gifted £500 to the Stone Community Hub, a charity dedicated to improving the lives of local people in times of need. Generated from their April trio of races, Spring Treble, the running club’s kind donation will be used for providing Hub’s financial assistance service for 6 months.

Stone Master Marathoners has a real passion for supporting both charity and the local community and Race Director John Haine was delighted to hand over the cheque at a presentation at SMM HQ. He commented, “Stone Master Marathoners aims to inspire runners of all abilities to develop their skills. The club is proud to be part of our local Stone community and our aim is to support other organisations whenever we can.”

The Hub’s Manager, Karen Wardell, was on hand to receive the cheque and told SMM “The donation of £500 will make a significant difference to the work of Stone Community Hub; we will use it to fund the money advice service we offer. We work both with those in debt and those struggling to budget. It is great example of the community working together when local groups such as Stone Master Marathoners offer to support the work we do.” On behalf of the Hub Karen also welcomed anyone in need of help or advice to pop by to the Frank Jordan Centre and a friendly face would be happy to guide them.

Stone Master Marathoners has a long tradition of supporting local charities and plans to continue this with upcoming races including Flying Fox 10 in November and the superb Flying Fox Marathon set for May 2017. Meeting regularly at Stone Tennis Club, the club urges all runners, from total beginner to elite, to join them for a chat and training run to make their running aspirations a reality. For full details of how you can get involved visit

SMM's John Haine presents Hub Manager, Karen Wardell, with the cheque
SMM’s John Haine presents Hub Manager, Karen Wardell, with the cheque
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Bat secures Staffordshire selection following Potters ‘Arf performance

We’re delighted to announce one of our own, Paul Swan, has secured selection to represent Staffordshire against North Wales this weekend in the St. Michael’s 10k. Paul was 1st M50 at Potters ‘Arf this past Sunday with a chip time of 1:21:05, a fantastic 2min 30sec PB on the notoriously hilly course. Superb running, Paul, we’re very proud of you.

If you’re running or supporting on Sunday, be sure to give Paul a shout!

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Social dates for the Diary!

Social Events March & May 2016

Wed 23rd March 8.30pm
Crown of India
Meet There
Thurs 5th May 8.30pm
Pizza di Piazza
Meet There

All welcome from all sessions. Our social nights are a real hoot and a great place to share your love of running…… or just enjoy great food and company.

For more information and to book a place contact Julie on 07725 806528 or email

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Stone Master Marathoners 2015 Awards

Friday night (5th February) saw the SMM Annual Awards evening held in the luxurious Upper House in Barlaston. It was a fantastic setting to celebrate the achievements of all of Bats over the past year.

The big winners of the night were Paul Phillips and Anne-Marie Mountford winning both the Mens and Ladies Championship respectively and also winning the North Staffs Road Runners Awards for the club. In the veterans category Alison Brind and Richard Shaw collected awards with both also winning the Cross Country awards and Richard also won the prestigious Runner of the Year award as voted by his fellow runners.

Steve Parker run the outstanding achievement award after completing numerous marathons the most recent being 3:18 (2nd M60 in Spain). Club Person of the Year went to Captain, Bernie Priekulis and Beginner of the Year went to Tim Clegg. A full list of the winners are below

Category   Winner
Men’s Champion   Paul Phillips
       2nd   Tim Hulse
       3rd   Richard Shaw
Ladies Champion   Anne-Marie Mountford
       2nd   Gail Evans
       3rd   Joyce Edwards
Veteran Lady   Alison Brind
Veteran Man   Richard Shaw
Marathon Lady   Jackie Allen
Marathon Man   Steve Fenney
NSRRA Lady   Anne-Marie Mountford
NSRRA Man   Paul Phillips
Most Improved Lady   Julie McArthur
Most Improved Male   Jim Holland
X Country Lady   Alison Brind
X Country Man   Richard Shaw
Chairmans Trophy   Julie Ebrey
Captains Trophy   Anne Griffiths
Outstanding  Achievement   Steve Parker
Club Person of the Year   Bernie Priekulis
Runner of the Year   Richard Shaw
Beginner of the Year   Tim Clegg
Newcomer of the Year   Phil Cape
Outstanding Contribution to Running   Bryan Dale



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2016 NSRRA Races


For more details visit the NSRRA website


Sun 7th February 11:00 – Alsager 5


Sun 13th March 10:30 – Knighton  20


Sun 27th March 10:15 – South Cheshire 10k


Sun 3rd Apr 10:00** – Newcastle 10k


Sun 1st May 10:30  – Uttoxeter Half Marathon


Wed 18th May 19:00 – Clayton 10k


Sun 29th May 10:00 – Buxton Half Marathon


Sun 5th June 9:30 – Westbridge 5


Sun 12th June 10:30 – Potters ‘Arf’ Marathon


Sun 19th June 10:00 – Stone St Michaels 10k


Tue 28th June 19:30 – Berryhill 10k


Sun 3rd July 9:00 – Potteries Marathon


Sun 10th July 10:30** – Cheadle 4


Sun 17th July 10:30 – Trentham 10k


Wed 27th July 19:15 – Staffs Knot 5


Sat  30th July 10:00 – Meerbrook 15k


Thu 18th August 19:15 – Dave Clarke 5(K)


Sun 4th Sep  9:30** – South Cheshire 20


Sat  10th September 15:30 – Ipstones 5


Sun 18th September 10:30 – St. Thomas 7


Sun 2nd October 9:30 – Congleton Half Marathon


Sun 16th Oct 10:30** – Werrington 10k


Sun 6th November 10:30 – Flying Fox 10

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