Over the next coming months we will be running features on those volunteers behind the scenes and on the track at the Club.

This months interview kicks off with Julianne Nightingale, Level 2 coach specialising in Jump.

Julianne Nightingale SAAC

Julianne coaches mainly at the Sunday morning sessions.

How did you get involved? I got involved in the club in 2012 when my eldest daughter, Ollie who was then aged 9, became enthused by the 2012 Olympics. I trained as a level 1 coaching assistant soon after. Ollie has since swapped her sprinting spikes for rugby boots but my other two daughters, Meeka and Eliza, are still keen athletes.

What is your favourite discipline? I enjoy cross country and the middle to longer distance running. In the last year or so I have enjoyed mixing it up a little and participating in triathlons.

What made you start athletics? I went to a very small school that had little focus on competitive sports. I was one of 3 of the girls in my class that actually enjoyed sport and who didn’t find excuses to not take part or hide in the toilets to avoid PE. I joined Dudley and Stourbridge Harriers to feed my interest and broaden my experience.

What is your most memorable sporting memory? Turning up too late for my first cross country race when I was 12. I was told I could enter the older age group event instead but to just complete the one lap intended for my category. A bit like Forest Gump ‘I just kept running’ and did the 2 laps finishing in the midst of the older girls and earning the respect of the coaches who hadn’t paid me any attention up until then. As an adult it will have to be running the London Marathon in 2014. I had been to watch most years since I was 15 when my mum managed to get a place and I could never get enough of the atmosphere. I spent the first 6 miles in disbelief that I was actually on the inside of the barriers rather than watching on.

Who inspires you most within athletics?
The first person who sprung to my mind was Jo Pavey. A busy mum and long distance athlete who has competed in 6 Olympics. But what actually gets me out of the door when I’m lacking enthusiasm, is people closer to home. There are some very credible athletes at St Albans Striders. Just take a glance at the Striders Hall of Fame… you will see some familiar faces and read some inspiring stories. To be honest, when I’m arriving on a cold wet day to run up a muddy hill, seeing the young mud splattered athletes giving it their best shot, particularly the U11s going for their first event, that’s what gives me the warm glow and the buzz that’s needed to spur you on.

What is your greatest sporting achievement?
Watch this space….it’s still to be had achieved.

Parent Beth Fisher recently took part in the Leading Athletics course and shares her experience with us

Initially, athletics for my three kids was my husband’s idea and so, happily, I didn’t have to scrape myself out of bed to take them. Occasionally, I would go along to see how they were doing and found that the atmosphere is a positive one, with volunteers who encourage the children to get involved, despite some initial nerves. Running and jumping in the rain on a Sunday morning is not everyone’s idea of fun, but whatever the weather the kids always seem to really enjoy it. They are buzzing with chat and excited stories of times, distances, measurements and who was there.

Over the lock-down period, it was clear from the communications by e-mail and Facebook that everyone seemed to miss their training and the community at the club. I felt that they were not only serious about sport and achievement but also their athletes, their safety and well-being.  In order to get their sessions up and running in smaller groups, they required more parent helpers so I decided to step into their world and volunteer.

I completed the two-session ‘Leading Athletics’ course through Scottish Athletics on Zoom with people from all over the country wanting to help their aspiring young athletes. The coaches and materials are extremely professional. On completion, you feel able to support the coach and give constructive comments on your group’s activity and to the individuals involved.

I feel fortunate to be able to support the club and the children so that they can continue to pursue something they enjoy. I feel sure that when they are older, my three will fondly remember their experiences at the club, the trophies and medals, the competitions, and the preparation for the races. That is why I feel that the club and the people there are worth scraping myself out of bed for!

To find out more about volunteering email: 


The cost of the course can be reimbursed, please contact Peter ( ) for details.

Lots of ways to run the 40th Virtual London Marathon
by Peter Poulain – Vice Chair & Coach

This year the 40th London Marathon was run virtually with all competitors choosing their own route and start time within a 24 hour period. For fun St Albans Athletic Club 1st sessions – years 3-6 choose to run it as individual miles at the 1st session Thursday and then Sunday, the actual day of the marathon 4th October 2020. And what a couple of cracking times they were. Thursday faster for first 26 but actually slower by 3 seconds a person average than Sundays group so an honourable draw between the two sessions.

We collected a cracking £125 for “Regain” the charity I was actually running for who do a great job providing anything that helps the lives of Tetraplegics who are paralysed though sports or leisure injuries. Thank you to everyone who helped with coaching, timing and supporting our 1st sessions athletes to run their miles.  A list of all the runners will be on Facebook.

6 people from the club completed the actual virtual marathon. Coach Steve Bowran ran a super 3:02:16 although he better watch out as just 7 minutes quicker than the combined 1st session athletes!!!
Coach Deborah Steer ran a leisurely tempo 3:50:09 from central London out to the River Thames in Weybridge and Megan Steer ran it in 2 halves, Jess Laitner ran a super 4:05:47 just pipped by her mum Nicky Laitner 3:55:35 all completed within the 24 hours time allotted.
My own marathon for “Regain” was a tale of 2 halves in 2 countries. After 3 hours sleep I started at midnight in absolute freezing torrential rain, running and dodging huge puddles from St Albans to Hatfield and back as it was the only routeA person standing next to a tree  Description automatically generated with street lights on at that time. Having completed 13 miles I then walked a mile+ to cool down and stretch my muscles before showering and shivering with cold in bed for some time before getting another 3 hours sleep. Then it was up and off to Gatwick for a flight to Greece where, as all school children know, the first marathon was run to bring news of the battle, he died after giving the news, a similarity I was hoping to avoid . Having landed and transferred to Lefkada Marina where we were picking up a yacht, I set off on a humid afternoon in 27 degrees to finish the marathon. The App to record the time said 17 hours 35 seconds which surprisingly was not the slowest on the day but surely a new London Marathon record for an England & Greece combined marathon!!! It also accumulated 60,000 steps and a 3000 calorie deficit on the day which I did my best to make up for that night and over the week. Hopefully next October 2021 we can all compete on the streets of London.

XC Diary Dates

As we wait patiently for the return of XC races we would like you to take part in 3 off road training sessions during November (venues to be finalised).

Sunday 1st, 8th and 15th November at 2.45 pm instead of the social run which we have paused whilst we are all living with rule of 6!

We will then invite you to take part in a XC time trial in the park on Saturday 12th December  at 10.30am

Please put these dates in the diary and nearer the time we will open up google sheets for these sessions .

For more club news and reviews please click on the following links:

Middle Distance Track Season Roundup by James MacDonald – CLICK HERE

High Jump News – CLICK HERE