Club HistoryEarly Days
Perhaps we should start the chronicle in the mid-seventies when running and athletics in Weston was virtually non-existent except for the schools, who to be fair were doing a good job for the youth of the day and were producing a high standard of athlete. This, one might recall, was when children's education included sport activities each week as an essential part of school life, so we all know where this led when the authorities in their wisdom dropped it! The schools realised that the outstanding students needed to progress so they were encouraged to join clubs such as Bristol A.C. and Westbury Harries, which brought its own problems of transport, attending training sessions, specialised trainers etc, but they did have access to the big National Leagues and excellent competition.
Interest was spread out to the local schools, teachers and on sports days. Along came John Green a maths teacher at Priory who became a driving force and arranged the first meeting in the Playhouse Theatre in what is now the bar area. Attendance by both interested youngsters & parents were asked to vote for the formation of Weston A.C. It's name and officials plus Club colours and image (Club Badge) which was to be the Weston Donkey, yes that's right, see photo. Those attending that first gathering included Reg and Clive Owen, John Green, John and Gillian Hewett, Dave and Mandy Jones, Brian Popel, Arthur and Andrew Quick, Michael Roberts and Jim Dixon...(I apologies if I missed anyone).
Following this meeting a formal application was made, and we started life at Weston Cricket Club where they made us most welcome.
Throughout our history we have used many facilities for training, sports grounds include Weston Cricket Club, The Rec, Drove Road, Priory School and Hutton Moor, which is still used as is the beach and dunes. At Broadoak School and 6th form we held circuit training after Les Wilkins sessions at the YMCA finished when he retired. The cinder track at RAF Locking was a great asset, not only for teaching the art of track running, but all the field events as well, including hurdles, javelin/discus throwing, high and long jump. This venue became more inaccessible as trouble in Ireland got worse.
By now we were affiliated to various Leagues to give our growing numbers plenty of competition, these included Avalon, South and West, Avon and Midland Leagues for track and field, Winter activities included the Gwent, Avalon, Gloucester and the Wilts and Border Leagues for top class Cross Country Running. We were responsible for organising many X-country meetings ourselves using various schools Priory, Broadoak and the Tropicana. Also it must be said that Road Running was mainly undertaken by the small band of senior runners, who entered races very similar to those of today's type, such as half & full marathons, 5 & 10 miler's including the Weston Prom Runs.
Throughout the nineties we had good times with the youngsters, competing well at meetings but numbers were dropping and the club headquarters need to be moved to our present home at Hutton Moor. This and other factors caused stormy times at the clubs AGM's. This move being forced on us, was due to financial reasons (a large increase in affiliation fees to the Rugby Club which were much more than our own clubs rates) meant splitting with the juniors who went to Priory School under Brian Pool's care. All the clubs equipment was donated to the school including our hut, and put to dual use. The upside to this situation for the seniors, is a much improved financial situation, more social activities, an increase in numbers up to a current 160ish membership. Unfortunately the junior section soon diminished to very low numbers indeed, so reluctantly it was decided to close it down, suggesting the odd few remaining youngsters join Clevedon A.C.
Our latest historic progress of the club is the introduction of the Triathlon section in 2008 which is gathering strength in its own right with currently having about 20 active membership. These members have travelled far and wide to participate in events such Duathlon, Triathlons and Ironman competitions both here in the UK, Europe and the USA, with a reasonable amount of success.
Weston Prom RunsThis race came about mainly because of friendly bickering in the senior changing rooms after the weekly training runs with each runner having there own times for the evening's route, all differing with their personal times of course! Having borrowed a wheel, and measuring the Prom(no Garmins in those days), one lap equals 3.4 miles starting from the Tropicana and back again. Then opened it to all comers at 30p entrance fee. There were 25 finishers on that first night in December 1983. Not expecting the series to continue much beyond a couple of years very few records were kept. Well as they say, the rest is history so 29 years later and it's still going.
New Year / Hangover 10kThe race was moved to its current venue at Kewstoke due to the Tropicana's closure and renamed The Hangover 10K, and passed over to Barry (hot legs) Collins prior to Jim Wotton taking over. Barry also organised the Firework Race from Priory School. Another evening event was the Town Races through the High Street, Orchard Street and Boulevard put on my Stan Tingle, who also had a hand in organising the 'Carry a Log Team Race' through Weston Woods for 2-3 years.
Wyvern CrackerDuring these early years one of our senior members left our ranks to form his own purely jogging and road running club, and John Joyner named it 'Wyvern Road Runners', as he was the deputy head of the school at the time. They flourished, attracting senior male and female runners and in December 1988 started the 'Cracker' and continued to organise this event until amalgamation of the two clubs took place 1998- 99, and then we agreed Weston A.C. would take responsibility for the race and carry on its tradition. Here again its success continues because of the splendid team work by all club members involved. We also carried over the policy of not allowing club members to participate, but assist on the day, as many helpers are required. Exception being granted to those souls who set up the course early morning, 5-6 am start. Entry numbers continue to increase to present levels of over 2000, but at least 'Chipping' and modern I.T. has reduced some of the hard work involved.
Mendip Muddle & Beacon BatchIn 2001 Roger Hart took on the organisation of the Mendip Muddle and here again it was race started by Pete Green, a Wyvern man. There were doubts that the 2001 race to go ahead as this was the year of the foot and mouth disease outbreak. Roger, having looked after this race and raised many thousands of pounds for the RNLI, passed the post on to Bryan Morley in 2007. With the aid of modern IT, Bryan increased the number of participants substantially to the point where in 2011 the Muddle reached race capacity for the first time. Leaving the race on a high, Bryan has handed over the baton to Tony Hogg who will be the race director for 2012.
Roger Hart took over the Beacon Batch fell race in 1999, attracting a loyal following to this tough race which started all the way back in 1989 when it was originally organised by Bath AC. Roger has now handed the race over to Rob Skeen who has put his own stamp on the race.
Overall this means that Weston AC hosts 13 races throughout the year, raising thousands of pounds for charity and a healthy contribution to club funds to allow us to continually improve the service we give to our members and our race participants.