Stoke St Gregory History Pages
The idea all started with a Pram Race. Customers of the three village pubs decided they would race against each other to raise funds for the Queen's Silver Jubilee celebrations in 1977.
This is a copy of the souvenir programme designed and produced by Phil Quantock.
In the pram is Ken Court the Milkman. More photos can be found HERE
The Youth Club organised another pram race in the early 1980s, which nearly ended (or started) with disaster. The race set off from the Square towards Woodhill, and the organisers had put the small children at the front of the start line. Behind them were some very large grown ups with all kinds of transport, including one hospital bed. The little ones were mown down, but luckily there were no serious injuries.
The Playing Field Committee decided to follow this up with an annual 'Fun Run', which developed into what we now know as the Stoke Stampede. In charge was Headmaster, David Blackburn, who has started the Race every year bar one. David remembers the time when the athletes wanted the run to be more formal, as many of them put in their best times what is a relatively level course: "I contacted the Amateur Athletics Association and a man came out to measure the route accurately with his trundle wheel, whilst I cycled besides him to show him the way. This man was the same man who measured the London Marathon, so we were in good company. Measuring with the trundle wheel was more accurate than driving in a car as he pointed out that runners would run on the wrong side of the road if it saved them a few seconds." David also advertised in the Running Magazine and was delighted by the number of runners that responded from far and wide. And so the race grew each year in popularity and esteem.
David continued: "The original route included crossing the railway line at Athenley and this is why the run originally took place on Boxing Day as there were no trains running on this day. Eventually Bitish Rail would no longer guarantee that there would be no trains on Boxing Day and so this was when the present route came into being, with the start being moved from the Square to outside the Rose & Crown.
Each year slight amendments were made to ensure the smooth running of the event, until it has reached a high-tec event with the runners electronically tagged and timed.
I am very proud to have been involved with the Stoke Stampede; I have started the race every year bar one when I was indisposed and would like to thank everyone - Marshalls, time keepers, sign erectors and spectators, for making Stoke Stampede the success it is today." He concluded with a little verse:
"Thought for the day -
Whether you are young or old
Shy or bold
Stoke is the place to be"
And So The Start
And Then There Was The Race Director
(along with a large Band of Helpers)
Stuart Wilkinson will always be remembered by runners, marshals, other helpers, and spectators for his thoroughness and attention to detail.
His wife Jane has her own memories, both before and during the event. She has recorded those of the 2005 Stampede and you can read her notes in full HERE, but here are a few snippets:
"The village pub, the Royal Oak, was hosting the stalwart ladies registering the runners. 'Queue here for veterans, over there, madam for the women, there young man for the under 16s', announced the Race Director's wife outside the pub.
"Runners were shaking with cold and trepidation. This was no fun run. It had been measured officially (and officiously) to become an AAA 10k Race.
"At 10.45 the Race Director was agitatedly hovering; checking with the volunteer officials along the route by mobile phone, moving traffic cones into position; grumb;ing at the registrars to hurry up, ushering the runners in the direction of the start.
"The last few runners staggered across the finishing line after about 70 minutes. With a triumphant smile on his face the Race Director sipped his thirds brandy and port, knowing that he would sleep that night for the first time in a month. And his wife knew that all would be well - until the same time next year!
A few last photos. If you have any special memories of Stoke Stampede please send them to us
Visit the Stoke Stampede Site - Click HERE