Andy Gardener’s report on the Marathon

VIRGIN MONEY LONDON MARATHON,23 APRIL 2017

A HOST OF FINE INDIVIDUAL RUNS TOGETHER WITH CHAMPIONSHIP MEDALS FOR THE CLUB

Following on from Kent AC’s successful Cross Country season and the recent strong displays in the major relay races, the 2017 London Marathon provided further proof of the strength of endurance running at the club. I thought perhaps we might have peaked last year in terms of numbers, but this year we had even more runners toeing the line at Blackheath. Happily, it appears that it’s not just numbers that are on the up – it’s the sheer quality and depth we now boast among both men and women.

Prior to the race, an email pointed out that Kent AC had an incredible number of runners on the championship start – that’s runners achieving better that sub 2:45. There was speculation as to whether any other clubs could match this number, and my (albeit cursory) look at the entries of some of the other major clubs suggested that they didn’t. If you’re on the championship start you’ll have already run a fine time, but there’s still pressure on you and questions asked about whether you’ll be able to do it again. In the case of nearly all our championship runners, they delivered.

On top of the sub 2:45 contingent, we also had a considerable number of men inside three hours. Here it was a mixture of relative newcomers to the club combined with those who’ve been there and got the t-shirt (yes, I know, Len always gets a mention). In a race like this, it’s important to credit runners not just for their times, but for the personal battles they go through when it’s really hurting. Having said that, some of the times are well worth mentioning – and I will do in due course.

While we didn’t have one of our trio of sub 2:20 runners this year, we were still right in the mix for claiming the team title in the championship race. At the time of writing I’m not sure if the team title has definitely been declared, but it looks as though we went agonisingly close, but just lost out to Belgrave’s combined time, with Serpentine also right in contention.

Our trio Russell Bentley, Chris Greenwood and James Bowler all ran incredibly well. Russell led us home and in doing so sliced a substantial amount off his PB. He looked strong throughout but then for a man who won the Snowdonia Marathon, London’s gentle undulations must have seemed small fry. Russell was followed by Chris Greenwood, who was not far off his best – which considering the injuries he sustained during the winter season is quite remarkable. Making up our trio of championship runners was James Bowler, a former track speedster in his youth who clearly has plenty of endurance. He was less than a minute behind Chris.

If Athletics Weekly is to be believed, it wasn’t all that long ago that our next man to finish, Jonathan Tipper, was running little more than Parkruns. He was just a bit more than a minute behind James at 2:28:47 and has to be classed as a really serious runner, registering this sub 2:30 time. Edging closer to 2:30 is Neil Phillips who was another of our runners who revised his PB with 2:31:46.

After Neil there was a bit of a gap, but with his run of 2:36:17 surely Che Compton was vying for run of the day. Che is of course the man who runs in shorts reminiscent of a 1950s footballer – shorts which for some reason seem to hold a certain fascination for Stuart Beaney. Well, on the day those shorts flew by Stuart and other Kent runners as Che ran a fabulous negative split, revising his PB by eight whole minutes in the process. I know whatever he’s on, I want some.

Following on from Che, another man who shaved a huge chunk off his PB was Daniel Stauber, at 2:38:54. Moving past the 2:40 mark there was a whole host of Kent runners. The usual ‘B’ group suspects put in fine runs, but a number of guys relatively new to the club also posted very useful times; amongst them Adam Paterson (who was in just inside 2.45), as well as Andrew Boyd, who posted 2:45:38.

All the sub three hour runners, plus those who ran so well in a Kent vest, are listed at the end of the report. Interestingly, three of our more mature runners, John Cox, Jules Gevers, (who are creeping up towards 50) and Len Reilly (a little past 50) all posted times of around 2:59. I expect having wise old heads they will have us believe they were always going to slip inside three hours.

There were also significant numbers of Kent AC women competing this year. Again, like the men, there probably weren’t many clubs who  could match our numbers – a total of fifteen. And as well as having good numbers competing, the runners in question excelled. Our leading trio certainly secured a championship medal. We’re still waiting for the result to be ratified so when it’s absolutely clear which colour medal they’ve achieved, a post will go up.

Amy Clements maybe deserves a well earned rest from marathons as she’s run a fair few in recent years. However, having beaten her PB and run under 2:40 ( 2:39:11) perhaps she’ll feel tempted to forgo the rest. I think most observers believe Amy is capable of pushing on and running a little quicker. Making up the championship trio were Sarah Hanley and Jen Smith. I believe Sarah carved a large chunk off her PB as she broke through the three hour barrier (2:59:49) While Jen, who is in the V40 category, ran a super time – well under 3:10 (3:08:21) and a time that will surely see her well up in the women’s V40 listings. Just a couple of ticks behind Jen was Teresa Murphy, also just into V40 status, and with a time of 3:08:21. I believe Teresa may have been hoping for a bit quicker, but it was still a PB and has to be viewed as a success given her preparation had been hampered by injury in the run up to the event.

Our next runner home was Penelope Teoh who I’m told has only recently joined the club. Her time – of under 3:15  (3:14:52) – obviously shows a lot of promise and it looks like she’ll be a great addition to our women’s team. Behind Penelope and also well inside 3:20 was Caroline Manning (3:17:03). A little further down the field there were some outstanding performances – both in their own right and when considered in terms of age category. To mention two: Kate Williams (a V50) wasn’t too far off breaking 3:20 with 3:21:48, and then in the V55 category, Nicky Hayes ran a fine 3:27:57. These are times that I’m sure will see them pretty high up the UK rankings for their age group.

All in all then another tremendously successful day for the club, with terrific individual performances and medals to come in the team championships. As usual, the club celebrated in traditional Kent AC style at the Chandos. Everybody seemed to enjoy themselves – apart perhaps from a couple of curmudgeonly old locals (no, not Dennis and Norman our stars of yesteryear). The two elderly locals in question were probably amongst the few in London who hadn’t known the marathon was on. They didn’t seem to like their usual Sunday routine being disrupted – but hey, you can’t please everyone.

Andy Gardiner

Apologies for any errors or significant omissions


Team results confirmed on 3 May 2017

Kent AC 1st women team and 2nd mens team:

Women

1 Kent AC 8:47:21
Amy Clements 2:39:11
Sarah Hanley 2:59:49
Jennifer Smith 3:08:21

2 Dulwich Runners 8:59:03

3 Serpentine RC 9:14:48

 

Men

1 Belgrave Harriers 7:15:51

2 Kent AC 7:16:48
Russell Bentley 2:22:37
Chris Greenwood 2:26:41
James Bowler 2:27:30

3 Serpentine RC 7:16:48

http://www.englandathletics.org/england-athletics-news/marathon-team-results-announced