KENT COUNTY VETERANS’ CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS, CENTRAL PARK DARTFORD, 2 DECEMBER 2017
Kent AC men and women came away from the Kent County Veterans Championships with a record haul of medals. At this year’s Championships, held for the second year running in Central Park, Dartford, we had both individual and team winners.
On a crisp cold day, on an almost bone dry course, the men’s V 50s started proceedings. At the front end of this race there was real quality. Fresh from his recent victory at the Master’s international race, Tonbridge’s Ben Reynolds strode imperiously to victory. Unlike last year, however, it wasn’t a Tonbridge one two as Darrell Smith of Sevenoaks got the better of another of Tonbridge’s international runners, Graham Saker.
Although we weren’t going to be able to compete with the likes of Tonbridge for the gold medals, hopes were high that we might claim a team medal of another description and we did – it was bronze for third team. Old maestro Len Reilly, who always seems to run well in these events, was our first runner home in tenth.
Our second scorer was Jules Gevers. A few weeks back when Jules was running some impressive Parkrun times it looked as though he might have been our first scorer. However, Jules, who finished 16th, was clearly suffering in the latter stages. It seems his reported sinus infection was taking its toll and he did well to finish as high as he did.
The third scorer for the team, despite a nasty fall, was the reliable Luke Armitage (18th). Post- race Luke gave a detailed description and site visit to the offending rabbit hole – the cause of his nasty tumble. Also running well for the club in this race were Mick Barlow, Paul Crompton and Neil Gordon Orr.
The second race of the day again saw a big field that comprised of the seriously old men and the various categories of veteran women. Unlike the men, at these championships the women have a V35-44 race so it meant just turned 35 Amy Clements was running. Although it was only her second come back race it was perhaps unsurprising that Amy ran out the winner. Amy was ably assisted by Jen Smith (4th) and Victoria Buck (11th). Their scoring meant they secured gold medals.
In the next category – the women’s 45-54 – we were again to medal, but this time it was bronze. Ali Farrell came in fourth in this section and was well backed up by Kate Williams (17th), and Sarah Dowling (23rd). Then just as in the younger women’s race, in the 55-64 category we had both the winner and the winning team. Nicky Hayes was a fine winner of the race and was joined in the winning team by Carol Grady and Annabelle Hadlow. In recent years Annabelle’s been a great servant to the club, turning out in countless races, so it was great to see her get a ‘proper’ medal.
Also running in this combined race were the V60 men. Unfortunately, the competitive performances of Julian Spencer Wood and Bernie Hutchinson were undermined somewhat in the team stakes by Andy Gardiner’s (your reporter’s) rather miserable run. A cold, but more likely a distinct lack of training, led to the rather feeble run. Still at least we had a team out and so managed to have a team in all the age categories.
From a spectator’s point of view, the final race – the V40’s – was definitely the race of the day. A really absorbing contest at the front end. Even without the mighty Greenwood, we knew we were going to be strong in the team race. The big question for many of us though was could we still have a winner in Chris Greenwood’s absence. For much of the race it looked as though we could, as Ben Hope ran a superb race. He looked calm and confident for most of the race, but in a dramatic run-in, he was edged out into third. For the majority of the race Ben was leading and seemingly pushing the pace. Julian Rendall, of Tonbridge, the eventual winner was by his side for much of the race and occasionally he would also put in a testing burst.
Also with them, but often a few metres further back, was last year’s winner, Blackheath’s Alex Gibbins. In the exciting finale, Julian Rendall just managed to get a slight lead over Ben and then put in a surge that got him a bit more distance. But then, just as it looked as though Ben would have to settle for second, Alex Gibbins produced an incredible finishing burst that saw him go by Ben and nearly catch Rendall. However, as well as a very hard-earned bronze medal, Ben also helped secure a convincing team victory. His three fellow scorers were Rob Laing (7th), Che Compton (8th) and Phil Sanders (9th). It made great spectating to see our three guys fight it out to see who could come out on top. In the closing stages it looked as though Rob was going to come in sixth. He’d had a bit of a battle on the last lap with a very strong Thanet runner. However, similar to Gibbins, the Thanet runner possessed a formidable finish that squeezed out Rob. There was also a really noteworthy run from Will Pitt, now a V45. Will was nineteenth in a quality field.
As well as the medallists, and others mentioned, it should also be said that there were host of other fine runs from Kent AC runners who turned out in force for this race. Full details can be found on the Kent County Athletics site
So it was another excellent day for the club, rounded off for many of those at the Championships by a trip later in the day to Kent AC Christmas party. This was another record in terms of attendance. As always, a big thank you must go to Ted Aston for the work he puts into making this such a successful event.
Kent Vets Champs 2017
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