NATIONAL 6- STAGE ROAD RELAY – SENIOR MEN, 7TH OCTOBER 2017
KENT AC JUST OUTSIDE THE TOP TEN IN 11TH WHILE OUR STRONG ‘B’ TEAM FINISH HALF WAY UP THE FIELD
The National 6- stage Relays at Sutton Park, Birmingham, confirmed again what a shrewd judge Ken Pike is when it comes to making race forecasts. For prior to the race Ken felt that if everyone ran to form, plus perhaps a little bit extra, then a top 10 placing was there to be had. He also had the ‘ B’ team perhaps squeezing inside the top 40. As it turned out, the ‘A’ team came home in eleventh while the ‘B’ team were 41st. So Ken’s predictions were almost spot on.
The ‘A’ team welcomed back John Gilbert whilst Chris Greenwood who’d just run in the Vets relays at Crystal Palace, reverted to the familiar role for him of opening leg runner for the ‘A’ team. As per usual, the opening leg was fast and furious. And just as he had done at the South of England Relays, Blackheath’s Phil Sesemann brought his club home first on the opening leg.
Chris Greenwood ran a few ticks over 18 minutes and brought us home in 25th and well in contention. The next three Kent runners showed admirable consistency, moving us up the field and running times that were remarkably similar. In fact, Chris and John Gilbert recorded identical times – both running 18:04. Ben Harding on the second leg recorded 18:18, while James Connor ran the next leg just two seconds quicker with 18:16. On leg five there was a really encouraging run from young Noah Armitage-Hookes. I’m sure it was races like this that motivated Noah to switch to our club. Still an under 20, this quality of race was a big step for him and he acquitted himself extremely well, running inside 19 minutes. John Gilbert had handed over to Noah in 13th position and he held on to that place. Our last leg runner on the day was Jordan Weaver. Jordan, in the unfamiliar role of anchoring the team, held his nerve well – and actually moved as up two places to a finishing spot of 11th , having run 18:29.
As mentioned at the outset, our ‘B’ team finished 41st – with 41 teams behind them. Halfway up this field is quite an achievement. There were some fairly well-known teams behind our ‘B’ team. (I’ll perhaps spare their blushes here) There were three ‘B’ teams ahead of ours – one was the formidable Aldershot and the others were Liverpool and Tonbridge.
As I’ve mentioned before, Tonbridge have an absolute production line of young runners they can call on. James Bowler was the quickest of our ‘B’ team, running 19:02.
Just as he had at Crystal Palace Pete Lighting again run a very solid opening leg. His time was eight seconds slower than James. Our other four runners, Adrian Lowther on third, Joe Hartley fourth, Dame Diaba and Phil Sanders last leg all put in strong performances. Their times were pretty similar although no doubt the guys who were a few seconds quicker enjoyed the temporary bragging rights. I believe it was only the second time our ‘B’ team had qualified for the event and unsurprisingly it marked quite a considerable improvement. While it seems the 11th spot the ‘A’ team secured equalled our best ever showing. There were some very strong teams ahead of us. Like last year the event was won by a Welsh team, but this year it was Swansea rather than their rivals Cardiff. South of England winners Highgate were just two places ahead of us in ninth
NATIONAL 4 -STAGE ROAD RELAYS- SENIOR WOMEN,7TH OCTOBER 2017
KENT AC WOMEN PUT ON STRONG SHOWING AT FIRST FULL APPEARANCE AT SUTTON PARK
Our women made a bit of club history on Saturday. For whilst they have sent runners up to the event in the past, they’d never actually closed a team in before. There were over 80 clubs that finished and our club came in a highly commendable 37th. All four ran well, Alison Thomson and Isabel Bradley had both actually run the course before but recorded quicker times on Saturday. Special mention must go to Katie Rowland. A couple of years ago we were all impressed when John Gilbert ran at Sutton Park with cracked ribs he’d sustained in a fall – true northern grit we thought! Well Katie proved that Kent AC women can also go through the pain barrier. It seems in the run up to the race Katie had crashed on her bike. It had left her with a broken nose and damaged jaw. But it didn’t stop her running – and running a very decent time! On the last leg, Teresa Murphy carried on her fine run of form with the fastest leg of the day for the team. It sounded as though our team thoroughly enjoyed the big race atmosphere and are determined to come back next year and put in another strong performance.