FINE TEAM PERFORMANCE BY KENT AC MEN SEES THEM PLACE 11TH IN THIS YEAR'S NATIONAL
Last weekend, Kent AC men had some fine individual runs helping the team to a highly creditable 11th place in the team standings. Although we were behind the inevitably strong Highgate (7th) and one behind Serpentine, we were still ahead of many of our usual rivals – including our Surrey league adversaries. Placing just outside the top ten without the services of John Gilbert has to be viewed as a seriously good result. However, plaudits must go to Kent County Champions, Tonbridge, who won the team contest for the first time in their history.
The organisers had changed the course considerably from the one used in 2014. This time a mixture of heavy mud with a sprinkling of ditches made the course something of a challenge. First man home for Kent was Russell Bentley, coming home in 68th. According to my on course source, Russell, currently in the midst of heavy marathon training, made a very steady start before passing large numbers during the second half of the race.
Our next man home was the "find" of the season, Jordan Weaver. In previous reports I've mentioned how Jordan, a relative novice in running terms, seems to possess real talent. This year's National where he finished just outside the top 100 (coming in at 105th), provided further confirmation. To anyone who knows about running, a position of around a hundred in the National earns much respect. Apparently for much of the race Jordan had been following Chris Greenwood, who like Russell had started rather cautiously before moving up a gear and passing a good many runners on his way to the finish. At the finish a few seconds separated them, with Chris coming in at 110th.
Our fourth scorer was the guy who's really been the mainstay of our team this season, Neil Phillips. He was around 20 seconds back, finishing 125th. Our fifth and sixth scorers were Ben Harding (200th) and James Bowler (226th). Outside the scoring six there was a number of noteworthy runs – Tim Alexander's in particular. He well and truly secured the bragging rights over his 'B' group teammates. Following on from Tim there was a very close contest that resulted in Joe Hartley (293rd) just getting the better of Tim Lawrence (294th). Matt Moroney (519th), had a very solid race with some good standard runners behind him. And then perhaps a mention to the two long standing members who have racked up a considerable number of Nationals between them – Len Reilly and Mick Barlow. Considering that he's been nursing injuries, Len achieved a respectable finish, while Mick was no doubt highly competitive in the beer consumption stakes. Which brings me on to the fact that although Party Boy Beaney was missed, my sources tell me he better watch out. It seems that not just one, but two of our number fulfilled Party Boy's role with admirable gusto – step forward Rowan Crichton and Tim Lawrence.
So Stuart, at the next celebration – you need to reclaim your title!
BEST EVER TURNOUT OF KENT AC WOMEN AT THE NATIONAL AND THE TEAM SECURES 12TH PLACE
Fittingly, with the best ever turnout, the team secured by far their best finishing spot in this year's National. They were a fine 12th team out of 93 completed teams and like their male counterparts they were ahead of all their local rivals. In the women's team event it's just four to score. However, as well as having a fine scoring four there were some excellent performances from other team members.
In a field that perhaps had a bit more depth to it than last year, Amy Clements ran strongly to finish 34th, ahead of some top quality runners. Our next two runners appeared to be well matched over this distance. After a close contest, Sarah Hanley (143rd) was just ahead ( a mere three seconds) of Teresa Murphy (146th). Then only just over 20 seconds behind Teresa was Jen Smith (157th) with another fine run. As mentioned, as well as the excellent scoring four, there were lots of other commendable performances. Other Kent women who made it a special day include Jane Higgs (170), Victoria Buck (235), Eliza Grant (292), Kate Williams (312), Lydia Blackmore (324), Sarah Young (403), Ellie Brown (477) and Kathy Sharpe (754) and Annabelle Hadlow (758). Apologies if failing eyesight has meant I've missed anyone from the roll of honour.
Prior to the senior race, Isabel Bradley ran really well in the Junior Women's race. Isobel has been running strongly in the Surrey League this season, and here she was just outside the top 50, coming home in 52nd.
JUNIORS GAIN VALUABLE EXPERIENCE
As well as a large number of senior athletes, this year Kent AC had a number of junior athletes who made the journey to Nottingham.
In what can be an intimidating environment, I'm sure they will have gained valuable experience. Again, there was another first for Kent AC, in that we actually had an Under 13 team representing the club. This race is an unforgiving one, but I am sure the boys will have benefited from the tough challenge they encountered. The four who made up our team were Lucas Zurdo (261), Jude Weekly (269), Guy Barnett (384) and Oscar Zurdo( 421). Then in the Under 15 race, Ollie Bright showed that he looks to have a promising future in the sport. He came just outside the top twenty (22nd), in what is always a large and hugely competitive field. A lot of good senior athletes around today never finished as high as 22nd when they were juniors.
Apologies for errors /omissions