MEN’S SOUTH OF ENGLAND CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS, STANMER PARK, BRIGHTON, 27 JAN 2018
HISTORIC WIN FOR JOHN GILBERT AND TEAM ARE FOURTH IN THE SIX TO SCORE
John Gilbert’s tremendous cross country season got even better on Saturday when he won the prestigious South of England Championships. Already this season John had come out on top in the Senior South of the Thames and the Kent County. But to win the South of England title is really something – a first for the club and for John a deserved reward for his recent years of dedication and hard work.
He’s had some terrific results since he’s been seriously competing – a sixth place in the National and third at the Southerns when they were held at Parliament Hill. Plus of course some consistently high quality marathon times. But to win the Southerns puts him in exalted company. As a winner, his name will be added to a list of high quality athletes who have triumphed in this event – in fact there have been some extremely good runners who have tried very hard and still missed out on a win at these championships.
There had been heavy drizzle for most of the day which meant the arduous course was muddier than usual. In terms of the race itself, John once again laid down his marker early. At the start he swiftly moved to the front of the field and almost challenged runners to go with him. He quickly put a bit of daylight between himself and a chasing pack – a pack that included Max Nicholls, who’s been so good for our cause as a second claimer in the Surrey league.
As the race progressed, Adam Hickey of Southend broke out of the pack, and went on to pursue John for the duration of the race. Early on John had forced a gap of around fifty to sixty metres, but the pursuing Hickey did gradually make inroads into the lead and towards the end of the last lap John’s supporters got a little anxious as the gap visibly narrowed. From the vantage point I’d been viewing the race, it was impossible to scramble back to see the finish in time. So both Ken and I were delighted to learn when we got back that John had hung on and secured a famous victory.
We didn’t just have John’s victory to celebrate. Although the team missed out on medals, our six to score team were fourth, which is the highest position the club has achieved. What’s more, in the 12 to score we again showed the depth we possess in races like this. We were second here behind the always strong Highgate.
Both Tom Mower and Jordan Weaver showed they appear to be running into good form. Tom was an excellent 25th, whilst Jordan was 30th, just missing out on a top thirty place in the run in. Dame Dibaba was our fourth scorer (77th). As is now customary, there was quite a bit of toing and froing as regards Dame’s position the race. However, he always seems to rally when he knows the end is in sight.
Fifth scorer was Pete Lighting (92nd) who seems to employ the right tactics – or at least they’re tactics that work for him. He starts very steadily and then moves through the field. Then sixth scorer – actually 100th) – was Neil Phillips.
As mentioned, the runners who made up the 12 to score meant we were second only to Highgate. There were some highly creditable performances; Rob Laing was a very useful 128th, not far behind was Dan Pettit (133rd) who was followed by Stuart Beaney (137th) – a run that perhaps indicates the new regime is showing signs of promise. The final three in the 12 were Dan Ansell (147th), Phil Sanders (159th) and Tim Alexander (163rd).
All our runners should be listed, but a mention to Barny Day. He squeezed inside the top 200 (199th), which is not to be underestimated in a race of this standard. Also, honourable mentions to Ben McGoeown (254th) and Will Pitt (255th) – it looks as though they had a close tussle. Finally, we were all obviously delighted with John’s triumph, but we were also extremely pleased that Max Nicholls had also made it onto the podium by claiming third place.
Prior to the senior race we had been given a boost by the way Noah Armitage-Hookes had run in the Junior men’s race. He came twelfth in a very competitive field. It was a very encouraging run – especially when you take into consideration the fact that Noah is at the younger end of the age group and I believe will be able to make two more appearances in this age group.
1st John Gilbert 50 57 Teams : 6 to score
25th Tom Mower 54 22 1st Bedford & C 185
30th Jordan Weaver 54 40 2nd Highgate H 209
77th Dame Dibaba 56 32 3rd Serpentine 210
92nd Peter Lighting 57 15 4th KENT AC 325 BEST EVER position
100th Neil Phillips 57 40 5th Hercules W 327
128th Rob Laing 59 03
133rd Dan Pettit 59 07 Teams : 12 to score
137th Stuart Beaney 59 19 1st Highgate H 866
147th Dan Ansell 59 41 2nd KENT AC 1192
159th Phil Sanders 60 10 3rd Serpentine 1229
163rd Tim Alexander 60 22
185th Sean Fitzpatrick 61 12
199th Barny Day 61 28
254th Ben McGeown 63 12
255th Will Pitt 63 14
392nd Jonathan Beatty 67 58
403rd Thomas Thain 68 17
540th Roger Beardsworth 73 52
644th Alan Curtis 79 31
677th Bernie Hutchinson 82 59 782 finished
12th Noel Armitage
Full Results can be seen here: