SOUTHERN CROSS -COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS, PARLIAMENT HILL, JAN –26 -2019
A PLEASING TOP TEN FINISH FOR KENT AC MEN’S TEAM
Conditions this year at the famous Parliament Hill course were unusually dry and comparatively firm under foot. There was a bit of drizzle but it was also quite a mild afternoon. This was a stark contrast to 2018 when the Championships were held at Stanmer Park. That was a really grim afternoon, as well as Brighton having been a nightmare to get to. Of course, last year was the scene of one of John Gilbert’s great triumphs when he emerged victorious on the tough downland course. This year we also had a race leader – albeit for a fleeting few seconds. Recently Dame Dibaba has been a little more sparing with his charges to the front of the field at the start of races. However, perhaps the magnificent setting at Parliament Hill was too hard for him to resist. He was the first to crest the hill, but predictably was soon swallowed up by the chasing pack. Although it was very short lived it was good to see a Kent vest out in front. It certainly proved a talking point for spectators. As mentioned, last year John won this race in fine style. With him not being able to commit to his running quite as much in recent months as well as having had injury problems, a top placing was not going to happen. However, as always, John toughed it out and came home in sixty third– unsurprisingly our first scorer and interestingly just one place behind a certain Elliot Hind – yes, brother of Owen. I’ve already instructed Owen that his brother needs to be reprimanded for having had the temerity to get the better of our main man.
Just like the Kent County our next two scorers came in almost together – it was Dame (83rd) and just three seconds down Dave Morgan (84th). And just as at the County they ran very different races. Dame going out hard and hanging on, while Dave worked his way steadily through the field in the second half of the race. Our fourth scorer, Jordan Weaver, was to finish just outside the top hundred (103rd) Jordan’s routine has been a bit disrupted this season and his results have not been what he would want. However, just outside a hundred on this course has got to be viewed as an encouraging step in the right direction. Just over twenty seconds behind Jordan, our fifth scorer was Pete Lighting, (119th). Not dissimilar to Dave Morgan, Pete tends to start steadily and work his way through the field. It was another good finish for Pete who whilst he may consider himself more of a road man, is having a very decent season on the country. Our sixth scorer, and also perhaps coming back to a bit of form, was Joe Hartley(149th). Joe just won out on being our sixth scorer as another man who’s usually more at home on the road, Jonathan Tipper, wasn’t far behind him. As will be seen from a look at the full results, there were a number of other Kent runners who put in a shift on the always tough course. Briefly the battle between the two old Medway mates again went Tim Alexander’s way. Your correspondent may have inadvertently given Tim the boost he needed though. Towards the end of the second lap I shouted to Stuart “you’ve got him” as he edged up on Tim’s shoulder. Tim then proceeded to smoothly accelerate putting distance between the pair at the end. Rumour has it Stuart is making noises about getting revenge at the National – watch this space.
At the sharp end in the team stakes Tonbridge and Aldershot had a very tight battle which ended with Aldershot the narrow victors. Tonbridge did provide the winner of the race – Henry Pearce, someone who’d perhaps been better known as a road runner. He was certainly impressive on the day. We were actually eighth team – all things considered a very solid result.
A little earlier in the day we had Joseph Yee as our sole representative in the Under 20 race. He performed really well, finishing (33rd) This was impressive running in what was a high-quality field.
While most adjourned to a local hostelry, Ken Pike made a hasty exist to make sure he got to the New Den in time to see the other passion in his life, Millwall, get the better of Premier League opposition. After the match Ken no doubt departed with a spring in his step thinking ahead to Leeds on February 23rd. His thoughts drifted towards the forthcoming National and the prospect of another south east London outfit unsettling the big boys and causing an upset.
1 Aldershot 105; 2 Tonbridge AC 115; 3 Serpentine 167…..8 Kent AC 601
Kent AC (8thTeam) 63 John Gilbert 50:09; 83 Dame Dibaba 51:03 84 Dave Morgan 51:06 103 Jordan Weaver 51:48 119 Pete Lighting 52:12 149 Joe Hartley 52:55: Full results SEAA website D%8F%E6%9E%9C
In the women’s race there was a light drizzle before the start of the race, but the rain held off leaving the women to battle it out over 5 miles of hills, mud and uneven grass surfaces. The climb up Parliament Hill was as always quite amazing and after seeing the men’s start I’m assuming also quite a spectacle! The amount of pine leaves piled up at the top of the hill were quite a worry with the author of this piece still trying to shake one rogue branch out of my spikes a few hundred metres down the path.
The ladies A team was made up of a strong group of XC runners Katie Rowland (78), Sarah Hanley (87), Isabel Bradley (117) and Eliza Grant (160) and they finished a fantastic 16th placed team against some tough competition including Team GB and Olympic athletes.
The rest of the Kent AC team in order of finish was made up of Georgina Wiley, Claire Sutton, Nicky Hayes, Joanne Campbell, Sarah Young, Ellie Brown, Sally Keeney, Heather Castle and Abby Clyndes.
Thanks as always to the senior men and other supporters out on the course – the cheers were much appreciated. Some big thanks as well to Pete Boxshall our always available leader and manager who always manages to be in a ridiculous amount of cheering spots along the course!