Men’s Kent County Championships, Brands Hatch, 5 Jan 2019
Second becomes third but still plenty to be positive about
The Kent County Championships were again held on the bleak, open fields adjoining the Brands Hatch motor racing circuit. Our slightly depleted team acquitted themselves well, but there has been disappointment post -race. Initially it had seemed that we had been second team in the six to score which would have been a repeat of our performance in the last four championships. Unfortunately, though, it appears there was a slip up somewhere along the lines as newcomer Niall Stewart hadn’t undergone the necessary paperwork to have him properly registered with us. Niall had actually had an excellent run, but with him out of the frame, Medway were promoted to third. As I say disappointment, but I guess it is something we can learn from.
Anyway, despite moving down to third, there was actually a lot to cheer about – not least the form of John Gilbert. As those of you who follow events will know, John has been a serial winner of these championships. However, after his fantastic 2017/18 season, injury had taken a bit of a toll and John had a spell on the sidelines. He’d put in an appearance at the last Surrey league as it was a case of all hands on deck. Typically, John was prepared to turn out at Wimbledon when far from fit. On Saturday, his fine fifth place showed he’s getting there. At the front end this was a very competitive race. From what I hear John put himself in the mix right from the off. And whilst he faded a bit, he rallied and was apparently running strong again at the end. Another success story was the sixth place of Jim Allchin. This was Jim’s debut for us. He’s been a regular with Ken’s group for some while and been in good form of late. In the colours of his first claim club, Thames H &H he was sixth in the pre –Christmas, South of the Thames race. Dave Morgan, who used to turn out for us in the County whilst with Serpies, felt the love, and after a long courtship, came over to us. Dave ran a solid race and was just outside twenty (21st). He was a few seconds, and a couple of places behind our third scorer, Dame Dibaba. Although Dame was down on last years’ placing, the field this year seemed to have greater depth to it. So inside twenty (19th) must rank as another good run from Dame who really is very consistent these days. Niall Stewart, who as indicated earlier, didn’t actually score, was not far behind Dave – so a very good run although not one that counted.
If you glance at the runners just behind Calum Fraser (34th), you’ll appreciate what a quality run Calum’s was. He was ahead of some seriously good runners. We then had to wait a while before a clutch of Kent AC runners came through just outside 50. Barny Day just missed out on a top fifty placing. He was 51st and quickly followed by Jonathan Beatty 53rd and hard on his heels, Tim Alexander 54th. Then Stuart Beaney 56th and Lee Haze 58th. So you could say we monopolized the 50’s! No doubt Tim Alexander was chuffed to get the better of his old Medway mate, Stuart. And one doubts he’ll accept Stuart’s pleadings that he hasn’t done much since his marathon triumph.
There can’t have been many runners in the race on Saturday who have competed in as many County Championships as Len Reilly. His run on Saturday was more than respectable – inside a hundred (93rd) and third V55, not far down on the second placer.
Even if we hadn’t lost a place due to the eligibility issue, we would still have been way off Tonbridge’s winning score. They really are formidable in this race. They had the first four and closed in on 14 – quite some going! However, we can take a big positive out of their scoring. There was an excellent second place for Max Nicholls running for his first claim club. On Saturday, at Mitcham, he’ll be turning out for us and he looks to be in very good form.
1.Ben Cole(Tonbridge) 38:00 2 Max Nicholls (Tonbidge) 38:20… .5 John Gilbert (Kent AC) 39:04; 6 Jim Allchin Kent AC) 30:09
1.Tonbridge 23: 2. Medway & M: 133 Kent AC 135 …. Six to score: 14 teams closed