London Marathon 2019

VIRGIN MONEY LONDON MARATHON, 2019

John Gilbert leads the way as Kent AC runners excel

As well as having another formidable turn out from the club (over 50 runners), the 2019 London Marathon saw some special performances from Kent AC runners.

It was another great day for the club and difficult to know where to start in the telling. Despite a host of great runs, I thought it was fitting to start withJohn Gilbert. Fitting in the sense that unsurprisingly he was first man home for the club but also with John moving north, it was an occasion when the club paid tribute to him post -race. Despite having something of a disrupted season in terms of injuries, John still managed yet another sub 2: 20 marathon – this time 2:19 :03. At half- way John looked as though he might challenge his PB – it wasn’t to be, but still another fine run over such a challenging distance. Whilst it may have been said before, it’s worth re-iterating. John’s been an inspiration. He may be unassuming, but he races with a steely determination. He’ll be much missed. However, post- race it was heartening to learn that he’ll be retaining his membership and making periodic appearances for us. 

Our second male runner home is becoming known as the master at marathons.  For Pete Lighting, with his meticulous preparations, really seems to know how to get the best out of himself. At this London, he took a big chunk out of his PB running 2: 24 :32. Just a minute behind Pete was Dave Morgan. It was only really in the closing stages that Pete got away from Dave who again showed what an impressive marathon runner he is. Then getting his pacing just right – only 19 seconds behind Dave was Chris Greenwood.  Chris, again featured in the pre- race Athletics Weekly marathon preview, that reported that his desired aim was sub 2:25, but if not, he’d be pleased with sub 2:26 which was what he achieved. Chris’ time 2:25:50 meant he was comfortably the first V45 in the race. And in fact, it turns out that Chris is now fifth on the all- time list for V45’s in the history of the London Marathon. I would hazard a guess that puts him in fairly exalted company.  No prizes for guessing who our next V45 was (more of that later).   After Chris there was an exceptional run from Rob Laing (2:27:17). It’s a little unusual for someone who’s done a fair few marathons (as Rob has) for them to take over ten minutes off their previous best. But that’s exactly what Rob did – well it was actually 11 minutes better. As many will know, Rob’s in training for the famous Comrades Marathon – an ultra- race that takes place in South Africa in June. It doesn’t work for everyone, but clearly running a lot of miles is certainly proving beneficial in Rob’s case. One more of our male runners was inside 2:30 at that was James Bowler. Just a little down on his PB but still a very good run (2: 29:.21).

We had two runners coming within seconds of each other on 2:35, but I’m sure their emotions can’t have been more contrasting. They were Adam Paterson on 2:35:41 and Russell Bentley eight seconds behind.  Adam was another who took a big slice off his PB and must have been delighted with his time. However, Russell, who I guess was wanting to get over what he may have considered a disappointing Brighton Marathon result, really struggled in the closing stages of London. It was a big ask to run London so close to Brighton but Russell was obviously up for the challenge. Unfortunately, this one looked as though it took a toll on Russell and I know we all hope he can recover swiftly. The consistent Sam Evans was our next finisher (2:37:58). He got frustratingly close to his PB. Then after Sam came our other fast V45 – yes, the man himself, Stuart Beaney.  Again, someone else who was very close to his PB. However, that was on a faster course and when he was just a little bit younger. His 2:38:48 meant he crept inside the top twenty V45’s in this year’s race. And incidentally, in case there’s still anybody unaware, Stuart’s recent form has earned him an England Vest when he will compete against the other home nations in a race incorporated in the upcoming Birmingham 10K.

Anthony Johnson and Tim Lawrence looked as though they ran a good deal of the race together and it was only towards the end that Anthony got clear. Anthony finished in 2:39:39 with Tim about a minute back at the finish. In between the pair though were former Dulwich man, Tom Marshall 2:40:30, who managed to run exactly equal splits and Barny Day 2:40:24, who ran a very strong second half. Ben Cook and Richard Giles who’d both been in good form in the run up to London came in on 2:42 – in Ben’s case 2:42: 10 and Richard not far adrift on 2:42:52.

I’d imagine Serpentine with their mega membership had more runners under 3 hours, but feel confident there weren’t many other clubs who had as many under three hours (and well under) as Kent AC.  After Richard Giles we had eight more runners under the three-hour mark.  They were as follows: Tom Thain 2:43:02, Che Compton 2:44:33, Neil Phillips 2:44:46, Calum Fraser 2:50:22, Nial Robinson 2:51:59, Thomas Ballard 2:54:21, Tim Alexander 2:57:57 and Len Reilly 2:59:18. Perhaps a special mention needs to go to Calum who only the previous day had competed in several events for the club at a windswept track in Cambridge. Seems highly likely Calum would have been quicker had it not been for his exertions on the track. And of course, I always have to give a mention to the redoubtable Len Reilly, now heading through the V55 category. While he may not be a member of the intrepid band who have completed all the London Marathons, he has certainly racked up a considerable number. Like others, Len’s build up was far from ideal but his experience meant he was again able to dip under the 3- hour barrier (3:59:18).

In addition to the runners mentioned above, there were a lot of our other male runners who performed well, many achieving personal bests – some getting very close to three hours – others rightly pleased that they had risen to the challenge of the marathon.

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Whilst there may have been no Amy Clements this year, there was no shortage of excellent runs from our women. It was especially so when looked at in terms of the performances of our women who are classed as masters/veterans.  Actually, our first runner home in 3:11:46 (excluding American guests) was the multi- talented Victoria Buck. I refer to the fact that as well as running a fast marathon Victoria is a more than competent performer when it comes to track and field. As well as being a very good time in its own right, Victoria’s time will undoubtedly be regarded as a very good age graded time. Ali Farrall is another who fits into this category. She has quite a marathon pedigree – she’s run a good number and all in quality times. And this year was no exception. She registered an excellent 3:23:49. Very close behind was someone I believe is a relative newcomer to the club, Alex Swatridge. If this was her marathon debut – it was an impressive one, running 3:24:40. She was just ahead of Susie Fairbrass (3:25:00) who was yet another of our runners to take a large slice of their PB. Susie had a big support crew with her and no doubt Dad, Dennis, (no mean performer over the marathon distance) was delighted with his daughter’s run.

Just nineteen seconds behind Susie was Nicky Hayes (3:25:19), and whilst there was a lot of competition, this was surely one of the runs of the day. In the marathon classification Nicky is classed as V55, for our club competition purposes she came into the category of V50-59. However, it remains the case that hers was an incredibly good run. It appears she was ranked 13th in her age group in this year’s race. That’s out of a very large number who were listed as running in her age group – so really impressive running.   Nemeckova Zuzana, another in the V40 category, ran a very creditable 3:32:41, while this year Sarah Young, who I believe has done several London marathons, came in on 3:45:08

The other women running in our colours did both themselves and the club proud. For the first timers who might say never again – you might be surprised and have another go some time in the future. But if not, running a marathon is a considerable achievement – let no one tell you otherwise.

The results for everybody in the club are quite easy to find on the Virgin London Marathon site.

(Apologies for any errors or significant omissions in the report.)