Track & Field
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:
SOUTH OF THE THAMES SENIOR RACE, ALDERSHOT, DEC 16 2017
KENT AC WOMEN STRIKE GOLD AGAIN AND THERE’S A VINTAGE PERFORMANCE FROM JOHN GILBERT
Following on from their win in the Junior South of the Thames race last month, Kent AC women did the double and secured victory in the Senior race at Aldershot on Saturday. The men, facing very stiff opposition on this occasion, couldn’t match their victory in the Junior race. Nevertheless, the team secured bronze medals, and there was an outstanding run from John Gilbert in the men’s race.
For those like me who’ve watched many of John’s races, this was reminiscent of his running of a few years ago when he was such a dominant force over the country. He won the race in never say die style. Pushing the pace in unrelenting fashion, almost from the word go. I say almost, as at the start spectators were treated to the sight of Dame Dibaba haring off at an incredible pace. There had been pre- race rumours that perhaps Dame might have a more restrained, conservative start. However, the rumours were clearly misplaced as on the day he shot off almost quicker than ever. After around 400 metres Dame nearly veered off course but got back on track when he was joined by John and a group of around five other runners. Soon afterwards though John took control of the race. He forced an early lead, and pushed on to have a significant gap between him and the chasers for almost the entire race. And it should be said that in the chasing pack there were some class acts, including the likes of Aldershot’s Johnny Hay and Tonbridge’s George Duggan.
As mentioned, in the team stakes the men faced extremely strong opposition. Jordan Weaver, sporting a cap for the duration of the race, (he can get away with it) was our next man in after John. Reportedly, Jordan hadn’t really trained since the disappointment of going up to Telford the previous week, only to have the weather force the race cancellation. He was just outside the top twenty in this quality field.
As sometimes happens with Dame, after the fast and furious start he can go backwards -only to surge back up the field. There was a bit of that in this race, but he had the added problem of experiencing a stitch. It forced him to stop briefly and perform his own brand of calisthenics for a while.
The prospect of a Kent AC runner passing him spurred him on and he went on to finish twenty fifth in the race. Not far behind Dame were our fourth and fifth scorers in the six to score, Pete Lighting (28th) and Neil Phillips (29th). Pete, who now has some impressive marathon times to his name, looks to be getting stronger on the country these days. While it was pleasing to see Neil, who had such a great season last year, having an improved run and feeling more positive post-race. Then just outside the top thirty, (31) was Ben Harding. Having six runners in by 31 is pretty good scoring. However, as mentioned earlier, Tonbridge, but in particular Aldershot had really strong teams out. Having said that, we again showed the strength in depth of the club as we had a ‘B’ team that finished seventh and a ‘C’ team, tenth, out of the eighteen clubs that closed in. Moreover, we were also second in the 12 to score.
Our women created another little piece of Kent AC history. To do the double, that is winning both Junior and Senior race is quite an achievement. But the significant thing here was that composition of the team at Aldershot was so different from the one that won at Beckenham. To win races with quite different teams clearly demonstrates the growing strength in depth of the club. Continuing her come back, Amy led the way with a strong fourth place in the women’s race. Looks like she’s getting fitter as she was closer to Georgie Bruinvels, the Aldershot international, than she was at Beckenham. Our next three scorers were all inside the top twenty. Sarah Hanley ran strongly to come home in 15th spot. Not far behind Sarah was Catherine Kandie (17th) having another fine run. Then Victoria Buck (19th), who showed her versatility in the summer covering numerous track events, proved again that she’s no slouch at cross country. The final counters for the team were Eliza Grant (24th) and Claire Sutton (35th). One of the interesting facets of this race is that like the 5- mile team race, men and women run together. This can lead to little personal duels like the one Eliza had on the last lap with fellow Kent AC runner, Paul Crompton. Eliza may have just lost out to Paul but her 24th place in the Women’s race was to be commended. As was the run of Claire Sutton who had a terrific run and closed the team in.
Finally, incorporated into the usual Kent AC post- race celebrations was a stag do for the estimable Tim Lawrence. A number of the party had donned specially commissioned T-shirts with a picture of a youthful Tim embossed on the front. Fair to say the suggestions as to the various people he resembled in the youthful pic were less than flattering. But then I guess many of us would have pictures from those early years that induce a bit of mirth.
Your correspondent has semi- retired from serious boozing, as well as serious running, so didn’t get very far on the pub run. I’ve no doubt people can catch up on social media.
Next up on the running front is the Kent County and then we do battle in the Surrey League again.
SOT Senior Aldershot
South of Thames Senior Championship
at Aldershot on Sat 16th December 2017
1st John Gilbert 36 58
21st Jordan Weaver 39 40
25th Dame Dibaba 40 12 Teams : 6 to score
28th Peter Lighting 40 18 1st Aldershot Farnham & D 53
29th Neil Phillips 40 25 2nd Tonbridge 107
31st Ben Harding 40 29 3rd KENT AC 135
39th Jonathan Tipper 41 25 32nd Dave Morgan 40 31 – non scorer
42nd James Bowler 41 34
45th Daniel Pettit 41 45 Teams : 12 to score
48th Phil Sanders 41 50 1st Aldershot Farnham & D 293
54th Tim Lawrence 42 24 2nd KENT AC 422
59th Ben Cook 43 11
64th Stuart Beaney 43 21
65th Calum Fraser 43 25
68th Daniel Ansell 43 59
85th Ian Ellwood 46 08
102nd Tim Sharp 48 17
107th Roger Beardsworth 48 46
131th Paul Crompton 52 26
KENT AC’S 10,000 EVENT JUDGED A RESOUNDING SUCCESS
Thanks in no small measure to Adrian Lowther’s planning and organisational skills, Kent AC’s Ladywell 10,000 race promotion on Sunday turned out to be a tremendous success. The event boasted exciting racing – with two men, Paul Martelletti and Nick Torry going under 30 minutes in the “A” race, together with a marvellous run by Katrina Wooton that saw her go comfortably inside the qualifying time for next year’s Commonwealth Games.
In addition, there were a whole host of PBs for runners across the six races. This kind of event has been pioneered by Highgate Harriers, but we like to think that our event will be regarded as a welcome addition to the racing calendar – and of course it has the added spice of being south of the river!
The first race was perhaps aimed at enabling runners to get under 40 minutes. Nobody quite manged that, but the race itself had plenty of interest in the way it developed. Neil Aiken from Croydon led for a considerable period, but was reeled in by the eventual winner, Eric Karsenty from Dulwich, who showed good judgement to lay off the pace and then come through strongly in the latter half of the race. The field contained a number of Kent AC runners, the majority of whom were running their first ever track 10,000-meter race.
There were many strong runs but perhaps a special mention needs to go the serial racer, Jon Barron. Although a V60, John’s made tremendous strides in a relatively short running career. He’s also gained a bit of a reputation for having a go at any distance. In his race he was comfortably inside 43 minutes which I believe is quicker that he’s run on the road for 10K.
The second race was won in 37:18.63 by a Kent AC runner, Ben Cook. Ben got the better of two Serpentine runners who were second and third. There were six other Kent runners in the race – all of whom got inside 40 minutes. Katie Rowland from Kent ran well to record a time of 39:19.73
In the third race everybody was comfortably inside 40 minutes. The winner was Andrew Grigg from Herne Hill. Andrew won with something to spare in a time of 34:49.22. Kent had a number of runners who ran well in this race but perhaps the chief local interest lay in the battle for supremacy between our two V50s in the race, Jules Geevers and Luke Armitage. They ran together for much of the race with Jules pulling away towards the end. He had an eight second margin over Luke at the finish.
The fourth race was won by a V40, Paul Gaimster, from Victoria Park who we know from the Assembly League and Southern League fixtures. Like so many on the night, Paul ran a PB, 33: 16. 03 – a time that will have moved up the V40 rankings. In second was another runner from a club based across the river, Tim Prendergast, from Woodford Green and Essex Ladies.
The penultimate race saw race winner, Kent’s Pete Lighting, record a fabulous PB of 32.01.92 – so very close to getting under 32 minutes. This race also contained lots of Kent AC interest with a number of small personal battles going on.
In a terrific sprint finish Dame Dibaba just got the better of Che Compton. Both were close to going under 33 minutes. The two ran very different races. Dame set off close to the lead group, while Che started more conservatively before carving his way through the field. Che’s pace judgement was really impressive.
A couple of ticks behind Che was Ben Hope, another Kent V40 displaying excellent form ahead of the forthcoming relays. Our next two runners were in a group together for quite a while – Rob Laing and Phil Sanders. In the latter stages Rob was able to push on and get the better of Phil by just over four seconds. But mention of Rob can’t go by without a reference to his matching outfit – including hat and shoes. His bright lemon look was certainly a talking point. If there’d have been a prize for best turned out runner, Rob was your man. And Phil’s impressive time has pushed him right up the V45 rankings.
Finally, this race contained an epic struggle which saw Stuart Beaney and Dave Morgan run together for almost the entire race before Stuart outsprinted Dave, and displayed a Steve Ovett-type wave as he came down the finishing straight. Post- race, basking in glory, Stuart was heard to mention that the wave was ironic – but there was perhaps a little bit of showmanship in there too.
The final race was great from a spectator’s point of view. A couple of weeks ago at the Hercules Wimbledon 5K event, Nick Torry, Serpentine, but long- time associate of Kent AC, got the better of Paul Martelletti with a finish that Nick has become renowned for. For much of our final 10k race the pair ran together. However, maybe mindful of what happened over 5k, with about a quarter of the race to go, Martelletti put in a surge and created a gap that Nick was unable to bridge.
When it looked as though Nick was clawing the gap back, the Victoria Park man, perhaps responding the news of the slight closure given by commentator Keith Newton and the crowd, pushed on again and was able to sustain his lead. Although he was never going to overhaul Martelletti, Nick did produce his trademark fast finish – a finish that saw him just get inside 30 minutes. Paul Martelletti recorded 29:48.41 with Nick recording 29:58.39. Nick’s was a fantastic time for a V40. It’s a time which apparently sees him go fifth on the all-time list for UK V40 runners. A considerable achievement when you think of the high calibre runners we’ve had over the years.
As mentioned at the outset, Katrina Wooton ran incredibly well, running well inside 32 minutes. Her big PB of 31:45.63 saw her run a time that makes her eligible for Commonwealth Games selection. The quality of the time was highlighted by Athletics Weekly, pointing out that the time she ran was the equivalent of the third European in the recent World Championships.
Kent AC’s Russell Bentley ran superbly to come home in fifth and again record a PB. For almost the entire race Russell ran together with Serpentine’s Jonathan Poole. The Serpentine runner got away near the end of the race and was rewarded with a sub 31 time. Russell just missed out on by a faction on breaking 31 minutes. But his run clearly augurs well for his upcoming Berlin Marathon appearance. I mentioned that the commentator for this race was long term friend of Kent AC, Herne Hill’s Keith Newton. A couple of others had commentated and done a more than competent job – including of course the incorrigible Mr Beaney. But I’m sure they won’t mind me saying that Keith was the consummate professional. He brought the right blend of expert knowledge and humour to the job.
Finally, I think the club should give itself a collective pat on the back for putting on such a successful event. Yes, there were a few glitches but Adrian is already looking ahead to next year with the aim of eliminating the few hitches that did arise. Special praise must go to the pace makers for doing such an excellent job, but also thanks must go to those who helped with the set up and the officiating. And last but not least – the cake makers who produced a variety of cakes worthy of the Bake Off.
At the Scottish Championships held at Grangemouth on Saturday 26th August Chuxx Onyia had his best ever series of jumps and broke the Club Record in the Triple Jump.
He recorded a jump of 15.63 metres, together with a fine back up jump of 15. 59 m, and his whole series of jumps were over 15.10 m as he recorded the best ever series by a club member in this most technical of events. This earned him his third successive Scottish Champs Gold Medal.
A fine reward for a guy who has put himself out by coming down for all four British League matches for the club where he had the rare honour of winning all four competitions this year.
With a bit of luck next year he can go on and break the magic 16 m barrier which would put him up with the very best in GB.