South of the Thames 7.5-mile Championships, Beckenham Place Park, Dec 15, 2018
Kent AC men show their strength in depth with third place in the six to score and also land the Coleman cup for 12 to score.
On the entry forms we looked to have a very strong team – perhaps even one capable of winning the race like we did in 2016 when the Championship was previously held at Beckenham. However, as sometimes happens, injuries and unavailability mean the team that actually lines up comes some way short of the one on the entry form. And this was the case on Saturday at a bitterly cold, rainy Beckenham Place Park. However, although we were missing a fair few of the names listed, the runners we had out performed extremely well. Not only did they nab bronze medals in the six to score, they also demonstrated the club’s strength in depth by winning the 12 to score.
The conditions experienced at the last Surrey league were challenging with the remorseless rain, but on Saturday runners had to contend with a nasty chill factor in addition to rain.
Beckenham Place Park is currently undergoing some major landscaping work which meant that large swathes of the park were unavailable for those setting up the course. With this being the case, it just shows how much land there is in the park now the former golf course has become available to use. At the start of the race spectators were slightly puzzled as the route the runners were taking didn’t seem to quite tally with the one on the course map. In the event, though, it appeared the lead runners worked out where they needed to go.
Although he didn’t set off at a blistering pace, Dame Dibaba was just behind the lead group in the early stages and he more or less stayed behind the lead group for most of the race. Mid race he was probably a few places higher, but his 17th finish must still count as a very strong run. In the latter stages Dame was having a bit of a duel with Belgrave’s ,Paskar Owor. He lost out to Paskar who in the tough conditions would have definitely won a prize for best protected against the elements. Paskar does not appear to be a fan of the cold weather and the gear he was sporting amply proved this point. Our second finisher was Ben Harding (22nd) who had also ran well in the 5 mile South of the Thames race at Morden. Ben finished with a flourish, just getting the better of Herne Hill’s, Mike Cummings on the run in. Next man in was Pete Lighting (28th), who in the company of Sean Fitzpatrick, had such a tremendous New York Marathon. I think Pete would concede that his talents are perhaps better suited to the road. However, on certain cross- country courses he really shows up well. In this race his staying power proved important to the teams cause. Our fourth scorer was Rob Laing (35th) who ran so well at Dartford a fortnight ago when he was the runner up in the County Vets. Rob ran strongly in the closing stages and overtook are fifth scorer, Alex Dudney (39th). I commented that Alex had a really impressive debut for us after the Wimbledon race. Here again he showed that he obviously has lots of potential. Closing in fast on Alex was James Bowler (40th), our sixth and crucial scorer. Also running well and ensuring we won the 12 to score were the likes of the returning, Lawrence Avery, high mileage man, Sam Evans and Phil Sanders.
Interestingly in the six to score team race we actually had the same points (181) as Herne Hill. Post -race it looked to the organizers that Herne Hill had claimed third spot. However, using the formula about the last scorer deciding it in the event of a tie, it proved to be us that have actually been awarded third spot. Although close calls in the scoring are not unusual, to have equal scores is probably not that common. And of course, we wouldn’t begrudge our friends and neighbours a little bit of shared glory.
So whilst some of us were worried about how a team without the big guns would fare, it turned out a somewhat depleted team did the club proud – just the boost we needed going into a tough run of fixtures in the new year.
In the women’s race a 13-strong contingent battled the Baltic conditions and the A team performed strongly (6 to score) to come home in third position behind Belgrave H and Tonbridge AC. On a wet, windy, cold and muddy day (XC conditions at its best!) Amy Clements (overall winner at the recent Kent Vets Champs in Dartford) was 3rd over the line. Second scorer was Katie Rowland (11th) who has had significant success with a number of PBs on the road and track this year and who has been enjoying a successful XC season. Third scorer was Teresa Murphy (17th) in her first race back since coming 98th overall at the recent New York City marathon in a time of 3.02.07 followed by always consistent performer Sarah Hanley in 19th position (who has also enjoyed a recent 10k road PB at the Abbey Dash a few weeks ago), Georgina Wiley (21st) and Ali Farrell (27th) who came 12th overall and 3rd in the V45 age category at the Kent Vet champs. Teresa was awarded 1st for the V40 category.
Bringing in the B team (who came 7th overall) was Cath Stibbs (36), Joanne Campbell (43), Sarah Dowling (44), Claire Sutton (55), Kate Williams (59) and Susie Fairbrass (71) with Heather Castle rounding out the Kent AC women’s team.
Team (6 to score)
1.Brighton & H 75;2. Tonbridge 129; 3. Kent AC 181 ….. Herne Hill 181
1.Belgrave H 68, 2. Tonbridge AC (78), 3. Kent AC (98)
Coleman Cup (12 to score)
1.Kent AC 503; 2. Herne Hill 625; 3. Dulwich 1078
South Of Thames 7m 2018