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  • Mick Bond

Kent League Triumph

Kent league Cross Country. First fixture report

The senior women had a triumphant day at Swanley Park taking the first three places in the Kent League. Holly Dixon dominated the race from the gun and was soon well clear of the entire field. Also just as clear from their rivals were Kate Curran and Megan Marchant who took second and third places respectively. So with the top three places sewn up it remained to be seen if we could also take both the team of three and the team of six competitions. Strong performances from Lucy Marlow, Julie Backley and Hayley Newman gave us a score of 77 but we were pipped by Tonbridge who scored just 48 points. Overall however this was by far the best performance the team has produced in the Kent League for some years.

Holly Dixon on her way to winning the first Kent League Cross Country

Two years ago the club’s Senior Women voted against a proposal to increase the league distance from 5k to 8k. We however, were one of only two clubs in the league to do so and so the distances have been increased. Five miles (8k) across the country is a big ask so it was to their credit that despite so many reservations the SW still turned out in force making the total number of runners the largest for some years. It was also really heartening to see ladies returning to the club after being away at university and also so many new faces. Some were running cross country for the first time and others returning from injury. Lucy’s performance earned her second place in the W35 and Christine Bond is leading W55. As for our own Grand Prix Holly is looking good already to retain her title but as this is based on a points system for the best six performances over 8 races there is still plenty of time for a great internal contest.

All smiles on the start line !

1 Holly Dixon 30:55

2 Kate Curran 31:28

3 Megan Marchant 32:57

11 Lucy Marlow 34:32

28 Julie Backley 37:04

32 Hayley Newman 37:31

39 Sophie Parkes 38:47

61 Donna Martin 40:42

69 Christine Bond 41:36

74 Sally Carr 42:03

95 Monica Whitefield 45:11

108 Alice Bodie 47:45

109 Joanne Murphy 48:43

The senior men couldn't match the women's magnificent performance but there were many positives: we had 23 finishers, a club record for the Kent League, and we were third in both the four and twelve to score team competitions, higher places than we have managed for a few seasons.

All 23 of the senior men's Cross country team

Bayley Massey led the team home with an excellent 8th position closely followed by new boy Chris Loudon, a valuable new addition to the squad. It was great to see so many new faces, Chris was one of five running his first cross country for the club as we also welcomed Tom Brooke, Duncan Hope, Luiz Custodio and Tom Loia. James MacDonald was our third scorer and Dean Lacy completed the four to score team. Hats off to Dean who has had other priorities in his life recently, there are many who, when they are not in the same shape as they used to be, disappear, and take up golf or whatever but not Dean who just loves to race and earned the team valuable points.

Bailey Massey on his way to 8th place

Hats off too to Angus Vosper who, at the age of 17 has the choice of running in the shorter junior race and being a big fish in a small pool or running in the senior race and to his credit elected to 'man up'. Further back Graham Maynard had the honour of completing the twelve to score team, and further back still our top three over 60s (Alan Black, Clem Dixon and Martin Hawkins) finished within a few seconds of each other auguring well for medals in the Kent Vets in December as there was only one over 60 ahead of them. Earlier in the day we had two runners in the shorter over 70s race, Keith Dungate and Peter Hadley finishing third and fourth respectively.

In the younger age groups the club also had its best turnout for some years with 20 young athletes starting for this fixture. It is interesting to note that 14 were running in their first cross country race for Cambridge Harriers. The first race of the day (under 13 girls) saw a fine performance from Iris Williams, finishing in second place, only 3 seconds behind the winner from S-factor. There was good support from others in this age group with Sophia Pawa placing 23rd followed by Celia Yeatman (32nd) and Anagha Pai (40th).

The under 13 boys race saw Josh Wellings claim 8th place, being backed up by Aniket 26th, Oliver Cook (44th) and Oliver Hill (51st).

In the under 15 girls race there was disappointment for Abigail Richards. In second place towards the end of the first small lap she had an encounter with a tree root which resulted in a heavy fall and unfortunately the end of her race. Amelia Lawrence demonstrated her endurance and placed a highly respectable 5th. Mia Harris was our final scorer, finishing 35th.

The under 15 boys race saw an exciting start with Samuel Scrase-Field and Aidan Newton taking an early lead. Things settled down eventually, with Samuel finishing in 17th place and Aidan in 28th despite a bad stitch. Luke Bridges put in a sprint finish to pass Felix Tynan in the home straight finishing 22nd to Felix's 24th.

Under 15 boys complete with war paint !

We were able to have a team of three running in the under 17 women’s race, something we have not had for a number of years. Evie Ravenscroft and Eva Armitage-Woods ran most of the race together. Evie was spurred on by seeing the finish line and showed a good turn of pace to come home in 20th position closely followed by Eva in 24th. Inez finished in 27th place to complete the team.

We had one athlete in the under 17 men’s race. Being a sprinter, using cross country to build endurance during the winter, he did well to finish 38th overall in his race.


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