The 5th and final fixture of the Kent XC League 2017/18 season was held on Saturday 10th at the venue of Sparrows Den. A technical course with a few steep climbs and normally used for the autumn XC events, the extremely wet winter weather and recently shed leaves make it a thoroughly different course both visually and underfoot.
The course consisted of a short loop of a small and exceedingly muddy open field, with a dilemma of whether it was better to run on what was left of the path (your feet stuck to it) or lose energy on the softer grass. Runners then headed into a technical forest section with many roots to avoid and some muddy areas, but was mostly pretty easy going and the sides of the main slopes allowed traction. Spikes were as usual not a good idea for this course, with a few easy overtakes on those delicately placing their feet around painful rocks and stones.
The weather held out for a while, threatening to rain for most of the day but waiting until the end of the races to truly poor down. There were some pretty severe western headwinds along the start straight and when entering the field, never be ashamed to shelter behind a tall runner and thank god for our event shelter!
Turnout was especially high for the last race in a season where over 700 different seniors and vets have competed, 104 ladies and 178 men saw the season to a close. After missing the recent Southerns, Tonbridge made up by supplying 35 runners to the event.
The mens 10k (and a bit) race was made up of 3x laps of the field and forest in order, followed by a final field lap to test if you were reading the course map (I wasn’t and paid for it). Abel Tsegay of Invicta East Kent led home by nearly a minute. 1st harrier home and 1st M50 was chairman Andy Howey (26th) in enough form to scare Dan Bradley, second harrier was myself (51st) as usual in a fun fight with the unrelated Tony Bennet wearing an original Tonbridge AC top. The 4 to score was made up of Rich Carter (75th) storming to the front of the strong 4-pack of Simon Howden (85th), Sam Grain (86th) and Dave Hadaway (87th) in a close finish. Tobyn Young (93rd), Neil Clark (116th), Geoff Turner (134th), Michael Russell (144th), Andy Page (156th) and Nick Pierce (161st) finished out the 12-to-score. Just outside the duodec was Peter Richardson (164th), taking 1st V65.
The ladies 5ishk was made of a shorter field lap, followed by 2 laps of the forest. Nicole Taylor of Tonbridge AC was utterly dominant to finish 50secs ahead, in a ‘blast before the nationals’. 1st harrier home was Harriet Wooley (10th), with the 3 to score made up by captain Jillian Holford (21st) and Sarah Lavender (53rd) in a fantastic sprint finish. Carol Tsang (64th), Jeannette White (67th) and Stella Richardson (69th) made up the 6 to score. Stella was 3rd V55 and 1st V60 in the race.
What about the season overall? While sheltering in our tent, there were some surprises in store!
Senior Men 4-to-score were 9th out of 24 teams and 12-to-score were 7th out of 12 teams.
Senior women 3-to-score were 7th out of 21 teams and 6-to-score were 6th out of 14 teams (seems a lot of clubs figured out how to win the 6 to score)
For the individuals, Harriet Wooley was 8th overall in the league. Captain Jillian was 6th and Simon Howden were 17th overall Veterans.
Onto the medals,
Nick Pierce was 1st M60
Peter Richardson was 2nd M60
Stella Richardson was 2nd F55
Jillian Holford was 3rd F45
We’ll hopefully get the medals and trophies to present this Wednesday.
After the race we decamped to the previous venue of the Bo Peep, just off the M25. Where we realised we’d left early and missed most of the silverware as usual.
Thanks go to Simon and especially Jillian for covering everything in my unfortunate absence this season, its been great to return strongly for the final races.
I especially want to thank Jillian for encouraging the best ladies turnout I have ever seen, I hope everyone can help continue it next Autumn.
Thanks to George, Bob and Mike Jarvis for some great support, it really makes a difference in challenging conditions.
There were too many cakes to thank.
Photos here, thanks to Carol ‘Cam’ Tsang for taking over while I ran
Only 2 races to go, the nationals and the club champs. Details on this website!
Men’s XC Captain