With the Sittingbourne 10 clashing with the much closer to home Tonbridge Half Marathon and with the 2023 KGP win pretty much nailed on for the Men’s team, it wasn’t surprising that only a small fold of 8 Deckchairs ventured over to the other side of Maidstone for the last race on the Kent Grand Prix calendar.
Race HQ was located at the Kent Science Park, an impressive estate of nondescript buildings with dubious names like ‘Jazz Pharmaceuticals’ – heaven knows what they’re up to behind those gates but speculation was rife between certain Harriers of cannabis farms and smoking chimpanzees.
But I digress, the HQ was actually very good – plenty of parking, a lovely little cafe with outside seating, proper toilets and the race start literally just a moment’s jog away. It certainly made pre-race a very relaxed affair.
As well as a new HQ, the course was also new. This meant we weren’t really sure what to expect. The rumour mill was again in full effect, confirmed by one of the bag drop volunteers telling everyone that it wasn’t undulating, it was hilly. Oh, and the sun was due to put his hat on just to add to the ‘fun’.
Turns out Bag Drop Lady was a bit of a Mystic Meg as both predictions came to fruition (although she didn’t predict the head wind from mile 6). The hills were a tad more than ‘challenging’ and words were had with the Race Director post race about the 2 nasty hills in the last mile (of all the places to put them!) which I later learnt on Strava is called the Broadoak Dipper thanks to its rollercoaster elevation. Not what my or anyone else’s legs needed at that point on the course. Expletives may have been muttered.
Props to the Sittingbourne Striders though. A nice medal, technical tee, ‘race village’ with free gifts (unfortunately Jazz Pharmaceuticals were a non show) plus a rather lovely spread of complimentary baked goods – all clearly a PR stunt to take your mind off the tough (but scenic) preceding 10 miles and leave you with positive vibes.
Congrats to Geoff Turner for adding to his Plastic Trophy Cabinet as 1st M60 and M60 KGP Champ, to Sam Bridger and Mark Godsalve for their PBs and to Mike King for his Personal Worst over the distance.
Male Winner: Fintan Kavanagh 53.23
Female Winner: Jill Phillips 1:09:14
6th/2nd M40: John Law 1:00:18
29th/1st M60: Geoff Turner 1:12:02
30th: Mark Godsalve 1:12:36
53rd: Mike King 1:18:29
62nd: Colin Ricketts 1:19:38
98th: Ali Farrall 1:25:53
108th: Sam Bridger 1:28:21
159th: Lucille Joannes 1:38:44