Saturday, 21 January 2017

Kent AC women in the 1950s

My club, Kent Athletic Club, was formed in 1898 and has therefore nearly 120 years of running and other athletics behind it, sustained through the years by the efforts of countless volunteers in South East London. Former club coach Larry Garnham is currently finalising a history of the club, and has gathered together a treasure horde of photographs and documents dating back to the club's origins. Some of these have already been deposited in Lewisham Archives, and others will be shortly. 

Here's some great photos from the 1950s of the club's 'Ladies Section'. Prior to the Second World War the club was just for men but this was all to change.

The first photograph is captioned 'KAC Ladies Section - Winter training 1950-51, Ladywell Track' (where the club still trains today). The caption also lists the women - presumably left to right  - as Joyce Lane, Audrey Bell, Beryl Lane, Maureen Theakstone, Shirley Marlow, Olive Hynes, Edna Wittey and Audrey Homewood.



The second photo was also taken at Ladywell in 1950-51 - possibly even in the same session.


I don't have a caption or date for the final team photo but it is evidently from broadly the same period.


See previous posts on Kent AC and its history:







 Always interested to find out more, if you have any club photos or memorabilia lying around do get in touch.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

December Running - Kent Vets, South of the Thames and Xmas parkrun

Kent Veterans/Masters Cross Country

Kent Veterans Cross Country Championships took place on Saturday 3rd December 2016 at Central Park in Dartford. The park, which is just next to the town centre, includes the Dartford Harriers HQ and it was good to see the recently refurbished athletics track there. The cross country course was not the wildest, much of it being run around flat playing fields to the East of the River Darent interspersed with scrambling up and down a bank (as someone said, like an international cross country event without quite the same speed). Still it was a good course for spectators as the runners were never far away. Just over 300 runners took part in the different races.

Map of Dartford course (see Strava)
The men's 40-49 was probably the most exciting, with Blackheath and Bromley's Alex Gibbins hanging on to the shoulder of last year's winner Chris Greenwood (Kent AC) before overtaking him on the finishing stretch. Kent's Phil Sanders was third and  Kent also won the club competition ahead of Medway & Maidstone AC and Tonbridge AC.

Chris Greenwood, Phil Sanders and Alex Gibbins in the lead
The M50-59 race was won by Ben Reynolds whose club Tonbridge AC were also the winning team in the seven mile race. I scored for Kent AC, who came 4th.  Not for the first time I was Mr Median for age (42nd out of 84), I was pleased that overtaking two runners in the last few hundred metres moved us up a place, but also disappointed that I didn't sustain anything like the pace of the previous week's 10K PB which would have comfortably moved us into a medal position.

Alan Camp (Blackheath and Bromley) won the M60 and David Moorekite (Larkfield AC) the M70.

Start of women's and M60 race

In the women's 35-44, Hazel Behagg  (Dartford Road Runners) was first home, with Blackheath and Bromley the winning team.  Maria Heslop (Paddock Wood AC) won the W45-54 ahead of Clare Elms whose Dulwich Runnners picked up the team prize. Victoria Talbot Rosner (Invicta East Kent AC) won the W55 and Sue James (Paddock Wood AC) the W65.



South of the Thames Senior Cross Country

This year's South of the Thames Senior Race was hosted by Kent AC at Beckenham Place Park on 17th December 2016. The Park is the venue for the new Beckenham Place parkun and the finishing line for the summer Assembly League races, but it has been a while since it featured a cross country race on this scale. Sadly the golf course in the park has recently closed down, the silver lining in the 18 hole cloud being the fact that that the whole park is now available for other activities (a lottery-funded regeneration scheme for the park is due to start shortly).  And so 290 runners set off across the former fairways at the start of the two lap, seven mile course.

Men and women run alongside each other in this race, with Phil Wicks (Belgrave Harriers) winning the men's competition ahead of Owen Hind (Kent AC), back in London on a Christmas break from a year running and studying at West Texas A&M University.  John Sanderson (Guildford & Godalming) was third. Amy Clements (Kent AC) won the women's competition, with Lucy Reid (Tonbridge) in 2nd place  and Amy's Team GB 50k colleague Samantha Ahmend (Belgrave Harriers) in 3rd. 

The Colman Cup
For the second year in a a row Kent AC men won the Dewar Shield for the 6-to-score competition, and also won the 12-to-score Colman Cup. Belgrave Harriers won the women's competition, ahead of Kent AC and Dulwich Runners (full results here)

The route - see Strava for more details

I enjoyed running the course, which did feel like a proper rural run even if it was in a South London park half way between Bromley and Lewisham.  There was a substantial hill near the start, followed by a quite technical narrow woodland path with lots of tree roots, and a couple of short but very steep banks to clamber up too.  Not to mention some very fast downhill stretches.

great photo of the race by James Turner

parkrun

I got in a few parkruns over the festive period, including Peckham Rye on Christmas Eve and Hilly Fields on Christmas Day where there there were running Santas and a glass of bubbly at the end. Amidst all the family and feasting it was good to also spend time with this friendly community of runners.

Santa sprints to the finish at Hilly Fields on Christmas Day

I finished off my 2016 running today with the New Year's Eve Brockwell parkrun in Brixton.

So that's the year done, hopefully plenty more running to come in 2017. Have a peaceful and fruitful New Year everybody, long may you run.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Peckham Street Art Run

Ten miles on a frosty morning, out and about in South London before the shops opened.

RIP George Michael, outside John the Unicorn pub, Rye Lane, SE15
(I was listening to George Michael's 'Listen without prejudice' LP while running)

This one, and the one below, from the courtyard outside the Bussey building, Rye Lane, SE15


Copeland Park, SE15

Prime Minister Theresa May as Star Wars villain, by Artful Dodger, outside Peckhamplex cinema

by Peckham car park

'Stay wild, stay true', on  old Surrey canal path

Friday, 16 December 2016

South of the Thames Cross Country 1903

Looking forward to the South of the Thames Senior Cross Country race at Beckenham Place Park this weekend. My club, Kent AC,  won this race last year for the first time since 1907.  The club were a dominant force in cross country at the time, thanks in particular to their star runner Albert Aldridge. He won the South of the Thames in 1902 and 1903, with the club finishing in second place on both occasions. Here's a report and some pictures from the 1903 race, which was won by Herne Hill Harriers. A few points to note: cross country at this time still featured the old hare and hounds paperchase method of marking the course, with trail layers running ahead and scattering slips of paper for the runners to follow; courses often had hurdles such as fences to overcome (in this race, one runner was reported to have been severely injured on such a hurdle); and one lesson that still applies - make sure you get there on time.

'THE SOUTH OF THE THAMES AT BROMLEY COMMON. VICTORY OF THE HERNE HILL HARRIERS' (Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News,14 February 1903)

'The ill-fortune which proverbially follows the Kent Athletic Club, at Championship time, pursued them hotly on Saturday. Scarcely had the team men recovered from the shock of hearing that H. W. Churchman was in hospital awaiting an operation, than they found themselves minus another good man in R. E. Guest. He arrived on the scene, at Oakley Park. Bromley too late to compete. Then, when the 175 runners, representing fifteen clubs, were well on their way, H. Stent injured himself so severely on a hurdle that he collapsed completely.

Finally, the Kent A.C. lost the Championship by 22 points. Last year they lost by 1 point only. They had the satisfaction, however, in both years of supplying in A. Aldridge the first man home. He beat the big field a bit more than comfortably in 41 mins. 52 3/5 secs- good running for seven and a half miles of varied going, with obstacles en route. Next to Aldridge came the Reading runner, D. G. Harris, who did wonderfully well for a man thirty-one years of age. He cut out the work for F. James, of the Herne Hill Harriers, with such determination that the latter's finishing powers were rendered less dangerous than usual. James came in third, and easily beat the Eastbourne athlete and Sussex ex-Champion, B. Sewell.

Team honours went to the Herne Hill Harriers, who were similarly successful two years ago. They ran well on Saturday to win, as they did, with their second best man, J. S. Raynor, dropping out from exhaustion, brought on by running several miles from the wrong station, at which he had alighted. F. Appleby, who has relinquished athletics, for a time, in favour of study, and A. B. Starck, who is far from well, were also absentees. The leading clubs and their points were Herne Hill, 115; Kent, 137; Reading, 142; Eastbourne, 210; Epsom, 212; and Morden, 215. The forward running of P. A. Casserley, of the last-named club, was a great surprise'.
The trail layers



Sunday, 4 December 2016

Sri Chinmoy 10k in Battersea Park

I ran in the Sri Chinmoy 10k in Battersea Park last week (November 26th 2016).  The series of races organised there by the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team and associated Run and Become shop have a deserved good reputation for being friendly and well organised, and also for attracting some good club runners as well as those making their first steps at this distance. The Battersea Park course is fast and flat, and the conditions last week were perfect for speed - cold and dry, but not icy.

214 runners took part, and the first 24 were all under 35 minutes headed by Tony Payne of Wesley Harrierse in 31.47. Lisa Rooney of Collingwood AC was the first woman in 39.11 (full results here)

the start of the race - from Sri Chinmoy photo gallery
Sri Chinmoy on running

Sri Chinmoy (1931-2007) was an Indian spiritual teacher and keen runner, who advocated running and physical exercise as part of spiritual practice: 

"Running offers us the message of transcendence. In our running, every day we are aiming at a new goal... every day we are running towards a goal, but when we reach that goal, we want to go still farther. Either we want to improve our timing or increase our distance. There is no end. Running means continual transcendence, and that is also the message of our inner life."

“These long distance races remind me of our Eternity’s race. Along Eternity’s Shore we are running, running, running. We are running and running with our birthless and deathless hopes. We are running and running with the ever-transcending Beyond"

“Run and become.
Become and run.
Run to succeed in the outer world.
Become to proceed in the inner world.”

(As mentioned here before, Carlos Santana was associated with Sri Chinmoy for a while, hence his Marathon album).

You don't have to worry about being preached at on these runs though - the message is there if you want it, but the organisers are focused on putting on a good race.


As for me, I'm not sure I quite transcended my self, but judging by this picture I was fairly flying at the finish line and did get a big PB - 41:06.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

New parkrun in Beckenham

Yesterday saw 193 people taking part in the inaugural Beckenham Place parkrun in SE London. Andy Bond from Dulwich Runners set the opening men's course record in 17:34, with his club mate Selma Benattia establishing the women's record of 19:51. 


The two lap figure of eight course is pretty flat (certainly no hills), much of it on grass and the remainder on gravel. On the long lap it's certainly a relief to turn back at the furthest point and begin the run towards home, just under half a mile along the path by the River Ravensbourne, concealed among the trees. Yesterday the grass was still frosted over at the start after a cold night, so it was a little slippery. It was beginning to get muddy in places by the end, so you might want to consider trail shoes over the winter if you are really chasing a fast time. 

My main tip would be to take notice of the course directions before you get there. I know parts of Beckenham Place Park very well, with Assembly League races finishing by the mansion. I rocked up at the car park there thinking I would be bound to see some sign of the parkrun but couldn't see any trace at all. I bumped into a couple of similarly confused visitors in town from Perth and we headed off on a long run to try and find the start. The parkrun  actually starts at the Summerhouse playing fields on the other side of the railway at the East of the park. You are best coming to it from the Ravensbourne Avenue entrance, and by public transport to Ravensbourne station. There is car parking at the Old Bromley Road entrance to the park, which while not quite as near is on the right side of the railway line.

Facilities are limited at present. You can leave a bag on the grass at the start (at your own risk as per usual at parkrun), and I believe that the only public toilets are back at the old mansion/cafe/ex-golf club HQ. 


This is a good addition to the SE London parkrun circuit and should take some pressure off Bromley parkrun a couple of miles away, which regularly attracts more than 600 runners. There is a strong athletics infrastructure in the area with Beckenham Running Club based not far away (though of course if you're more in the Lewisham direction, come on down to Kent AC!) .

I will be returning to the park next month when the South of the Thames senior cross country race takes places there - though on a different, and much hillier course.

Thanks as always to all the volunteers, and for Lewisham Council in supporting the parkrun getting started.