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|
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.