The Southern Cross-country Championships are probably the toughest major cross-country race in the country, with athletes competing from as far as Cornwall to Norfolk. The day started cold but sunny. However by the time the men set off the clouds had opened leaving the hilly course very wet and muddy!
At 15 Km for the Senior Men, it is certainly the longest and in the wet conditions, the Brighton course was enough to test the best. Medway & Maidstone Athletics Club men’s team conquered the course, the team finishing 11th, their equal highest ever in this competition, their previous 11th place was recorded 10 years ago. It was unfortunate the club had several injured athletes that were unavailable; otherwise a top 10 place was a clear possibility. Bedford & County took first team place, followed by Highgate Harriers and Serpentine.
The individual gold went to Kent A C runner John Gilbert who recently won the Kent County Senior Championship. Silver went to Adam Hickey of Southend-on-Sea. Max Nicholls of Tonbridge took bronze, highlighting the current strong position of Kent athletics. There were over 740 finishers.
First home for Medway & Maidstone AC was Teweldebrhan Menges in 27th place (44.27). This was his first senior race after running as an Under 20 in previous years. He was followed home by Tom Collins (69th, 46.16), Chris Fullerton (103rd, 47.44), Mark Wilkins (121st, 48.55), Lee McMeekin (175th, 50.55), Adam Featherstone (432nd, 59.31), Gareth Williams (493rd, 61.57) and Alun Rodgers (549th, 64.32).
Both Medway & Maidstone A.C. U17 And U20 Men’s teams were severely hampered by sickness. The U17 Men’s team managed to field a skeleton team with half the athletes running with an illness. The team placed 16th overall. Ben Hughes continued his fine form this season with an individual 25th placing (21:21). Reece Perkins (136 24:59), Alex Donnelly 145 (25:34), and Reagan Archer (163 27:16) completed the team.
The U20 team were not so lucky and only 2 athletes made the starting line. Robert Meyer finishing an impressive 15th place (28:12) accompanied by Marley Godden 42nd (30:01).
The U15 boys opened the day’s racing and finished 19th overall with Dan McGlynn first home (79th place 16:00) followed by Ethan Gear (90th 16:13), Luke Stringer (125th 16:41) and George Wallace (139th 16:52) to close the team. There was further support from Max Eldridge (160th 17:16), Finlay MacDonald (171st 17:26) and Finn Rodgers (210th 18:30).
The U13 boys finished 10th overall led home by Alistair Shelley (45th 11:03), Cameron Featherstone (61st 11:12), Callum Featherstone (109th 11:42) and Hayden Gear (112th 11:43) closing the team. They were followed home by Elliot Chamberlain (193nd 12:28), Jack Morris (198th 12:30) and Kyle Buckley (251st 13:37).
The Senior Women had only 3 women contesting the race but with one of their runners not finishing, it was left to Stephanie Hearn finishing in a strong 123rd (36:48) followed by Mo Fazakerley in 201 (40:50).
There were no U20 or U17 women.
In the U15 girls event, out of a total field of 211, Alex Baker-Jones was first over the line for M&M in 87th place (16:03), followed by Charlotte Young in (97th 16:11), Rachel Anderson in (112th 16:22) and Millie Morris in (161st 17:30).
There were 222 competitors in the U13 girls event and M&M were led home by Anna Palmer in an excellent 26th place (11.44). Followed by Abigail Royden (74th 12:15), Annabel Young (98th 12:39) and Fern Curran(131st 12:51). They were followed home by Sarah Mitchell (13:17), Katie Stringer (14:35) and Ciara Harrop (15:51).
The next main cross-country race for the Senior men’s team is the Kent League meeting at Sparrow’s Den, West Wickham on the 10th February (12:30 start). The National Cross-country Championship is at Parliament Hill on the 24th February (15:00 start). The final Kent Fitness League meeting of the season is at Blean Woods, Canterbury on the 4th February (11:00)