Southern Cross Country Championships, Parliament Hill – Saturday 26th January, 2019

The Southern Cross-country Championships returned to Parliament Hill this year.  For the men, this 15 Km, muddy and hilly course is known for being tough, with athletes competing from as far as Cornwall and Norfolk.  Medway & Maidstone Athletics Club men’s team lost 2 of their top runners just days before the race, but still finished a creditable 18th out of 154 competing teams.  It was also very encouraging to see 13 finishers from the club, a record number of runners in this event.  Aldershot, Farnham and District AC took first team place, followed by Tonbridge AC and Serpentine AC.

The individual gold went to Henry Pearce of Tonbridge AC, the silver going to last year’s National Cross-country Champion, Adam Hickey of Southend-on-Sea.  Ed Shepherd of Woodford Green AC took bronze. There were over 1150 finishers, a big increase on last year’s entry.

First home for Medway & Maidstone AC was Teweldebrhan Menges in 27th place (48.10). This was the same position as 2018, but with a much higher number of runners this was a much improved performance.  He was followed home by Tom Collins (77th, 50.45), Noel Sutton (166th, 53.20), Harry Collins (206th, 54.26), Lee McMeekin (307th, 56.31), and Daniel St Martin (326th, 56.51) closing the 6-man-team.  Excellent support was also provided by Justin Lane (441st, 58.57), Gareth Williams (488th, 59.51), Adam Featherstone (548th, 60.56), Alun Rodgers (705th 63.39), Darren Wright (771st 64.42) Stephen McGlynn (793rd 65.11) and Sean Rodwell (830th 66.09).

As is traditional for the South of England cross country championships, the under 15 boys kicked off the day’s racing over a windy but slightly less muddy than usual Parliament Hill Fields. Ethan Gear was first home (39th, 16:22), Cameron Featherstone (151st, 17:50) and Callum Featherstone (192nd, 18:31); unfortunately there was no fourth member to complete the team, there were 296 finishers.

The U20M saw Simon Habtom first in for M&M (40th, 27.48) followed by Marley Godden (77th, 28.59) and Jacques Cunningham-Marsh (78th, 29.00).

The U17s had one runner with a strong run from Alex Donnelly (96th, 24.22).

The under 13 Boys had excellent individual and team performances, Hayden Gear was first home in a creditable 19th place in 11:46, just 42 seconds behind the winner; he was followed home by Alistair Shelley (43rd, 12:06), Oliver Brownridge (74th, 12:34) and Kazimierz Gogol (141st, 13:02); these four closed the team in 12th place out of 38 complete teams; they were ably supported by Jay Trimmer (166th, 13:15) and Elliot Chamberlain (270th, 14:16), there were 330 finishers.

Three woman turned out for the Senior Women’s team over the 8000 km course. A strong run for Stephanie Hearn (150, 34.13), followed by Mo Fazakerley (432, 40.21) and Bernie Harrop (469, 41.17) out of 703 competitors.

Although a number of girls could not compete because of illness, Medway & Maidstone Under 13 and Under 15 Girls were well represented at the Southern Cross Country Championships at Parliament Hill. In the Under 13 Girls race, Abigail Royden was first over the line for M&M (83rd, 13.47) and Lily Crossley was the next (204th, 15.07) place.  These were great results in a top class field of 316 competitors.

In the Under 15 Girls race, M&M had a total of seven competitors.  Annabel Young was first M&M in (173rd, 19.49) place, followed by Rachel Anderson (192, 20.07), Sarah Mitchell (224, 20.53), Katie Stringer (267, 22.15), Amy Jukes (268, 22.16), Alejandra Alonso (282, 23.15) and Ciara Harrop (290, 24.08).

There were no Under 17 Women participants due to illness.  Congratulations to everyone who took part in a tough race in very challenging conditions.

Next week (Sunday 3rd February), the final Kent Fitness League meeting of the season is at Blean Woods, Canterbury (11:00 start).  There is also a Junior race prior to the main race.

The final Senior Men’s Kent League meeting is at Norman’s Park, Bromley on Saturday 9th February.  The final Cross-country race of the year is the National Cross-country Championship at Harewood House, Leeds on the 23rd February.