Cross Country returns: Kent Cross Country League, Swanley – 16th October 2021

The first race of the season, in the Kent Cross-country League, was held at Swanley on Saturday.  This was the first Cross-country league race for almost 2 years.  The league is contested by the many of the top middle-distance runners from Kent and South-East London.  In the Senior Men’s race, Medway & Maidstone AC had 17 runners competing, a great turn out considering many of the cub runners had competed in marathons in the previous 2 weeks. The club had 12 runners in the top 64 and 15 runners in the top 90, showing great strength in depth. There were also some superb individual performances and an excellent team spirit was clearly evident. There were 268 finishers in total.  In spite of having 4 finishers in the first 16 (46 points), the club failed to win the 4-to-score team position as Tonbridge AC had a superb team result taking the first 5 places (10 points).  M&M still had a great result with 2nd team out of 20 teams. Cambridge Harriers were 3rd (65 points). In the 12-to-score team competition, Tonbridge AC also took  first place (197), with M&M again second (382), followed by Cambridge Harriers (656). M&Ms team first scorer was Anthony Webb (M45) in 9th.  He was also the first master. He was closely followed by Tom Collins (M35) in 10th and Under 20 Ethan Gear in 11th. Justin Lane (M45) completed the 4-to-score team with his highest ever league position. To complete the 12-to-score team the top 4 were followed by Ben Tyler (20th); Neill Wright with his highest ever league position in 29th; Johnathan Whittall 34th in his first race for the club; Mark Wilkins (M40 38th); Jayden Iles, 45th in his first ever cross-country race; Noel Lyons (first M50 in 48th); Alun Rodgers (M55 58th) and Sean Rodwell, 64th, another runner recording his highest ever finishing place, moving up 90 places since he last ran at Swanley in 2019. Athletes providing strong back-up to the scoring teams were Gareth Williams (M55, 72nd), Barry Royden (M50 75th), Triston Hodges (M40 90th), Robert Fursey (M55 148th) and James Milne (M40) in his first race for the club and first ever cross-country race

 The U17 & U20 men’s races ware represented by a good number of athletes. The U17 men got the season off to a flyer with Hayden Gear putting in a very impressive performance and winning the race. Dylan Leach (19th) & Jacob Graham (31st) made up the team which placed a creditable 3rd place overall. The Under 20 Men’s team was hampered with illness and Sean Barwick in his first race for the club placed 6th and Alex Donnelly 11th.

The U13 boys set off over the twisty and undulating 3100 metres course; 20 minutes later and they were all finished, their Kent League debuts completed. Freddie Gibson was first M&M home in 4th place, pipping Owen Tucker by 1 second, Alex Anderson completed the team in 43rd place, followed by Sam Fowler (50th), Louie Gear (60th) and Sebastian Charilaou (63rd). The team currently lie in 5th place, just 4 points off of the lead.

The U15 boys took their turn, this time over a slightly longer 3910m route. In comparison to the U13s, these were seasoned athletes having previously competed in the 2019/20 season as under 13s. Initially, the first 25 athletes were clumped into three groups and covered by around 15 seconds but as the first lap continued the lead athletes stretched away and the groups began to fragment. At the halfway point, Alex Dack had opened up a two metres lead over Franklin Shepherd with Riley Maisey around ten metres further back and Theo Ronchetti a further twenty metres back in 5th place. With 800 metres to go, the front three remained in the same positions but a Tonbridge athlete had moved up into 4th place with Ronchetti right on his shoulder; this was a great place to be because the Tonbridge athlete slipped and fell at the final turn and Rochetti seized his opportunity to race past the stricken athlete and complete a 1-2-3-4 finish; the team secured first place in the three to score competition with Henry Gibson (14th) and Jay Trimmer (27th) giving strong supporting performances.

With the Senior Woman now competing over the same distance as the men there were some strong performances over this longer distance. Liz Weeks (W40) (15th), followed in by teammates Taryne McPherson (W45) (29th) and Jenny Fowler (W45) (51st) to complete the 3 to score and 4th place. Karen Cudmore (W45) (57th), Chloe Hammond (W45) struggling through with an injury but still crossing the line in 62nd and Cat Rodwell (102nd) completed the 6 to score and 6th place. Kat Ford (W35) (118th) and rounding up the team placings.

It was a good turnout for M&M’s U17 & U20 Women’s teams at Swanley Park, with a total of 9 athletes.  It was great to see this many competing after nearly two years away from Kent League Cross Country. In the Under 17 Women’s category, M&M had 3 athletes in the top 10 placings with Abigail Royden, Lily Crossley and Ella Webb in 7th, 9th & 10th places respectively.  They were followed by Annabel Young (17th), Emma Ryan (22nd), Jenny Swandale (26th) and Ciara Harrop (30th).  This excellent performance meant the Under 17 Women finished in 3rd place in the team event on the day.  In the Under 20 Women’s category, Billie Rouse finished in 2nd place, followed by Rachel Anderson in 6th place.  There were no Under 20 Women team results as none of the clubs entered fielded enough athletes to qualify for this.

An 11 strong U15 girls’ team were led home by Iris Crossley in a great 7th place. Also running strong,  Millie Dack (15th) and Beth Palmer, (16th) completed the scoring team leaving the girls finishing in 3rd place. Macey Sawyer (17th), Mercedes McGivern (26th) Ferne Peirce (31st), Heidi Hughes (33rd), Abigail Hawkes (39th), Erin Marsh (42nd), Elizabeth Fry (43rd), Sophie Stratford (44th)

The U13s girls’ team  was led home by Rose Crossley finishing with a superb 4th place closely followed by a strong performance from  Sofia Cudmore-Smith (7th) and new to cross country, Sienna Mabb (21st) to complete the team scoring for 2nd. Other placings were Sienna Gratwick (28th), Mia Blaber (38th), Darcy Scott (44th), Maisie Graham (48th) and Mary-Anne Sawyer (51st).  

Well done to all the competitors. The next race is at Somerhill School, Tonbridge on the 23thOctober.