After a delay of two years, it was great to see the return of the Kent Cross-country Championships on the outer fields around Brands Hatch racecourse on Saturday. Apart from the weather of heavy rain the other major difference this year was Medway & Maidstone AC’s medal haul, highlighting many great team and individual performances.The team medal tally in 2020 was 6 bronze medals, in 2022 this improved to 6 bronze medals, along with a silver and a gold.In relation to individual medals, in 2020 the club had just one gold, in 2022 this increased to 2 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze. The Senior men’s 12 Km race was very similar to the previous 2020 race with 17 athletes completing the course. The team were rewarded with bronze medals in both the 6-to-score and 12-to-score team competitions as in 2020.The main difference this year was the weather which was cold, very wet and windy, resulting in a muddy, slippery course.The overall 6-to-score team winners were Tonbridge, followed by Kent AC, then Medway & Maidstone AC.Tonbridge AC also claimed the 12-to-score team win, again followed by Kent AC and Medway & Maidstone AC. The overall individual winner was Jamie Goodge of Tonbridge covering the 12 Km course in 41.41.The silver medal place was claimed by James Kingston (U20) of Tonbridge (41.50). Owen Hind of Kent AC, the previous winner, was third in 41.54. The first runner home for Medway & Maidstone AC was Teweldebrahn Menges, in 14th in 44.27. Second for the club was Tom Collins (M35) in 17th, followed by Jacques Cunningham-Marsh 20th, Anthony Webb (M45) in 21st, Daniel St Martin in 42nd, a big improvement from 58th last time, and Jack Crossley (M40) in 43rd to complete the 6-to-score team. The 12-to score team was completed by Mark Wilkins (M40) 49th, Justin Lane (M45) 53rd, Neil wright (M45) 74th, Chris Rampling (M35) 78th, Alun Rodgers (M55) 80th and Daniel Longhurst (M40) in 86th. The overall team was completed by Gareth Williams 91st, Harry Collins 98th, Sean Rodwell 118th, Richard Kerswill (M50) 153rd and Bob Fursey (M55) 155th.There were 203 finishers, a slight increase on the 2020 race.
The U17 Men had a good championship with Hayden Gear leading the team to a team bronze. Hayden put in an excellent individual performance placing second overall and an individual silver medal. Cameron Featherstone (14th), Callum Featherstone (25th) & Dylan Leach (27th) completed the team success. The U20 Mens team were just as prosperous, earning another team bronze for M & M AC. Ethan Gear (5th), Luke Stringer (16th), Alex Donnelly (18th), Isaac Thomas(23rd) contributed to this teams success.
The U13 boys had their first taste of a county championships cross country, racing over a single 3050m lap. Their squad which was reduced by a number of but performed very well and they were unlucky to miss the podium by just 12 places. Owen Tucker led the team home in 10th place (11:57) followed closely by Freddie Gibson in 11th (12:01), Jake Alford was 37th (13:15) and the team was completed by Sam Fowler in 52nd place (13:59), they were supported by Louie Gear 56th (14:10).
The U15 boys continued their rich vein of form from the Kent League race series by finishing a close second to Tonbridge AC in the two lap 4400m race, just 5 places from the team gold. Alex Dack took the individual gold in 16:01 having led for most of the second larger (3200m) lap, he was briefly headed again by Noah Paterson of Folkestone Running Club with 300m to go but kicked again and retook the lead with 200m remaining, going away to win by 6 seconds. Franklin Shepherd completedthe podium, out sprinting Harrison Fraser of Tonbridge AC to take third in 16:20. Theo Ronchetti was 16th (17:39) and the team was completed by Riley Maisey in 17th place (17:49) who battled to the line with Henry Gibson 18th (17:50). Further support came from Ethan Rollings in 21st (18:14) and Jay Trimmer in 43rd place (20:21).
A much depleted senior ladies team, due to illness, left only 4 runners out of the 9 entered. Nevertheless the 4 performed strongly and should be proud of themselves. The ladies were the last race of the day and with the heavy rain and previous races, conditions underfoot were difficult. Chloe Hammond (36th) was first M&M across the line followed closely by Taryne McPherson (40th). Vanessa Vander (75th) finished the 3 to score team. Cat Rodwell finished in 105th position.
The Under 17 Women’s team had a very successful day finishing the day in first place in the team event.Anna Palmer, Abigail Royden and Lily Crossley all finished in the top 6, in 3rd, 4th and 6th places respectively.They were followed home by Ella Webb (15th), Annabel Young (17th), Lola Sutton (18th), Ingrid Linn (26th), Jenny Swandale (28th) and Ciara Harrop (29th). In the Under 20 Women’s event, Charlotte Young finished in 5th place.
There were strong performances in both the U13s and U15s girls teams. Rose Crossley took the lead from half way though the 3050m U13 girls race and maintained her first place position to win the County title in 11:58. Supported by Sofia Cudmore in 20thposition (13:48) and Sienna Mabb in 25th(14:02), the girls managed to secure a 3rdplace in the team medal with 46 points, narrowly behind Tonbridge with 43 points. The U15 girls were well represented over the 4,400m course with Iris Crossley leading the Maidstone and Medway team home in 5thposition (18:39), followed by Millie Dack in 10thplace (19:11) and Beth Palmer in 15th(19:32). The team scored 30 points which also secured them the 3rdplace team position. Heidi Hughes had a strong run to finish 16th(19:49) and was followed to the finish by Elizabeth Fry in 30thposition (20:48). Two team medals and an individual gold was a great performance from the M&M girls in the wind, mud and rain. This race was the start of the Championship races, with the Southern Championships on the 29th January at Beckenham and National Championships at Parliament Hill on the 26th February. There is also the final Kent League race at Bromley on the 12th February and the British Masters on the 12th March.