Medway & Maidstone Senior Men’s team competed at the Southern Cross-country Championships on Saturday 29th August, two years after the previous event. Whilst all the other regional championships have reduced their race distance, the Southern Championships are still an endurance-sapping 15 km.
The organisers had problems finding a venue to hold this large event and in the end Beckenham Place Park was selected late in the day. Whilst, being local, this was useful for the club. However, the venue was too small and the terrain, being a mixture of hard dry paths and grass, not really suitable for cross-country. It did mean there were some very fast times which suited some athletes more than others.
Problems with sickness and a myriad of other unfortunate events meant that half the M & M athletes that had been entered couldn’t run on the day. The team still finished a creditable 17th out of 106 competing teams. Southampton AC took first team place, followed by Highgate Harriers and Tonbridge AC.
The individual gold went to Andy Coley-Maud of Guilford & Godalming claiming his second Southern Championship win (47.41). Silver was taken by Ben Alcock of Bedford & County AC (47.46), followed by Alexander Teuten of Southampton AC (47.49).
First home for Medway & Maidstone AC was Tewelde Menges in 52nd (51.45). He was followed home by Tom Collins in 80th (52.45), Anthony Webb 91st (53.44), Chris Rampling 208th (57.39), Justin Lane 242nd (58.48) and Jayden Iles 288th (1.00.14), closing the six-man team. Excellent support was also provided by Gareth Williams 378th (1.03.25), Alun Rodgers 388th (1.03.45), Sean Rodwell 435th (1.05.27) and Darren Wright 485th (1.07.99).
Hayden Gear continued his excellent season winning an individual bronze medal in the U17 men’s race. Cameron Featherstone (75th) & Callum Featherstone (100th). The U20 Mens Team achieved a top10 placing finishing 9th. led by Ethan Gear (20th). Alex Donnelly (71st) Sean Barwick (72nd) & Isaac Thomas (83rd).
U15 Alex Dack, fresh from his triumph in the Kent Cross Country Championships, took victory in the boys’ race, becoming the club’s first individual South of England champion since Barry Royden won the senior men’s title in 1992. He was part of the large leading group which gradually fragmented as the race progressed, breaking away in the final 300m and sprinting to the line to win by 6 seconds in 15:11.
Franklin Shepherd was next home in 23rd place, just over a minute behind (16:19) and Ethan Rollings was 146th (18:41).
A weakened U13 boys’ team finished in a creditable 16th place; Reuben Sarakbi led the team home in 73rd place (12:20), followed by Jake Alford (101st in 12:35), Henry Powell (133rd in 13:20) and Dominic Powell who completed the scoring in 158th place (14:31).
There was 4 seniors ladies competing for M&M. Chloe Hammond was first back finishing strong in 161st position followed by Karen Cudmore 193rd, Vanessa Vander 217th and Bernadette Harrop’, in her first race back after several months break due to injury, in 303rd.
The M&M Under 17 Women had a very successful day with a total of 7 athletes competing – this is one of the biggest turnouts in this age group for a long time. Anna Palmer, Lily Crossley and Abigail Royden continued their excellent cross country seasons, finishing in 18th, 23rd and 25th positions respectively. Ella Webb was M&M’s fourth team scorer in 76th place, followed by Lola Sutton (79th), Ingrid Linn (111th) and Ciara Harrop (119th). These superb performances meant M&M finished in a very respectable 4th place in the team event.
The U15 girls team also with 7 athletes were. represented by Iris Crossley 23rd, Natalia Austin 26th, Millie Dack 39th, Beth Palmer 74th, Heidi Hughes 90th, Elizabeth Fry 118th and Abigail Hawkes 163rd.
The U13 saw Rose Crossley finish in 25th with Sofia Cudmore-Smith finishing in 54th position.
This weekend sees the final Kent League at Norman Park, Bromley for the Senior Men and Ladies.