Weekend Report - 5th/6th November 2016

Tonbridge Claim Gold and Three More Medals at Nationals

The Club had the most successful day ever at the National Cross Country Relay Championships, on Saturday, as their teams produced some superb performances to gather four medals, from the ten events, including a win for the under 20 men’s race.

The championships always provide exciting action, as teams from all over England compete on the short, fast courses of Berry Hill Park, Mansfield. With almost all of the races having teams of three, it means one very good or poor individual performance can make a big difference to the result.

The senior men’s race is an exception, with teams of four competing over five kilometres each. This year almost two hundred teams toed the starting line and the field was stacked with national and international class athletes. Tonbridge hopes were high, having finished third a year ago, but nothing could be taken for granted.

Senior Men's Team

James West ran 15.27 on the first leg and despite being in good form came home in 15th to hand over to Dominic Brown. Brown ran a 15.51 split to stay in 15th and at the halfway stage a medal repeat looked unlikely. However, partly as other teams appeared to have front loaded their team orders and mainly as he produced a stunning run, Alex Howard (15.27) moved Tonbridge up thirteen places into 2nd, just ahead of Bedford. At the front Olympian Andy Vernon (14.55) had moved Aldershot into an unassailable lead. Chris Olley ran the fastest lap on stage four with 15.16 to bring Tonbridge home in second, and clear of Bristol.

U20 Men's Team

The under 20 men ran over the three kilometre course and managed to win in the final four hundred metres, after an exciting race. Tom Holden ran 8.40 on the opening leg to come home 5th, whilst Alasdair Kinloch (9.00) moved the team into third. Then on the anchor leg George Duggan soon found himself in a battle for the win, with Aldershot’s National Cross Country Champion, Ellis Cross. However, Duggan bided his time and was able to use his track speed to pull away at the finish to win by six seconds. This added to the stunning record that Tonbridge has in this age group, since it was the fourth year in a row that the club has won the title.

Both the Tonbridge under 15 boys and under 17 men produced excellent bronze medal performances. The younger team comprised of Fraser Gordon (6.32), Toby Emm (6.43) and James Kingston (6.38), who raced over two kilometres each. The under 17s were on the three kilometre course, as Simon Coppard (9.22), Bede Pitcairn-Knowles (9.25) and James Puxty (9.08) secured third place. In both races there were almost one hundred teams starting and Tonbridge only moved into the medal position on the final leg.

All the other Tonbridge teams performed admirably and for the first time the club completed squads in all ten races. Phoebe Barker produced one of the best individual performances, as she ran the quickest stage in the under 17 race, helping the team to 8th place, alongside Clara Tyler and Grace Fleming.

U17 and U20 Women's Teams

The under 13 girls were 5th, under 13 boys 7th, under 15 girls 9th, under 20 women 14th and the senior women 31st of 137 starters.

Also on Saturday a Tonbridge men’s team of Julian Rendall, Dan Bradley, Jamie Bryant and Andrew Mercer retained the club’s title at the Reigate Priory Cross Country Relays, demonstrating the depth of the senior men’s squad at the club.

This Saturday, 12th November, the Kent Cross Country League is back, at Sparrows Den, West Wickham, with the first race at noon.

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