Weekend Report - 26th/27th November 2016

Club Runners Take on UK Best

The Club took the strongest ever squad to the British Cross Challenge at Sefton Park, Liverpool on Saturday, with almost all of them contesting the European Championship trial races, in the under 20, under 23 and senior age groups.

The men’s race saw possibly the finest field assembled for many years toe the line, for a domestic distance running event. Olympic 5000 metres, sixth-placer. Andy Butchart, led the six hundred strong field home and was followed by three other Rio Olympians in Callum Hawkins, Andy Vernon and Ross Millington.

With these athletes at the front of proceedings, the pace was ferocious from the start of the 9,800m event. It was testament to how far the young Tonbridge squad has come that they had four in the top forty. Chris Olley finished 21st in 29.57 and was followed home by James West (25th), Corey De’Ath (32nd) and Robbie Farnham-Rose (38th). These four placed 5th, 7th, 9th and 11th of the under 23s, which was a separate trial category for the European Championships.

The first four athletes gained automatic selection for the GB team of six and unfortunately for Chris Olley he has only been named as first reserve. In normal circumstances he would have gained selection, but two USA based runners performed extremely well the previous weekend, at the national collegiate championships and have been given the nod by the selectors.

In the women’s race both Ashley Gibson (36th) and Nicole Taylor (42nd) had their best runs of the cross country season, with Taylor being 12th of the under 23s.

Tonbridge have two of their juniors who will be hoping that their performances might lead to an England team selection, for an upcoming cross country fixture. Phoebe Barker, despite being only seventeen the day after the race, placed 9th in the combined under 17 and 20 women’s race and was third of the lower age group athletes. Similarly, Tom Holden was 10th in the under 20 men’s race and will be hoping that an England vest beckons.

Also on Saturday, Tonbridge teams were competing in the Kent Cross Country League, at Danson Park, Bexleyheath.  It was the final round of four for the young athlete age groups, when league titles would be awarded.

The under 17 men’s squad were in dominant form once again, filling the first four places, through James Puxty, Bede Pitcairn-Knowles, Dan Seagrove and Sam Crick, whilst their under 13 and 15 team mates, also secured their team titles.

In the under 15s James Kingston and Adam Van der Plas had their best runs of the season to take 3rd and 4th, respectively and were closely followed by Toby Emm (5th) and Ingmar Gunn (7th).

Fin Croll just missed out on a win in the under 13 boys race, although it was so close that he was given the same time as the winner, Sam Reardon, of Blackheath. Matthew Taylor (3rd), Olukorede Fasina (4th) and Henry Taylor (5th) filled the next few places.

The under 13 and 15 girls teams both finished second in their final league tables. Steph Puxty continued her recent good form to finish 3rd in the under 15s, with Rebekah O’Brien (6th) and Luciana Anderson (9th) also scoring. In the under 13s Ella de Munck (5th), Angela Ward (9th) and club debutant, Olivia Wittenberg (22nd) all ran well to score.

The senior women were in action and placed 4th of the 18 clubs on the day, as Lucy Thompson (13th), Shauna Paice (16th) and Polly Pitcairn-Knowles (25th) scored.

On Sunday Julian Rendall and Dan Bradley finished 2nd and 3rd at the Crowborough 10k road race in 34.22 and 34.29 respectively. Rendall was just two seconds behind the winner Matt Bradford, of Lewes, on the extremely hilly course.

This weekend the Kent Veterans Cross Country Championships take place on Saturday 3rd December, at Dartford, whilst on Sunday 4th December Tonbridge AC host the latest of their junior one mile races, at Tonbridge School. Registration is at 2pm, on the fields near the sports centre, with a medal being awarded to every finisher. Ages are from 4 to 12 years old and the races are open to anyone wishing to try the distance.

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