Weekend Report - 8th October 2017
Tonbridge Men Capture English National Title
The Club's mens team found themselves in the unusual position of finishing second in a race, but winning a national championship, on Saturday. The scene was the National Road Relay Championships, held at Sutton Coldfield, where the men's race was held over the traditional six legs of 5.88 kilometres.
Tonbridge finished second to the Welsh squad from Swansea Harriers, but had a titanic battle with Lincoln Wellington and Aldershot, at the finish, to claim the English title.
Charlie Joslin-Allen ran 17.51 for the opening leg, to bring the team home in 18th, before Dominic Brown's 17.52 took them up nine places. The in-form Ben Cole ran an excellent 17.54 to move into 8th, before George Duggan's 17.53 really put Tonbridge in contention after four stages, as he came home fourth. Ryan Driscoll, who had been unwell in the week, bounced back to form superbly to bring Tonbridge up to third, almost level with Lincoln with his 17.43 clocking, before Chris Olley set off on the anchor leg.
Olley not only had the Lincoln runner to contend with but was being chased hard by former National Cross Country Champion, Jonny Hay, of Aldershot. Lincoln pulled clear over the first half of the stage, but Olley had paced his run to perfection and stormed home, with the fourth fastest time of the entire race in 17.17.
Once again Tonbridge proved that they are right at the top of distance running in this country, claiming their third national championship, on the road and country, over the past two years.
Medals also came from a superb performance by the under 13 girls team, who raced over three stages of 3.8km. Anais Fernadez-Laaksonen came into the squad, having missed the regional event two weeks earlier. Her time of 14.53 placed her 17th of 70 starters, before she handed to Olivia Breed. Breed ran 14.26, the fourth fastest time of the race and squeezed into the lead at the handover. Sophie Slack recorded 14.48, the eighth fastest lap, only losing out to a very strong athlete from Vale Royal AC.
Tonbridge had teams in every age group including the senior women who placed 35th, under 13 boys 17th, under 15 girls 12th, under 15 boys 8th, under 17 women 19th and under 17 men 13th.
Fraser Gordon ran a 12.48 split to be the ninth fastest in the under 15 boys' race, whilst Katie Goodge's 13.58 was the fourth fastest overall in the under 15 girls event. Nicole Taylor was the fastest senior lady from the club clocking 14.36 over the 4.3 km course.
This weekend, on Saturday 14th October, the Kent Cross Country League commences, with the fixture at Stanhill Farm, Wilmington. The first race starts at 12 noon with Tonbridge likely to have large numbers competing across the age groups.