Weekend Report - 4th/5th November 2017
Tonbridge Capture National Title After Epic Battle
The Club's mens team won the National Cross Country Relay title for the first time, on Saturday, after an epic dual with rivals Aldershot. More than two hundred teams toed the line for the four legs of five kilometres, over the undulating and muddy Berry Hill Park course, at Mansfield.
George Duggan led the team off, having been a member of Tonbridge teams that had won at the championships in the four younger age groups. He came home 9th in 15.38, sixteen seconds behind the leaders Preston and a fraction behind the Aldershot athlete.
Charlie Joslin-Allen took over and with a 16.18 split moved the team up to 5th, with Aldershot just behind in 7th. Stockport led at this halfway stage, about thirty seconds ahead of Tonbridge. Ryan Driscoll took over and was tracked by the National Junior Champion, Ellis Cross of Aldershot all the way. They both chased down the leaders, with Driscoll's 15.44 clocking giving Tonbridge the lead by a second.
The race came down to an almighty tussle between Chris Olley for Tonbridge and former National Cross Country Champion, Jonny Hay of Aldershot. Olley kept up a ferocious pace, tracked by Hay, who has a renowned sprint finish. Entering the final six hundred metres they were still locked together, but it was Olley who upped the pace even more to come home with a two second advantage, having run the fastest lap of the race in 15.29.
Backing up the senior result, the under 20 men's team also took the National title, for the fifth consecutive time. Alasdair Kinloch, returning to racing after injury, ran 9.16 to come home 19th on the first leg of three kilometres. Jamie Goodge (9.12) moved up to 6th, before James Puxty (9.06) produced a terrific final leg to capture the title. The Tonbridge team finished just behind a Loughborough University team who, not being a club, are excluded from the championship result.
The under 13 girls team of Anaïs Fernández-Laaksonen, Olivia Breed and Sophie Slack finished 5th, just thirteen seconds away from a medal, as a 124 teams started. The under 17 men's team of Dan Schofield, James Kingston and Simon Coppard finished 6th, whilst the other Tonbridge placings were – under 13 boys 38th, under 15 girls 30th, under 15 boys 18th, under 17 women 24th and under 20 women 25th. There was no senior ladies team, as the club's best runners competed in a 10k road race on Sunday.
Ashley Gibson made an outstanding debut at 10 kilometres on the road, when she finished third in the prestigious Leeds Abbey Dash event, on Sunday. Gibson, despite being an established distance runner, was making her debut over the distance and clocked 33.30, to take 36 seconds from the previous best by Miranda Heathcote, set in 1998.
The race was won by Olympian Eilish McColgan in 32.05, although Gibson claimed the English title, having only a Scot and Irish athlete ahead.
Lucy Reid reduced her own personal best to 34.38, as she placed 16th. In the men's race Nathan Marsh had perhaps his best race to date to finish 15th, with a big personal best of 29.59, whilst Ben Cole reduced his pb to 30.15 in 20th.
This coming weekend on Saturday 11th November many Tonbridge runners will be competing in the Kent Cross Country League fixture, at Footscray, near Sidcup.