History of the Kent Fitness League

Rob Bright, the League Coordinator, has provided the following history of the Kent Fitness League.

The Kent Fitness League originated in the late 1980’s following an article in Today’s Runner Magazine encouraging newcomers to the sport (a) to take up cross country running and (b) to join a running club. The aim was to encourage mass participation amongst men and women, excluding elite athletes from the competition, with the minimum amount of formality and organisation. A series of leagues were set up across the country with the winning teams taking part in a National final.

Originally set up as the Today’s Runner League, in Kent there were originally five constituent clubs (Gravesend Roadrunners, Invicta East Kent, Thanet Roadrunners, Maidstone Harriers and the now defunct Woodstock Runners). Each club staged one race, and we attracted around 70 runners to each event.

I took on the role of league coordinator in 1992, since when the league has grown progressively to its current size of 16 clubs and we now get between 250 and 300 runners at each race. We have introduced a few refinements since the early days, such as individual competitions and the presentation evening, but otherwise little has changed in the format of the competition. We now have 7 races in the season and award our own prizes, the National Final having fallen by the wayside.

Every attempt is made to spread the races around the County (which extends into South East London) as far as possible and we try and introduce new venues from time to time. Minnis Bay is the one venue which has been on the fixture list almost since the beginning – offering the unique opportunity to start an XC race on the beach. In addition to our current venues, we have also visited Sittingbourne, Paddock Wood, Cobham, Beckenham and Deal in the past.