Rob Bright's Race Report for Match 2, Season 2011-2012

Swanley Park, New Barn Road, Swanley on 2011-11-13 at 11:00/

On a wonderfully sunny and warm autumn day in Swanley Park on Sunday, an unbelievable number of people turned out to take part in a foot race. With nearly 500 starters in the main race and almost 50 juniors, the record books for the league were re-written in a morning.

The seniors field was boosted by more than 50 non-affiliated (guest) runners, three of them spending a good deal of time at the front of the field for most of the 5 mile route. Of this trio, Pete Tucker (Blackheath and Bromley) and Chris Holmes (Invicta East Kent) are familiar figures on the local road running scene, but our winner Eric MacTaggart may be not so well known. A 25 year old from Illinois, currently studying at University in Canterbury, he has already clocked up 28.50 for 10,000 metres so probably no surprise to see him cross the line well clear of the rest.

It was over a minute before the official winner crossed the line in 4th place. Andy Green (Dartford RR) has been a regular league performer over many years but we have to look back 8 years to find the last time he took victory in one of our races. His second win comes 3 days after his 43rd birthday. Two previous champions, Clayton Barrett and James Ridger battled out the minor placings followed in by Gavin Kitchingham and Gareth Robb – winner at Sevenoaks.

Malcolm Martin was once again the leading over 50 competitor in 22nd place while Phil Wallace led the over 60’s home.

Gravesend Roadrunners provided the surprises in the ladies’ race – 3 finishers in the top 5 and by a long chalk the best team on the day. At the front of the field, Mel Frazier continued her meteoric rise over the last year to finish clear of the 124-strong ladies’ field, just ahead of former champion Annabelle Stearns. Nicola Groom, winner at Sevenoaks, was back in 3rd place on this occasion with another newcomer – Beth Armstong taking 4th place.

There were notable performances also from Ann Fuller and Pauline Dalton – both in the o45 category finishing in the top 10 and Sue James from the 60+ brigade finishing 24th.

In the Combined Team contest, Paddock Wood edged through ahead of Larkfield to take maximum points, so after 2 races, the two clubs are level at the top of the table 5 points clear of Dartford Roadrunners and Istead – but still everything to play for !

The junior race winners were, once again, James Graves and Holly Page.

The junior results are available as an Excel spreadsheet, as are the current junior league standings.

Congratulations to Swanley and District AC for a well organised event and particularly to the marshals and officials who coped admirably with the huge numbers of competitors. Please let me know how you thought the race went from a competitors point of view. Is it time to think about reducing the numbers, were you troubled by queues for car parking, toilets or bottlenecks on the course ?

Our 3rd race is on 27th November at Oxleas Wood – further details to follow.