Rob Bright's 2003-2004 Mid-Term Report

As we approach the festive season, after a busy and exhausting November, we now have a chance to draw breath and review what we have done so far withjust over half of our races out of the way.

As usual, we have had no let up in support for our events, despite some indifferent weather this autumn. 311 made it around Knole Park in glorious sunshine in amongst the grazing deer Ė a figure which was exceeded by 6 three weeks later in damp drizzle at Swanley Park. Then we had a real treat in store for the mud larks as we were welcomed to Nurstead Court for the first time in torrential rain and really soft ground conditions. Rough Common was bathed in sunshine for the fourth race Ė with firmer conditions underfoot. Turnout for the last two races was 272 and 274. Once again, we have to say a big thank you to all the clubs who have had a hand in putting on these races, particularly the unsung heroes who get up at 6.00 am on a frosty (or wet) morning to help set out the course and then stand around in the freezing cold (pouring rain) to make sure everyone gets safely around the route and is logged in at the finish.

This season has been remarkable in several ways. Firstly, it is normal at this stage for there to be two or more teams in with a shout of winning the championship. This year, the team championships have pretty well been pocketed by Dartford Roadrunners and only a major turnaround in the last three races will stop them from taking both the Ladiesí and the Combined Championships. The Roadrunners finished runners-up to Medway and Maidstone last season and seem to have exacted revenge this time around.

Secondly, the menís individual championship is normally tied up at this point in the season as somebody new has come from nowhere and won every race (witness Tim Bailey last year). This time, we have had four different winners from the four races. This means that there is less than one percentage point separating Andy Green, Steve Roberts, Jamie Atkinson and Martin Forder at this stage. Atkinson has to finish all three remaining races to have a chance, however, while Forder has to finish two of the last three to keep his chances alive. Roberts won the title back in 1996 and if he wins this season, it will be the first time that a man has ever taken two individual championships.

The M40 championship is also looking to be a close run thing with Steve Adams, Chris Desmond and Ray Pearce all grouped together. Paul Ross-Davies is well clear in the M50ís from Phil Wallace, although it has to be said that Mike Stacey would now be lying second if he had not arrived late at the start of the Rough Common race ! Andrew Johnson has a clear lead in the M60 championship but, with Joe Cleverly having to pull out of the Rough Common race, the M70ís title may now be heading in the direction of Richard Pitcairn-Knowles.

The first half of the season has also seen the emergence of Annabelle Stearns as a force in womenís athletics. Having finished as winner in three of her four starts, she holds a commanding lead in the competition and just needs one more reasonable race to make sure of the title. The only question is who will win the battle for second place; Michelle Flaxton and Debbie Percival are currently locked together in the ratings.

If Debbie finishes in the top 3 ladies overall, she will take one of these prizes rather than the over 40 title. The over 40ís race seems to be looking good for Janet Cobby who has a clear lead over Jane Blackmore. For the over 45ís, Liz Batty could have a clear run unless Janice Moorekite can overcome her back problems to run the final three events. Pat Halstead has the lead in the over 50ís race ahead of Julie Jones. Talking of Julie Jones (who is profiled below), she leads the list of most improved ladies with a plus of 19% on her rating from last year. In the corresponding menís classification, the most improved is Alastair Telford who has upped his score by nearly 40% on last season, and itís pure coincidence that Alastair looks after the league statistics on Canterbury Harriersí Web Site !

Inter-club Five-stage Relay and Presentation of Awards

MOTE PARK, MAIDSTONE - Sunday 29th February 2003

We are ending this season with a relay event in Maidstone to be immediately followed by our presentation of awards. This is a departure from our usual routine of staging an evening presentation, and we hope that it will encourage more people from the more distant parts of Kent to attend.

The Relay will consist of teams of 5 each running a 2.5 mile circuit in the park. Each club can enter as many teams as they like (entry fee is £7.50 per team) and teams should comprise at least one lady and one male veteran. There will be prizes awarded for the first 3 teams home and the fastest stage times Ė full results will be produced and circulated after the race. Maidstone Harriers have kindly agreed to organise this event.

Please note that this will not count in any way towards the league placings for teams or individuals Ė which will be completed at Oxleas Meadow on 1st February. This is really just a devious way of luring everyone back to Maidstone for the presentation ceremony !