Owen Hind (Kent AC) - pictured leading above - and Emily Hosker-Thornhill (Aldershot, Farnham & District AC) took the senior individual titles as Tonbridge AC dominated the team awards at a sun-bathed Kent Cross Country Championships at Brands Hatch on Saturday (4 January).
The first weekend of the new year is the traditional date for clubs to battle for county honours and this often coincides with some of the harshest weather conditions, particularly at exposed venues such as the former airfield beside the famous motor racing circuit in West Kingsdown. Originally a motorcycle grass track circuit, Brands Hatch developed into Britain's foremost motor race track, hosting the British Grand Prix between 1964 and 1986.
There were 199 finishers in the senior men's race, competing over a tough 12km course. The race soon came down to a battle royal between Owen Hind (Kent AC) and a trio of Tonbridge AC hopefuls: Ben Cole, Corey De'ath and Cameron Payas. Hind used his sub-14 minute 5000m pace to take his first county title in 40:15 as Tonbridge packed six in the top 10 to win the four and 12 to score competitions.
The women's championship race had 117 finishers and witnessed a successful title defence by Emily Hosker-Thornhill (A,F&D) who covered the 8.35km in 30:20. Tonbridge athletes Lucy Reid and Phoebe Barker completed the podium and there was another team double for Tonbridge at both three and six-to-score.
For the first time in its club history, Tonbridge AC won medals in all 10 categories, including four further team gold medals, one silver and one bronze. Despite all that success the West Kent outfit only managed to secure one individual gold, with Katie Goodge retaining her under-17 title.
The remaining younger age-group individual champions were:
U20 men: Matthew Stonier (Invicta East Kent)
U20 women: Alexandra Millard (Invicta East Kent)
U17 men: Oliver Bright (Blackheath & Bromley Harriers)
U15 boys: Jamie Keir (Invicta East Kent)
U15 girls Anna Palmer (Medway & Maidstone)
U13 boys: Alex Dack (Thanet Roadrunners)
U13 girls: Abigail Richards (Cambridge Harriers)
Image courtesy Mark Hookway