Richard McDowell (M35 Hercules Wimbledon) attacked Huw Lobb's 2011 course record (1:52:43) and succeeded to win the North Downs 30K title in sweltering conditions on Sunday morning (24 June). Meanwhile, Amy Clements (W35 Kent AC) retained her women's trophy for the fourth successive time since making her debut with second place in 2014.
The 35th staging of this highly rated race was again promoted by Istead & Ifield Harriers with support from local clubs like Harvel Hash House Harriers (HHHH). Your reporter enjoyed the party atmosphere at the HHHH halfway drink station, where beer and wine were on offer along with the usual water, sponges and jelly babies.
With the race once again nominated to host the British Masters AF Trail Championships the leading positions were dominated by men and women over-35 and there was a fully sold out entry with 531 finishers in just over five and a half hours.
The race route passes through some of the finest scenery in southern England from Cascades Leisure Centre, Gravesend. One of the main features is the relentless climb to Holly Hill at almost 200 metres above sea level and the most rewarding views across the North Downs.
Richard McDowell's solo effort resulted in a new course record by three seconds (1:52:40) as he powered round to finish five minutes clear of defending champion Tom Collins (Medway & Maidstone, 1:57:50). Danny Kendall (M35 Cambridge Harriers, 2:00:53) completed the male rostrum. Leading age group runners included M50 Jim Ashworth-Beamont (Serpentine, 2:09:49), M60 David Gill (Warrington, 2:23:07) and M70 David Winch (Thanet, 2:39:44).
Amy Clements ran her fastest time on this course (2:12:40) but ultra champion Liz Hawker's 2006 record (2:04:42) seems to be unattainable. Runners-up were Liz Weeks (W35 Sittingbourne, 2:26:28) and Harriet Woolley (Tunbridge Wells, 2:28:39). Top female masters included W45 Heather Fitzmaurice (Sevenoaks, 2:33:15) and W60 Janet Lenton (Orpington, 2:46:17).