02 February 2022
South of England AA Championships 29 January
2022, Beckenham Place Park
like day with a stiff breeze and good under foot.
The Southern Cross Country Championships proved to be
a strange experience for the team as it was an unusually warm and sunny and
most of us only had the shortest of journeys to reach the handy venue of
Beckenham Place Park. It proved to be a gruelling experience, nonetheless,
as we got the promised distance of 15km and enough rolling hills and gravel
paths to ensure a fresh test at every corner.
There was a lengthy debate beforehand about whether
spikes or racing flats would be the best choice, and Roger Vilardell
supported the claims of the latter by running a finely judged race to lead
the team home in 101st place via a strong last lap. For the first time since
early November, this meant that Micah Evans wasn't the first man across the
line for the Heath, but he made up for it by following closely behind Roger
in 105th place. Up next, Dan Kennedy was hot on his heels close behind for a
strong finish in 107th. Tom Desborough suffered slightly from a fast start
but defeated a certain Highgate man to place 128th, while Rob Donohue
overcame some disrupted training to manage an impressive 147th place. Luca
Ercolani completed the scoring sextet by tucking just inside the top 200 in
194th place with his usual big occasion performance.
Graeme Lugar had a great battle with Luca to come
place just behind him in 198th place, David Adams had a fine debut at the
South XC in 207th as he builds up to his next marathon, while another
marathon man, Fintan Parkinson, achieved 225th place. Darren Corneille was
the next man to finish in 296th as he continues his fine season, ably
supported by the redoubtable Greg Firth in 319th, with Simon Harris
following on in 343rd. Gareth Evans was finally left unhindered by ferrying
around his son to the age group races to make a welcome return to racing in
356th, Chris Tuck was just outside the top 400 in 404th, Steve Hough got his
second race in at Beckenham Place Park in two months to come 454th, Paul
Sharpe got back into the swing of cross country racing by placing 466th,
Jason Meers strode out confidently to come 504th, and Rich Byford snuck
inside the top 600 in 595th.
As a team, we came 14th out of 46 teams- an impressive
showing that put us ahead of Shaftsbury and Newham (who didn't put out full
teams) as well as Medway and Maidstone and Thames Valley Harriers (who did).
Up the Heath!
Dan, Chris and Ross
Some photos from Nick Kinsey