Tonbridge mens’ team storm to victory and win back crown

Tonbridge mens' team storm to victory and win back crown
Tonbridge Athletic Club’s men’s team regained the English National Cross Country Championship

They were supported by the under-13 girls, who also won their age group for the second year in a row, with silver medals for the under-15 boys, under-17s and under-20 men.

The senior men had won the title in 2017 and 2018 but were runners-up to Leeds last year and not among the favourites this season, with the holders, Bedford and Aldershot looking strong.

Rainstorms had made the course extremely challenging, with surface water and knee deep mud in places which would test the resolve of all the competitors, but around 2,000 runners took part in the men’s event.

The conditions suited mountain running international Max Nicholls, who led the team home in 11th place, followed by Ben Cole (24th), Kieran Reilly (32nd), Ryan Driscoll (42nd), Corey De’Ath (58th) and Luke Fisher, enjoying his best ever performance in 76th place.

Leeds had started well with two in the top eight but scored 277 points to the Tonbridge total of 243 (lowest score wins), with Bristol, Bedford and Highgate close behind.

The under-13 girls all performed well on their 3km course, with Lily Slack in fifth place leading the way, ahead of an outstanding run from Gracie MacAuley in ninth.

Penny Horne (38th) and Georgia Conroy (84th) completed the scoring team as Tonbridge won by just eight points from Wreake & Soar Valley with Wolverhampton in third.

Tonbridge had hopes rather than expectations for medals in the three competitions where they were runners-up.

The under-20 men finished second to Shaftesbury Barnet through James Puxty (17th), James Kingston (20th), Will Beeston (60th) and Dan Schofield (69th), despite the latter two recently returning from injuries.

The under-17 men were runners-up to Windsor, with the four scorers being Matthew Taylor (fifth), Fraser Gordon (24th), Henry Taylor (30th) and Alex Beeston (50th).

The under-15 boys finished just one point ahead of third-placed Windsor and behind a very strong team from South London Harriers.

The four scorers, Adam Jeddo (26th), George Hopkins (35th), Ananjan Ganguli (37th) and Josh Prendergast (42nd), packed very well.

The senior womens placed seventh out of 94 completed teams despite missing a couple of key runners with Nicole Taylor (20th), Lucy Reid (27th), Harriet Woolley (104th) and Chloe Bird (124th) scoring.

In the other age group races Tonbridge finished fifth in the under-13 boys, sixth in the under-17 women, eighth in the under-20 women and 12th in the under-15 girls events to complete the club’s best overall set of National Championship results.

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