Athletics Weekly - - Action -


TON­BRIDGE AC took their first-ever se­nior men’s ti­tle in Mans­field. The Kent club now holds the Na­tional Cross team ti­tle, six-stage road re­lay crown and cross-coun­try re­lays ti­tle and not sur­pris­ingly is keen to add the 12-stage road re­lay cham­pi­onship to its bur­geon­ing tro­phy cab­i­net.

The club has been im­press­ing in re­cent years as its teams have come up through the age groups. In Mans­field their old­est run­ner was only 23 years old, too, which bodes well for fu­ture suc­cess.

With the 4x5km men’s event the last of the 10-race pro­gramme to take place, the sun was drop­ping over Berry

Hill Park and the air be­com­ing chill­ier as the run­ners set off.

A crack­ing race en­sued, though, with Ton­bridge hold­ing off reign­ing cham­pi­ons Alder­shot, Farn­ham & District by a few me­tres to cre­ate club his­tory.

Ge­orge Dug­gan put Ton­bridge into con­tention in a first stage led by Pre­ston Har­rier Pat Dever from Gateshead’s Lewis Moses and City of Stoke’s Alex Brecker. “There were re­ally good run­ners on the first leg so I knew I re­ally had to get our boys up there,” said Dug­gan, who was al­most level with Alder­shot’s Josh Grace at the changeover.

On stage two Gus Cockle took over for Alder­shot and Char­lie Joslin-Allen for Ton­bridge as both run­ners moved their teams slightly up the peck­ing or­der be­fore Joslin-Allen handed over to Ryan Driscoll, the old­est in the team, who put Ton­bridge into the lead from AFD’s El­lis Cross.

Then it came down to a duel on the fi­nal stage be­tween Chris Ol­ley of Ton­bridge and Jonny Hay of Alder­shot, with the Ton­bridge man pre­vail­ing in a sprint fin­ish.

In third, mean­while, Shaftes­bury Bar­net were an­chored by Phil Crout and ran strongly to head

Lin­coln Welling­ton, Bris­tol & West, Liver­pool Har­ri­ers and Stock­port Har­ri­ers in the bat­tle for a podium po­si­tion.

Con­tin­u­ing on their up­ward curve, Ton­bridge won the bronze in 2015 and sil­ver in 2016 be­fore gold this year. “It’s a young team and we have a good few years ahead of us,” said Joslin-Allen. “I was lucky enough to win the un­der-20 race with Ge­orge in 2014 and so it was nice to be part of a win­ning men’s team here.

“It’s been a long time com­ing and it was nice for Mark (Hook­way, the team man­ager and coach) as he’s put to­gether a re­ally good club in Ton­bridge.”

A de­lighted Hook­way said: “Char­lie, Ge­orge, and Ryan have won medals here as un­der-15s. Also there are a lot who are miss­ing from the team who are part of the suc­cess. We had to re­jig the team a bit on the eve of the race and Char­lie only came into the team quite late.”

He added: “Cur­rently we hold the na­tional cross coun­try ti­tle, this (re­lays) ti­tle and the sixstage, al­though we’ve not won the na­tional 12-stage yet.”

The size­able men’s field charge into bat­tle

Ton­bridge (l to r): Ge­orge Dug­gan, Char­lie Joslin-Allen, Ryan Driscoll, Chris Ol­ley

Jonny Hay: sil­ver for Alder­shot, Farn­ham & District

Matt Bowser: helped Lin­coln Welling­ton into fourth

Chris Ol­ley: se­cured gold for Ton­bridge on the glory leg

Phillip Crout: third place for Shaftes­bury

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