Conningbrook Lakes Country Park and the quiet lanes around it were once again alive with runners on the last Sunday in November as competitors in the Brett-sponsored Owler Marathon, Brett Ashford Half Marathon and 10K race faced their respective challenges.
The marathon route covered a new course leading athletes through the countryside around Brook, taking in a sneaky hill climb at the foothills of the downs, which by the end of the day was named ‘Heartbreak Hill’ by some. The weather conditions were good though and the two-lap course produced some fast times.
First home in the men’s race, more than 11 minutes ahead of his closest rival, was Martin Ostek of Havering Tri Club, in 2.48.27. David Ross of 100 Marathon Club was second in 2.59.55 and Lee McMeekin of Medway & Maidstone AC was third in 3.12.44.
The ladies’ Owler Marathon was won by Frankie Newby, running her first ever marathon, in 3.51.45 with Ruth Rhodes second in 3.53.05 and Chantel Coetzer of Havering Tri third in 3.57.07.
Next up was the Brett Ashford Half Marathon which had the biggest field of the day with over 400 runners. This race followed the same route as the Owler Marathon, but the athletes only had to complete one lap.
The men’s race was closely fought, with the top three competitors coming in within 27 seconds of each other. Alistair Scott from South Kent Harriers was first across the line in 1.21.03 with Dan Hippy of Redway Runners hot on his heels in 1.21.19 and local runner Nick Collins third in 1.21.30.
The ladies’ half marathon was won by Lesley McCarty of Greenwich Tritons with a time of 1.41.57, followed by Yvette Dore, Dulwich Runners AC who clocked 1.43.31 and Tracey Calnan, Ashford Run England who made it home in 1.48.53.
The Brett Ashford Half Marathon was particularly special for one runner, Emma Bowles, as it represented the final leg in the 511k running challenge she had set herself in memory of her mother and in aid of Bloodwise UK. The challenge has taken Emma just under 18 months to complete with only organised runs counting towards her goal.
The 10K race was won by local athlete Dan Green, Ashford & District RRC in 39.41, with Simon Hesketh, Medway & Maidstone Ac. coming second in 40.03 and Jon Wells, Ashford & District RRC, third in 42.12.
The ladies’ race saw Bridget Osterhan home first in 49.10, followed by Wendy Smith, Canterbury Harriers with a time of 52.27 and Helen Qakes, Hythe Aqua, in 53.30.
The day was organised by Tri Spirit Events and events director, Liz King, said: “It so great to see athletes challenging themselves and the new Owler Marathon seemed to go down well. The feedback has been amazing from competitors with many saying they will be back in 2017.”
One competitor had this to say in reviewing the event on the Racecheck website: “A highly-recommended mixed-terrain run. This was my first time doing the Ashford Half and I would highly recommend it. It was very well organised and the atmosphere was great. A mixed terrain, 80% country roads and 20% off-road/mud, and lovely scenery. I would definitely sign up again.”
This year's event is already in the sporting calendar and will take place on Sunday 26th November 2017.
If you are interested in entering, or for more details please visit http://www.trispiritevents.com/