Published: 10:00, 19 May 2020
| Updated: 10:06, 19 May 2020
A virtual running league has attracted competitors from 26 different clubs across Kent and beyond.
The Ashford & District Road Road Running Club’s Lockdown League has proved popular for members and non-members and is now entering its fifth week.
Around 200 competitors are taking part each week and collectively over 3,500 miles have been logged. Runners this week are attempting a one-hour challenge.
Leading the charge for the ladies after four weeks is A&D’s Christine Costiff, ahead of club-mate Gill O’Connor. They are also topping the team table. Costiff has won all four races so far for the ladies.
Challengers for individual overall honours include Medway & Maidstone’s Taryne McPherson and South Kent Harriers’ Marie Watson. Jo Daniels (Dover Road Runners), Liz Weeks (Ashford Legends & Rejects) and Rachel Cottam (Virtually Last) are also among the leading contenders.
For the men, first and third is taken by M&M runners, with Richard Tomlinson leading the way ahead of Folkestone RC’s David Tyler in second and Alun Rodgers next placed. Mark Sluman (Dover RRC) and Dan Green (A&D) aren’t far behind.
Ashford RC’s Marshall Smith missed week three but is well placed. He won the opening week’s run, over five miles and came second in the three-mile challenge.
Folkestone RC lead the men’s team table ahead of Ashford AC and M&M AC.
Each week a running distance is posted by A&D member and Lockdown League creator, Ricky Hickman. Entrants then have from Monday to Sunday (6pm) to submit a time for their run over the specified distance for that week.
Since the league started, there have been submissions from runners at Ashford Athletic Club, Ashford Striders and Beginners2Runners, the South Kent Harriers, Sittingbourne Striders, Dover Road Runners AC, Medway & Maidstone AC, Maidstone Harriers, Folkestone Running Club, Deal Tri Club and even the Isle of Wight Road Runners, along with plenty of non-affiliated competitors.
The Lockdown League is described as “a friendly, virtual running competition which is open to members and non members alike.”
Runs can be any route but must start and finish in roughly the same place. At the end of each week, Hickman then produces detailed results from all the submissions received. These results are age graded and broken down into gender and team categories to show the current week’s points, as well as a total overview of the competition standings as a whole.
Current age-group leaders, for the ladies, are A&D’s Rhian Shrimplin (under-35s), McPherson (35-44), Cottam (45-54) and Costiff (over-55s).
Topping the charts overall for the men are Tyler (under-40), Green (40-49), Tomlinson (50-59) and South Kent Harriers’ Ray Pearce (over-60s).
An A&D spokesperson said: “If social distancing has taught us anything, it's how tough it is to motivate yourself with training hanging in the balance, no events lined up to work towards and the added stresses of a global pandemic.
“This virtual, interactive event has proved extremely popular. It provides friendly competitiveness between the participants and gives a much-needed focus and motivation to exercise routines.
“Running regulars are keen to post new personal bests and those new to running are able to show impressive progress in their running regimes.”
Runs can be saved to Strava and results are posted on the Facebook Lockdown League page. Both platforms allow interaction between the individuals with many comments of motivation and support being posted.
“In addition, floods of gratitude come in each week for Ricky, who set up this Lockdown Challenge and spends valuable time each week to produce the eagerly anticipated weekly results.”
Runners have now completed five, three, six and four mile distances, but there has been a shake up for week five, with competitors asked to see how far they can run in an hour. It’s not too late to join either.