Published: 06:00, 01 July 2021
Around 650 runners took part in the North Downs Run on Sunday - one of the south east’s most gruelling off road races.
The 30k race, now in its 37th year, started at its new home for 2021, the Cyclopark in Gravesend, and took in Shorne farmland, Cobham Park into the Cuxton Valley and the notorious Holly Hill (180m elevation).
The race is organised by Istead and Ifield Harriers, with around 150 volunteers supporting the race - including 102 marshals at 82 points across the course. This included members of the Gravesend & Meopham Rotary Club, one of the event sponsors, and a local Scout group, based at water stations.
The race had to be cancelled last year - due to Covid restrictions but got the go-ahead from the local council in March this year - on the proviso that it met government guidelines for big sporting events, which meant the introduction of wave starts and stringent social distancing measures.
Darren Deed from Bedford & County Athletics Club won the race, completing the course in a new record time of 1hr 51min.
The first female was Nikki Woodyard from Springfield Striders Running Club, who completed the course in 2:24.
The oldest runner was 75 and the youngest was 21-years-old.
Race director Colette Smith said: “We are delighted with how the race went - particularly in such a challenging year.
"The course is tough but beautiful and our runners appreciate the support from our marshals and volunteers - and this year was no exception.
"Runners have been full of praise for both the organisation and support. Over the past year or so, runners have missed taking part in races. It was such a joy to see everyone enjoying themselves out on the course."
Famed for its free home-made cake, around 30 local bakers made 800 cakes for the North Downs Run which were handed to runners by the 3rd Milton (St Faith’s) Brownies, based in Gravesend (in Covid-safe paper bags).
The North Downs Run is sponsored by a number of local businesses, including Thameside Windows, The Swain Group, Barnes Roffe LLP and Kingsland Polymers. It also received donations support from The Co-Op Castle Hill, Vegan Antics and Raynet.
Results: Top 10 men: Darren Deed (Bedford & County AC) 1: 51.57, Ed Bovingdon (Istead & Ifield Harriers) 1:54.01, Andrea Fraquelli (Serpentine RC) 1:56.50, Jeff Pyrah (Hastings AC) 1:58.27; Phil Sanders (Kent AC) 1:59.05; Fabien Lassonde (Victoria Park Harriers & Tower Hamlets AC) 1:59.56; Christopher Rampling (Medway & Maidstone AC) 2:02.07; Peter Tucker (Inverclyde AC) 2:02.07; Peter Lighting (Kent AC) 2:02.50; Julian Rendall (Tonbridge AC) 2:05.40.
Top 10 women: Nikki Woodyard (Springfield Striders RC) 2:24.33; Lara Bromilow (Marshall Milton Keynes AC) 2:26.25; Amelie Karlsson (Tunbridge Wells Harriers) 2:27.25; Victoria Buck (Kent AC) 2:29.05; Teresa Murphy (2:30.01); Susan Harrison (Leamington Cycling & Athletic Club) 2:33.48; Claire Fisher (Victoria Park Harriers & Tower Hamlets AC) 2:34.24; Tracey Carro Noya (Serpentine RC) 2:36.45; Emma Crawford (Petts Wood Runners) 2:37.14; Charlotte Marianne Bates (Maidstone Harriers) 2:38.17.