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Girbede's pace inspires others

ETHIOPIAN athlete David Girbede smashed the course record by almost two minutes in the annual Cliffe Woods 10k on Sunday. The 21-year-old has previously run the distance two minutes faster than the 30min 35sec he took to complete this undulating course based on the Cerebral Palsy Care Centre in View Road.

But his credentials would have been unknown to Darren Mitchell of Medway and Maidstone AC who tried to match strides with his African opponent for the opening kilometres. On the climb to Cooling Castle the more experienced Gareth Williams (Medway and Maidstone) and John Creane (South Kent Harriers) moved through to contest the Kent title, with Williams prevailing by just 13 seconds.

The pace of Girbede at the front helped to drag Williams and Creane under Allan Lee's 2001 record of 32min 24sec as a tired Mitchell held on for fourth place. With Mitchell not eligible for the county championships the bronze medal went to Neil Renault (Deal Triathletes) in fifth overall. Graeme Saker (Medway and Maidstone) won a quality veterans race from Peter Russell (South Kent) and Cain Bradley from Tonbridge AC.

Barry Watson (South Kent) and Michael Conway (Canterbury Harriers) were predictable winners of the M50 and M60 veterans categories respectively while there were medals also for Maidstone Harriers elder statesmen, David Thornby and David Northcroft. South Kent Harriers were team champions from Medway and Maidstone but it will be third placed Dulwich Runners who will represent Kent in the National Road Race Grand Prix finals.

Alison Fletcher led a clean sweep of the medals for Dulwich Runners in the women's race where six athletes broke the 40 minute barrier. Fletcher was 19 seconds outside Andrea Green's course record which was also set last year. The other leading athletes were her team mates Jill Johnson and Andrea Pickup who finished either side of the unattached Carin Hume.

Also in the top six were two fine athletes with international pedigree and both returning to form after an absence. Janice Moorekite (Invicta) from Maidstone was fifth overall and first W45 veteran while former world junior cross country representative, Clare Colmer (Boxley), made a tentative return to competition after a long absence while studying at Durham.

Sharon Hawkins (Maidstone Harriers) prevented a whitewash by Dulwich Runners in the W35 category while Alison White (Paddock Wood) and Pat Halstead (Swanley) followed Moorekite home in the W45 veterans section. Dulwich Runners were predictable team winners from Maidstone Harriers with Thanet Road runners collecting the bronze medals.

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