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Road runner Royden smashes own record

KENT'S top road runner Barry Royden (Maidstone and Medway) returned to the Bethersden five mile race to shatter his own course record and pick up the £50 bonus offered by the organisers.

It was a day for a number of good times despite the testing wind that buffeted the runners on the outward leg of the course in addition to Royden's sterling display that carved 24 seconds off his record set in 1994.

It was the 11th running of the race and organisers were just happy to get in back on the circuit after last year's unavoidable problems that forced a double postponement.

With last year's runners being offered first refusal to run and a field limited to 250 organisers were forced to turn some runners away.

But there was a good field that lined up with honours going to Royden who held off the challenge of Australian Barry Keem and former Ashford AC man Anthony Webb. But it was still a good day for Ashford with the ladies race honours going to Helen Wheeler from Folkestone and veteran Kevin Williams who took the Over-35s prize.

In the supervets class Barry Watson from South Kent Harriers emerged on top with Sue James of Paddock Wood taking the women's prize.

Pride of the village were the school's deputy head Paul Hale who was the top Bethersden finisher with the women's award going to local mother Michele Slater.

Aussie Keem, who is running for Blackheath while in the UK, was the only one to look capable of unsetting the form book, holding on to Royden for the first four miles just three seconds off the pace.

But then the Maidstone and Medway ace, seeing he was still on record schedule, then swept away to win in 24 minutes 17 seconds.

Keem equalled the former record in a personal best 24:31 and Webb was a comfortable third in 25:12. If they had been going for a team prize the M&M squad would have swept it as Maidstone's Pat Curran was fourth in 25:37 with Ashford taking the next two slots Dayson finishing in 25:41 and Williams in 27:01.

Helen Wheeler has been running well and was a commanding winner of the ladies race in 30:03 from Deal Tri Squad's Sarah Philpott who was second in a personal best 31:26.

Third was Dartford runner Laura Sell in 32:03 with Maidstone's Catherine Harveyfourth in 33:33 just holding off James just five seconds behind.

The race was launched to support fund raising for the school and has been very successful. Excellent sponsorship led by Milefix, supporters from the first run, has greatly benefitted school projects and the efforts of local people showed the commitment none more so than committee member Chris Ryston who raised £70 of sponsorship for his run finishing in a creditable 39:10.

Bethersden school head teacher Pat Edwards thanked all those who had supported the run. "They have done a fantastic job raising money for the school and we will also like to thank the many business sponsors who have also helped," she said.

This year the awards were made by Ashford mayor Cllr Les Lawrie who praised the concept of an event that encouraged sport and fitness as well as raisingÊfunds for the school.

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