Southern Race Walking Championships
Ashford Athletics Club race walkers took a big step forward in Eltham on Saturday. Seven Ashford athletes contested the Southern Race Walking Championships on a cold and windy Sutcliffe Park in South East London.
First off were juniors Jacqueline Benson and Marshall Smith. Jacqueline showed great technique to finish 4th in the Under 15 years 3,000 metres with a well deserved personal best. Marshal, normally a middle distance runner, showed his versatility with a glorious second place in the Under 17's 5,000m.
Next came the senior 10,000 metres with Philip Wilson of Lyminge and Rebecca Cope making their road walking debuts with established athletes Jon and Chris Hobbs. Rebecca also showing great promise to finish seventh in the women's race and Philip showing his strength and determination to gain ninth place in the men's. Nearer the front Jon, the National 50 Kilometre Race Walking Champion, spent most of the race in second place before being overtaken near the line by a fast finishing athlete from Sussex. With veteran Chris Hobbs in 4th position the Ashford Team resoundingly won the Team Event for the first time ever.
Ashford Athlete Jonathan Hobbs becomes National 50K Race Walking Champion
Following success in the Northern 35km Race Walking Championships in June and the Guernsey 19.4 mile Race Jonathan Hobbs entered the National Race Walking 50km Championships determined to do well. Five miles further than a marathon and 50 laps of a Cycle Park in Hillingdon was a daunting prospect for this 21 year old Ashford AC athlete as he lined up on a sunny Sunday morning.
The plan was to take it steady, pace it well and get to the finish. “ Coming up to 20km, I was still fairly comfortable but in 50km racing it's common to go through occasional bad patches where the finish seems an impossibly distant concept; the first of these patches came just after 20km but, compared to successive struggles at 30km, 40km and 45km, it was really not so bad. It was a grind to the end, but I got there nonetheless, in 5:12:24, winning my race by 48 minutes”, an exhausted but pleased athlete said.
Jonathan also became the youngest ever winner of an 84 year old title whose previous holders have included six Olympic medallists, including local legend Mighty Mouse, Don Thompson.
Once recovered, Jonathan is confident that he can make considerable improvements in his time, in what is the longest athletics event in major games.