Athletics is rarely described as requiring teamwork, but Kingston AC & Polytechnic Harriers junior team manager Susanne Dietrich is in no doubt it helps, writes Jan Kapcia.
Young distance runner Phoebe Law has emerged as a shining light in the Kingsmeadow club’s junior ranks after securing a bronze medal at the Surrey Cross Country Championships in Croydon two weeks’ ago.
The 16-year-old Surbiton High School student clocked 20 minutes, 24 seconds to finish third thanks to a blistering sprint finish in the girls 6.5km race.
And she followed that up by winning the U17s Surrey Ladies Cross Country League Division Two race on Mitcham Common on Saturday in 15:28.
Law was encouraged to join the club by Dietrich after seeing her compete for her school, where she balances revising for her GCSE’s with her athletics training.
But Dietrich, who is the Young Athletes’ cross country team manager believes there is no secret to success, just good old fashioned
She said: “While Phoebe is one of our outstanding runners, the secret to our success is that the youngsters work as a team and support each other.
“This led to the girls last summer winning everything they possibly could win, and the mixed boys and girls teams winning their group in the National Young Athletes League.”
Law’s success is largely down to meticulous planning, which saw her walk the course ahead of her medal winning effort at the Surrey Championships.
But her mum explained this was nothing new.
“Phoebe always does that. We always arrive early, download a map and she and I walk around the course together,” she said.
“She can see where it goes up and down, where to time her sprints and where all the mud is.”
She added: “The club have been great. Her coach, Richard Holt, and everyone there puts in a huge amount of time and energy. They work so hard.”
As if to prove the point, Law’s clubmate 16-year-old Phil Bearman won the boys U17/U15 race in 13:48 with Neil Wellard (14:01) second and Harry Reynolds (15:12) in fourth.
It means their team remained top of Surrey Yong Athletes Cross Country League Division Two – 73 points ahead of nearest rivals Guildford & Godalming with one race remaining.
MEanwhile, Walton Athletics Club’s men slipped off the top of 2XU Surrey Men’s Cross Country League Division Two on Saturday, despite finishing the Mitcham Common meeting in second.
Conor Kissane-Wood led the team home as he clocked 31 minutes, 31 seconds to finish 10th, with Warren Kidgell (31:46) in 13th and Andrew Crookes (32:11) in 18th, completing Walton’s top three.
Kingston AC & Polytechnic Harriers’ Harry Johnston, 26, finished fourth in 31:06 as he led his team to a fourth place finish.
Clapham Chasers won the match and top the table by 11 points ahead of Walton, with only next month’s match on February 9 remaining.
Walton’s Anna Gilmore led the women’s team home as she finished their Surrey Ladies League Division Two race in fourth (37:05), with Fiona Parry (37:12) sixth and Jo Locker (37:41) in eighth, finishing the team’s top three.
Elmbridge Road Runners’ Nikki Nicholson (38:06) was first home for her team in the same race, while clubmate Kevin Armstrong (29:48, 26th) led the men home in the Division Three and Four race.
Kingston and Elmbridge athletes will be out in force at the Surrey School’s Cross Country Championship today, before next week’s Kingston AC & Polytechnic Harriers’ Championships and Kingston Schools’ race on January 26.