Sevenoaks Athletics Club has long been a stalwart of the Sevenoaks sports scene and it is now a thriving club with over 250 members – 150 adults and 100 juniors – with ages ranging from 9 to 85.
The club operates two training sessions each week including a club run on Tuesdays with slow, medium and fast-paced groups, and a track session on Thursdays.
In addition, there are regular weekend trail runs, a monthly handicap race, and a monthly social.
The juniors train on Tuesdays with a group of coaches covering track athletics, field events, cross-country running and sports-hall fitness.
In the winter months, the club focuses on cross-country running, taking part in both the Kent League (for elite athletes) and the Kent Fitness League (non-elite) competitions. The Kent Fitness League is a competition for the 18 registered Kent clubs, each of whom must field a team of 12 runners including four women and four veterans.
Sevenoaks Athletics Club has traditionally performed well in these competitions, coming in the top four every year for the past five years. In the latest season, the men’s team finished in 2nd position, behind Dartford Harriers, and the women’s team in 4th position. In the Kent County Championships in January, Allan Lee came 1st (M40), Darrell Smith 2nd (M50) and James Graham 2nd (M60).
The club competes in the Southern Counties Vets Athletics and the Kent Young Athletes League. In the latest Vets fixture in Tonbridge on May 25th, the women’s team came 2nd in Division 2 and the men 4th. The club is currently in 3rd position overall. There were wins for Pauline Dalton in the W50 100m and Sylvia Lewis in the javelin (both new club records).
In the juniors, this is the club’s 3rd season in the league and head coach Darrell Smith is looking to improve on the overall 5th position from last year.
In the latest fixture in Bromley on May 6th, the club fielded a team of 17 juniors and were rewarded with wins for Erin Vallance (75m and 150m) and Emma Sackville-West. The team also scored a win and a new club record in the 4 x 100m relay. A great start to the season.
Club members also compete in races around the world, including marathons in London, with 12 Sevenoaks runners competing this year, Edinburgh, Munich, Riga, Rotterdam and Dubai. Plus, ultra-marathons including The Comrades in South Africa, The Spine along the Pennine way, and the Cape Wrath Ultra in Scotland.
Nationally Ranked Athletes
The club has several nationally ranked athletes. Richard Pitcairn-Knowles is currently a triple European champion, having won three gold medals in the European indoor athletics championships in Madrid in January 2018. (M80 1500m, 3000m, & cross-country).
The team of Pitcairn-Knowles, Jim Fitzmaurice and Ron Denney also won bronze medals at the British National Road Relay championships in April.
The Sevenoaks 7
The club’s main annual race is the Sevenoaks 7, which is a 7-mile race around Knole Park. This year will be the clubs 25th race and will be held on July 15, 2018.
The Sevenoaks 7 raises money for the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust to help Kent youngsters get their lives on track. The Trust uses international sports-people to mentor youngsters, helping to get them into education, training or employment.
200 competitors entered the first race in 1993 and over its 24-year history there have been nearly 8000 finishers – the race peaking in 2005 with 482 finishers.
This year, over 300 athletes from around the county are expected to take part which takes runners through some of the most beautiful countryside in England. It starts down the valley behind Sevenoaks Rugby Club before a sharp right-hand turn and then a long steady climb up past Knole House, across the Knole Park Golf Course and out to the lovely Chestnut Walk. This leads up to the highest point of the course near the top of Riverhill with beautiful views and a chance of refreshments.
From there, competitors have a delightful canter down “The Gallops” to a turning point where they turn right and climb back up to Chestnut Walk. This time the incline doesn’t feel so gentle, but they can storm down The Gallops once again, turn right and re-trace their route back to the finish in the valley behind the Rugby Club.
In the latest Runners World survey 99% of competitors said they would run it again.