Wednesday 22 February 2017

Kent Fitness League 2016-17: Fowlmead

The seventh and final fixture of the 2016-17 Kent Fitness League cross-country season was held on Sunday 19 February 2017 at Betteshanger Park, in Sholden, Deal. Up until last summer, the venue was called 'Fowlmead Country Park' hence the name of this cross-country race.

Out of all of the KFL race venues, this one is probably the least traditional 'cross country' course of them all. Most of the paths are compact dirt or gravel and there's only the slightest hint of mud at a few key points around the course. With that in mind, the best shoes to wear for this course are trail shoes - it's not even worth considering spikes.

dartford harriers 2016-17 kfl champions [photo: eden]

The venue has a decent sized car park - there has been a slight change in the payment system since the last time I ran here. The pay at the barrier system has been removed and there is now an automatic number place recognition system in place. Parking payments are made at one of the machines before leaving - current fees are £2 for up to 3 hours and £3 for over 3 hours. Once the payment is made, you have around 25 minutes to vacate.

Moving onto the race. The course here is run over two clockwise laps of the park with an extended finish straight at the end. As I mentioned earlier, the paths are generally pretty firm underfoot and trail shoes are the way to go where footwear is concerned. There are a couple of inclines to negotiate, but they are fairly short and not too steep. My favourite part of the course is the short section of single track which starts with a steep, rocky downhill and is followed by some fun, twisty bits.

[photos: eden / funkdooby]

As for my race, I started slowly and gradually worked my way through the field until I found myself behind two of my team mates. I've been finishing slightly behind them all season, so I knew that I was in the right place. The pace felt good and just before the end of the first lap, I decided to push a bit harder and try to move through the field a little more.

The move was successful and I found that I was catching and overtaking people throughout the second lap. By the time I reached the last kilometre, I was red-lining, but I was still catching and passing people and was pleased with the way I had executed my race plan. Although this is probably my least favourite of the KFL courses, it does seem to suit me best.

[photos: funkdooby / eden / esther]

I finished the race in 46th position which was my highest finish this season, so I was pretty pleased to end the season on a high. My club, Dartford Harriers won the combined team competition which completed a straight run of victories for all seven matches this season. Plus, after a tense wait for the official results to be published, it was confirmed that the Dartford Harriers women's team had won the women's competition.

I used Strava to record the GPS data of the route, so if you would like to see the course in detail please take a look here - KFL Fowlmead. The course had a tiny variation to the one that was used when I first ran here in 2014, but apart from the it was the same. For the record, I completed all seven of this season's races so it's nice to have a complete season under my belt at last. It was thoroughly enjoyable and I'm hoping to do the same next season (and hopefully improve my results).

If you would like some more information about the other venues please have a look at my Kent Fitness League information page.

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