Tonbridge duo teach rivals a lesson in cross country
HISTORY was made on Saturday during Tonbridge Athletic Club's clean sweep in the Kent Cross Country League.
By winning the men's and women's individual titles, Huw Evans and Deidre McDermot not only made their way into the club's record books, but they also achieved a notable double for Tonbridge School. For, outside of running, Evans and McDermot are both teachers at the all boys' educational establishment.
WINNERS: Huw Evans and Deirdre McDermot with their trophies
It will come as no surprise to those that follow Tonbridge Athletic Club's progress that 36-year-old cross country veteran Evans ran off with the men's title – he has won four of the last five and has defied injury and illness to not miss a race in 10 years of competition.
But it is the arrival of McDermot that has been the catalyst for success for the women's section of the club, and she has also caused quite a stir at the Kent public school.
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Twenty-nine-year-old McDermot, who is originally from Ireland, arrived in Tonbridge having previously lived in northern Spain. She has been putting the Tonbridge School pupils in their place in running terms and won all but one of the Kent Cross Country League races, knocking the reigning county champion off her perch in the process.
"Even if I had studied all of the independent schools before applying for a job, I couldn't have possibly found a better place to run than Tonbridge," said McDermot. "The facilities are amazing and, living on site, they're right on my doorstep. I think it's good for the boys at the school to see a woman running faster than them and Huw has been very helpful – it's always nice to have another runner to show you around the best circuits."
Leading their respective teams to Kent Cross Country League victories is just the start for this dynamic running duo.
Evans is looking for good times in the Inter-Counties, English National and GB Vets over 35s competitions – the last of which he is reigning champion. He also has one eye on the future of Tonbridge Athletic Club, for whom he was full of praise.
"Kelly Holmes made the club take off," he explained. "But I put our success down to Mark Hookway and his team. The juniors' results are fantastic and hopefully, if they can start coming through, it won't be long before they start replacing the likes of me and Julian Rendall."
There is no reason to believe Evans will be hanging up his running shoes just yet, however.
The west Wales whizz kid thought the arrival of his two children would signal the beginning of the end of his running career, but if anything he is only getting stronger as the years go by.
McDermot, too, is something of a late bloomer. She only started running aged 23 and has even had a couple of years off since then because of injury. And now, she is the fastest cross country runner in Kent. The only reason she won't be representing the county in Nottingham in March is because she has not lived here for nine months. There's always next year.