Athletics: Ilford's Barnard sets the standard

ILFORD WALKER Phil Barnard was a comfortable winner of the Cambridge Harriers Winter League 5km race at Bexley on Saturday.

ILFORD WALKER Phil Barnard was a comfortable winner of the Cambridge Harriers Winter League 5km race at Bexley on Saturday.

Held on a freezing cold afternoon on the usual testing four-lap course with a steep hill at the end of each lap, Barnard led from the off and was never overtaken.

His closest challenger was Medway Junior Jonathan Hobbs who kept close order for the first lap. However, over the course of the next three laps, Barnard gradually stretched away to emerge a comfortable winner in 24 minutes 13 seconds.

Hobbs was second in 24.57 with Ilford's Steve Uttley third in 25.48.

Uttley held Hobbs to a small gap over the first two laps, but gradually that gap opened up as the end neared.

With several athletes unavailable and others keeping their powder dry for the indoor vets race the next day, Ilford lacked the third scorer which would have almost certainly secured victory in the team competition.

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On Sunday afternoon at the centrally-heated Lee Valley Indoor Arena, Uttley and Dave Sharpe lined up in a quality field to tackle 3,000m on a track with an adverse camber.

In a keenly-contested Southern Counties Vet-erans Championship, Utt-ley found himself in battle with a regular rival in Loughton's John Hall, with the latter coming out on top on this occasion.

Hall was second in 15.00 while Uttley was third in 15.37, but had the satisfaction of claiming an age group silver medal.

Fourth was Ilford's enthusiastic captain Dave Sharpe, who clocked 17.37 and claimed an over-55 age group gold medal, gaining an age group Championship record by three seconds in the process.