For the first time in a number of years, Herne Hill Harriers contested the classic four stage road relay event at Rushmoor Arena. Four legs of 3,851m. The all time list is a who’s who of British distance running. Paula Radcliffe’s extraordinary 11.44 course record, Sonia O’Sullivan, Benita Johnson, Julia Bleasdale and, in more recent years, Steph Twell, Charlotte Purdue and, this year’s fastest, Emelia Gorecka (12.26). Emelia is the current junior European Cross Country Champion, as well as the bronze medalist from the World Juniors (3000m), and she ensured a comfortable win for the hosts on the final leg, who continue to dominate this event. How great for our women to be able to contest an event which has witnessed so many illustrious athletes.
Leg one witnessed a small group leading the way, including Fiona Clark (Arena 80) who is coached by Geoff Jerwood, As the leg progressed towards the business end, Jess Judd, another fantastic U20, ran away from the others to ‘win’ the first leg in 12.44, which turned out to be 3rd fastest overall. Fiona finished an excellent second, 13.07, whilst Ros Keiran completed the fastest HHH leg of the day in 17th with 13.41. Ros, who was the first woman finisher in the London Marathon off the mass start (when she ran a club record of 2.42) was running very well on the downhill sections of this undulating course, showing impressive leg speed. By contrast, Laura Dowsing was racing ‘over distance’ following a successful summer season when she ran 2.18 for 800m. Laura ran a strong leg which finished with a flourish, helping ensure she lost just two places running 14.52. Nikki Sturzaker who, along with Nicky St Clair, had ‘enjoyed’ the nail biting preparation of a lift with Geoff at high speed to the venue, ran an excellent third leg. Looking strong throughout Nikki gained five places to finish 14th in an excellent 14.28. Nicky St Clair, running her first race of this significance, ran well on the last leg to ensure the team came home in 21st position overall (20th senior team). Armelle Folkes was the sole runner for our B team, but was still committed to turn out and ran a strong first leg. With the leading group in the early stages, Armelle, who is still an Under 20, finished in an excellent 14.44, which bodes well for the winter season.