Herne Hill Harriers’ men’s cross country team were up against it on a Wimbledon Common course that was wet under foot when beginning the defence of our Surrey League title which was won in such emphatic style last winter. We had to contend with injuries and other unavoidable absentees as well as a couple of those actually racing being a little patched up, in combination with the new strong challenge provided by newly promoted Kent AC and the old, ever strong challenge of perennial rivals Thames Hare & Hounds.
An exciting race ensued, with Kent seemingly taking the division by storm with their first four runners of a team of ten all finishing in the top five. However, team packing behind that was tighter among the host club Thames’ team and to a lesser extent the reigning champs HHH team. The upshot was a race that was in Surrey League terms close to call, with Kent hanging onto their early lead with a team score of 194 points, Thames a close second with 216 points and HHH still very much in contention going into the second race with 239 points, so only 45 points between the leading three teams of nine in Division 1.
Our men were led home by St George’s medical student Joe Morwood in 6th place with Mike Cummings finishing 10th as part of a good weekend of racing which also saw him claim the club 10 mile road race championship when placing 8th in the Cabbage Patch 10 at Twickenham the following morning in a big PB time of 53.39. Further afield, in the Amsterdam Marathon Jonathan Stead lopped two and a half minutes from his marathon PB in clocking 2.24.51 in windy conditions that left him both pleased he did his best on the day but also frustrated he was unable to run ever faster.
In the other Surrey League races, our combined under 17 and under 15 boys team won their category and their success was emulated in a race within the race by our under 13 boys’ team victory. Lascelles Hussey spearheaded our U17’s in 3rd placed, followed in by Billy Black, Paul Burgess and Nick Clanchy in 5th, 6th and 7th. Oscar Millard led in our U13 boys in 2nd, backed up by Kingsley Ezeh in 3rd and Seb Fallowfield in 7th. The women’s race results are still subject to scrutiny after a number of runners – none from HHH – went off course but our A team, led by Karen Ellison in 17th and Nikki Sturzaker 20th placed 8th in the provisional results. Our under 13 girls were missing their fastest two runners, but were able to place 2nd team with Eloise O’Shaughnessy 11th, Ella Newton 12th, Eimear Griffin 13th and Kayah Wilks 18th.