Herne Hill Harriers under 13 girls team made club history by winning the Saucony National cross country relays title at Mansfield on Saturday, becoming the first young athletes team in our 123 year history to win a national cross country title.
Having won the Southern road relays and placed a very close second in the Southern cross country relays earlier this autumn the girls were one of the favourites of the 100 teams and started well when Alex Brown moved through the field to finish twelfth on the first leg just over twenty seconds behind the leading club Sheffield. Saskia Millard closed the gap steadily on the first half of the second leg before moving into sixth halfway round in the woods and then set about closing down the leaders Sale Manchester before taking the lead in the final 100m. Katy Ann McDonald, winner of the McCain Challenge in Bristol the week before, looked in control as she strode out and stretched the lead to fifty metres and held that lead throughout the third leg for a famous win.
Saskia was second fastest runner in 7.29.50 and Katy Ann sixth fastest in 7.44.50 as Herne Hill Harriers beat the Northern champions Sale Manchester and Northern silver medalists Manchester Harriers.
There were several good performances in the other age groups with the clubs under 13 boys team of Sam Cohen, Oscar Millard & Sam Moody finishing 15th, having been 3rd after two legs & our under 15 boys team of Ed Olsen, Paul Burgess and Billy Black finishing 13th with Ed Olsen running the sixth fastest leg when second finisher on the first leg.
Closer to home, this year’s Reigate cross country relays were low key for Herne Hill Harriers’ men’s and women’s teams as our men were unable to repeat the routine team victory we have enjoyed in many recent years at this event as we placed a solid 3rd, while our women slipped a place from last year’s 3rd to 4th this time in race where wetter under foot conditions generally led to slower times overall.
Individually the performance of note from a HHH athlete was the return to competition of our GB Junior track international Katie Snowden in her first race after 5 months following a difficult summer. Katie showed that she is now well on her way back to full fitness in recording the second fastest women’s time as she ran the 2.5 miles undulating course 15 seconds faster than last year. Now studying at Nottingham University, Katie can be happy with this as a first comeback race to set her up for what we all hope will be a good winter for her, with hopefully a big summer to follow.
Katie was 2nd on first leg and former road running international Ceri Diss, now a veteran and in a relatively rare racing outing of late held this position on second stage and Samantha Whiting ran well to keep our team in a prominent position on the final leg. Although succumbing to the pace of the 3rd and 4th best women of the race, Sam prevailed in holding off another challenger at the end to ensure our team finished 4th. Jonny Henderson was our best man on the day, handing over in a close 3rd at the end of first leg with a run that stood up as the equal 6th best of the race. Jordan Stokes, Deron Fagan and veteran David Robinson kept our men’s A team safely in 3rd position for the remainder of the race, while never really being able to challenge for top two. Or men’s B team, including Alan Barnes and John Kettle having run outs as part of their attempts to return from injury, placed a good 7th and our C team were 27th of 43 complete teams of 4, while our women’s B team placed 19th of 21 full teams of 3.