A Battling sixth place start for Herne Hill Harriers British League team at Watford

Herne Hill Harriers men’s first team for track and field made a battling start to this season’s British Athletics League campaign with a solid sixth place finish in the opening fixture on a warm Saturday afternoon at Watford. Competing in BAL Division One, the second tier of eight men’s clubs in the strongest league in the country, Harriers held their own despite the early season absence of some key team members who expect to be available for the remaining three league fixtures.

The match result was as follows: Thames Valley Harriers 339, Southampton 316, Enfield & Haringey 295, Blackheath & Bromley 273, Basingstoke 267.5, Herne Hill Harriers 263, Harrow 212.5 and Glasgow City 186.

Harriers team members fought for every point on offer and the all-round collective nature of the effort was illustrated by the fact that we had no event winners, but equally very few eighth places. The 400m races were both very close to seeing a red and black vest winning, as in the A race a photo finish showed Nicholas Atwell beaten by only three thousandths of a second as his second place was given the same official time of 47.22 as the winner. Atwell equalled his personal best time and was only just outside the Harriers club record which after 27 years now looks to be living on borrowed time.

The B 400m was almost as close with Peter Phillips losing out by only three hundredths of a second with his 48.74 clocking. Gavin Johnson-Assoon placed second in the A javelin with a strong season opener of 65.99m, while in the shot put Michael Wheeler was also second in the A string, again gradually increasing his season’s best, this time up to 15.59m and multi event athlete Thomas Ashby second among the B throwers. Ashby made a colossal contribution to the team points tally, competing in six individual events and a relay as he also placed third in the B javelin, fourth in the B high jump, fifth in the A 110m hurdles, sixth in the A long jump, seventh in the A discus and made a fine contribution on third leg of the 4 x 400m relay, in which Harriers placed third. Phillips, Atwell and BAL debutant Eric Sapac were the other 4 x 400m team members.

Others who achieved third place in their events were Stuart Thurgood in the A hammer, Charlie Maw in the A pole vault, Mike Cummings in the B 800m, Jevonni McFarlane in the B long jump, Garry Power in the B discus, Jeff Cunningham in the B 3000m steeplechase and the sprint relay team of Eugene Osei-Amevenu, Byron Robinson, Atwell and Idris Ojuriye. John Tayleur’s time of 9.58.92 in fourth place in the A string steeplechase was within a few tenths of a second of his PB, as was Cummings with his 1.55.93 in his 800m, followed up by a fine fourth in the A 1500m.

Elsewhere on the track, Katie Snowden began her outdoor season with second place over 800m in the BMC Gold Standard races at Stretford last Tuesday, very close behind fellow Great Britain international Charlene Thomas, while in the USA Hannah Edwards contested the same distance in the Sacramento State Open. Edwards finished seventh in a very fast race, improving her season’s best time to 2:11.06 in her last race before the Conference Finals this coming weekend in Colorado.

Finally on the roads at the Sutton 10km, Harriers were led by Tim Elsey in ninth, Tony Macdowall thirteenth, Simon Messenger fortieth and Dan Hallam seventy-second, with Natasha Lodge placing tenth woman on a hot morning that will have slowed their times.