Alexander the Great Harrier on road and track

Wednesday 31st March saw the very first non elite athletics meeting of 2021 as local clubs Belgrave Harriers and Herne Hill Harriers combined to host an evening of 5000m track races in Battersea Park.

There were some top performances from Herne Hill athletes in the eight races at the Comeback 5000, with pride of place going to Charlotte Alexander who finished a very good fourth in the elite women’s race at the end of the evening in her debut 5000m race.

Her excellent time of 16:35.09 is inside the British Athletics qualifying standard for the European Under 20 championship and also a Harriers club U20 women’s record. 

Birmingham University student Alexander has clearly trained very well locally during the term just ended, but will now return to the midlands to complete her fresher year and train with the British Athletics Talent Hub based at the university.

Before heading off, however she was back in action on Easter Monday at the PB5K Ardingly 5km road races at the South of England Showground. On a cold windy morning which saw some light snow flurries Alexander led for much of the elite women’s race before finishing a superb third, clocking a very good 16:28 to underline her Battersea performance.  

There was one other HHH female competitor at Battersea was in the first race of the evening as Julia Wedmore recorded a PB 18:14.98 with Fraser Hagell just ahead of her in 18:13.12, also a PB. 

The next race saw a Herne Hill 1-2 as Eoin Brady crossed the line first in 16:34.12, a track PB, ahead of Josh Pewter second in 16:40.27. Also in this race was M50 Jonathan Ratcliffe recording 18.07.71.

In the next race had Jeff Cunningham ran 16:23.63, Eriç Dol 16:36.20 (another PB), Jonny Whittall 16:59.58 and M45 Robin Jones 17:12.47, then Andrew Warburton and Angus Butler were in race four. Warburton set a PB 15:36.36, while Butler had to pull out with injury. 

However, off the track Butler was one of the biggest stars as co-organiser with Steve Gardner his Belgrave counterpart on a memorable night that witnessed an event that was ground breaking in its format and presentation and introduced the concept of a prize pot which collected £1,505 for the elite race winners donated by the public, many of whom were among thousands who watched the excellent live stream production on YouTube. 

Back to Ardingly in the other 5km races Nick Bester ran a PB 14:53 for his first sub 15 minutes, Andrew Warburton 15:32, also a PB, Jack Brotchie clocked 15:44, M45 Robin Jones 16:39 and M50 Jonathan Ratcliffe 17:48. Other Herne Hill females were under 17 women Poppy Craig McFeely a very good 17:41 and Charlotte’s younger sister Harriet Alexander 19:44 as both track and road racing returned at grass roots level.

Geoff Jerwood