Big 5km runs for Herne Hill athletes on both road and track

Herne Hill Harriers athletes have been in competitive action over the long weekend with results over the 5km race distance being among the biggest performances on Thursday and Friday, before other events took over for the rest of the bank holiday.

Friday evening witnessed some very good runs for Harriers at the latest in the Battersea Park Under the Lights 5km road race series, which have provided excellent high level competitive opportunities since their inception during the Covid restrictions. 

Andrew Warburton had never previously run under 15 min for 5km, but clocked 14:38. Lewis Laylee was only just behind him and was just outside his own PB with 14:42.

Joe Elliott ran a PB with 15:33, followed in by three M45 athletes. Raj Paranandi, Simon Coombes and Ben Paviour ran 15:46, 16:02 and 16:22 respectively. Among the women, Sophie Harris ran one of her fastest 5km times, clocking 16:36 for 4th female on the night.

The day before in the USA another top Herne Hill woman was in action, kicking off her outdoor season at the prestigious Penn Relays meet in Philadelphia where she produced a PB of 16:10.81 for 5000m on the track. Only two other females from the club have so far run faster and this ranks her 15th on the current UK women’s 5000m list in this year to date and third Under 23 female among these.

On Saturday afternoon there were early season track and field open meetings at both Battersea and Coulsdon.

At the Battersea meeting the standout results were Jamil Harris-Blair smashing his 100m PB to clock a rapid 10.68 and Under 17 Keeran Sriskandarajah just outside his 800m indoor PB with an outdoor best of 1:57.43. Harris-Blair ran some good 60m indoor times earlier in the year, but this 100m time is a big breakthrough. Sriskandarajah acquitted himself very well in a very competitive 800m race against older athletes including a Great Britain team member from last year’s European Indoor Championship and also ran a PB for 400m with 52.74. 

M50 Giuseppe Minetti ran a season’s best 100m with 12.05 and clocked 24.59 for 200m, while David Aisa Miller won a mile race in a PB 5:05.75 as a clutch of athletes recorded PBs at both meetings.

At Coulsdon Isaac Ogunlade continued his strong start to the season placing second in a 400m hurdles race with 54.72. Herne Hill event winners at this venue were Under 15 Joseph Jonson-Cole 100m 11.88, Under 13 Florence Mills 800m 2:29.56 and Under 13 Jasmine Nkoso shot put 7.90m.

Some Herne Hill students raced at the BUCS British Students track and field championship in Chelmsford. Annabel Hobday ran very well in her 800m heat and semi final to qualify for the final at a meeting which featured a handful of Olympians across the events. Hobday had a superb semi final win in a PB of 2:13.48 on Sunday, but was unable to replicate this in the final, where she finished eighth in 2:16.70. An encouraging beginning, however, following some recent hard training at altitude in Font Romeu.

Katie Balme ran a PB of 7:24.32 in her 2000m steeplechase heat on Saturday, but like Hobday found things tough in her final, placing 11th in 7:37.35. Zoe Tompkins and Ella Newton both reached the semi finals in the 800m and 1500m respectively, Newton’s event having featured two Olympic athletes. Tompkins was third in her heat in 2:16.59 and was then sixth in the same semi as Hobday, with Tompkins clocking 2:17.01. Newton ran 4:52.94 for 11th in her semi final after having qualified from her heat with 4:56.55.

On Sunday the Vitality Westminster Mile returned to the roads around Green Park, with three Herne Hill athletes featuring around the top 50 on the day. Mike Cummings ran very well to finish fifth overall and first M35. Tim Kerr and Deron Fagan were 51st and 53rd in 5:14 and 5:17respectively, with Fagan placing ninth M45.

This event was followed at the same venue on Bank Holiday Monday by the Vitality London 10,000, which also attracted huge fields racing in waved starts. Lewis Laylee and Andrew Warburton raced again after their Friday evening exertions and this time it was Laylee who was a few seconds ahead of his club mate. Both runners finished around the top 30 in the provisional results, with Laylee ran 31:10 and Warburton 31.17 as they recorded big PBs, the latter for the second time in four days.

Eric Dol had spent the weekend in Holland racing multiple road relay legs for a student/alumni team, but was able to clock 35:30 on very tired legs. The next fastest Harrier was Gaby Reynolds, whose story is as impressive as she ran 38:36 just weeks after giving birth to her second child and was second W40 overall on the day. Jenny Nandi was frustrated that her watch suggested sub 40 minutes when her official time was 40:10, but this an a big PB of 40:10, but this was nevertheless a big PB for her.

Geoff Jerwood