Caspian Holmes takes silver at Inter Counties Cross Country

Caspian Holmes on the Inter Counties medals podium
Cummings, Paviour, Sturzaker and Coombes at Lee Valley
Massive HHH turnout at Dulwich parkrun

Herne Hill Harriers U13 boys star Caspian Holmes claimed a superb silver medal at the UK Inter Counties Cross Country Championships at a very muddy Prestwold Hall in Loughborough on Saturday.

Having already claimed the Surrey County and London Schools titles in his age group, Holmes followed up his eighth and ninth placings in the Southern and National Championships respectively with a stellar second place at probably the highest quality of the races this season.

Holmes has led his Harriers club teams to Surrey and national titles and on Saturday led the Surrey team to bronze medals as he stepped up on to the podium for both the individual and team medals presentations.

Guided by young athletes middle distance leader James McDonald, who was also Olympian Katie Snowden’s first coach as a schoolgirl, Holmes looks to be a very exciting developing young talent.

Three other Herne Hill youngsters were members of their Surrey scoring teams with excellent runs. Orla Carroll was 27th in the U15 girls race for the sixth-placed team. Kaitlin Hewitt had her best run to date finishing 35th in the U 20 women’s race as her Surrey team were fifth on the day. Joining Holmes on the medals podium was James Clements-Nash who placed a very good 35th in the U13 boys race in that bronze winning Surrey team.

Jasmine Nkoso was sixth in the U15 girls pentathlon at the England Athletics Combined Events Indoor Championships in Sheffield with an overall points score of 2,889. It was a huge improvement on her score of 2,351 as recently as December 2022 in the Southern Indoor Championships at Lee Valley and is testament to the good work put in with coach Tony Mayhew.

Four Herne Hill veterans competed at the British Masters Indoor 3,000m Championship on Saturday at Lee Valley. In the M50 race Harriers athletes won both national gold and silver as Ben Paviour set a new club M50 record of 9:18.36 in winning, with club-mate Simon Coombes close behind in 9:20.66.

Nikki Sturzaker took away the W45 gold medal with a PB of 10:47.53 as she continues her middle distance domination of this age group indoors. Mike Cummings won the M35 gold in a time of 9:01.80.

The Paddock Wood Half Marathon on Sunday morning saw seven athletes from the club competing. Jack Brotchie placed 48th overall in 74:18 ahead of M55 Jonathan Ratcliffe (81:40) and Tom Foster who ran a PB 85:33.

W40 Suzanne Swaine ran 88:33, followed in by Julia Wedmore, who until 12 miles had been on schedule for a sub-84 minutes PB until a hip injury at 12 miles left her walking in the final mile to finish in 90:19.

Robert Nagorski, Andrew Simms and Simon Evans – three M55 athletes – clocked 91:34, 96:07 and 98:00 respectively.

Saturday morning’s Dulwich parkrun was the scene of a huge turnout of Harriers members.

The women’s event was by far the strongest in the UK on the day, with no less than five of the top-10 times in the country recorded on the wide and relatively flat paths around the Dulwich Park circuit. Of those five, three were from Harriers, including in-form Georgie Grgec, whose 16:29 was 10 seconds ahead of Northern Ireland international Hannah Irwin as the two fastest overall.

Lily Newton produced a one minute PB with her 18:08, and one of this season’s stalwarts, Jenny Nandi, also clocked a big PB (18:15). Charlotte Davies returned to competitive running with 19.00, followed by Laura Donnelly (19:21), a PB for Lucy Wright and Karen Ellison 19:40.

The Herne Hill men dominated the front end. Joe Fenwick was first finisher in 15:59, followed by U17 Robin Bebbington (16:01) with Joe Elliott (16:13) completing the first three. Lewis Laylee was next with Brandon Dewar and Daniel Shaw close behind, adding to the red-and-black domination. Also in the first ten were Matt Cartwright and Grgec, who was tenth overall as well as being fastest female in the UK for the weekend.

Geoff Jerwood