Another week of frenetic athletics action for Herne Hill Harriers saw the previous weekend’s excellent efforts as a local club competing at national league senior team level in Bedford and Glasgow followed up by a Rosenheim League men’s and women’s match at Tooting Bec on Wednesday, the Soar Mile track races at Battersea Park on Friday and the club’s own open track and field meeting on Saturday, also at Tooting.
Harriers’ athletes enjoyed some personal best runs at the Soar Mile at Battersea. Mike Cummings proved to be the club’s fastest miler of the evening, placing tenth in the final, fastest race on the ten race programme of one mile races in a time of 4.17.19.
However the Herne Hill star was Australian Chloe Tighe, who finished ninth overall in the penultimate race, a mixed gender race which featured the four fastest women of the evening. Tighe ran superbly against high quality opposition to get herself among the cash prizes as second woman with a sensational PB of 4.38.85. This time has only ever been beaten on the track by a Herne Hill female member on one occasion in the history of the club, this being when international Katie Snowden, who only narrowly missed out on London 2017 World Championship selection at 1500m, set her club women’s one mile record at the recent Anniversary Games in the Olympic Stadium. Tighe’s run follows a series of personal best 1500m runs which currently see her firmly placed as second on the Harriers all time women’s rankings behind Snowden.
A couple of Herne Hill male runners who finished ahead of Tighe were her Australian compatriot Eric Sapac, who was second in 4.28.76 and Alex Hobley fourth in 4.30.02, both also running good PBs and with John Tayleur finishing nineteenth in 4.53.13. In the previous race of the evening, Ella Newton was tantalisingly close to ducking under 5 minutes with her PB 5.01 clocking that saw her ranked sixth fastest female and the fastest under 20 woman on the night.
At the Rosenheim League fixture at Tooting two days earlier, the Herne Hill men’s team came second in their match, which ensures the team won the Eastern Division title and qualifies for the league final next month at Kingsmeadow Stadium. Eugene Osei-Amevenu won the pole vault and was second in both 100m and 200m scoring races, as well as racing in the 4 x 200m relay at the end of the match. Two days before his one mile race, Eric Sapac finished a very close second in the 400m, while Feysel Nadew’s solo sub 2 minutes 800m win saw him long way out in front. Fellow under 20 Abel Tadesse ran a PB 4.07.2 in a strong scoring 1500m race, with Herne Hill scoring 3000m man Jeff Cunningham also placing fourth scorer in his race, but Mohammed Ismail upheld an oft repeated Harriers tradition by finishing ahead of his scoring team mate in this event.
Herne Hill women did not qualify for their final despite great efforts from Steph Mitchell, who won the 800m in a time not far outside her season’s best on a windy night before then also racing 400m and 200m. Ella Newton preceded her Friday one mile race by winning the 1500m ahead of Liv Stillman and Julia Wedmore, while Monika Gajek filled the team scoring 3000m berth. Lily Newton, younger sister of Ella won the 400m hurdles in what was an impressive debut at the event, clocking 74.5 seconds and also competed in the long jump, while Hazel Robertson won the scoring hammer and placed second in the discus.
The Herne Hill Harriers open meeting on Saturday took place on an afternoon that was for much of the time very wet indeed. Competitors nevertheless produced some excellent performances, while the officials must be both commended and thanked for their efforts in ensuring the meeting was completed in such weather conditions.
Personal bests included a superb breakthrough run by an athlete who was not at the head of her race, but who nevertheless ran 3000m in under 12 minutes for the first time, as Frances Hale smashed this personal barrier in recording a time of around 11 minutes 35 seconds. Recent English Schools Intermediate Girls 1500m champion Alex Brown moved down a distance to 800m to claim the club under 17 women’s championship with a good solo effort at the front of her race to record a PB of 2.12.56.
Fiona de Mauny coped very well with both the weather and delays to the start of her event to run a 400m time of 59.05, only five hundredths of a second outside her PB, while Chloe Tighe raced again the day after her one mile PB, this time at 800m to claim the club senior women’s title in 2.10.77, her fastest time since her junior days almost a decade ago. In contrast to Brown and Tighe, who both raced under their favourite distances, Harriers senior men’s 800m champion was 400m specialist Peter Phillips, who moved up to good effect with a strong front running win in 1.59.45. In the younger age groups under 15 boy Jaden Kennedy front ran to a very fine 2.06.93 with under 15 girl Isobel Penniceard recorded a PB 2.22.30 and under 13 boy Fabian Hurst ran a PB 2.26.07.
The steeplechase races gave opportunities for one or two to try out an event that is new, or relatively new to them. Established steeplechaser Katie Balme, who raced 1500m over the barriers at the recent English Schools championship chased home another nationally ranked woman from the younger age groups from Dartford Harriers, but was pursued quite closely by under 20 Zoe Tompkins, who made a very promising first attempt at steeplechasing. The men’s 2000m steeplechase was won by the experienced Tony Macdowall, who was also followed home by a runner who has not yet run many steeplechases, as Gavern Newsum demonstrated his potential at this event.
In the sprints Idris Ojuriye (10.77) and Byron Robinson (10.98) were both sub 11 seconds in the first 100m race, but with a wind reading over the limit, with Eugene Osei-Amevenu clocking a legal 11.20 in the second of eighteen races. Tyrese Lowe (11.61) and Michael Kale (11.55) were the fastest U20M and U17M respectively from the host club, with Vanessa Grant clocking 12.9 in a women’s race. Among the younger sprinters, U15 girls Michaela Pottinger (13.2), Je’Nae James (13.21) and U13 girl Farrah Martin (13.88) all recorded quick times. The athletes and officials did very well to avoid the 200m races becoming a complete wash out in the rain, with Robinson running the fastest Herne Hill time in 22.04.
The 3000m races kicked the day off and preceded the deluge and as well as the breakthrough run from Hale, the first of the two races saw a good PB for Raj Paranandi in 9.46.04, season’s bests for Simon Messenger in 9.52.32 and Jack Brotchie 9.55.29, while the second race was won by Matt Robertson in 9.54.54, ahead of Jon Key in 10.05.93, the latter close to a PB he set two years ago and Fraser Hagell who clocked 10.32.02.
Finally, there were also some very encouraging parkrun results for Herne Hill runners on Saturday morning. Among veteran runners, M40 Ben Paviour won the Reading event outright in 16.35, while M45 athlete Brian Wilder did likewise in Brockwell Park in 17.05. Among Harriers women, Suzanne Swaine was the official ladies winner at Tooting in a PB of 19.44, just behind Ian Kynoch (19.36) and just ahead of Craig Barney (19.48), while England international half marathon runner Stacey Ward continued her necessarily very tentative steps towards recovery from injury placing second woman in St Albans in 18.41. Ruth Chalmers also enjoyed a run round at the Tooting parkrun in 22.13 as fifth woman in the results and one would imagine she will have been the first finisher with “baby on board”.