As winter weather started to take a grip, Saturday saw a quite stunning second place for Herne Hill Harrier Chloe Tighe at the Southern Inter Counties Cross Country Championship at a frozen Horspath, near Oxford in what was her last race in the UK before she returns to her native Australia and in which she helped her Surrey senior women’s team to a dominating victory.
Taking home an individual silver and a team gold medal was reward for beating several runners who had previously finished ahead of Tighe during this cross country season. This superb performance was an awesome exit for a fine athlete, who will go home to warmer climes and the domestic track season, where some championship meetings will be on her racing agenda.
It was also very good to welcome Stacey Ward back to racing for the first time in just over a year and while it is very early days in her training, she ran well to finish twenty-ninth, representing Essex in a field of good standard athletes, this not being an especially low key event to choose to begin a comeback. Karen Ellison was the third of the Herne Hill women racing for their county teams, placing fifty-sixth and was – along with Tighe – part of the all-conquering Surrey squad that totalled twenty-two in number.
In the South of England Cross Country Masters Championships at the same venue Gary Ironmongerset off quickly in his first lap in the opening race for age groups older than 50 years that kicked off the proceedings. Fired up from a good race seven days earlier, Ironmonger paid a little for what proved to be over exuberance, but finished as the sixth M55 and should have no regrets that he went for it on the day. Just one second behind over the 10km course was Jonathan Ratcliffe, who placed fifteenth among the M50s with a very good run. Despite a heavy fall, Andrew Simms rallied to finish fiftieth M50, while a little ahead of him Victor Maughn was twenty-sixth M55. Ironmonger, Ratcliffe and Maughn combined to place sixth of the M50-59 teams.
In the M40-49 race in the afternoon Ben Paviour sprinted past Simon Coombes along the final straight as they placed second and third respectively of the M45s, while Deron Fagan and Robin Jones were twenty-third and twenty-fifth of the M40 finishers. Trevor Chilton (twenty-fourth M45) and James Ward (forty-ninth M40) were also sporting the red and black club colours, while club President Valdis Pauzers was sixteenth M60, and Harriers’ sole female runner contesting the veterans championship races, Helen Hadjam was sixth W40. The Herne Hill M40-49 team of Paviour, Coombes and Fagan placed fifth, with a B team of Jones, Chilton and Ward fifteenth.
There were also young athletes Southern Inter Counties Championship races at Horspath. All representing Surrey, Phoebe Bowen was sixth in the Under 13 girls race, Eva Holland finished in the same position among the U15 girls Jacob Taylor was fourteenth and Christo Chliton eighteenth in the U13 boys race and Charlie Krammer fifteenth U15 boy. Holland was a prominent scorer in the Surrey gold medal U15 girls team (pictured above).
The club was also represented in the East Surrey League 5 miles cross country race on Wimbledon Common on Saturday morning. Good runs from Andrew Clarke in sixth place, Jeff Cunningham seventh, Bryn Reynolds eleventh and Chris de Mauny nineteenth saw them collectively finish as second team behind the host club, with further backup from John Foxall fifty-ninth and Tony Harran sixty-eighth. Evie McDermott in ninth place and Sarah Allen nineteenth turned out for Herne Hill’s women’s team.
In the younger age groups on Wimbledon Common, the Herne Hill girls team placed second and the boys finished fifth. Hebe Hunter was an individual winner as first U13 girl to cross the line as all runners raced together. Joe Roberts and Jacob Alley were second and third U15 boys, leading what was a successful day at two different venues for Herne Hill athletes young and older.