The main athletics action for Herne Hill Harriers took place at very contrasting venues, with athletes over the age of 35 racing indoors at the BMAF Championship at Lee Valley over the weekend and some younger athletes representing their county teams in the UK Inter Counties Cross Country Championship on an extremely muddy course at Prestwold Hall in Loughborough on Saturday, which was a true test of endurance, strength and character.
Away from the mud, the British Masters indoor champs saw Fiona de Mauny win three National gold medals and Gary Ironmonger took home a gold and a silver in a top weekend of track racing.
In her Masters Championship debut after turning 35 in February, de Mauny claimed the W35 400m title in 60.13 and the 1500m in 4.48.66 off a very slow first 400 in the Saturday events, demonstrating smart tactical acumen in winning both races in the space of not much more than an hour. The following day then witnessed an imperious win in her main 800m event in a time of 2.16.34. This was a W35 800m championship best performance and was so evenly paced throughout that remarkably the first 200m was very marginally the slowest of her race, but only by fractions of a second. A treble British gold medal haul and a CBP is a timely boost going into the European Masters Championship in Madrid later this month.
Ironmonger won a M55 1500m silver medal on Saturday in 4.36.11 to hold off the eventual bronze medallist at the end of a close battle. He then went one better on Sunday in winning an 800m final that was arguably the race of the day. The lead changed hands on four occasions in just over two minutes of racing, but when Ironmonger hit the front on the back straight of the final 200m lap he was never going to be passed again from there and prevailed with a winning time of 2.16.08. This was a race where the first four runners all deserved medals, but the Herne Hill man knows how to win in such tight contests.
In the M75 age group, Allan Long was a double gold medal winner on Saturday as he won the long jump with 4.06m and the 60m in 8.93 seconds, the jump being his first in excess of 4 metres in 2018 and similarly his sprint time was his first under 9 seconds so far this year. Giuseppe Minetti was the fourth Harrier to win more than one National medal as he followed up his M45 60m bronze in 7.53 with a gold medal in the 200m the following morning in 24.28 for a clear victory. Dan Hallam also ran well to place fourth in his M40 800m final, clocking 2.20.50 in a quick race.
At Prestwold Hall three Herne Hill athletes were members of medal winning Surrey teams. The senior women’s race saw Georgie Grgec finish as the fifth of six team scorers for a team that she was only called into on Monday. Her 44th position was good for a runner who tends not to thrive on such muddy ground, but she was racing with the notion that if she could successfully negotiate the race she would win a medal as part of a strong team and if she ran well enough the colour would most likely be gold. She did and it was.
Zoe Tompkins is probably also no great fan of mud, but her excellent 42nd place in the under 20 women’s race earned her a team bronze medal, while Christo Chilton took home a team silver with a good run for 25th in the under 13 boys race. Also in the senior women’s race Katie Moore placed a good 86th racing for Northern Ireland, while Tatiana Cooke placed 85th in the under 20 women’s race.
Richard Henderson (123rd for Bedfordshire), Andrew Warburton (147th for Notts), Alex Hobley (171st for Warwickshire) and Simon Coombes (215th for Bedfordshire) were all racing for their various counties in the senior men’s event and Jasper Johnson raced for the Surrey under 20 men’s team placing 152nd in that age group.
There was good club representation at the Dulwich parkrun with Andrew Grigg fourth in 16.52, Jack Brotchie fifth 16.58, Robin Sanderson 14th 18.35, Ella Newton 18th and second woman 18.46 and James Ward 20th 18.51 all finishing within the top twenty at one of the strongest weekly parkruns in depth in the UK. Jonathan Ratcliffe clocked around 2.56 for second place at the Thames Meander Marathon, the 54th occasion on which he has been under the three hours barrier, still going very strong aged 50.