Harriers’ men and women’s teams both beat the drop

Herne Hill Harriers had track and field teams in action this weekend in the men’s British Athletics League competition and the Southern Women’s League and both of our teams fought off the threat of relegation with superb battling performances. At Lee Valley we successfully preserved our status as one of the top 16 track and field club men’s teams in Britain retaining our place in the second tier of the BAL by placing 4th in our final Division 1 fixture and 5th in the overall standings for the season with 2 of the 6 teams to go down. Our women needed to move up from 7th to 6th in the SWL Premier Division and by beating 2 of the 7 opposing teams another escape was accomplished.

Our men’s team performance is dedicated to a sadly absent friend, as one of Harriers’ longest serving club members Peter Reeve passed away at the beginning of this month. Peter was one of the greatest supporters of our HHH men’s team with his very regular attendance at our BAL matches, as can be testified by his appearances in our various promotion season team photos over the past 3 decades or more and was greatly missed on Saturday where he would have been proud of the way in which a smaller than our usual team rallied to score the requisite points tally.

The highlights of the afternoon tended to be the winning performances contributed by team members, but one non winning mark near the end of the match was a club record in the 4 x 100m relay. This clocking was all the more remarkable as it was achieved with a number of our best ranked sprinters missing and with 2 men in the team who specialise at 400m. Peter Phillips, Byron Robinson, Nicholas Atwell and Marvin Popoola combined to record a time of 41.62 to place 3rd in a fast race.

Peter and Nicholas are also members of our club record 4 x 400m relay team and both had busy afternoons. Peter ran possibly his best 400m race to date, placing a very good 2nd in the A string, although a windy back straight denied him a PB. Peter went out hard in lane 8 and was ahead of England Commonwealth Games relay gold medallist Daniel Awde until the final straight and his 47.85 was excellent in the weather. Nicholas won the B 400m after having run the B 100m and then anchored a good 4 x 400m team led off by Peter, young Feysel Nadew and Blade Ashby to place 2nd.

There were two events in which we scored maximum points for double first places. In the 110m hurdles Rushane Thomas followed up his great club and Surrey County U20 record of 13.81 last weekend with a win in 14.60 over higher senior hurdles, while the man he usurped as junior record holder Blade Ashby easily won the B race in 14.69. Gavin Johnson-Assoon has largely dominated the javelin event in our division this season and was an equally convincing winner with his throw of 65.76m and Allandre Johnson won the b string for the third of the 3 league matches in which he has competed.

It is invidious to single out many individual efforts among such a team performance, but U20 Charlie Maw should be mentioned for his fine 3rd in the A pole vault with a 4.20m clearance, while U17 Feysel Nadew ran brilliantly to lead the B 800m almost to the finish line, beaten only in the final stride. Michael Dyer doubled well in close A 800m and 1500m races, while Mike Cummings and Chris Busaileh fought out an epic duel within the 3000m race with Mike clocking a PB of 8.39.52 and Chris placing 2nd in the B string in 8.41.24.

Withdrawals and absences meant a greater number of people doubling or trebling or for our multi event exponent Thomas Ashby it was 6 events, all in the field as he competed in all 4 jumps and 2 throws. Tom was 2nd in the B high jump with 1.95m, 4th in the A discus with 48.70m and 4th in the B pole vault with 3.00m, the latter a season’s best, while also scoring valuable points in the long jump, triple jump and shot. Another field event athlete who competed throughout the afternoon was U20 thrower Alex Hill-King, who threw a season’s best 40.22m to place 2nd in the B discus and also threw hammer and shot.

At Eton our women were also up against it, but were aided by a double win for Steph Mitchell in the A 800m and B 400m, while top 800m runner Katie Snowden got in some speed training by winning the A 400m and placing 3rd in the B 200m. Katie and Steph were also part of Harriers’ winning 4 x 400m relay team, while Eva Joseph won the A 200m after placing 3rd in the B 100m. Mel Edwards also ran well to place 3rd in the A 3000m and record a sub 11 minutes PB clocking for the first time. In the field events Briony Phillips was superb as our A string athlete in all 4 throws, with a season’s best discus throw and also with a season’s best as our B triple jumper, while veteran ladies Barbara Macanas and Sharon St Luce threw well as Briony’s B string in 2 throwing events each.

Elsewhere in Birmingham at the British Masters track and field championship, Clarence Allen secured a gold medal in the M50 100m hurdles, Allan Long a gold in the M70 long jump and bronze in the 100m. Brian Shave won gold in the M80 1500m and 5000m, while Nicola Richmond won yet a bronze medal in the W40 1500m with a PB in 5.05.43 on another windy track. Guiseppe Minetti won a bronze in the M45 100m and placed 4th in the 200m.