Farthing Down in Coulsdon was the scene of the Gordon Pirie race hosted by South London Harriers on a wet December Sunday morning over very challenging off road terrain. The race winner was Richard Henderson representing Herne Hill Harriers, leading his team to win the men’s award in an event that incorporates the Herne Hill club 10 miles cross country championship. Henderson’s eleven seconds victory saw him become the latest holder of the huge Dewar Shield that is awarded to the first Herne Hill athlete in the race, an accolade and trophy that has been contested annually throughout most of the long history of the club.
Other Harriers’ team members behind Henderson were Jeff Cunningham in sixth place, Jonathan Ratcliffe who in thirteenth overall was first M50 and Alan Barnes who defied a stomach upset to complete the winning scoring team one place behind Ratcliffe in fourteenth.
Karen Ellison continues to return to her best form after a couple of injury plagued years to finish as second woman in twenty-fifth overall. One place behind Ellison, James Ward ran around four minutes faster than on this course last year, with Trevor Chilton not far behind in twenty-eighth position. Nigel Goodwin completing the HHH turnout finishing seventy-sixth in a popular, well organised and well supported club fixture.
The previous morning at the Saturday parkruns, following Katie Snowden’s superb run a week earlier Herne Hill women were again dominating some of the female results, and in one case finishing ahead of all of the male participants. England half marathon international Stacey Ward is now finally edging closer to her racing comeback after a year of injury which has included surgery and rehab and less only a handful of parkruns as training tests, but on Saturday she won the St Albans parkrun outright as her 17.54 clocking saw her finish 19 seconds ahead of the first man after having been out in the lead after the first 100m of her run. Signs of what we hope can now be a positive move forward for a quality athlete.
Although not ahead of all of the men, Chloe Tighe was third finisher on Tooting Common running without her barcode, but a long way ahead of the official leading lady and recording a similar time to Ward’s St Albans run. Tighe was around 20 seconds behind club mate Matt Cartwright’s fine 17.32 which placed him seconds on the day. Harriers also supplied the winning woman at Dulwich for the second week in a row as Stacy Wheat was first female in 19.23 to complete a Herne Hill hat trick of women’s parkrun wins.
Herne Hill under 15 boys Jacob and Benjamin Harrison placed first and second at the Crystal Palace parkrun, finishing together in 19.22 to show a field of over 200 finishers a couple of clean pairs of heels, while in Lloyd Park Tony Macdowall was second in 17.35.
Male club members who were ahead of Wheat in Dulwich Park were Dan Hallam, twelfth in 18.15, Jonathan Ratcliffe thirteenth in 18.19, Fraser Hagell sixteenth in 18.42 and James Ward twenty-first in 19.07, while Lara Langston ensured that Herne Hill were both first and second among the women at Dulwich with her PB time of 20.02 on a day when there were no club team league races for our runners to contest.