Herne Hill Harriers had track and field teams in action this weekend in the men’s British Athletics League (BAL) competition and the Southern Women’s League (SWL), with teams fighting off the threat of relegation with superb battling performances.
At Lee Valley, Herne Hill successfully preserved its status as one of the top-16 track and field club men’s teams in Britain, retaining a place in the second tier of the BAL by placing fourth in the final Division 1 fixture and fifth in the overall standings for the season, with two of the eight teams to go down.
Harriers’ women needed to move up from seventh to sixth in the SWL Premier Division and by beating two of the seven opposing teams another escape was accomplished.
The men’s team performance was dedicated to one of Harriers’ longest serving club members, Peter Reeve, who passed away at the beginning of this month. Mr Reeve was one of the greatest supporters of our the club’s men’s team with his very regular attendance at BAL matches, as can be testified by his appearances in various promotion season team photos over the past three decades or more. Mr Reeve was greatly missed on Saturday but he would have been proud of the way in which a smaller than usual 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 best ranked sprinters missing and with two 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 third in a fast race.
Phillips and Atwell are also members of Harriers record-holding 4 x 400m relay team and both had busy afternoons. Phillips ran possibly his best 400m race to date, placing a very good second in the A string, although a windy back straight denied him a personal best. He went out hard in lane eight and was ahead of England Commonwealth Games relay gold medallist Daniel Awde until the final straight, and his 47.85 was excellent given the weather. Atwell won the B 400m having run the B 100m, and then anchored a good 4 x 400m team led off by Phillips, and including young Feysel Nadew and Blade Ashby, to place second.
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 the division this season and was an equally convincing winner with his throw of 65.76m. Allandre Johnson won the B string for the third of the three 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 third in the A pole vault with a 4.20m clearance, while U17 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 Cummings clocking a new best of 8.39.52 and Busaileh placing second in the B string in 8.41.24.
Withdrawals and absences meant a greater number of people doubling or trebling up. For our multi-event exponent Thomas Ashby, it was six events, all in the field as he competed in all four jumps and two throws. Ashby was second in the B high jump with 1.95m, fourth in the A discus with 48.70m and fourth 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 second in the B discus, and also threw hammer and shot.
At Eton Herne Hill’s 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 third in the B 200m. Snowden and Mitchell were also part of Harriers’ winning 4 x 400m relay team, while Eva Joseph won the A 200m after placing third in the B 100m. Mel Edwards also ran well to place third in the A 3000m and record a sub-11 minutes personal best clocking for the first time.
In the field events Briony Phillips was superb as an A string athlete in all four throws, notably recording a season’s best discus throw and also a season’s best as the B-string triple jumper, while veteran ladies Barbara Macanas and Sharon St Luce threw well as Phillips’ B-string in two 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, as well as silver in the 800m, while Nicola Richmond won a bronze medal in the W40 1500m with a best time of 5.05.43 on another windy track. Mike Mann was another gold medallist in the M65 1500m and 5000m. Guiseppe Minetti won a bronze in the M45 100m and placed fourth in the 200m.
Jonny Muir/ Geoff Jerwood