The weekend saw the final round of the Surrey Cross Country League races in some very wintry weather conditions. The ladies and girls races at Happy Valley in Old Coulsdon were run on a hilly, snow covered surface and at times in a blizzard, while the men and boys had things more benign with no snow on Wimbledon Common, but still very cold.
While the senior teams from Herne Hill Harriers secured sixth place team finishes overall in both men’s and ladies leagues, the club’s strength in the youngest age groups was underlined as Harriers were again crowned as league champions in both under 13 girls and under 13 boys categories.
The girls team dominated in the snow, led by strong runs from Maisie Collis and Poppy Craig-McFeely who were second and third respectively, well backed up by Phoebe Bowen seventh, Jess Butland eighth and Sophie Williams ninth to provide an emphatic team win. The under 17 women’s team placed second on the day, led by Tatiana Cooke placing third and Katie Balme fourth in their age group and the team was also second overall in the final league standings.
Harriers’ boys suffered a very depleted turnout for the final race on Wimbledon Common, but a commanding lead for the under 13 boys going into this race saw them also claim their league title over the full season. Cameron Welsh was an excellent third in his category on the day to help ensure the overall team victory, while the Herne Hill combined under 15 boys and under 17 men’s team placed seventh on the day, but were a good third in the final league table.
In the senior races, Harriers’ men put in their best league team performance of the season to place fourth in a very competitive field that has been a feature of this year’s senior men’s season, with six strong local rival teams all battling it out over the four races. Chris Busaileh continued his return to form with a fine eighth position, with Richard Henderson only just behind in tenth of 185 finishers. Jeff Cunningham twenty-second, Mike Cummings twenty-eighth and veteran Simon Coombes thirty-seventh were also prominent in the scoring ten man team with a total of twenty-five men from the club completing the race.
Herne Hill men finished sixth of the nine teams in Division One over the four races, as did their female counterparts in Division One of the ladies league for a solid season, with Julia Wedmore in twenty-ninth of the Division One runners being first Herne Hill team member at Happy Valley.
The following day and by contrast racing on an indoor track, Harriers’ star veteran Gary Ironmonger won a gold medal at the Southern Counties Veterans AC Indoor Championship at Lee Valley, as he ran to a controlled front running victory in the M55 800m final, clocking 2 minutes 18.96 seconds and will be one of the contenders nationally in the M55 age group this year.