Herne Hill Under 13 Boys team are National Cross Champions!

Herne Hill Harriers’ U13 boys were team winners at the English National Cross Country Championships on Saturday, writes Geoff Jerwood.

The club also had three individual top-10 placings at the event which was held at Bolesworth Castle, near Chester.

The winning boys team was led, as has often been the case, by Caspian Holmes. He dropped a couple of places after the first 1.5km, which had long, energy-sapping grass in the first 600m section of the course, but he held on well for a ninth-placed finish.

Holmes was superbly backed by Thomas Clerkin (17th), Lucas Heath (34th) and Edward Cunniffe (35th).

The highest-placed individual from the club was Poppy Craig-McFeely, sixth in the U20 women’s race, leading her team to fourth place in an age category where athlete retention is at its most difficult.

Only narrowly losing out in fifth place near the finish, this was undoubtedly Cambridge University fresher Craig-McFeely’s best race to date and a good improvement on her seventh in the Southern event a month earlier, with at least three British junior internationals in her wake.

Kaitlin Hewitt and Hebe Hunter are still at school, so are even younger in this age group, but their 47th and 70th positions showed great maturity and closed a good team of three.

The U17 men’s team were sixth due to Robin Bebbington (41st), Harry Bell (62nd), Alex Jack (63rd) and Fabien Whitelock (96th).

It was a similar story for the seventh-placed U15 girls team, courtesy of Orla Carroll (45th), Sophie Jack (53rd), Maeve Minielly (66th) and Lily Kitto (79th).

One more Herne Hill athlete who finished in her top 10 was cross country and road star Georgie Grgec, whose excellent ninth was the highest yet achieved by a senior woman from the club at these championships.

Despite feeling unwell in the build up to the race, Grgec committed to racing in the lead group on the first lap and fought hard to maintain her position in the closing stages. With team captain Julia Wedmore in 112th, W40 Karen Ellison 127th and Natasha Lodge 136th the team were 10th overall.

The U17 women were 12th with their scoring team being Eva O’Hanlon (81st), Grace O’Hanlon (104th), Vivi Marshall (124th) and Rosalie Laban (148th).

The U15 boys came 20th through Archy Atkinson (107th), Jon Goldston (168th), Warren Wilson (174th) and Alex Wilson (178th).

The senior men finished 24th, led by Brandon Dewar (157th), followed by Joe Fenwick (172nd), M40 Jeff Cunningham (238th), Dan Shaw (283rd), Matt Cartwright (344th) and Joe Elliott (368th). Sofia Mendes finished 151th in the U13 girls race.

Katie Snowden was in action again on Saturday on the same track as the previous weekend as she competed in the Birmingham World Athletics Indoor Tour Final.

A race billed as an attempt on the women’s world indoor 1,000m record by Laura Muir was always going to be a rapid affair and Snowden’s bid to try to keep close enough left her exposed in second place until the final stages.

Snowden finished fifth in an inaugural indoor PB of 2:37.46.

It was Snowden’s last race before this week’s European Athletics Indoor Championships in Istanbul and was a good under distance workout before Friday’s women’s 1,500m heats.

At the BUCS Indoor Championships for University and Colleges students in Sheffield, Saskia Millard won a bronze medal in the women’s 3,000m final on Sunday, clocking 9:32.12 after qualifying in her heat the day before.

In the women’s 1,500m semi-finals on Saturday, Annabel Hobday narrowly missed making her final as she ran 4:34.03 for fifth following qualification from a heat the day before and Katie Balme was eighth in the second semi-final in 5:00.61 after clocking 4:51.16 in qualifying.

Gaby Reynolds produced a big PB performance for the second week in a row that takes her to the top of the UK W40 rankings.

After her 5km road race in Battersea Park nine days earlier, she raced at the Wokingham Half Marathon on Sunday and reduced her best time by 46 seconds with a quick 76:26.

Reynolds now tops her age group rankings for 5km and half marathon, with this latest performance usurping Alyson Dixon, who raced for Great Britain in the 2016 Olympic Games marathon.

M55 Jonathan Ratcliffe also raced well at Wokingham with 79:06, while at the Hampton Court Half Marathon M45 Ben Millar ran 77:35 and fellow M45 Jon Key ran a PB of 79:06.

St George’s Hospital University student James Brown and Jenny Nandi ran PBs of 83:55 and 84:04 at the Brighton Half Marathon, with Sophie Gunning just behind in 84:06 and Eliza Cottington 91:43, both also PBs.

At the Wimbledon Half Marathon Hannah Edwards rewrote her PB by a minute with 96:42 on a hilly course.

Geoff Jerwood