HHH Women miss out in valiant late charge for Surrey League title

 On most weekends other than Kristal’s big one, the high level exploits of the Herne Hill women’s cross country team, fast establishing themselves as one of the best in the South of England or potentially further afield, would have made very impressive lead headlines of their own.

Herne Hill got off to a slow start in the Surrey Ladies League cross country season, placing only fifth team in the first of the four fixtures and handed the now Southern cross country women’s champions Thames Hare and Hounds a 111 points head start. Nobody in their right mind expects to close that gap, but with wins in the next two races Harriers were “only” 31 points in arrears going into the finale at Lloyd Park on Saturday.

Herne Hill won on the day for the third time, led by Stacey Ormerod and the returning Georgie Grgecdemonstrating their quality by placing first and second, Grgec running her first race since August after a winter of injury frustration.

Liv Stillman raised eyebrows a week earlier in Leeds when on her return from her own injury woes led Harriers under 20 women to national team gold medals and this week impressed even more on her senior debut placing a fabulous sixth.

Jordan Foster finished a good eighth and Sarah Grover closed a superb A team in15th for another great team victory, but the cumulative points deficit was too great as Thames also showed why they are highly rated with their best four women finishing in the first seven. The final reckoning for the season saw Herne Hill’s 11 points match win leave them 20 points short when the four races were added together. A valiant team effort which illustrates what should come next in the upcoming Southern and National road relays. Herne Hill expects!

If only they decided the team league title on the best three of four races as they do for individual awards, as the HHH A team won three out of fourBy virtue of this scoring method Ormerod was able to claim the accolade of overall individual winner of Division One with her third, first and first in her three races, while Katie Balmewas best under 20 woman over the season and Fiona de Mauny was third overall among the female Masters across the season.

A further reason for high expectations is the depth of the Harriers women’s squad. Over the four races the B team of five were comfortably ahead of all other B teams. On Saturday Suzanne Swaine 27th, Nikki Sturzaker 34th, Katie Kedward 35th, Lara Langston 37th and Fiona Nicholson 94th provided the essential team backup needed to ensure that squad goals are attained.

In road running action, Herne Hill hosted the Frank Harmer 10km road race in Brockwell Park on a wetterand windy Sunday morning. Andrew Clarke took the win in 34.27 to head a show of local club dominance with 8 HHH men in the first 11 finishers. It was a good turnout with Nick Bester second, Simon Coombes fourth, Jeff Cunningham fifth (after winning the East Surrey League race in Lloyd Park the day before), Josh Pewter sixth, Jack Brotchie eighth, Eoin Brady ninth, and Angus Butler 11th. Jonathan Ratcliffe was first over 50 in 13thplace overall.

Nikki Sturzaker was second woman after her valued contribution to our cross country team efforts the day before and the aforementioned men and women were all backed up superbly by a sea of red and black representation, while in parkrun action Helena Corbin recorded her first sub 18 minutes as she clocked 17.59 to finish first woman in Burgess Park, yet another Harriers female whose form is on fire.

Geoff Jerwood