Jaden and Charlotte produce stunning performances at National Road Relays

HHH Young Athletes at National Road Relays, Sutton Coldfield, 7 Oct 2017

Photo: Jess Judd with some of our HHH youngsters

Herne Hill Harriers was one of a small number of clubs to field teams in seven (or all) of the eight races, our only missing one being an U17 Men’s team. All but one of the young athletes’ teams secured top 20 positions, with three in the top 10. Competition is fierce at these National Championships, hence such high placings are predicated on talent, hard work and dedication.

The event, once again, produced a classic day of road racing, with many of the best young athletes in the country competing for their clubs, and equally impressive, established senior internationals pulling on their club vests to pitch their wares against the best that others could turnout. It was great to see Jessica Judd roaring around this superb course on the last lap following a much deserved end of season break, and Dewi Griffiths, fresh from his breakthrough half marathon last weekend, securing a Swansea victory on the final leg with the quickest time of the day. In the young athletes’ races, Thomas Keen joined the pantheon of greats in the U17M race with a stunning 11.23, whilst Ella McNiven produced a similar charge in the U17W race with a superb last leg of 13.00 to take the victory for Liverpool.

The Club’s A team results were:








Two of our bottom of age athletes, Jaden Kennedy, 12.42, and Charlotte Alexander, 13.22, recorded the 4th and 2nd quickest overall leg times respectively for their age groups. Jaden’s performance elevated him to 2nd on the HHH all-time list behind Ed Olsen’s 12.05 as an U17, whilst Charlotte’s time was the quickest ever by a HHH female athlete, surpassing Katy-Ann McDonald’s 13.34 and Lucy Olsen’s 13.38, both as U15s.

In the U13G, Annabella Bailey produced what must be her best performance so far with an excellent opening leg to finish 13th, running 15.23. Zoe Cruywagen battled around the second leg losing just two places to come in 15th, 16.13, and the team was completed by Hebe Hunter who finished in 21st position, 16.59, of the 76 starting teams and 65 finishers.

In the U13B, Jacob Taylor ran a determined first leg against tough competition to come home in 29th position, 14.29. Christo Chilton was unleashed on leg two, passing an incredible 21 athletes to bring the team home in 8th, 13.42. In so doing, he just missed out on a top ten individual time placing (13.40), but he does have another year in the age group. Fabian Hurst rounded off the team’s performance with a 15.21 leg, coming home in 15th place of the 75 starting teams and 67 finishers.

The U15G is a strong age group for the Club. Poppy Craig-McFeely came into the A team having competed for the B team in the Southern Road Relays and underlined this strength with an excellent last leg performance. Maisie Collis ran a superb opening leg coming in 7th with a ‘pb’ of 14.15, 16 seconds quicker than last year. Eva Holland, as she did at the Southerns, tore past all but one athlete ahead of her running 14.38 (again a big improvement on last year) to bring the team home in 2nd place. Poppy battled until the final hill to hang onto a medal, but was unfortunate to be up against Caitlin Robinson, Liverpool, who pipped Poppy for third place running the quickest time of the day, 13.38. Poppy produced an excellent 14.35. The Club’s B team was 30th and C team 47th,, of the 80 starting teams and 66 finishers, whilst Maisie just missed out on a top 10 individual fastest time placing, 14.13.

Another very strong age group is the U15B, and all three athletes who set the U13B course record last year were running in 2017, two for the A team and one for the B team. Charlie Krammer demonstrated, once again, that he can mix it at this national level with a very strong opening leg for 17th place, 13.16. Jaden Kennedy was then unleashed and produced a stunning performance as he ripped by 15 athletes, bringing the team home in 2nd, 12.42. Few glide in the way Jaden does on the roads, and it was a pleasure to watch this multiple champion from the 2016/17 season produce another outstanding run. Jacob Harrison kept his head as he did on the final leg last year, to bring the team home in 3rd place, 13.23. The B team finished 41st of the 94 starting teams and 75 finishers, and there was a notable performance from Ben Harrison, 13.30, a 20 second ‘pb’.

There were more fireworks in the U17W race as Charlotte Alexander inflicted similar damage to Jaden, moving from 23rd to 5th position of the 55 starting teams, 42 finishers. Lily Newton ran the opening leg, 15.25, and Katie Balme completed the team with a 15.00 clocking on the third leg. This squad should get considerably stronger as the winter goes on, with four or five high quality performers due to return to racing over the coming months.

Congratulations to all who competed, plus the coaches and team managers. The consolidation of this event into one day has been a very positive move, coupled with efficient organisation, whilst the alacrity of the results service is befitting of this National Championship. The SEAA should be able to learn some lessons from the organisers of this event, and can hopefully return the SEAA relays to the level of organisation that was enjoyed for many years at Aldershot’s Rushmoor Arena, coupled with the single day format.

Keith Newton, 8 October 2017