The weather couldn’t make up its mind on Saturday between summer and winter and neither could the athletics club team competition calendar. The National club road relay championship at its iconic venue in Sutton Coldfield usually falls between winter cross country and summer track and field, but this year’s race clashed directly with the first Southern Athletics League fixture of 2016 at Hastings. This presented a test of both resources and the relative preferences of Herne Hill Harriers best available distance runners and with a small matter of this weekend’s upcoming London Marathon to also consider.
Given the busy scheduling the team performance of Harriers’ ladies in Sutton Park in placing higher than ever before in this event was a superb all round achievement. Stacey Ward, Cathy Ansell, Annes Stevens, Chloe Tighe, Suzanne Swaine and Julia Wedmore combined collectively to finish an excellent eleventh of forty two teams and tantalisingly only seven seconds away from a top ten position. This represents a fine improvement on last year’s previous best of fifteenth and our next move forward into the highest order is a realistic aspiration as team spirit and development is even further strengthened.
In the men’s race our team of twelve runners produced a fine overall effort in finishing twenty eighth of sixty four complete teams in a race where every club has to qualify via their area championship event. Our highlight was undoubtedly the return to our team of Lewis Lloyd with an individual run of the highest quality. After a very solid opening stage from veteran Simon Coombes, Lewis blasted his way through the field to overtake twenty one men to hand over to David Mulvee in twenty sixth place at the end of the second leg. Lloyd, who has previously represented Great Britain juniors in the World Cross Country Championship demonstrated great pre track season form as his time of 15:18 was fastest on his stage and stood up as the third fastest overall among the six short stages of the relay.
At the Southern Athletics League meeting in Hastings Harriers’ combined men’s and ladies team finished second in a match where the club enjoyed good strength in most field events and the sprints, but suffered some gaps in some hurdles and middle distance races, the latter being affected by the National road relays being on the same day. If ever there was a contest that illustrated the importance of having as complete a team covering as many of the events as possible, this was the one. By and large Harriers’ scored strongly in the majority of the events the team was able to contest and having salvaged second place behind the host club from a difficult fixture the team can now aim for some wins in the matches that remain.