London Championship bronze for Herne Hill women’s team at muddy Parliament Hill.

Herne Hill Harriers senior women’s and men’s teams, including some under 20s and masters, enjoyed a successful Saturday afternoon on Hampstead Heath. There was a good collection of medals brought home from these London Cross Country Championships races.

On a muddy circuit on Parliament Hill, the scoring A team quartet won bronze medals. They were led by the ever improving Jenny Nandi in 11th place of 261 finishers. Another on an impressive upward trajectory is Kaitlin Hewitt, who finished 21st overall and also claimed the female U20 gold medal. 

W50 athlete Nikki Sturzaker is a serial medal winner, predominantly in masters events, but on this occasion was also a key member of the senior medal team finishing 27th and took home  the women’s masters gold medal from within the race for good measure. The medal winning A team was completed by another veteran, W40 Karen Ellison in 32nd.

Harriers women closed in with a baker’s dozen in the race. This superb backup came from Charlotte Davies in 41st, Helena Keenan 56th, W40 Steph Mitchell 65th, Annabelle Acres 66th, Julia Wedmore 69th, Holly Mammatt 78th, Alexandra Marginean 152nd, W40 Jess Winfield 159th and U20 Leah Cummins 207th.

The men’s team comprised sixteen runners in total, with in form Andrew Clarke leading the A team of four to 8th place. Clarke finished 13th, backed up by Tom Patterson 26th, Joe Elliott 51st and U20 Alex Jack 59th. 

Jack set off at an eye opening pace in the first km and held well onto a team scoring position. He was rewarded with the final medal of the day for the athletes in red and black as he claimed the under 20 men’s individual gold medal.

The squad on the day was completed by Fintan Kearney 73rd, Scott Morrison 89th, Alex Gutteridge 90th, Sam Maloney 126th (and 4th U20), Jamie Brown 151st, Chris Speed 174th, M40 Pip Bennett 188th, Stephen McLeod 195th, Leon Kong 299th, M45 Ian Jack 334th, James Breen-Norris 363rd and M65 Waldy Pauzers 400th in a huge field of 445 finishers. 

There was also another important result from a club member, achieved in arguably the biggest USA cross country championship, the NCAA Division 1 finals in Charlottesville. 

For the second consecutive weekend Columbia University New York student Phoebe Anderson excelled in the NCAA series, placing 29th in one of the most competitive events on the world cross calendar, being USA collegiate racing at its strongest. 

Anderson, whose family live in Putney, will now hope for selection for the Great Britain under 23 women’s team for the European Cross Country Championships in Brussels next month.

However, she must wait until after this coming weekend’s trial race in Liverpool which she is unable to attend before knowing whether a discretionary team place is made available for her based on her excellent racing performances across the pond. 

On Sunday morning Fiona de Mauny raced in the Wimborne 10 mile road race and surprised herself by placing fourth in a time of 67:08, placing second of the over 40 women. Husband Chris was just behind with his 67:11 clocking.

At the Run London Victoria Park Half Marathon M55 Jonathan Ratcliffe finished second overall behind a very fast performance by a Kenyan athlete as he recorded a time of 82:16, clearly the fastest in his age category on the day.

A number of young athletes from the club were left with a cross country free day, disappointed with a missed opportunity to race against the fastest in London. After being selected to represent their London borough teams at the London Youth Games at the same Parliament Hill venue, this fixture was cancelled on the evening beforehand by the meeting organisers due to what they felt would be deteriorating weather on the day based on the forecasts. In a busy racing calendar it would seem unlikely that the event can now be rescheduled.

Geoff Jerwood