The South of England Road Relay Championships took place at the magnificent Crystal Palace Athletics Stadium on Sunday. As it awaits a final outcome regarding its future, many of us cast our memories back to some of the great races we have seen at this venue, involving icons of British distance running such as Ovett, Coe, Cram, Bedford, Foster, Sly, Holmes and Radcliffe and many more. It is a fitting venue for the traditional curtain raiser, and one that this year, in particular, benefitted from the cover afforded by the main stand as the rain fell during the morning’s young athletes’ races. Our thanks to the officials including a good number of our own Club members who stood out for eight or more hours to marshal the proceedings.
The one medal winning team from Herne Hill was in the M40 category in the veterans event ran alongside the Senior Men and also our M50 teams. Simon Coombes, fresh with a Malaga tan from the World Masters Championship, produced an excellent opening leg to finish 3rd, 19.18, the 7th quickest M40 time overall. Raj Paranandi held 3rd position with another very strong run, 19.46. Robin Jones maintained third position running 20.18, and the bronze medal was secured with a final leg of 19.39 by Ben Paviour. Great running again by our Masters, who have proved to be one of our most successful categories over the last decade.
In the younger age groups the Under 13 Boys came closest to the podium. Christo Chilton produced an excellent opening leg on the 3.1km course to come home in 2nd position. His 10.47 was the third quickest leg overall, and set the team up very nicely indeed. Zac Crowther took over from Christo and held his nerve, running a swift 11.36 and only dropping one position. Sam Moloney and Fabien Whitelock completed the team, with 12.26 and 11.49 respectively, bringing the U13B home in an outstanding 5th place of the 44 complete teams. HHH B and C teams finished 31st and 43rd respectively.
The U13 Girls team produced a very consistent set of performances over the same 3.1km loop. For all there was at least one steep climb, with the older age groups tackling the big hill twice. Tamra Chan led off for the A team and ran a very good 12.40 to finish in 16th on the tough opening leg. Johanna Nicholson took six runners in moving the team to 10th position, with a 12.42 leg, and Annabella Bailey completed the team with a 12.57 spilt, finishing in 12th place of the 56 complete teams. The Herne Hill B team finished 38th, with a stand out performance from Maddison Oglivie who also ran 12.57.
The U15 Boys team was top and tailed by the Harrison brothers, so often the stalwarts of our successful road running teams. Benjamin led off with a 10.53 opening leg for 20th position, with Harvey Kande running leg two, 11.22, finishing 24th, Joe Roberts, 11.07 took the team to 15th and Jacob Harrison produced the quickest Herne Hill U15B performance with a 10.40 final leg to bring the team home in 11th of the 42 complete teams. In an incomplete B team, Jacob Taylor ran a very good 11.14.
The Herne Hill U15 Girls A team produced incredibly consistent performances throughout, albeit with no real fireworks taking account of the quality of athlete we have in this age group. The season is young, hence it will not and should not be the main objective for most of our athletes to be in peak shape at this time of year. The U15G squad has ample talent to impact as the season moves on, and they were led off by Tilly Stevens-Cox on leg one with a 12.12 opener for 18th place. Phoebe Bowen moved up four places with a 12.11 clocking, a position held by Eva Holland who also ran 12.12. Backing up the A team’s 14th out of 67 complete teams, was our B team in 50th.
The Under 17 Men’s age group was the one young athlete category where we did not complete a team, but our U17W did compete and were led off by Isobel Penniceard on leg one who finished 37th running 12.43. Susannah Hirst capitalised on the long line of athletes ahead of her and moved up a massive 16 places, to finish 21st running 12.09. A long standing member of successive HHH squads, Lily Newton, ran an excellent anchor leg to climb a further 6 places to 15th, of 41 complete teams. Her individual time of 11.37 was also the 15th quickest overall.
The Senior Men’s team front end was dominated by a predictable cast, but much less so the women’s race. Harriers had high hopes for the latter a few weeks before, only for the team to be decimated by the absence of a number of our top runners through injury. Such is the depth of the squad that we were still able to field a high quality team which included two U20 athletes racing against seniors.
Steph McCall produced a very solid opening leg around the two lap 4.8km testing circuit, in 17.34 for 14th place. This was to be the fastest Herne Hill women’s time of the day, demonstrating what a great addition Steph is to our team. Running for the B team, Sarah Grover produced an excellent 18.08 for 25th position. Zoe Tompkins, fresh from a waitressing shift that had engaged her until 2am, served up what must have been one of her best road relay legs for the Club, taking us to 10th with an 18.09 leg, pure silver service. Helena Corbin held 10th position running 18.29, and English Schools 1500m champion, Alex Brown, just back from an end of season break, took the team to 8th position running a strong 17.57. Our B team were only beaten by one other B team, finishing 19th of the 46 teams overall.
We fielded one of our strongest men’s teams of recent years, in what turned out to be a very high standard race with great depth. Chris Busaileh, who looks as much at home on the road as he does on any surface, produced an excellent 17.55 on the opening leg to finish in 12th position. The consensus was that the leg was short of the advertised 6.1km. Mike Cummings, who has produced PBs in three of the four middle distance events he has contested this summer, including a sub 15 5000m, continued his fine run of form to take the team to 10th position, 18.42. Matt Robertson produced a solid 19.33 leg dropping to 22nd position, only for Lewis Lloyd to charge back through the field, gaining 9 places, 17.49, the Club’s fastest SM time of the day. Jack Brotchie, who ran despite illness, a 19.27 leg for 16th position, and the team was completed by Andrew Warburton, 19.13, who held 16th. We also finished a B team but split times and overall position are not clear due to one of our runners not wearing a timing chip.
The M50 men produced consistent performances throughout, but lacked the quality on the day to mount a serious medal challenge. Joffah Radcliffe produced an excellent lead off leg, despite suffering from a faulty start, and produced the Club’s fastest M50 clocking of the day running 21.22 to finish 6th. Mike Boyle held 6th position with a 21.55 leg, whilst Keith Newton moved the team up to fourth with a 21.34 clocking. Gary Ironmonger dropped a couple of places running 22.03, but the team’s 6th position was a strong performance in a top quality field. The B team finished in 12th, with Derek Lee’s 21.42 being the stand out performance.
Keith Newton 24/09/18