PB fest for Herne Hill athletes at Friday Under the Lights 5km races in Battersea 

The excellent Friday Night Under the Lights 5km road races in Battersea Park never fail to disappoint and this one was especially keenly anticipated with 14 men and five women from Herne Hill Harriers on the start lines of the three waves of fast and intense competition.

In the final and fastest of the waves Tom O’Mahoney was at the head of a whole series of personal best performances on the night, clocking 15:06 and can reasonably expect to go under 15 minutes next time he races this very popular distance. Close behind were Harriers’ other two men on this wave as both Lewis Laylee and Andrew Clarke ran 15:13.

The earlier waves saw a veritable PB fest for the runners in red and black hoops. The five female runners all ran PBs or in one case only fractionally outside. Poppy Craig-McFeely – yet to reach her 20th birthday – ran an excellent 16:54 for a PB by almost a minute. Behind her the others were not far apart from each other, with Grace Leyland 17:33, Liv Stillman 17:44 (PB), Sophie Tooley 17:45 (PB) and Jenny Nandi 17:48 (PB).

The remaining men claimed five PBs between them, in finishing time order Joe Elliott 15:50, Jack Brotchie 15:53, Harry Roberts 15:55 (PB), Oliver Walker 15:57 (PB), M50 Ben Paviour 16:00, Russell Drummond 16:26 (PB), M45 Ben Millar 16:28, Alex Lee 16:30 (PB), Scott Morrison 16:35 (PB), M40 Paul Calver 17:05 and M45 Jon Key 18:02.

Simon Coombes travelled a bit further to Torun in Poland to represent Great Britain in the European Masters indoor track and field championships. On Sunday Coombes placed a brilliant fifth in a very high standard M50 3000m final in 9:06.47, his fastest time in this event since 2021.

The English Schools Cross Country Championships at Pontefract racecourse on Saturday rounded off the season for the young athletes from the club. Caspian Holmes has raced older boys all winter in club competitions, but here at the top of his age group he finished seventh in the Junior Boys race. This performance secured him selection to represent England Schools at the SIAB Home International Cross Country in Santry, Dublin a week later.

Holmes led his London Schools team to bronze medals with three more Harriers in the scoring team of six. These were James Clements-Nash 26th and Edward Cunniffe 35th. Thomas Clerkin was actually the second Herne Hill athlete across the line in 23rd place, racing in the Surrey team.

The Senior Boys race included Harry Bell producing his best cross country race to date in 68th, with Alex Jack 152nd and Fabien Whitelock 204th also members of the London team.

In the Intermediate Girls race Sophie Jack was 83rd, Maeve Minielly 115th and Lily Kitto 186th, while among the Junior Girls  Sofia Mendes was 106th. The Intermediate Boys race saw Alex Wilson 172nd and brother Warren Wilson 283rd.

The Podium Festival 5km road races in Leicester were arguably even bigger than the Battersea event the previous day. With world cross country championships athlete Georgie Grgec wisely opting not to take up her entry straight after a long flight back from her native New Zealand, Lucy Jones flew the club flag in the elite women’s race and her 17:15was her fastest since 2021 and bodes well for this coming season. Ryan Willmott raced in the open 5km and ran a road PB of 16:11 and then clocked 2:50 in the 1km road time trial event. 

As we are now also in half marathon season before the big spring marathon events it’s unsurprising that there was also Herne Hill representation at the Bath Half Marathon on Sunday where Morgan Roberts put in another strong performance with his 68:32 for 16th place in a big field of runners.The female categories featured some in red and black, with Karen Ellison 6th W40 in 89:03, Lily Newton 78th overall in 93:33, Hayley Shearman 79th in 93:13 and Sue Swaine 11th W40 in 95:39, 

At the Liverpool Half Marathon Jamie Brown was 54th and ran his first sub 90 minutes time with 89:27.

Geoff Jerwood