Return of the men – third for Herne Hill senior teams at Surrey League opener

The resurgence of Herne Hill Harriers men’s cross country and road race teams gathered pace in the first of this season’s four Tracksmith Surrey Cross Country League Division 1 races in Richmond Park on Saturday.

Following an excellent 21st placing at the National Road Relay Championship a week earlier the men placed a superb third of ten A teams in the top division where the first ten 10 finishers from each club score for their team. 

Sam Bramwell again led the way racing with the leaders and in the first four for most of the race before yielding to nevertheless finish in sixth, his best position to date in this high quality league.

The key to finishing third was the strong packing that followed, as the A team was completed by good runs from Lewis Laylee 23rd, Brandon Dewar 28th, Daniel Shaw 36th, Andrew Clarke 51st, Jack Brotchie 52nd, debutant Ben Warren 59th, M50 Simon Coombes 62nd, David Moyse 64th and Mike Cummings 68th.

The developing squad depth was well illustrated as Harriers were second among the B teams formed of the next ten men to finish. M40 Jeff Cunningham in 70th only missed the A team by seconds and was backed up by Joe Elliott 80th, Joe Fenwick 82nd, George Withers 85th, Max Rose 91st, Ewan Bate 92nd, Alex Lee 107th, M45 Ben Millar 111th, U20 Robin Bebbington 113th and Seve Loudon 129th. With a total of 37 men completing the race 8.5km race in the red and black hoops this was a fine start to this league campaign.

The next generation also looks promising as the Under 15 girls won their team contest on the day thanks to very good runs from Florence Mills in third place, Sophie Jack fourth, Maeve Minielly seventh and Lily Kitto ninth. 

The Under 17 women were second team courtesy of Izzy Perry fifth, Eva O’Hanlon 11th, Grace O’Hanlon 14th and Martha Brennan 15th, supported by Vivi Marshall 21st and Rosalie Laban 23rd.

Herne Hill senior women are the defending league champions this season, but they had to settle for third A team on the day as both Belgrave Harriers and Thames Hare & Hounds set out their stalls early.

Georgie Grgec put in another strong performance at the front of the field, finishing second behind Belgrave’s Kate Axford. Grace Leyland had one of her best runs so far in 16th and Sophie Tooley made a fine league debut in 27th. The A team was completed by Jenny Nandi in 35th and Sarah Grover 37th.

As with the men, the squad depth is good and the B team placed eighth overall and were second among the B teams. Annie Dalton underlined her value as a new addition placing 39th, Charlotte Davies was 53rd, U20 Kaitlin Hewitt 54th, Sophie Gunning 57th and a returning Shannon Sinclair 59th. 

C teams are not scored as such in the official results, but individually Sue Swaine 71st, Megan Gildea 77th, W40 Karen Ellison 79th, Hannah Edwards 88th and Madelaine Parmar 89th would be second of the C teams on the day.

The combined U15/U17 men’s team was also third, with Caspian Holmes eighth overall and first U15), Tommy Clerkin 13th and third U15), Leau Roch 22nd, Alfie Bryan 39th, Jack McLennan 47th and Herbert Clark 60th. 

The U13 girls team of Sofia Mendes sixth, Isobel McLennan 23rd, Ella Driver 40th, and Cataleya Holmes 48th were sixth. Harriers did not complete a U13 boys team, Luca Boulton flew the flag in 15th in his race.

Saturday was a great day for Herne Hill over 50s as in addition to Coombes’ superb run at Richmond, Ben Paviour and Nikki Sturzaker both won their age group races at the England Masters team trials In Derby for the Veterans Home International Cross Country. They will now both represent their country at that event in Glasgow on Saturday 11th November.

There were also a number of Harriers in road racing action on Sunday. At thenGreat South Run in Portsmouth Oli Walker ran a PB of 54:31. 
At the Manchester Half Marathon Ronan Tanguy also produced a PB performance with 72:04, while Ryan Willmott was the winner of the Chelmsford Half Marathon in 76:09.
Leonie Biemolt was third W40 at the Cabbage Patch 10 miles road race in Twickenham in 62:00.

Overseas, the Amsterdam Marathon saw Fintan Kearney clock 2:47.36 and then three “alumni” of the Tooting Run Club community project all raced very well in their debut marathons. Holly Govey clocked 3:15.36, Milli Simcock-Brown 3:29:06 and Anisah Khan 3:59.09.

Coombes capped off a good weekend’s work placing third and first M50 at the Love Luton Run Fest Half Marathon in 77:19 the morning after scoring eighth man in Harriers A team at Richmond.

Geoff Jerwood