Herne Hill Harriers athletes of all ages were racing at the South of England Road Relay Championship at the local venue of Crystal Palace Park, with each leg of every race starting and finishing on the iconic athletics track where world records have been set in big international meetings in years gone by. With categories ranging from under 13 boys and girls to over 60 men, there was an area championship race for everyone and Herne Hill were represented in all except under 17 men and the over 60’s, claiming bronze medals in three age groups during a long, but exciting day of races.
The first of Harriers’ medal winning teams were in the under 15 girls race, where Isobel Penniceard, Eva Holland and Maisie Collis were on the medals rostrum after a strong battle in a what was, like most of the younger categories, a very hotly contested race. Penniceard ran the ninth fastest time overall out of over 200 runners in this age group with her time of 9.51, with Collis recording a split that was just one second slower on her anchor leg. Herne Hill had an extraordinary five teams entered in this relay alone, with the B team placing twenty-sixth, C team thirty-sixth and D team sixty-eighth and an incomplete E team for a great show of club team strength.
The other Herne Hill team medal winners were both in the Master categories, as Simon Coombes, John Kettle, Raj Paranandi and Ben Paviour combined to take the third place gongs in the M40 age group, while Keith Newton, Andrew Simms, Tom Conlon and Gary Ironmonger were the bronze medal winners in the M50 race. With Jonathan Ratcliffe running significantly faster in the M50 B team than one of the A team runners, the club were left ruing what could well have been a set of gold medals had the four fastest all run in the A team, but this was a good all round squad performance. Coombes clocked a time of 15.45 on first leg for the second fastest overall time of the M40 race.
Other Herne Hill teams to place in the top ten were the under 17 women Katie Balme, Lily Newton and Eimear Griffin in sixth, the under 15 boys Charlie Krammer, Jacob Alley, Jacob Harrison and Jaden Kennedy in eighth and the under 13 girls Anabella Bailey, Johanna Nicholson and Stella Thomas in ninth.
The senior women were missing a few of what is also expected to be a strong squad for this coming season and after Chloe Tighe has placed fifth on the first stage in 12.19, the seventh fastest women’s time overall, the rest of the team of Zoe Tompkins, Katie Kedward and Katie Balme ran well to finish twenty-third. The Herne Hill senior men’s A team comprising Mohammed Ismail, Sean Fitzpatrick, Chris Busaileh, Jeff Cunningham, Bryn Reynolds and Alex Hobley placed twenty-fourth of eighty-five complete teams to ensure qualification for next month’s National Road Relay Championship at Sutton Coldfield where the club will also expect to have athletes racing in all of the age categories throughout the day.
Away from the road relays a couple of very fine road running performances were recorded by Herne Hill athletes in big half marathon races. Irishman John Dunne placed an excellent seventh in the Robin Hood Half Marathon over a very tough course in Nottingham in a time of 74 minutes 14 seconds, while north of the border in Edinburgh, Gen Huss finished as ninth female in the Scottish Half Marathon with 91 minutes 12 seconds.
Earlier in the week Alex Hobley raced in the South of England 10000m track championship event at Stoke Mandeville and brought home a bronze medal in 34.08.62, a time only just outside his road 10km PB and began the Herne Hill collection of Southern area championship third place medals.