Herne Hill Harriers masters M40 team claimed bronze medals at the South of England Road Relays on Sunday afternoon on a circuit at Crystal Palace which started and finished each stage on the famous athletics track. The event was the area championship for all age groups from under 13 boys and girls to over 60 men and women.
Third place medals for the M40s was the highest placing achieved on the day by a Harriers team, with the U13 girls at the other end of the age spectrum finishing a good fifth, with the M50 team seventh and U13 boys eighth. The U15 girls’ team place eleventh, U15 boys twelfth and U17 men 32nd, with Herne Hill B teams also racing in each of the younger age group races except U17.
The senior men and masters all raced together with each stage advertised as 6.1km. A superb collective team effort from Raj Paranandi 18.48, Robert Peacock 19.30, John Kettle 19.29 and Ben Paviour 18.38 saw the M40 team win excellent team bronze medals, backed up by a M40 B team in 21st place, namely Robin Sanderson 21.20, Robert Nagorski 24.02, Jon Key 20.52 and Marcello Fortes 26.36.
This was top running by some seemingly ageless athletes, as was the seventh place achieved by the M50 team in a very competitive category which saw themfinish almost as close to the gold medal team as did the third placed M40s in their category. The Herne Hill quartet here was Gary Ironmonger 20.18, Keith Newton 21.21, Jonathan Ratcliffe 20.28 and Tom Conlon 20.46.
Harriers U13 girls raced very well in finishing fifth, with runners who are currently among the youngest in their age group with the young athletes and women racing around shorter courses than the men. Rosalie Laban 12.55, Lily-Rose Brown 12.19 (gaining from 20th to 8th on her stage) and Sophia Sahai moved through to fifth with 11.46.
The U13 boys were eighth through Fabien Whitelock26th in 12.08, Oak Buchan up ten places to 16th 11.58 Josh Lee-Baum handing over in 10th in 11.30 and anchor-man Keeran Sriskandarajah came in eighth with 11.10. The U15 girls team of Stella Thomas 11.58, Hebe Hunter 12.34 and Phoebe Bowen 12.08 were eleventh and the U15 boys Jacob Taylor (fourth on first leg) 10.16, Robin Bebbington 11.49, Harvey Kande 11.23 and Zak Crowther 10.42 placed twefth.
The Herne Hill senior squads were stretched to the limit as circumstances left both the women’s and men’s teams missing a number of key players. In some ways it is remarkable that the club was able to field full teams, but that should not detract from the excellent runs produced by everyone who was there to race on Sunday. Those who raced ran very well and will in some cases have gained great experience of this sort of event which can only be good for the continued development of our squads. It was really pleasing and promising to see such a depth of ability.
The women’s A team of Julia Wedmore 17.47, Helena Corbin 16.51, Molly Pocock 17.58 and Aimee Hargreaves 18.36 combined well to place 18th of 55 complete teams with Corbin’s move up from 30th to 17th on second leg being particularly impressive. Jemima Hayward-Bhika 20.51 was the sole B team runner.
The senior men suffered from key absences as for the first time in some years they failed to qualify for the National Road Relays at Sutton Coldfield in a couple of weeks from now, as despite some decent runs the final men’s A team position was 35th of 74 full men’s teamsto finish the race.
Andrew Grigg 18.30, Andrew Clarke 18.17, new men Brandon Dewar 18.58 and Joe Elliott 19.00, Jeff Cunningham 18.22 and Josh Pewter 19.08 brought the A team home, while a B team of only four runners filled a up a six man team with a couple running two legs each, the B team placing 56th overall thanks to sterling performances from Jack Dickenson 18.52, Mohammed Ismail 18.46, Eriç Dol 20.30, Charlie Osborne 19.53, Dickenson (again) 19.52 and Dol (again) 20.29.
The young athletes and senior women’s teams will now contest the Sutton Coldfield National event on Sunday 6th October, before which this Saturday morning sees Herne Hill hosting the Annual Streatham Common Cross Country race and fun run.