Sunday morning saw the return of local athletics club competition with the Wimbledon Park 5km team road race that started and finished on the track in the park and was routed onto the adjacent roads and footpaths. Herne Hill Harriers fielded one men’s team of ten and two women’s teams each of six, with the men placing fifth of twelve complete teams and the women’s A team second and the B team ninth of the ten full teams who finished.
The men’s race was first, starting in ten waves each comprising one runner per team setting off from the track at one minute intervals. The opposition was very strong in depth with some top club athletes on show. Herne Hill’s Nick Dewar and Lewis Laylee found times of 15:14 and 15:21 on the hilly course good for only the 18th and 21st fastest overall on the day, an illustration of the quality at the front of the field.
On the subsequent waves Carl Delaney 15:35, Brandon Dewar 15:39, emerging talent Joe Fenwick 15:51, Marc Geraghty 16:06, Jack Brotchie 16:11, Eoin Brady 16:29, Joe Elliott 16:34 and Jeff Cunningham 16:52 brought home a good team effort with Kent AC, Thames Hare & Hounds and Serpentine among those who finished behind Herne Hill based on the cumulative times of the ten runners from each club.
Harriers women were also out in force, particularly in numbers, as the only club with two complete female senior teams of six. The race was in the same waved start format, with Kent AC taking the team win. However the depth of the Herne Hill squad was shown with seven of twelve women under 20 minutes and four more clocking sub 21, with everyone enjoying the day and making valuable contributions to the HHH team experience.
Fiona de Mauny on the second wave was fastest of the Harriers women, recording 18:30, which placed her 11th in the women’s overall standings. Gaby Reynolds made her team debut clocking a good 18:47, Sarah Grover 18:50, Julia Wedmore 19:16, Zoe Tompkins 19:34 and Katie Balme 20:37, bravely completing her run for the team despite feeling sick during her run.
The B team also saw a fine debut run from new member Laura Donnelly with her strong looking 19:38, while Natasha Lodge 19:51, Ella Newton 20:00, Martha Reynolds 20:07 and Karen Ellison 20:50 all made encouraging steps back towards race fitness following their respective injuries.
Laura Miles is returning from a knee operation and her recovery may not have appreciated the steep downhill section on the course, but she ensured the completion of a second Harriers team when one or two other clubs were unable to finish their one team.
After the senior team races there was a Masters race for athletes over 35. Ben Paviour ran 17:14 and Robin Jones 17:17 to finish second and third respectively in the M45 category and overall in the race. Gary Ironmonger was eighth overall and first M55 with a good time of 17:39, with Jonathan Ratcliffe third M50 and 17th overall with 18:27 to round off some excellent grass roots racing on a chilly morning.