Strong Schools International debut for Taylor in Dublin then Herne Hill Harriers women become South of England Road Relay Champions at Milton Keynes

Herne Hill Harriers new young star Jacob Taylor  up his excellent breakthrough fourth place performance at the English Schools Junior Boys Cross Country Championship at Leeds last week with a strong debut wearing an England Schools vest in the SIAB home international race in Santry Park in Dublin on Saturday. Taylor produced another fine race in Ireland as he placed sixth in his age group race, finishing as the fifth team scorer in the winning England team. This was a marvellous experience for Taylor to represent his national schools team and huge credit again goes to his coach James McDonald.

Closer to home on Sunday, the Herne Hill Harriers women’s team who have been enjoying a successful year came up with their finest result so far, one of the best female team performances in the history of the club as they were crowned as South of England Road Relay Champions on a sunny afternoon in Milton Keynes.

This was the first time a Herne Hill women’s team have won medals at this event after being thwarted by the weather on the two previous occasions when a strong challenge was looking likely as in both of those years the race was cancelled due to snow, despite the late March date, with the Southern title then being awarded to the first team from the area at the National equivalent in April in Birmingham.

There was to be absolutely no doubt this year as the winning margin over the six road relay stages amounted to almost two and a half minutes at the end of the proceedings.

18 year old Liv Stillman, who had raced so well at the English Schools Cross Country at Leeds a week earlier excelled again on first leg with another very mature run as she handed her team over in third place with her time of 17.43, which was the fourth fastest overall for the 5.05km short leg. Incredible running.

Georgie Grgec was asked to run a long stage instead of short with very little notice following the late withdrawal of another team member and she ran superbly to move into second place, having briefly held the lead and her 27.23 clocking was seventh fastest of the day for the long stages (7.66km).

Stage three saw a fabulous run from Harriers Great Britain track international Katie Snowden, who stormed into a very good lead and looked very strong as she recorded the fastest short stage time of the day of 16:48.

The Herne Hill lead was then extended on the next leg as England road running international Stacey Ormerod blasted out the third fastest long leg of the day, being timed at 27:14 handing over more than two minutes ahead of second placed Cambridge & Coleridge.

A London Heathside athlete actually came in before Ormerod on this leg due to the fact she had been misdirected by a race official to run the shorter 5.05km lap, her team then having to run a long stage afterwards to correct things.

Ella Newton, one of two teenagers in the team maintained the huge Herne Hill lead on the penultimate lap recording 18.44, before Harriers’ Masters World 800m champion Fiona de Mauny, sealed an emphatic and historic victory for the club with a solid 18:45 anchor leg.

The Herne Hill women also had the first B team to finish as they placed 12th overall, with good runs from Sarah Grover 18.50, Olivia Zeltner 30.08, late inclusion Katie Balme 19.55, Natasha Lodge 29.45, Evie McDermott 22.08, Monika Gajek 20.46. The club will now take two women’s teams of six to the National Road relay Championship at Sutton Coldfield on Saturday 6th April with high hopes.

The men’s A team in finishing 15th in their 12 stage road relay have also qualified for the National event at Sutton Park. They ran a faster overall team time this year than when the event was last run at this venue in 2015, but were unable to achieve the top ten position this time that the slower team time had previously yielded with Sunday’s field obviously stronger in depth.

The A team times were Andrew Warburton 25.34, Mike Cummings 15.50, Andrew Clarke 25.33, Matt Cartwright 17.31, Lewis Laylee 25.44, Angus Butler 16.07, Jack Brotchie 26.07, Peter Hart 16.45, Andrew Grigg 26.37, Bryn Reynolds 16.48, Jeff Cunningham 25.52, Josh Pewter 17.06.

Harriers were also pleased to close out a men’s B team of 12, who clocked as follows: Simon Thompson 27.03, Keith Newton 18.37, Eric Dol 29.09, Chris de Mauny 18.12, Matt Munro 28.21, Gary Ironmonger 18.49, Jonathan Ratcliffe 28.23, Ian Strong 29.02, Deron Fagan 44.57, Valdis Pauzers 22.15, Jon Key 29.16 and Rob Nagorski 20.46.

A very auspicious day all round, further enhanced by Simon Coombes finishing an excellent fifth in the M45 3000m final in 9.01.2 at the World Masters Indoor Championship currently taking place in Toruń, Poland.

Geoff Jerwood