Strong Surrey League performances from Herne Hill youngsters

While their senior counterparts endured a very tough start to their Surrey League cross country season the young athletes from the club underlined their recent good form with more strong team and individual race performances in Richmond Park on Saturday.

Team wins for the under 13 boys and under 15 girls plus a second team placing for the combined under 15 and under 17 boys and third place for the under 13 girls made it a successful day for the youngsters wearing red and black vests.

Caspian Holmes led the U13 boys in second place, backed up by Dylan Gillies fourth, Lucas Heath eighth and Jack McLennan 17th, while the winning U15 girls team comprised Eva O’Hanlon second, Vivi Marshall fourth, Orla Carroll fifth and India Blakey sixth for an emphatic collective victory.

The second placed boys team in the combined U15/U17 contest relied on tight packing of their finishers in the field. Robin Bebbington was 12th, Oak Buchan 15th, Freddie Hake 18th and then David Aisa Miller was 39th to complete their quartet.

The U13 girls team scorers were Orla Wright fifth, Sophie Jack tenth, Emilie Cherel 24th and Summer Mackay 31st to achieve third team position on the day.

The day in the park began with a wet senior women’s division on race which featured an excellent turnout of 23 Harriers women including a number of new faces who had not previously raced at this level in a fiercely contested league. The women placed 4th A team and 2nd B team for a very encouraging start to their campaign, albeit missing some of their fastest members on the day.

Charlotte Davies 16th, Grace Leyland 29, Aimee Hargreaves 41st, Julia Wedmore 42nd and Karen Ellison 46th were the A team scorers. Annabel Hobday 47th, Sarah Grover 59th, Megan Gildea 62nd, Suzanne Swaine 70th and Charlotte Kenyon 72nd formed the B team as some debutantes among these raced with great credit.

The men found the going in terms of the competition tougher than the going under foot during what was by then a benign afternoon weather wise, as the A team placed 7th and the B team 8th of the 9 clubs in a very strong division one.

A disappointing overall result with too many regular team scorers missing on the day, but those who did compete performed very well to limit any damage to the season’s prospects.

They were led by Lewis Laylee a very good 21st, then the rest of the A team scorers were Brandon Dewar 36th, Jack Dickenson 49th, Jack Hillier 53rd, Richard Henderson 55th, M45 Ben Paviour 60th, Jeff Cunningham 63rd, another M45 Simon Coombes 70th, Andrew Warburton 76th and closed in by Joe Elliott 85th.

Herne Hill men will look to regroup for the next league fixture on Wimbledon Common on 13th November, but before then will contest the South of England cross country relays and the National cross country relays in Mansfield on 6th November along with Harriers women’s teams and all age groups at the latter.

Chloe Tighe was greedy enough to top two podiums on the same day in the UAE where she is currently a primary school teacher. She entered a 10km road race some while ago and ran it as a tempo in around 36:30, good enough to finish first female. She ran what sounds a rather more prestigious UAE 3km cross country race in the afternoon “for fun” and won the women’s race in a few seconds outside 10 minutes. It was a big deal there with the sheik and princess present “as if it was the Olympics”. One day, Chloe, it’s not too late…

Sophie Harris kept things low key before she races for Wales next Sunday and found Bedford Autodrome much windier than when she ran what at the time was a PB 5km there in July. Her 16:26 was completely solo a minute or more ahead of the first man and was only 8 seconds shy of her best time in much more conducive conditions with people to race against. A good workout which provided the required training effect.

Finally, Andrew Perfect ran a great PB at the Amsterdam Marathon in 2.36.30. Two weeks after running 2:39 in London and 8 days after placing 2nd overall and first M45 in last week’s Surrey vets XC Championship. This man is living up to his name.

Geoff Jerwood