Saturday saw one of the biggest events in the regional athletics calendar with the South of England Cross Country Championship held over a very muddy and undulating Parliament Hill course
Herne Hill Harriers had quite a large turnout of athletes and had at least one racing in every age group event except Under 20 men, albeit circumstances conspired to see only around half of the senior entrants from the club in both the women’s and men’s races on the start line and a small number of those could not finish for good reason.
The main successes from the day were Herne Hill’s highest placed individual finisher of the day, Phoebe Anderson who was an excellent eighth in the Under 20 women’s race, while the Under 13 girls team were agonisingly close to team medals with fourth place and the Under 13 boys team placed sixth.
Anderson ran a very good race and was prominent throughout the first half of the 6km race before a group of five runners broke away. Anderson was then seventh for the remainder of the race until the final straight in which a fast finishing opponent passed her just before the finish line, but a top ten finish was an excellent performance. Annabel Hobday was the only other Harriers athlete in the Under 20 race, placing a good 51st.
In Herne Hill team terms the Under 13 races produced the best results with the Under 13 girls displaying some excellent team packing which looked sure to yield medals at this high level until one of the girls turned her ankle and was unable to continue. Under the circumstances fourth team was very good indeed, with Lily Rose Brown 24th, Eva O’Hanlon 27th, Grace O’Hanlon 31st and Vivi Marshall 53rd being the eventual scoring quartet. Backup was strong thanks to Anna Forster 69th, Izzy Perry 72nd and Rosalie Laban 91st who were all in the top 100.
The Under 13 boys also did very well to place sixth team, with good runs from the scorers Oak Buchan 17th, Fabien Whitelock 40th, Keeran Sriskandarajah 62nd and Jake Swinhoe 108th. Other young athletes team placings where teams were completed were Under 15 boys 22nd and Under 15 girls 28th. The U15 boys were led by Zac Crowther 126th, while Phoebe Bowen at the head of the U15G team had a fine run to finish 18th in her race. Only two of Harriers Under 17 women were racing, the first of whom was Poppy Craig McFeely in 25th, with Harriet Alexander placing 70th. Sam Camenzuli in 82nd was the first of the two Herne Hill Under 17 men to finish.
In the senior races with a number of absentees the women’s scoring A team of four placed 10th with eight women finishers in total, while the men were 14th with 14 completing their very tough 15km course.
Northern Ireland international Katie Moore led the women home in a very good 29th, followed in by another strong run for Julia Wedmore in 72nd, Karen Ellison 93rd, Shannon Sinclair 136th, Sue Swaine 158th, Jordan Foster 206th, Evie McDermott 317th and Jess Winfield 327th.
The men were led strongly by Carl Delaney who had a very fine race in placing 58th, ahead of Angus Butler 108th, then backed up by M45 Simon Coombes 163rd, Jeff Cunningham 166th, M40 Matt Munro 193rd and Josh Pewter 209th completing the scoring team of six in 14th place.
More Herne Hill finishers in the gruelling men’s event were Eoin Brady 221st, Oliver Walker celebrating his 21st birthday in 309th, Henry Brown 367th, Gav Newsum 392nd, Duane Matthews 623rd, Trevor Chilton 631st, Andrew Simms 855th and Andy Millbank 1015th of 1172 finishers.
On the track on Saturday and on the other side of the world in Australia Chloe Tighe was a runaway winner of the ACT State championship women’s 1500m where her time of 4.15.73 was almost 11 seconds ahead of the second place athlete.
Indoors at Lee Valley at the younger age groups edition of the London Indoor Games Ignatius Abebrese jumped a PB of 13.69m in placing 2nd in the U17 men’s triple jump and was also 2nd in the long jump with 6.42m. Also competing was brother Alex Abebrese who was 2nd in the U15 boys shot put with 11.68m, while Niyah Costley clocked 7.78 in the 60m races for U17 women.
On Sunday in road racing Herne Hill had two top masters performances at the Farnborough Half Marathon where John Kettle ran 1:14.20 – just a couple of seconds slower than the previous week and was third M40 in the race. This will hopefully see him in the England Masters Half Marathon team at Fleet in March, subject to selection confirmation. Jonathan Ratcliffe also had a superb run and was 1st M50 with his time of 1:18.02.
While parkrun was not really the club team priority of the weekend, it was good to see athletes returning to racing who may yet not be quite ready for the big Southern challenge. At Dulwich Bryn Reynolds ran 16.28, Eriç Dol 17.10, ahead of Alan Barnes 17.18 and Jack Hillier 17.23, while Under 20 Liv Stillman continued her return with a PB 18.24 and Olivia Zeltner also edged forward with her 19.44.
Herne Hill will hope to see both of the latter racing at the National Cross Country Championship next month in Nottingham which will be the biggest cross country competition of the year, taking place after the final Surrey League races of the season in mid February.