Three Surrey League age group titles for Herne Hill Harriers

Herne Hill Harriers clinched three league title crowns as the Surrey cross country league season came to a close on Saturday, with just the National championship remaining later this month.

As well as winning titles in the U13B, U13G and U15G categories, the Tooting-Bec based club also marked the final league races of the season with three individual winners: Cathy Ansell in the senior women’s race, Oscar Millard in the U13B and Mohamed Mohamud in the U15B.

The weekend had already got off to an impressive start as England international sprinter Marvin Popoola ran another personal best in the 60m in winning his heat at the Gugl lndoor meeting in Linz, Austria, clocking 6.72 seconds. After qualifying for the final, however, Popoola was disqualified following a fall, but has enjoyed a good week representing his country at senior level for the first time at two indoor meetings abroad. Also racing indoors at the Birminghamn Games, Jessie Knight prepared for this weekend’s British Indoor Championship with a season’s best time over 400m of 55.42 in placing second in her race, just being outdipped at the finish line.

The week’s cross country action was bookended by impressive top-10 showings by Greg Roberts at the Wokingham half-marathon and Chris Busaileh in the Chichester Priory 10k.

While the road and track season is only just beginning, cross country neared its conclusion on Saturday as male and female athletes raced at Richmond Park and Coulsdon respectively.

Millard was in imperious form as he won the U13B race by 41 seconds, while teammate Jaden Kennedy impressed again in finishing third. Jacob Alley (eighth) and Alex Ferri (12th) closed the scoring quartet, ensuring that Harriers won the fixture and the league title. The U15/U17B squad were trumped to first place by South London Harriers after coming fifth at Richmond Park, with Mohamud leading a counting foursome exclusively of under-15s.

Herne Hill’s senior men ended the season in overall fourth place, with Alan Barnes (11th) and Jeff Cunningham (14th) leading the charge. Simon Coombes was 23rd and ended the season as the second best M40 cross country runner in Surrey. Beyond Coombes, Tim Elsey (42nd), Jack Hillier (46th), Mohammed Ismail (47th) Dave Robinson (61st and second M50 on the day), Matt Munro (72nd), Vic Maughn (77th) and Sean Fitzpatrick (86th) ensured Harriers’ mid-table respectability. John Garber ended the season as the third-ranked M60 in the league.

Ansell’s victory at Farthing Down meant she had won all of the three Surrey league races she had raced in this winter. Julia Wedmore’s stellar improvement continued, as she finished tenth. Ceri Diss was 38th, Rebecca Barrow 54th and superb improvement was demonstrated by Mary Setyabule in 55th, as Harriers placed sixth in the fixture.

The U15G were led home by Ella Newton in fourth overall, but third among U15 girls followed by Tatiana Cooke (fifth), Katie Balme (sixth) and Jemima Hayward-Bhikha (13th) making up the counters, as Herne Hill won the fixture and the U15 league. Harriers were second in the U17G fixture with Daisy Setyabule (third), Alice Setyabule (fifth) and Alexandra Rispoli (ninth). Herne Hill’s U13G squad packed impressively to dominate the fixture, as 11 year old Maisie Collis (third), Lulu King (fourth), Lily Newton (sixth) and Amy Miller (eighth) claimed top-10 finishes.

On the road, Busaileh led a strong Herne Hill contingent at the Chichester Priory 10k, clocking 30 minutes, 46 seconds in finishing seventh. Mike Cummings ran a personal best of 31.36 in 18th and Cunningham– some 18 hours after racing at Richmond Park – finished in 33.02 in 26th. Greg Roberts impressed at the Wokingham half-marathon clocking 68.12 in fourth despite suffering from a flu bug.

In the pick of parkrun action, Jonny Muir (16.53) and Mohammed Ismail (17.14) were winners at Dulwich and Brockwell respectively. Natasha Lodge (20.35) was third woman at Dulwich. Mel Edwards was first woman at an improvised Crystal Palace parkrun which was diverted off road and paths and adopted an unusually muddy route for this run.

Jonny Muir/Geoff Jerwood