Top-class displays in USA and top London Marathon action

Herne Hill Harriers athletes enjoyed a bumper weekend of action after having kicked off on Friday with two stellar track performances in the USA.

In Westminster on Saturday morning, the London Mini Marathon gave young athletes a taste of the festival of running that culminates with the full Marathon the next day for the adults. Edward Cunniffe followed up his excellent cross country season with a silver medal in the U13 boys race which incorporated the British Championship for each age group.

Cunniffe was just six seconds behind a North-East team athlete and as the first U13B finisher from the capital city was the winner of the London Borough Challenge. He prevailed by the narrowest of margins, beating his closest local rival on the finish line as both Cunniffe, racing for Wandsworth, and Theo Creed, of Merton, recorded the same time of eight minutes and 24 seconds.

Across the Pond both Phoebe Anderson and Myles Copeland-Naulty are in sensational form racing for their US colleges. Representing Columbia University, New York-based Anderson scored a big win in the women’s 5,000m with 15:29.02 at the Wake Forest Invitational in North Carolina. Now racing outdoors, her time was a PB and an improvement of almost five seconds on her fastest indoor mark set in February and is a further revision to her own Herne Hill club senior women’s record for this distance on the track.

Copeland-Naulty has been a revelation in March and April on the track, having been a very good level club sprinter before heading to the States, he is now racing on another level, not only with huge time improvements, but is also quickly learning to win races against athletes who are higher ranked on paper.

After scoring impressive wins at both 200m and 400m a week earlier in California, his latest 200m victory in a rapid 20.94 at the Mesa Invitational in Arizona sees him now only 0.13 outside a club senior men’s record which was set back in 1986.

Back locally, on an unseasonably chilly and quite windy Saturday afternoon and evening, the Under the Lights Podium Dulwich 5km road race saw many reports focused on the presence of the British women’s 1,500m record holder and Tokyo Olympic silver medalist racing in Dulwich Park. Indeed Laura Muir did compete in one of the open races against a men’s field and ran a fast time.

There was, however, another athlete from that very same Olympic final – ninth in Japan in 2021 – who toed the line in the elite women’s race afterwards. Marta Perez from Spain won, finishing five seconds ahead of Harriers’ own star athlete Georgie Grgec, who placed an excellent second to reinforce her own growing reputation. The respective times of 15:48 and 15:53 were quite close to their best considering the rather cagey nature of the first of the three laps, which slowed the eventual finishing times. Another Spanish international finished a couple of seconds behind Kiwi runner Grgec to place third and complete an international podium at Podium in South London.

Earlier, in the first open race in Dulwich, Alex Lee placed 24th in a PB of 16:16, then in the next race David Moyse returned from recent injury to finish 39th in a PB of 15:40, with Ben Warren clocking 16:32 in 65th.

Sunday at the London Marathon witnessed a huge turnout of red and black clad Harriers among whom many recorded PBs, made strong debuts and/or performed other heroics as befits the challenge of completing 26.2 miles. There were at least 18 female finishers and 31 men in the final results. This must surely be a club record of sorts in itself.

Morgan Roberts with 2:24.22 and Rowen Hughes 2:52:28 were crowned as Herne Hill club men’s and women’s marathon champions for 2024. Both of these relatively new runners to the club scene continue to make exciting progress, with both clocking PBs on the day.

The other Harriers women after Hughes were, in finishing order, Lucy Jones⁩ 2:52:54, Steph Ainley⁩ 2:54:33, Laura Donnelly 3:02:55, Chloé Wright⁩ 3:06:07, Sasha Dzeban⁩ 3:07:42, Milli Simcock-Brown 3:09.20, Hannah Edwards⁩ 3:12:53, Loren Gartside 3:14:32, Daisy Black⁩ 3:28:16, Ruth Chalmers⁩ 3:29:04, Julia Wedmore 3:43.28, Lara Langston⁩ 3:43:49, Anisah Khan⁩ 3:47:48, Katherine Holdstock⁩ 4:20:10, Lucy Preston⁩ 4:28:13, Carla Bell⁩ 4:34:26 and Leonie Biemolt⁩ 6:31:26.

The men’s list goes even deeper in numbers, as following Roberts there was Ronan Tanguy 2:29.45, Andrew Clarke 2:32.57, Alex Gutteridge 2:34.38, Alex Russel 2:35.39, Ryan Willmott 2:37.13, Ashley Goncalves 2:37.45, Ben Millar 2:38.26, Eric Dol 2:41.31, Paul Calver 2:43.33, James Nutt 2:46.41, Scott Morrison 2:46.49, Chris Speed 2:47.00, Will Ellison 2:49.08, Jonathan Ratcliffe 2:49.22, Ed Crowther 2:54.01, Pete Thomason 2:54.35, Tom Irish 2:55.41, Jonathan Lawrence 2:55.52, Mat Hudson 2:58.09, Gavin Welsh 2:59.10, Craig Duncan 3:07.33, Trevor Chilton 3:08.37, Ian Jack (six days after the Boston Marathon last Monday!) 3:09.32, Robert Nagorski 3:14.15, Julian Bentham 3:14.38, Ben Gault 3:17.52, Bernafd Muscat 3:48.30, Jack Barber 3:52.48, Simon Evans 3:59.36 and Omar Garney 4:07.40.

Finally, a busy weekend also featured a team win for Herne Hill in their National Youth Development League match at Sutcliffe Park on Saturday. This was a YDL Lower age group South Division 1B fixture for U13 and U15 boys and girls.

Harriers came away with a winning margin of over a hundred points with a strong showing both on the track and in the field events. Some athletes had raced for their London Boroughs at the Mini Marathon in the morning before heading over to Kidbrooke to score points for their club team in the afternoon as they made a stong start to their campaign in this league despite the infortunate clash of fixtures in a very busy competition calendar.

Geoff Jerwood