Herne Hill Harriers’ U13G squad sensationally defended their national cross country crown on Saturday.
After winning the English title a year ago in Sunderland, a Herne Hill quartet of Alex Brown, Eloise O’Shaughnessy, Kayah Wilks and Lily Newton repeated the historic feat in Nottingham.
Success was tinged with slight disappointment, however, as Brown missed out on being individual national champion in her age category by one-hundredth of a second.
After leading by 30 metres with 600 metres to go, Brown, who had been ill in the 48 hours before Saturday and only decided to run on the morning of the race, lost first place in the final stride as she was overtaken on the line after a surge by Wimborne AC’s Grace Copeland.
Silver medallist Brown was followed by O’Shaughnessy (13th), Wilks (24th) and Newton (55th) to complete the scoring four, with the Harriers’ squad finishing decisively ahead of Manchester Harriers & AC. In retaining the national title, it means that in the past 16 months the U13G squad have won five national titles.
In their attempt to emulate the U13G, the U13B foursome finished an agonising three points adrift of bronze medals. Turkay Korkmaz – a newcomer to running who only joined the club in November – was Harriers’ stand-out performer, finishing in the individual bronze medal position. Oscar Millard was 26th, Mohammed Ali 56th and Freddie Hodgson 73rd.
Herne Hill’s U15G squad also placed highly, finishing fifth overall with Saskia Millard (12th), Kate Brown (51st), Daisy Setyabule (64th) and Zoe Tompkins (68th). The U15B had a tougher day as runs from Paul Burgess (81st), Adel Tadesse (101st), Malik Nehaili (110th) and Imran Nadew (138th) were good enough for 13th team only.
Although Harriers did not field a full U17M team, Ed Olsen ran impressively to finish 30th in the individual race.
Despite being stripped of several key athletes in the run-up to the championship, Herne Hill’s senior men’s squad battled to a valiant 35th out of 127 clubs in the six-to-count competition. Harriers were led home by Simon Coombes, a V40 runner, in 175th, with Luxembourg-based Jeff Cunningham also finishing in the top 200 in 198th. Tim Elsey was third counter in 223rd, and Deron Fagan (438rd), Keith Newton (629th) and national debutante Louis Waterman-Evans (685th).
While Harriers were unable to field a senior women’s team, Karen Ellison finished a creditable 73rd – the highest placing of any Herne Hill senior athlete.
Away from cross country, Jessie Knight won a superb bronze medal over 400m at the BUCS Indoor Championship in Sheffield running 55.04 in the final following a season’s best 54.76 in her semi-final. Clubmate Aisha Naibe-Wey was sixth in the final. Hannah Edwards was third in her 800m heat in 2:17.3, before a season’s best 2.15.01 in finishing sixth in her semi-final.