On a cold, muddy and completely trampled Parliament Hill, hundreds of half asleep athletes trudged around like zombies after their early wake up for the South of England cross country at Parliament Hill. A speaker blared out that the U15 boys was the first race and they all geared up for 4.5k packed full of mud and hills at every place possible. The starter pistol sounded and the boys sprinted from their pens in a huge cluster rapidly approaching the dreaded first hill. As they reached the peak it was clear to see that they had turned into mud monsters in approximately 1 minute, mud glorious mud. Paul Burgess was the first Herne Hill Harrier to cross the finish line in 30th place with a great start to the day and an amazing time of 00:17:08. He was closely followed by Abel Tadesse (58th) Feysel Nadew (99th) and Imran Nadew 109th completing the team which finished 12th.
The next race was the U13 girls. Alex Brown speeded up the hill so fast that you might think she had an engine inside her. She raced incredibly against Josie Czura (City of Portsmouth AC) and Kathleen Faes (Tonbridge AC) and got a lovely, shiny bronze medal with a time 12:30 for 3k. The U13 girls team won a South of England team Gold for the first time in the club’s history with Alex Brown (3rd), Eloise O’Shaughnessy (7th), Kayah Wilks (13th) and Clarissa Nichols (17th) receiving a lovely big shield that was presented to them later in the evening at the Club’s Annual Awards Presentation Evening.
It was now the U13 boys time to shine with a 3k race ahead of them, competitiveness and adrenaline zoomed through them. The gun was fired and a huge roar rose up from the masses of spectators gathered at the first hill, all screaming a mixture of names and ‘COME ON!’
There was a lot of slipping and falling going on as they paced down the hill, with the churned up mud not being too kind to everyone. Turkay Korkmaz 12:28 (18th) was the first Herne Hill Harrier followed by Oscar Millard (23rd) Mohammed Ali (90th) and Freddie Hodgson (98th) to complete the Herne Hill Harriers team in 8th place. Only the first four runners score as a team.
At the start of the U15 girls race it looked from a distance like a carnival with the wide range of brightly coloured knee socks that were on display and stripes of club colours painted on faces. The whistle blew and that was the call to enter the pens and a huge mass of girls sprinted in all directions to be in the front line, hurdling over ones that had bumped into each other and were now scrambling along the ground to get up. Elbows at the ready and all stretched out, silence fell. The gun fired and a crowd of competitive girls raced up the hill. By the end of the second hill there was already a cry of, ‘Laura, get over here! Come put your spike back on! I’ve found it!’
Approximately with 300m to go, Sabrina Sinha (Cambridge Harriers) and Niamh Brown (Aldershot) where neck and still fighting it out with Saskia Millard (Herne Hill Harriers) clear of a group of girls but a short distance behind the two. Screams burst from the crowd as Sabrina managed to summon up the energy to pull away from Niamh and come first. Saskia Millard finished 3rd with a brilliant time of 15:19 and getting a lovely bronze medal, She was followed by Kate Brown (28th),Daisy Setyabule (38th) and Zoe Tompkins(39th) completing the Herne Hill Harriers scorers and finishing in 4th place as a Team.
With 6k of slippery and unforgiving hills the U17 men set off. The course seemed to be endless as they turned corner after corner. Ed Olsen finished the course after 21:44 of hard racing in 12th place and was followed by Billy Black (68th) and Mohammed Et Taheri (73rd). Unfortunately with Nathan Bekele dropping out, they did not
have a complete scoring team.
After the U20 women churned up the course that little bit more, the U17 women took to the start line. Skye O’Shaughnessy stormed through the 5k race to come 54th with a time of 23:23.
Sounds of heavy breathing littered the air as the U20 men sprinted up the mud bath of what used to be a pretty green hill. After a tough 8k John Tayleur entered the finish line in 31:37 in 38th and Charles Philpot in 34:10 in 87th.
After a completely exhausting and award winning day, we all dispersed to find food glorious food and imagined how all our parents would react when we turned up back at home with our legs a completely different colour to the ones they were when we left the house.
Florence Anderson (U15 Girls)