Team work pays off for Harriers

Herne Hill Harriers produced a fine team effort at the National 12-stage road relay championships to finish in 22nd place out of 59 teams in one of the most senior club competitions in the running calendar. With a time of 4hs, 31mins and 54secs, the Harriers eventually managed to get the better of Surrey League rivals Thames Hare & Hounds and Kent AC.

Meanwhile at Carshalton, the Harriers’ young athletes won their first Ebbisham League Division 1 match on 10 April, taking a 51 point lead over league rivals Sutton.

This leaves the current Ebbisham League Division 1 standings with Herne Hill on top of the table on 189, ahead of Sutton with 138 points:

Position Club Points
1 Herne Hill Harriers 189
2 Sutton 138
3 Croydon 94
4 Guildford 82
5 South London Harriers 68
6 Epsom 58

In other news, Ben Hallifax and Rupert Mainwaring raced in the second Brighton Marathon on 10th April. Rupert finished with a chip time of 3:31:49 for 578th place, with Ben not far behind in 3:32:51 as 610th. A big well done to both for getting through a tough race in a blistering early spring heatwave.

On the same day Mike Boyle placed 3rd M50 (65th man overall) with a time of 34:46 in the Great Ireland Run, held at the Phoenix Park in Dublin.

Geoff’s National 12 Stage Road Relay Report

The men’s road running team travelled to Birmingham for the National 12 stage road relay championship at Sutton Coldfield that took place throughout a gloriously hot afternoon for mid April. This event is one of the top races in the club distance running calendar and has attracted Olympic medallists and British record holders over the decades, racing to support their club teams in National competition. HHH have no star men as such (as yet), but boast depth and consistency that is the envy of most of our local rivals and which allows us to fly the flag at this level, even if we still have some work to do to achieve the top dozen status in this race that we should ideally be aspiring to in the coming years. This year’s race saw us work our way through the field inexorably after a number of other clubs had shot their bolts in the first half dozen stages and while some teams were uncatchable we were able to move up from 48th at the end of the first stage to finish 22nd of 60 complete teams, a position we have rarely beaten in our history at this event. Among the clubs left in our wake were Kent AC, Sale Manchester, Liverpool Harriers, Harrow and Thames Hare & Hounds. Chris Peach at the 12 Stage Relay on 9 April 2011

Having raced with some distinction on the final stage of the Southern relay a couple of weeks earlier, Sarwar Khan stepped up to the plate to lead our team off on first leg at Sutton Park. Over a course which undulates considerably and with a long run down to a park gate and back as a feature of the long stage of around 5.4 miles, the challenge was to keep our remaining 11 men in some sort of touch to come through during the long afternoon. Sarwar did his job well, clocking 29.52, handing over to Chris Peach in 48th position. Chris was still not in top racing health, but ran well to gain 6 places, recording a time of 15.38 for the short stage of around 3 miles which, as with the Southern event, is alternated with the longer ones throughout the 12 stages. Already the gaps ahead of us were bigger than we would have liked or hoped for, but Chris Busaileh chased hard on leg 3 to run our fastest long stage of the race with 28.30 and after 3 stages we were up to 36th position with plenty of running still to come.

After struggling for the early part of March, Simon Coombes has come back to form for the relays, following up his best run yet at the Southern race with another good effort in this race as he continued our progress to move us to 34th with 15.55. Ben Paviour is another whose form has started to return and he too was able to gain a couple of places with a long stage run of 28.58, handing over to our fastest short stage man from the Southern race, Mike Cummings, who repeated the feat here with a time of 15.35 to also pick off two teams ahead of him and bring us to the halfway point in 30th. In 2010 we had placed 28th in this race and we were at lest looking good to improve on that position. Keith Newton at 48 used his experience to move us to 28th on leg 7 with 29.41 to pass on to Jonny Henderson, who had a 3 mile stint with nobody to race and the hope that his 16.06 was bringing us closer to some of those ahead.

Stage 9 was our last big positional gain as Alan Barnes made light of some recent niggles to overtake 5 runners with 28.58, albeit one of those places was ceded to a man moving through even faster as Southern medallists Woodford got themselves in front of us for the first time since leg 2. Vic Maughn, having just turned 49 was our oldest team member, but kept as in the hunt for further gains at the end by holding 24th place, recording 16.57 and sending Jeff Cunningham off in pursuit of Kent, a team we had overtaken on the final stage in the Southern relays. Jeff caught and passed his man comprehensively in a time of 29.08 to give some familiar consistency to our long leg times. Another of our top veterans, Kofi Agyei was entrusted with bringing the team home and there was one more place to be gained in the final half mile as Tipton’s B team were finally overhauled, a good few minutes after their A team had won an exciting race up front. We can continue our improvement in this and the South of England championship if we can build on this very solid all round team performance that is something of our trademark. It is important that we maintain a good representation at these big team events and we can reasonably aspire to even better results, so well done and thanks to all who ran in either or both relay races.

Full results are at this link: