A Solid Second place in Southern League opener for Herne Hill

In a Southern Athletics League match at Norman Park in Bromley where the first four hours were not for the faint hearted, the Herne Hill Harriers senior track and field teamendured cold temperatures, a fierce wind, squally rain, miserable drizzle and a hail storm to greet the 100m runners. The sun finally showed its face for the last 2 hours. The shelter near the changing rooms was barely adequate and it is a credit to the team members that they were able to smile in adversity.

Harriers came second in the match (218pts) behind home club Cambridge (245) and were another 30 points clear of the third place team. Herne Hill picked up more points than anyone else on the track but the relative club weakness, simply in terms of the numbers to select from, diminished the field events.

However long term prospects look promising with U17 Je’naeJames winning the A string Shot with a fine 10.32m, 25cm clear of second place and more fine young throwers; Emily Callaghan (U17) was also a winner in the A string Javelin and Dionne Augustin showed fine technique to grab second with 18.60m. Augustin also had a crack at the Senior Hammer along with another U17, Shanice Daley. Under 20 Alex Tischler threw 38.56m for second place in the A string javelin, supported by M60 Garth Francis, who also got a second place with his 26.42m.

The jumps were populated by U17 and U20 athletes. Team Captain U17 Memphis Ayoade cleared 1.65m in the high jump finishing third, having to jump in wind and rain. Callaghan doubled in the Long Jump to win the B string with 3.72m and middle distance runner Jessica Tabraham (3.90m) came second in the A string, as well as picking up points in the High Jump with 1.40m. Tabraham rounded off her afternoon with a strong leg in the 4 x 400 winning team.

On the men’s side, Umaru Saido showed no fear and pickedup good points, while Morgan Lewis jumped a fine 11.32mfor second place in the A string Triple and Umaru jumped 10.76m in his first ever outing – a fine effort. U20 Micah Goode ran a solid 11.89 for 100m in atrocious conditions and then a 24.11 200m, supported by budding Shot Put star, U17 Kai Broadbent (24.53), who got second place. Ayoade ran afine 400m in 52.14 to win the match A string.

The female sprinters harvested team points all afternoon, with the 100m ladies having to cope with the worst of the weather and longest waits. However we had a unit of seasoned and fierce competitors. Lilian Matamola 13.40 and Vanessa Grant 13.54 had a double win in the 100. Michelle Watson earned a battling second in the 200m (27.18) and Grant clocked up another B string win in 27.8. Aimee Hargreaves 67.35 Lily Newton 67.91 both got wins in the A & B 400m respectively with times that were the same as the first lap of the 800 they had done an hour earlier.

Those 800m runs were pleasing in the way that both athletes executed their race plans. Hargreaves equalled her indoor PB with an fine 2.22.76 and Newton 2.32.45, both gaining maximum points. In the 1500m, Katie Balme started a busy couple of hours with a win in 4.57.0 with Isobel Penniceardsupporting with a 5.10.13 win in the B string. Balme stepped up again to win the 2000m steeplechase in 7.56.19. Evie McDermott started well in the 3000m but suffered a calf injury and did well just to finish.

The men were equally fruitful in the middles distance events. Sam Knight 73.27 and John Appleton 76.33 both earned valuable second place points in the 400m hurdles. SupervetSimon Coombes ran a strong 2.11.12 in the A string 800m and Eric Dol a B string win in 2.18.85. Dol produced another B string win in the 1500m in 4.44.45, a PB by nearly 5 seconds. Eric was supporting another vet Mohammed Ismail, whoseimpressive last 300m stole second spot with 4.25.11 in the A string.

Ismail had earlier run 16.05 in the 5000m as a non-scoring runner behind a fine A and B win by Jeff Cunningham and Jack Brotchie, who led out the first 4km. Cunningham ran 15.43.9 and Brotchie 15.52.91. Cunningham stepped up later to win the 2000m steeplechase with a powerful run of 7.14. John Appleton hurdled well and ran smoothly to win the B string, also inside 7.45.

Minutes later, Appleton (62.2), Dol (62.2), Ismail (59.5) and Ayoades (53.01) picked up points in the 4 x 400m relay. The women however produced a scintillating relay win with Hargreaves leading out in 66.5 (third event), Penniceard into the lead with 61.7 (second event), Tabraham (third event) holding that lead and Balme bringing it home in 65 flat for her third event in an hour.

The 4 x 100m relay for the men was a non-starter but the women won impressively with Matamola, Grant, Daley and Watson stormed home to a 30m win.

A mixed day overall, with some late withdrawals and a couple of no-shows, but with the three athletes who appeared unexpectedly to add to the on the day team sheet. The field eventers gave their all, many of them young and many doing what was very much a second event for them. Veteran thrower Des Austin was out in the worst of the weather, nearly all afternoon! Despite the weather, it was an uplifting afternoon of grass roots club athletics.

In road running action Josh Pewter ran a big PB at the Brighton Marathon with his 2.39.09 clocking, placing an excellent 20th, Ed Crowther finished 100th with his 2.57.31, just a few minutes outside his best, while Henry Brown was frustrated not to dip under 3 hours with his 3.06.00, suffering against the headwind in the final few miles along the south coast.

In the famous Boston Marathon in the USA, Andrew Griggand Olivia Zeltner both recorded their best times over the rolling hills of a challenging course. Grigg ran 2.39.42 for a 5 minute PB and Zeltner was timed at 3.10.04, a PB by 10 minutes.