Alexander qualifies for GB Juniors World Cross team in Loughborough, National Masters team medals in Belfast and Big Half PBs in London

Charlotte Alexander made her mark among the best under 20 cross country women in the UK as the Herne Hill Harrier placed a superb sixth on Saturday at the CAU Inter Counties and GB Trials for the World Cross Country Championship.

Still actually in the under 17 age group, Alexander opted to contest the older under 20 race at a very windy Prestwold Hall in Loughborough in an attempt to qualify for the World Cross team in Aarhus in Norway at the end of this month.

With six team places available, but only the first three finishers being guaranteed selection, Alexander had to wait a couple of days before she got the nod from the selectors, but happily she was named in the team announcement and will represent GB Juniors on the tough Scandinavian course.

This was another top level performance from an athlete who placed ninth in the 3000m at the European Under 18 Championship last summer. On Saturday she led her Surrey to team silver medals to cap a fine achievement for her and her coach Wayne Vinton.

These championships also saw a good run for Harriers senior club members racing for other county teams, with Stacey Ormerod finishing an excellent 26th in a strong senior women’s race for Hertfordshire, Richard Henderson a very decent 107th in the senior men’s race for Bedfordshire and Andrew Warburton placed 209th for Nottinghamshire.

Younger athletes from the club who raced very well for their Surrey age group teams included Tamra Chan 38th under 13 girls, Poppy Craig-McFeely 47th under 15 girls, Jacob Taylor 70th under 15 boys, Johanna Nicholson 94th under 13 girls and Fabien Whitelock 98th under 13 boys.

Also on Saturday Herne Hill won third place national team medals in the M35 -44 age group at the British Masters Cross Country championship in Belfast with fine running from Jeff Cunningham, Matt Munro, Alan Barnes, James Ward, Rob Nagorski and club President Waldy Pauzers.

On an equally windy Sunday morning Nick Bester ran superbly as a BBC TV star as he spent almost all of the Big Half London half marathon race from Tower Bridge to Greenwich in close company with the leading ladies. When their lead changed hands, Bester chased the faster of the two and finished just eight seconds behind the winning female runner come the finish line. His time of 70.46 was a very good PB given the weather and was one of a number of breakthrough runs by Herne Hill athletes.

Andrew Grigg took three minutes off his previous PB time with his superb 72.44, followed in by Bryn Reynolds in around 75.30. 21 year old Jack Dickenson ran 76.04, a fine effort for one so young and was followed in by the older, but the ever impressive Jonathan Ratcliffe, whose 77.00 placed him third of all of the over 50s on the day and with a lifetime PB. Mohammed Ismail ran 78.11, Duane Matthews smashed his best with 79.00, ahead of the first Harriers lady Jordan Foster who also recorded a big PB of 81.31, a couple of minutes faster than she has run previously and with much more improvement soon to come.

More runners streamed in wearing the Dennis the Menace coloured Herne Hill vests. Next through the finish line were John Foxall 80.43, John Appleton 81.54, Eriç Dol 83.32, Olivia Zeltner shattering her PB with her fabulous 84.23, Sam Knight running 84.24, Craig Barney 85.29, Gen Huss a PB 87.46, Patrik Ewe 89.01, Ruth Chalmers 92.06, Ed Sayce 97.43, Mateusz Krzemien 1.42.28 and Nick Stewart 2.01.13.

Further north on Sunday at the Trafford 10km in Manchester, another young runner Lewis Laylee ran a very good 33.17 to rewrite his PB placing 74th overall in a stacked field, while at the British Masters Indoor Championships, curiously held on the same weekend as their Cross Championship Nikki Sturzaker brought home no less than three national W45 gold medals and a silver. On day one on Saturday at Lee Valley Sturzaker won the 1500m in 5:08.43 and then on Sunday won both the 800m in 2:28.78 and the 3000m in 11:10.11. The latter two races were 40 minutes apart, during which time she also came second in the javelin, which would be an interesting indoor event, but they of course held it at the outdoor track adjacent to the indoor athletics centre.

Having recently been a multiple winner at the Southern Masters Indoor Championship, Sturzaker has an ever growing collection of medals.

Geoff Jerwood