Alexander wins bronze with two team gold medals as Herne Hill are named top overall female club at National Cross Championship

Herne Hill Harriers took their place alongside Leeds City and Tonbridge AC, in securing two of the 10 team titles, winning gold medals in the under 17 and under 20 women’s races.  If a statement of intent were needed regarding our women’s section, this was it, as we backed up these two victories with an excellent 8th place in the Senior Women’s team event.

Together with 9th in the under 15 girls and 21stunder 13 girls, this enabled the women’s trophy for the lowest aggregate for teams from all the female age groups to be claimed by Herne Hill Harriers. This was a major first for the South London club and breaks a run of 11 consecutive years when Aldershot Farnham & District have held this trophy, an exceptional overall performance.

Our U17 and U20 women’s teams had secured victories at the National Cross Country Relays in November 2018, and therefore arrived at the magnificent Harewood House in Leeds with high hopes of further team medals.  This time the U17s would need four scorers rather than three, whilst the U20s were without two of their three runners from Mansfield, but were confident that the depth of the squad would help secure a podium finis

First off was the U17 women’s race, and five HHH athletes contested the two lap 5km course, Charlotte Alexander, Phoebe Anderson, Yasmin Marghini, Lily Newton and Susannah Hirst.  After a steady start Charlotte and Phoebe established themselves at the sharp end, with Yasmin not too far behind.  The three Wayne Vinton-coached athletes had comprised the winning team at Mansfield, and were laying the foundations at Leeds for further team success.  As the race progressed Charlotte was in a three way battle for first place, and did her best to break the other two as the race moved into the second lap.  Phoebe was running in around 10th and looking strong, whilst Yasmin was moving well in the 20-25 range.  Lily Newton had emerged as the likely 4th scorer for the team, as she was top 70 at the end of the first lap.

Charlotte had to give way to the other two lead runners in the later stages but finished an outstanding third, whilst Southern silver medallist Phoebe ran a strong second half to finish an excellent 7th place, her finest run yet.  Yasmin produced an excellent performance to finish 22nd, and Lily Newton closed the scoring 4 in 66th,backed up by Susannah Hirst in 115th.  A team score of 98 was 83 points ahead of second place, a resounding victory for our magnificent U17 women’s team.  

Not to be outdone, our U20 women’s team set about emulating the achievements of their younger teammates.  It was great to see both Liv Stillmanand Kate Brown making their debuts for the team this winter which ensured, alongside Ella Newton and Jemima Hayward-Bhikha, that the team was well represented in an age group where many clubs fail to field teams.

Liv, first year in the age group, produced a typically tenacious performance over the two lap course and used her strength on the hills to work through to 23rd position, a brilliant return to racing which bodes well for the upcoming English Schools’ Championships.  Liv was well backed up by Ella Newton who, having suffered with back problems following her indoor debut the previous week, made the decision to race following her warm up and finished a spirited 31st.  Kate Brown travelled down from Durham, where she is team captain of the women’s cross country team, and produced an excellent run to finish 41st, and close the scoring team with 95 points.  Every place mattered as the second place team closed on 97 points.  Jemima, another first year, ran well to secure a top 100 finish in 93rd.

Herne Hill seniors were well represented numerically and with some quality, the women placing an excellent 8th in a huge field and men 17th of the 9 to score teams and 21st in the 6 man contest.

Stacey Ormerod led our women in 29th, with Steph McCall 44th, Jordan Fosters 88th and Katie Moore 94th completing our scoring quartet. We had 5 more ladies racing for a good turnout up north, courtesy of Olivia Zeltner 121st, Katie Kedward 193rd, Lara Langston 268th, Aimee Hargreaves 298th and Evie McDermott 393rd.

Our leading 10 men to finish were Chris Busaileh 160th, Jeff Cunningham 219th, Andrew Clarke 269th, Jack Dickenson 355th, Andrew Grigg 360th, Andrew Warburton 393rd, Alan Barnes 420th, Matthew Robertson 483rd, Matthew Munro 514th and James Ward 863rd.

The next best young athletes’ performance was the 9th position secured by the U15 girls, albeit with two of our top runners unavailable.  Poppy Craig-McFeely has had an excellent winter, winning the London Schools’ IG and SG race outright.  In Leeds, Poppy led the team home in 36th position, and was closely followed by her fellow Wayne Vinton coached athlete, Maisie Collis, 45th.  Poppy and Maisie were supported by two James McDonald-coached athletes, Hebe Hunter, 88thand Sophie Williams, 113th (and a massive improvement on her 168th in the Southerns), to close the team.  Mathilda Stevens-Cox finished 154th and Imogen Fenner Scally was 301st.

The U13 girls finished 21st of the 41 complete teams.  Johanna Nicholson had her best ever championship run to finish 22nd.  The James McDonald-coached athlete is a great hill runner, and used her strength on this testing course in leading home our U13 girls.  Vivi Marshall, 147th, Annabel Bailey, 179th and Lois Levy, 281, closed the team, with Alice Stevens-Cox and CecillaHayward-Bhikha finishing 312th and 388threspectively.

Joshua Lee-Baum led home the u13 boys team in 119th, followed by Diego Lister, 138th, Alex Spaul, 178th and Myles Fenner Scally, 261st.

In the U15 boys race, Jacob Taylor had another excellent run in 43rd, and Harvey Kande finished 103rd, whilst the U17 men were just one short of a complete team, with Charlie Krammer finishing 113rd, Sam Camenzuli 143rd and Kai Chatterjee, 231rd.

Well done to everyone who made the trip up north to sunny Yorkshire,  our club is thriving and looking forward to even bigger things.

Keith Newton & Geoff Jerwood