Herne Hill’s de Mauny is the British Grand Master

The main event for Herne Hill Harriers athletes last weekend was the BMAF British Masters Indoor Championship at Lee Valley Athletics Centre in north London, where those over the age of 35 competed in five year age bands for national medals. The Harriers contingent brought home a good medal haul between them, including a championship best performance.
European outdoor double silver medalist Fiona de Mauny last week had to refocus her targets after the coronavirus situation led to the postponement of the upcoming European Masters indoor champs in Braga. The British championship weekend all of a sudden became her goal for the winter rather than just race practice for what should ideally have come next.
Saturday saw her duly win a gold medal in the W35 400m, which was welcome, albeit her time of 59.22 was not quite what was in mind after a faster indoor PB a week earlier. This was nevertheless a clear victory to take into Sunday’s 800m, in which a front running win from the gun by a good margin in a championship best time of 2:11.88 (faster than in the whole of 2019, either indoors or out) was perfectly executed and one of the better performances of the entire meeting.
When it comes to perfect execution of tactical nous there are few better than Gary Ironmonger and he delivered superbly again, as his M55 gold medal runs over 1500m in 4:38.41 on Saturday and 800m in 2:17.63 the next day represented a return to form at the right time for him after injury issues over the last year and he still even now cannot run his sessions on a track.
Giuseppe Minetti is the M50 European outdoor 200m champion and on Sunday his victory margin was very emphatic for such a short distance. His winning time of 24.18 was actually quicker than in his final when he won his title last September in Jesolo, although he did run faster in his semifinal there. The previous day he had claimed 60m bronze in 7.45 seconds and such was the quality of the field his time actually ranks him sixth on the UK M50 60m indoor all time list.
Vanessa Grant was another gold medalist as she was the winner of the W35 60m in 7.90 seconds, while M75 Allan Long took home two silver medals with his 9.06 60m and 31.17 200m. Another sprinter Kwei Sankofa was a bronze medalist in the M60 60m clocking 8.16 after 8.13 in his heat.
There were no gold medals for Nikki Sturzaker this weekend, but she did bring home more bling in total than any other Herne Hill athlete as she finished third in the W45 1500m in 5.09.66 on Saturday, then on Sunday she picked up another bronze in the 800m in 2:33.79. She then rounded off her weekend with a silver medal in the 3000m at the end of the day with her time of 11:29.14.
Simon Coombes won a silver medal in one of the higher quality races of the weekend as his very fine M45 time of 4:12.77 wasn’t quite enough to win a strong event.
In road racing Nick Bester followed up his London Big Half PB last week with an even bigger half at the Cambridge Half Marathon where he clocked a fast 68:49 for another breakthrough time as he placed seventh overall. Also in the road Angus Butler ran a very good PB 10km time of 32:27 in Victoria Park.
There were two Herne Hill men and two women racing at the UK Inter Counties Cross Country Championship at Prestwold Hall, Loughborough. This was a rare year with no Harriers seniors in the Surrey teams, but Richard Henderson placing 127th in a Bedfordshire vest and Jack Dickenson 184th running for Warwickshire both ran well on a muddy course, while the club also provided two members of the Northern Ireland senior women’s team, Jessica Craig and Katie Moore, who finished a fabulous 25th and 69th respectively.
There was also an unusually low number of Herne Hill young athletes racing for Surrey this year, with the best of those who did represent their County team being Phoebe Bowen who finished a good 53rd in the under 17 women’s race.
A number of other youngsters raced at the East Surrey League Cross Country fixture in Lloyd Park where the boys and girls teams both placed second on the day to round off a good season in all competitions.