Inspirational Katie Snowden returns to grass roots to win Surrey League Cross Country

Our Herne Hill Harriers European Championship 1500m fourth placer Katie Snowden kicked off her winter training preparation with an emphatic race win on Saturday. Taking a rare opportunity to don her red and black vest, Snowden’s victory and her presence at the opening fixture of the Tracksmith Surrey Cross Country League Division 1 at Effingham Common, near Guildford provided great support and inspiration to her club team mates of all ages as Harriers enjoyed all round success.

Returning to quite literally grass roots competition over a longer race distance than in her track expolits, Snowden’s time of 16:47 around a dry, but bumpy 5km circuit was 50 seconds clear of her closest pursuer on the day. She led the women’s A team to second place, only very narrowly pipped for the win by a single point by Thames Hare & Hounds. 

Great backup came from Sarah Grover 17th, Jenny Nandi 18th, W40 Gaby Reynolds 19th and Grace Leyland 22nd to close the A team with 77 points to Thames’ 76, with the lower score of aggregate individual finishing positions prevailing.

The B team of U20 Kaitlin Hewitt 27th, Karen Ellison 46th, another U20 Madelaine Parmar 50th, W40 Sue Swaine 52nd and Charlotte Kenyon 58th also placed an excellent second among B teams, which sets the women up well for a good season.

Herne Hill went one better to win some young athletes team awards as Caspian Holmes continued his recent purple patch. As with Snowden later in the day, Holmes won his race from the front and in the process he led the our Under 13 boys team for the win. There were also team wins for the Under 15 girls and the Under 17 men.

The U15 girls team performance was a triumph for team packing in close formation as Orla Carroll, Sophie Jack, Lily Kitto and Maeve Minielly sealed their win by placing third, fourth, fifth and sixth respectively. The B team finished a very good sixth overall and first B team, courtesy of track star Lily-Rose Brown 10th, Martha Brennan 13th, India Blakey 22nd and Anna Forster 33rd.

The U13 boys team comprised race winner Holmes, Edward Cunniffe in 3rd place, Zacchaeus Kelman 6th and Noah Turner 22nd, while a quartet of U17 men were the winners of the combined U15/U17M team with Harry Bell seventh, Robin Bebbington eighth, Mori Alimi 10th and Alex Jack 16th.

Florence Mills was the sole Harriers representative in the Under 13 girls race, finishing a good second, only a couple of seconds behind the winner, while the Under 17 women’s team of Eva O’Hanlon third, Grace O’Hanlon fifth and Vivi Marshall 14th were third team in their age group.

The Herne Hill men’s A team may rue what was a missed opportunity as most clubs were at less than full strength, but those who raced did well to ensure that despite finishing seventh of nine teams they are close enough behind other teams to have a chance of moving up the Division 1 table with a full turnout at the next round on Wimbledon Common on 12th November.

They were led by a superb cross country debut for Sam Bramwell in ninth, with Brandon Dewar having his best league run to date placing 12th. The rest of the A team scorers were Mike Cummings 41st, George Withers 57th, Joe Elliott 70th, Lewis Laylee 78th, Ronan Tanguy 80th, Matt Cartwright 86th, Ross Brown 94th and Seve Loudon 99th.

Further north in Derby three Herne Hill veteran men travelled up to compete in the England Masters Cross Country Team Selection race held as part of a North Midlands League fixture. John Kettle ran surprbly to finish second M45, with Ben Paviour fifth M45 on the day and Simon Coombes finishing second M50.

All three have now been selected for the England team for the Home International races in Santry, Dublin on 12th November. Paviour will be 50 by the date of the international which means he will race with Coombes as a M50, with Kettle representing the M45s.

On Sunday morning at the Amsterdam Marathon 126th placed Jack Brotchie ran a 2:36.42 PB, with another of the club’s top M45 runners Andrew Perfect clocking a good 2:40.49. A tad closer to home at the Yorkshire Marathon in York Jonathan Ratcliffe ran 2:58.54 to finish third M55 in what is his 97th sub three hours marathon as he homes in on the magic 100.

Gaby Reynolds makes light of being a mother of two aged 40, as she followed up her valuable contribution to the women’s team second place at Effingham on Saturday afternoon with a strong run in the Cabbage Patch 10 miles road race in Twickenham on Sunday morning, placing fifth female overall and taking home the first W40 prize with her time of 61:33.

This coming Saturday Herne Hill athletes will race at the South of England Cross Country Relay Championship at the Linford Christie Stadium, Wormwood Scrubs.

Geoff Jerwood