Kojo and Stacey claim Herne Hill marathon titles in sweltering heat

The 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon was this year enjoyed by spectators who may have considered the weather to be perfect for cheering, but not so much so the runners, for whom the conditions for April were abnormally hot and straight after they had been training in the more usual colder temperatures for several months, such are the vagaries of the British climate.

Herne Hill Harriers saw a good turnout of around thirty club members racing the classic distance on Sunday, the first to cross the finish line being Kojo Kyereme who ran a very fine 2.29.28 to be in the top 25 from the main championship start and was fifth in the M40 category. With Kyereme wearing his first claim colours, the first man wearing Harriers red and black was Nick Bester who ran a PB of 2.35.17 that placed him 72nd. Only twenty seconds behind Bester was Richard Henderson with 2.35.37, an improvement of some 52 minutes on a rather more harrowing experience in last year’s event in ironically more benign weather, a lesson well learned and a fine PB.

The leading Herne Hill lady was England half marathon international Stacey Ward on her debut at the full marathon distance. Despite being – like many others on Sunday – less than pleased with her finishing time she placed in the top dozen from the women’s non-elite start with her nevertheless creditable time 2.55.38 and was crowned as Harriers club women’s marathon champion for this year. After having not been able to run at all throughout the majority of 2017 and also suffering two bouts of flu during her marathon training build up, this was an admirable performance from a quality runner who will certainly have gone home with some unfinished business in this event.

The next Herne Hill man after Henderson was Matt Robertson, whose Australian heritage maybe equipped him a little better for the warm weather with a very well paced effort as his 2.41.53 saw him ahead of another M40 Andrew Perfect in 2.46.49 with Carl Delaney only seconds behind with 2.46.54. Next man was another Australian who is also a M40, Tom Dover with a 2.47.37 clocking. The even more experienced Jonathan Ratcliffe was next from the club, placing tenth M50 in 2.50.35, with Tony Macdowall’s 2.54.55 and Ward completing the list of sub 3 hours runners from Herne Hill on a tough day.

The younger element from Herne Hill were representing teams from their London boroughs in the Mini Marathon on the same morning in the centre of town. The highest placed Harrier in the British Athletics Road Championship was Phoebe Bowen who was an excellent tenth in the Under 13 girls race, with Liv Stillman also having a very good run to finish 14th of the Under 17 women. Christo Chilton was 22nd in the Under 13 boys race. In the London Borough Challenge held in conjunction with the national races Chilton was placed second in his age group, Stillman third in hers and Bowen finished fourth London in her race category.

In track and field, Herne Hill competed in their opening UK Youth Development League fixture at Eton, where the match scores were incredibly close between the leading teams, with Harriers sharing the spoils with City of Portsmouth AC with a joint match win with 488.5 points each, with Croydon Harriers placing third in what was a superb all round club team effort from the Herne Hill youngsters for a strong start to the season.

Geoff Jerwood