London Cross Country team silver medals for Herne Hill women as Jessica and Lily Rose are crowned senior and under 11 champions

The sun shone over a busy racing weekend for the Herne Hill Harriers. On Saturday there was the London Cross Country Championship in conjunction with the London Youth Games races at the iconic, testing venue at Parliament Hill Fields, then on Sunday Harriers played host to the tenth edition of the Emer Casey Memorial London 10k road race in Brockwell Park.


For the second successive Saturday a Herne Hill athlete won a senior women’s race. Following Katie Snowden’s Surrey League victory, Jessica Craig won the London Cross Country title in the red and black colours with a superbly judged run, ignoring a fast early starter and making her own decisive break at just the right time. Craig, over from her Northern Ireland where she trains with lifelong Tooting born HHH Masters athlete and coach Francis Marsh, got her team off to the best possible start and her race win helped her team to claim silver medals for the second successive year after having won bronze in 2016.


Marvellous runs from Julia Wedmore, 25th, Fiona de Mauny 28th and Olivia Zeltner 30th completed the medal winning quartet. W45 Nikki Sturzaker in 32nd was unfortunate to finish just outside the scoring team for medals, but this provided further evidence of the rapidly developing team strength with a formidable red and black presence on the start line and throughout the race.


The Harriers young athletes also had a busy weekend competing for their borough teams at the London Youth Games cross country races at Parliament Hill and then several travelled to Camberley for their popular cross country meeting on Sunday. Lily Rose Brown, running for Lambeth won the Under 11 girls race with Sophia Sahai placing fifth.


Jake Swinhoe was fifth in the Under 11 boys race helping his Wandsworth team win the race, while Johanna Nicholson placed second in the Under 13 girls event, helping Wandsworth finish second in the girls competition overall. Fabien Whitelock, a recent medallist in the National cross country relays was seventh Under 13 boy, whilst Jacob Taylor was seventh in the Under 15 boys race, helping Wandsworth finish second borough in the overall boys event


Sunday was a superb day for the Emer Casey Foundation, the charity the club has now supported for a decade, as a sun-kissed Brockwell Park was the home of another very successful staging of the Emer Casey London 10K with many successes for those in red and black vests. There were a few green and white hoops present as well this year as we were joined by six runners from Emer’s home town club in Ireland, Youghal AC, for the first time, all of whom did their club and country proud.

Andrew Warburton was a clear race winner, in fine form as he glided away from Jack Brotchie to claim victory in the men’s race in 34.20 and an inaugural course record over the new route. Brotchie placed second in a time of 35.24 ahead of Benedict Holmes of Kent AC in third.

Jonathan Ratcliffe claimed fifth place overall and retained his M50 title with an impressive time of 37.58 despite having raced at Parliament Hill the day before and with it closed the trio which scored another win for the host club in the men’s team race.

A resurgent Sturzaker, who although missing out on a team medal, was first in her age group the day before and on Sunday saw off her nearest rival in the closing stages to claim her second victory in the Emer Casey event in 42.01 following her previous victory back in 2012. She was well backed up by Monika Gajek in 43.41 and Patty Gnoato in 50.25, the latter securing a win in the W45 age category.

Finally, in the Camberley Open races on Sunday Lily Rose Brown won the Under 11 girls race with Sophia Sahai second.  Freddie Hake was fourth Under 11 boy, Johanna Nicholson was second in the Under 13 girls and together with Rosalee Laban and Alice Stevens-Cox, Herne Hill placed second team. Fabian Whitelock finished second in the Under 13 boys race and with Joe Russian third and Sam Maloney fourth, Harriers were the winning Under 13 boys team.