Top Ten Team Performances and Medals at National Cross Relays

Herne Hill Harriers continued to establish their reputation as one of the strongest cross country clubs nationally when measured across all age groups with another successful outing to the English Cross Country Relay Championship in Mansfield. Harriers teams contested eight of the ten races, often including A and B teams and claimed bronze medals in the under 13 boys race, also securing top ten finishes in another two of the races. 

The under 13 boys placed a fabulous third place as they worked through the field throughout their race.

After the first leg Edward Cunniffe was 11th, then Zacchaeus Kelman edged the team forward into ninth going into the final stage of the three legs. Caspian Holmes then flew past half dozen runners to move into the bronze medal position shortly before the finish line in a rapid time of 6:56around their 2km undulating circuit. The B team came 24th of 72 teams. Lucas Heath was 9th, then Herbert Clark 19th and Will Perry 24th.

The women’s team also produced a brilliant performance for fifth place. This was the highest senior team position achieved by the club to date at this event.

Saskia Millard got the A team off to a strong start handing over at the end of her 3km stint in fourth place only a few metres behind the early race leaders. Sarah Grover was unfazed on leg two despite strong challenges posed by some quality runners chasing through the field and held the team in tenth with one stage left to run. Alexandra Brown then moved through to secure a superb fifth place, only a few seconds behind the fourth team. 

The women’s B team of Julia Wedmore (58th), Jenny Nandi (48th) and Kaitlin Hewitt finished a good 41st of the 139 teams. Millard and Brown are now racing well as senior athletes ten years since they were together winning medals in the Herne Hill U13 girls team at this event.

The U15 boys finished an excellent eighth, through the efforts of Warren Wilson (15th), Fred Hake (tenth) and  Alexander Wilson. The B team were 25th of 95 teams with Jon Goldston (35th), Archy Atkinson (28th) and Jack McLennan. 

The U15 girls also made the top twenty with Orla Carroll (26th), Sophie Jack (15th) and Orla Wright coming home in 20th of 74 teams on the anchor leg. The B team were close behind in 26th. Lily Kitto was 42nd, then Lily-Rose Brown 31st and Lucy Wright 26th. 

The U13 girls team were 23rd with Florence Mills (15th), Sophie Wright (24th) and Sofia Mendes. with the B team 61st of 75 teams, being Jasmine Nkoso (60th), Summer MacKay (47th) and Eden Watson. 

There were three complete Herne Hill U17 men’s teams. The A team of Mori Alimi (34th), Alex Jack (29th) and Keeran Sriskandarajah finished 22nd. the B team were Josh Lee Baum (46th), Robin Bebbington (32nd) and Fabien Whitelock (27th) and the C team Oluwafikayomi Awolope (73rd), Sam Maloney (62nd) and Diego Lister (59th). The U17 women placed 25th of 60 teams through Eva O’Hanlon (24th), Grace O’Hanlon (25th) and  Rosalie Laban 25th.

In such high quality fields the men’s team found it tough to make an impact, ending up 60th in a huge field of 198 teams. Mike Cummings was 78th on the always exceptionally strong opening leg. Daniel Shaw then moved to 70th followed by Simon Coombes up to 63rd and Oliver Walker maintaining the steady progress into the top 60 to complete the day’s racing and ensure representation at this prestigious national competition.

On the same day Harriers also demonstrated their growing depth in numbers through the senior and masters ranks. placing 11th and 30th women’s teams at the Reigate Priory Cross Country relays and also fielding a men’s team of four and a mixed team of two men and two women.

Herne Hill’s fastest female at this race was W40 Suzanne Swaine who was 11th overall, while Terry Sweet raced well to record the best male time among those in the red and black vests in his first ever cross country race.

Geoff Jerwood