South of England Cross Country Championships

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Herne Hill Harriers won a trio of team silvers at the South of England cross country championships, while Oscar Millard struck individual gold. Millard was victorious in the U13B race at Stanmer Park, leading his team to second – a position matched by U13G and U15G squads. Herne Hill’s senior men’s and women’s squads also mustered their best performances of the season, with both teams finishing fourth.

As well as Millard, Alex Brown (third U15G), Jaden Kennedy (fourth U13B), Clarissa Nicholls (fourth U13G), Lulu King (fifth U13G) and Cathy Ansell (eighth senior woman) finished in top-10 positions.
Eleven-year-old Kennedy’s fourth place was all the more galling as he was given the same finishing time as the athletes in second and third. The blow was nonetheless softened as Freddie Hodgson (19th) and Jacob Alley (90th) ensuring Harriers finished second in the race for team honours.

The U15G also had to settle for second after a close battle with City of Norwich, as Maisie Collis finished 13th in her first major championship race and Lily Newton 27th, to back up Nicholls and King. A third runner-up finish was achieved in the U15G race, with Brown adding another two medals to her growing collection. The collective efforts of Eloise O’Shaughnessy (18th), Ella Newton (32nd) and Eimear Griffin (35th) ensured team silvers.

The U17W and U15B squads would then finish in eighth and 26th positions respectively, before the start of the senior races. Harriers only fielded six runners in the senior women’s event, but the rare presence of both Ansell and Stacey Ward (who would finish 14th), gave scope for optimism. Julia Wedmore was 51st and an injured Karen Ellison (60th), with a fine run by Mel Edwards (76th) not even good enough for the counting four.

Harriers’ senior men matched their female counterparts in what was comfortably the squad’s strongest showing of the season. Chris Busaileh was 35th in a stellar field, ahead of Greg Roberts (39th), Dave Mulvee (56th), Alan Barnes (58th), Eric Keogh (70th) and Mike Cummings (75th). Impressive packing thereafter from Jeff Cunningham (84th), John Kettle (95th), Tim Elsey (124th), Simon Coombes (138th), Caoimhin Kelly (176th) and Matt Munro (207th) ensured Herne Hill won the Odling Smee Trophy for first Surrey team to close a twelfth man. A little further back, Dave Robinson, Vic Maughn and Tom Conlon were second, third and fourth M50 finishers.

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