Herne Hill Harriers’ senior women claimed silver at the South of England Road Relay Championships at a new venue in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, writes Geoff Jerwood.
They were inspired by Georgie Grgec running the fastest individual long leg overall.
Four years ago at Milton Keynes Harriers’ women had run away with this title with a relatively straightforward and probably expected victory given the line-up on that day. The backdrop to this year’s performance could hardly have been different as three of the fastest members of the original paper team had to withdraw during the course of the week with either illness or injury.
Annabel Hobday (16:37) and Gaby Reynolds (25:33) got the team off to a strong start lying in second place for the first two legs, a short stage of 4.8km followed by a long one of 7.2km.
Kaitlin Hewitt, 18, (18:29) was thrown in at the deep end with a plea the day before the race to step up from the B team and coped admirably to keep the team in fourth and set up the in-form Grgec (24:13) to storm back through into second as she recorded the best female long stage of the day.
The A team were involved in an exciting battle with Aldershot throughout the final two of the six stages as both vied for second place behind runaway winners Thames Valley Harriers. Jenny Nandi (17:46) fought hard against her opponent and handed over to Sarah Grover (17:19) just behind their rivals for the silver medals.
Grover showed astute tactical awareness to sit in until the final kilometre when she then struck out with a move that ultimately proved to be decisive as she held onto her position by a margin of 10 seconds at the line.
This was a triumph against the odds and a demonstration of the depth within the squad, further emphasised by some fine times clocked in the 11th placed B team which comprised Jennifer Clancy (18:05), Suzanne Swaine (28:20), Charlotte Davies (17:47), Laura Donnelly (28:04), Eliza Cottington (18:55) and Sophie Gunning (18:00).
An incomplete C team provided all important safety in numbers, with Megan Glldea (18:45), Charlotte Spencer (29:03), Jemima Hayward Bhikha (20:54) and Annabelle Acres (31:55) all having good run outs.
The men’s team made a return to the front end of the field in their 12 stage relay, with an eighth placing, their highest in this event for more than a decade.
Lewis Laylee (21:55) got the team off to a great start in 11th in a large field of athletes. Daniel Shaw (14:57) moved up to eighth with those two recording Harriers’ fastest long and short legs of the race.
Brandon Dewar (23:28), Matt Cartwright (15:16) and debutants Morgan Roberts (22:50) and Ollie Mills (15:14) kept very good momentum going through halfway in ninth place.
The team was brought home by Sam Bramwell (22:29), 50-year-old Ben Paviour (15:39), Joe Fenwick (23:13), Joe Elliott (15:21), Jeff Cunningham (23:50) and David Moyse (15:21).
The B team were lying in the 30s throughout until the final leg runner was misdirected and ran a slightly short course to finish in 30th, albeit ahead of teams who will have run the full correct distance.
Simon Coombes (23:59) kicked off in 40th, then Greg Mills (16:22), Ryan Willmott (24:22), Oli Walker (15:44) and Jack Brotchie (23:47) saw the team up to 33rd after five stages. The team was closed out by Tom Foster (17:29), Alex Russell (24:35), Simon Wade (16:40), Jack Dickenson (26:06), Jonathan Ratcliffe (17:28) and Stephen McLeod (26:01) before the navigational error which saw Andrew Georgeson home a little short of his designated 4.8km.
M80 Allan Long claimed gold medals in the 60m in a season’s best 9.36 seconds and then two days later on Friday the 200m in 32.51 at the World Masters Indoor Championships in Poland. He rounded off a superb trip by adding a triple jump silver, jumping 8.06m as well as racing in both the M80 sprint relay and the mixed relays.
Giuseppe Minetti brought home a world M50 sprint relay bronze medal after narrowly missing out on qualifying for his 200m final. Minetti clocked 24.31 in both his heat and semi-final. Mike Cummings finished fourth in the M35 1,500m final in 4:05.97.
Some Herne Hill youngsters attended the SLAN outdoor track season curtain raiser at the David Weir Stadium, Sutton on Saturday afternoon.
The 3,000m saw Orla Carroll (10.51.76), Herbie Clark (11.09.27) and Vivi Marshall (11.50.02) racing.
In the 1,500m there was Harry Bell (4:20.64) and Caspian Holmes (PB of 4:24.28). U11 Max Gillies ran a superb 5:15.93 and U13B Luca Boulton(5:13.83) and Alfie Bryan (5:04.82).
For the girls, Maeve Minielly also kicked off with a PB 5:10.04, Florence Mills (5:11.84), Eva O’Hanlon (5:12.45), Helen Hunter (5:14.29), India Blakey (5:18.62), Grace O’Hanlon (5:19.10), Sofia Mendes (5:33.85), Summer Mackay (5:37.90) and Rosalie Laban (5:53.80).
Harvey Kande ran 54.11 in the 400m, Diego Lister clocking 57.79. Lucy Wright (42.16) and Sophie Wright (45.60) competed in the 300m as James McDonald’s training group showed their early season intent.
In more overseas action in the Berlin Half Marathon on Sunday Andrew Clarke and Andrew Warburton ran the fine times of 69:07 and 69:26 respectively while at the Prague Half Marathon on Saturday Seve Loudon ran 78.42.
Also on the roads at the Brighton Marathon on Sunday there were three from HHH with seasoned long distance racers Ian Jack and Craig Barney clocking fine times of 3:02.07 and 3:02.31 respectively.
Hannah Edwards, from an English Schools 800m track background was running her first marathon in a new athletics adventure for her. Pacing herself very well when it would have been so easy to get it badly wrong, Hannah had a great run to clock a sub 3:30 with her 3:28.18 and can now call herself a marathoner.