Strong start for Herne Hill in the East Surrey League Cross Country

The new cross country season began for Herne Hill Harriers athletes before September had ended on Saturday with the first races in the East Surrey League series. This was a low key introduction on a course in Lloyd Park in Croydon that was benign under foot, but nevertheless over challenging and demanding parkland terrain.

The young athletes team results were unavailable at the time of writing, but there were some strong individual performances in some of these categories. All athletes under 17 raced together with boys and girls down to under 11s and the overall race winner was under 15 boy Jaden Kennedy. Not for the first time did Kennedy show a clean pair of heels to older athletes as well as his peers as he came home with a clear win by 16 seconds ahead of the first under 17 male runner to kick his cross season off in good style. Jacob Alley did likewise finishing in fourth place among the under 15 boys.

Arguably even more impressive were the Herne Hill under 13 girls, as Phoebe Bowen, Annabella Bailey and Johanna Nicholson scored a 1-2-3 in their age group as an unassailable combination and look set to become the next in line among the Harriers’ rising stars. Zoe Crugywen and Hebe Hunter also ran very creditably to finish eighth and ninth.

Isobel Penniceard, Eva Holland and Tilly Stevens-Cox placed third, fourth and sixth of the under 15 girls and with further strong backup from Sophie Williams in seventh and India Adams ninth. Ben Birch and Josh Chapman led the Herne Hill under 13 boys as seventh and ninth finishers respectively in this category.

Most of the leading Herne Hill senior athletes opted to train for bigger upcoming races rather than toe the line at Lloyd Park, but Harriers depth in numbers allowed both men’s and women’s teams to place second in a five mile race in which all over 17s raced together around an undulating two laps. Leading the red and black charge were two over 50s, Andy Weir and Gary Ironmonger as they placed fifth and eighth in a field of 76 male finishers, with Weir being the first M50 and Ironmonger first M55.

Newcomer Ed Turner ran well to place sixteenth, one position ahead of M40 runner Deron Fagan who closed the Harriers men’s A team. Sam Knight, Andrew Simms, James Ward and Duncan Rimmer combined to ensure a Herne Hill men’s B team finish tenth, while the women’s team of Shannon Sinclair in fourth, Monika Gajek ninth and Sarah Allen twenty-first matched the second team position of their male A team counterparts. Sinclair, another who is new to Herne Hill teams caught the eye and will be an asset as the coming season unfolds as part of what is expected to be a strong Herne Hill women’s squad this winter.

Others who were in action elsewhere included Mohammed Ismail who placed sixteenth in the Middlesex 10km road race in Victoria Park on Sunday, clocking 33.31, while in parkruns around town Mike Cummings was first in South Norwood in 16.24 and Tony Macdowall first across the line in Beckenham in 17.05. Other good parkrun performances were from Simon and Pippa Messenger in Burgess Park, where Simon placed second in 17.19 and wife Pippa ran a good PB time of 22.37 and also Jonathan Ratcliffe underlined his return towards form in running 18.28 in Dulwich Park.

Geoff Jerwood