University team medals for Saskia at BUCS Cross Country

Saskia Millard inthe womens 3000 metres race at the British Miler Club Watford Grand Prix at the Woodside Stadium, Watford. Picture by Nigel Bramley 07827818829 29/06/2019

After a year hiatus due to the pandemic, the British Universities and Colleges Sports (BUCS) Cross Country Championship was held at Horsenden Hill in Middlesex on Saturday and produced an exciting and vibrant series of four races on a course with some muddy sections which became increasingly churned up as the day progressed. Herne Hill Harriers athletes featured in both the women’s races, the 6km short race and the 8km long race and there was also representation in the men’s long race which was 10km. 

Saskia Millard enjoyed a strong run in the prestigious and very high quality women’s 8km race, placing an excellent sixth to lead her Birmingham University team to silver medals. Millard, a Great Britain Under 20 international in European Championships at both track and cross country in 2019 and a British senior championship 5000m fifth placer a year later, is now racing well again at a high level and looking forward to establishing herself during 2022, alongside the demands of her medical studies in the Midlands. 

Behind Millard in the colours of their universities were more Herne Hill medical undergraduates, with Katie Balme racing for Exeter University finishing 57th, followed in by Grace Leyland in 70th and Jennifer Nandi 141st, both representing St George’s. Jemima Hayward-Bhika, running for Surrey University placed 143rd, not far behind Nandi.

In the opening race on the programme, the women’s 6km, Oxford University’s Alexandra Brown was with the lead group for most of the first of the two laps and stuck to her task, as well as to the clinging mud under foot. Brown raced well to finish a good 13th in the first of a day of top level fields at the front end and will be one will look forward to the outdoor track season in the summer. 

Lily Newton didn’t allow the loss of one of her shoes in the mud with a mile still to run to deter her from finishing in 87th of over 400 who completed the course.

Jack Dickenson ran in the men’s 10km race and found the heavy going tough with a series of recent hard races in his legs. He nevertheless did well to lead his St George’s team as he came 136th of 280 finishers in the final race of the day.

Some of Harriers road racers were in action on Sunday morning  and although on terra firma they experienced some very wet and windy weather conditions. John Kettle finished 20th overall and was the first M45 runner at the Chichester 10km in 33:31. This replicated a time he also recorded in 2016, albeit his PB dates a couple of years further back.

Fiona de Mauny continued her return to full training and racing in the 5km race at Chichester, placing 17th female and first W35 in 19:40, with her husband Chris missing his sub 18 minutes target in 29th overall with 18:10 and will hope for much nicer weather for his next races to come. 

North of the river Jonathan Ratcliffe was seventh overall and first M50 at the Mornington Chasers Regent’s Park 10km road race, while the best of the Herne Hill parkrun performances on Saturday saw Sophie Harris on the leader board as the seventh fastest female in the UK parkrun list with her 17:40 in Northampton.

US collegiate results can sometimes be slow to come through, but two Herne Hill athletes have been competing very well in indoor track and field for their American universities across the pond. Last weekend Yasmin Marghini set a big PB for 3000m of 9:35.99 at the UW Invitational in Seattle, racing for Boise State University in Idaho. Marghini is now currently ranked seventh on the UK women’s 3000m list for the year so far.

On the same day Ore Adamson was long jumping and triple jumping for Texas San Antonio University in Houston. Her long jump of 5.82m was shy of her lifetime best jumps, but her triple jump caught the eye as an indoor PB of 12.30m elevated her to fifth in the UK rankings for 2022 to date.

Geoff Jerwood