Each year, Herne Hill Harriers young athletes use one of the final winter club team races, the East Surrey League 2 Mile Road Race at Ewell to try to clinch the ES title, having normally completed only two of the three matches due to clashes with other leagues earlier in the season. With Harriers’ current strength in depth on Thursday 6 April the squad turned out in force they also used the 2-mile race as a timely warm-up for their upcoming London Mini Marathon.
Local rivals Hercules Wimbledon may have thought their seventeen points cushion in the Young Athletes joint Boys and Girls competition was an insurmountable task for the Herne Hill youngsters to overturn, but they did not bank on the Red and Black assault on this last race in the series. Herne Hill comfortably won the third and final fixture by a margin of thirty-nine points, thereby claiming the overall League championship.
In the Under 13 Boys race, Jaden Kennedy, Jacob Harrison, Ben Harrison, Christo Chilton and Fabian Hurst finished first, second. third, fifth and sixth HHH, occupying five of the first six places and Hurst also ensured that he was the overall Under 13 Boys winner for the season.
In the Under 13 Girls category, Eva Holland won with a storming finish pushing a top second year Surrey County athlete all the way. With Poppy Craig-McFeely second, Phoebe Bowen third and Ana Duffy fifth, Duffy won the overall Under 13 Girls title.
Among the Under 15 Boys Charlie Krammer placed third, Zack Morris-Jones fourth and Jacob Alley fifth. Alley also thereby clinched the overall U15 Boys title. In the Under 15 Girls race, Susannah Hirst was second and Jemima Hayward-Bhikha was the second Under 17 Woman across the line as the young runners from the club enjoyed a dominant evening of racing.
Over a busy weekend Herne Hill’s senior men’s team travelled to Sutton Coldfield to compete in the National 12 stage road relay championship, having qualified by virtue of an excellent performance in the Southern championship a fortnight earlier in Gravesend. It is no mean task to send a strong team of a dozen runners to both Kent and the Midlands in the space of two weeks, and although the Harriers team missed at least four of their fastest men everybody raced well to achieve a very good thirtieth place finish of the sixty one complete teams, ahead of most other local clubs in the race.
The team was a model of consistency, never being higher than twenty fifth nor lower than thirty fourth throughout a long afternoon of relay racing and the last four long stage runners all recorded times within six seconds of each other over the 5.3 miles undulating circuit. Chris Busaileh made another great start on the inevitably strong first leg, handing over in twenty seventh, with Jack Hillier then running a fine second leg to move up to twenty fifth with the team's quickest short leg time over the 3.1 miles. Sean Fitzpatrick, Alex Hobley, Alan Barnes and Simon Coombes combined to see the team just outside the top thirty at halfway. The second half saw four of our runners on more or less solo runs, with big gaps to chase as Carl Delaney, Eric Sapac, Jeff Cunningham, Deron Fagan, last minute stand-in Bryn Reynolds and Rob Peacock held station to all intents and purposes in the final six stages to complete the race in thirtieth at the finish of four and a half hours of racing.
On Sunday Herne Hill Harriers Masters athletes were in action at another national championship, the British Masters (BMAF) 10km road race at Cyclopark in Gravesend. They returned to south London with two British Masters 10km Champions and a team win in the M55 age category. Gary Ironmonger did the Red & Black Hoops proud running his usual aggressive style, his main rivals wilting under the sun and his forceful pace to win both the M55 VAC and BMAF champion titles ahead of the M50 winner. Supported by third placed bronze medalist Tom Conlon and Mike Boyle fourth, the trio earnt Harriers a clear M55 team victory in both parallel VAC and BMAF competitions. Backed up by Tony Harran in ninth and Valdis Pauzers (M60 VAC bronze medalist) the men’s race closed out with very solid performances and back up. The club’s only female representative Mary Setyabule surpassed her own expectations to take a BMAF gold medal over the tough hilly course with a winning debut at this level of competition.