The South of England Road Relay Championships were this year staged on a very flat and very windy course at Bedford Autodrome on the last Sunday in September. The now customary strong Herne Hill Harriers young athletes turn out together with some senior representation saw the under 13 boys team claim a set of bronze medals, while Jaden Kennedy and Maisie Collis carried their superb summer form into the new season as they were fastest overall under 13 boy and girl in their respective races to win gold medals.
Harriers U13 boys actually crossed the line in fourth place, but the first two teams in the race were both from the dominant Aldershot club and the race rules do not qualify B teams to receive medals. So it was that Ben Harrison fifth on first leg, with 9.40 for the lap, equal tenth fastest of the race, Callum Balme twelfth in 10.54, Jaden Kennedy back up to sixth with 9.24 fastest time of the race and Jacob Harrison finishing fourth in 9.40, same as his brother in equal tenth overall were presented with their medals.
Although her team were eighth in their race, Maisie Collis was in startling form in the U13 girls relay as she took over on second stage from Eva Holland (10.55) in sixteenth position and flew into a good lead during her rapid stint and her 9.50 clocking was 20 seconds faster than the next quickest athlete in this age group. Jess Butland (11.35) brought the team home.
Another Herne Hill team crossed the line in fourth place as the under 17 women were only narrowly denied a podium place. Ella Newton placed fifth on the first stage with the ninth best time of the race, 9.46, handing over to Katie Balme (10.05) who moved up to fourth, then Zoe Tompkins (10.10) was only narrowly denied team medals near the finish for a valiant effort in an age group where our runners may raise some eyebrows this winter.
Harriers’ senior women are also on an upward trajectory, as illustrated by a fine eighth placing out of forty two complete teams to finish their race. Natasha Lodge ran well on a very strong opening leg to hand over in twenty ninth position to provide the perfect platform for Stacey Ward to cut through the field on second stage. Ward ran superbly to move her team into ninth place with a time of 15.39 that was the fourth fastest overall in the race. Chloe Tighe then advanced another two positions before Annes Stevens did an excellent job on the final stage to ensure one of the finest performances from a senior team from the club in the history of this event.
The club also had A teams finishing in the under 15 girls race (fourteenth place), under 15 boys (twenty second) and senior men (twenty sixth), the latter ensuring qualification for the National road relay championship in a couple of weeks’ time where again Herne Hill will expect to have teams racing at the highest level in as many of the age groups as possible.