The Southern Masters Championship and Southern Inter Counties Cross Country at Horspath, Oxfordshire on Saturday showcased the sheer breadth of talent across the age groups within Herne Hill Harriers. At a wet, though good underfoot course in Oxfordshire John Garber was sixth M70, while at the opposite end of the age spectrum Jaden Kennedy won the Under 13 Boys inter counties race, leading his Surrey team to gold medals.
In the Masters races, Harriers M40 and M50 teams dominated proceedings, with a show of strength that would have sent ripples around the veterans cross country scene. In the first race of the day the M50s, Francis Marsh led Herne Hill to a clear team victory in second place, with Gary Ironmonger, an 800m specialist, finishing thirteenth, and Keith Newton eighteenth. Ironmonger won the gold medal for first M55, which ensured he left the venue with the ‘top bling’ in the medal rankings compared to Marsh who took home team gold and individual M50 silver.
Mike Boyle provided excellent back up in twenty-eighth place followed by Tom Conlon, Andrew Simms and Glen Keegan. A team score of 33 points ensured a 17 point winning margin over second place London Heathside. Harriers also completed a scoring M60 team placing tenth with Valdis Pauzers, Steve Knight and Nigel Goodwin closing out a team for Harriers in this age group at the Southern Championships for the first time.
The HHH M40 trio of John Kettle, Simon Coombes and Ben Paviour worked as a group together up to 9 km in the 10km race and enjoyed an epic race battle in the final km between the three of them. Robin Jones tracked the Herne Hill scoring three in twenty-fifth followed by vets ‘debutant’ Ollie Morrison thirty-second, Jon Key at forty-fourth and Jonathan Ratcliffe in fifty-ninth. Club M40 3000m record holder Paviour won the Herne Hill race within a race, just overhauling Coombes in the final field, as they placed sixth and seventh respectively, with Kettle closing the team in ninth place. Such superb packing secured an emphatic team victory, Harriers 22 points to Oxford City’s 46. Harriers turn out of 18 men competing so successfully put many a club in awe of our men’s veteran squad.
In the Senior Women’s inter counties race, also at Oxford, Harriers Australian athlete Chloe Tighe showed her undoubted class as she unleashed a big kick in the final field to overhaul several good quality runners. Tighe led the Surrey ladies to a clear team victory with her excellent fourth place, which will have raised one or two eyebrows.
In the young athletes’ races there were some very good performances from Harriers athletes racing for their county teams. The competition was strong, with most age groups involving top UK ranked athletes at the sharp end. Maisie Collis had an excellent run to finish third in the Under 13 Girls race and was closely followed by Eva Holland in fifth. These two led Surrey to a comfortable team win. Also contributing to a team gold was Ella Newton, running for Kent in the Under 17 Women’s race. Zoe Tompkins finished a very good twenty-second place, just missing out on a team medal.
Congratulations also to the other Herne Hill Harriers' athletes who represented their county (all Surrey) included Jacob and Ben Harrison (Under 13 Boys), sixteenth and twenty-sixth, Jessica Tabraham (Under 15 Girls), Oscar Millard (Under 15 Boys), Laurie Pope (Under 17 Men and Tatianna Cooke and Jemima Hayward Bhikha (both Under 17 Women).