For many the real cross country season kicked off last weekend with the Surrey League Men’s and Ladies races including young athletes all hosted at Reigate in the undulating and testing Priory Park. Age group race wins were achieved by two Herne Hill Harriers as Phoebe Bowen produced an outstanding piece of front running to win the Under 13 girls race over 2 miles, while Jaden Kennedy added another category win to his ever growing collection at both local and national level, as he was the first of the Under 15 boys to finish as he placed fourth overall in the combined races for under 17, under 15 and under 13 around a lap of 2.5 miles.
Harriers were also the under 15 girls team winners, the under 13 girls placed second led by Bowen’s individual win, a Herne Hill team was third in a combined team scoring for both under 17 men and under 15 boys and while although the senior men were only fourth team the result was extraordinarily close with only twenty-five points between the first and fourth teams and there may never have been a closer result between as many as four senior teams in the history of the men’s league Division One.
Bowen took her race by the scruff of the neck, setting out her stall from the outset leading from the gun with a very committed piece of racing and although her lead appeared more slender on occasions during the race she determinedly prevailed to score probably her best race win to date. She was very well supported in the team event by Johanna Nicholson in fifth place, Stella Thomas in eleventh and Zoe Cruywagen in twenty-eighth.
Kennedy was close behind the first three finishers in the under 17 men’s race as he claimed an age group victory among under 15 boys, finishing one place and eight seconds ahead of Charlie Krammer, who had an excellent run to be the second under 15 boy. The third placed Herne Hill team in a combined under 17 men and under 15 boys event were in fact all under 15 boys, as Jacob Harrison and Jacob Alley completed the quartet.
The one team victory on the day for Harriers was in the under 15 girls race, which although racing with the under 17 ladies has separate team competitions for the two age groups. Eva Holland led the winning girls in fourth place among under 15s, followed in fifth and sixth place by Poppy Craig-McFeely and Isobel Penniceard respectively, with the team being closed by Tilly Stevens-Cox in eleventh.
Herne Hill’s under 13 boys placed fourth, led by Christo Chilton in third position, backed up by David Aisa Miller, Josh Chapman and Harry Bell, while Katie Balme finished sixth in the under 17 ladies event, with Jemima Hayward-Bhika in sixteenth her only team mate in this category.
The senior men’s team race was too close to call, with the first ten finishers from each club scoring as a team in a field of 200 runners racing two laps of the boys course to give a race distance of around five miles. The scoring ten men for Herne Hill were led by Chris Busaileh, who was twelfth, followed by Richard Henderson twentieth, Mike Cummings twenty-second, Mohammed Ismail one place in arrears, Alan Barnes twenty-seventh, Jeff Cunningham thirtieth, Simon Coombes thirty-fourth and second of the over 45s, Andrew Clarke and Andrew Warburton forty-fifth and fifty-ninth on their Herne Hill cross country team debuts and Alex Hobley sixty-second.
Herne Hill ladies placed ninth of fifteen A teams in Division One thanks to Fiona de Mauny in thirteenth, Karen Ellison twenty-third, Shannon Sinclair fortieth, Helen Hadjam forty-eighth and Kate Crawford eighty-second in a huge field of around 250 runners.
Elsewhere Raj Paranandi ran a PB by seven minutes with 2.50.17 in the Birmingham Marathon, where Merhawi Tesfaldet made his half-marathon debut at the age of 20 placing seventh in 74.14 and in the USA Jack Brotchie won the 5km event at the Brooklyn Greenway races in 16.42 in New York.