Herne Hill Harriers veteran distance runners put in a very solid display of teamwork at the British Masters Road Relay Championship in Sutton Coldfield on Saturday with the star of the show being Tom Conlon. Running in a depleted M55 team, which if not lacking some missing key athletes was sure to have won medals. Conlon took over from club president Valdis Pauzers’ hard worked effort and on the second leg of three. Conlon's time of 17-03 allowed him to gain sixteen places over the complex three-mile lap to hand over to Tony Harran and posted a superb third fastest M55 time of the day. Harran showed he is returning to the racing levels he is more familiar on the final leg to bring the team home at a creditable eleventh place in the prestigious National club relay championships.
The Herne Hill M35 team set off with expert first leg relay racer Simon Coombes showing his quality and consistency by returning home in fifth place and in the mix of the keen sprint to finish off the first leg. A very welcome return of Liam O’Flaherty who was a Harriers regular in the 1980s and although he now lives 160 miles from our home track he is a real one club man. Deron Fagan took over on the third stage with determined running to move up four places, handing over to Scotsman Dundee Dave Adam. Adam picked up two places and then, fortunately, leg five was taken by ex-triathlete Dan Hallam as the heavens really opened and he maybe swam a few puddles straddling the whole road of the course on this leg! Hallam passed on to Ben Paviour, who closed out the Harriers team. Burning through another three places and having made all the practical positional team improvement, three places, Paviour coasted home over the last half mile in a solid eleventh place. As Paviour was to comment at the end, ‘we can do a lot better but the most important thing is to be there and be seen to compete.’ Despite a few good men missing, Herne Hill ticked those boxes. Harriers have the potential in all age of the Master's age groups to win medals in all three M35, M45, M55 with greater luck in athlete availability.
The following day on the track in Andover a seriously depleted team finished a distant fourth of four teams in a good quality league. The timing of the meeting, at the beginning of the busiest exam period, demonstrated heavy reliance on Under 20s and Under 17s. Herne Hill can expect future strength as these young people work through, but there was a lot of to celebrate on the day with some very good performances. Starting with the ladies, Michelle Watson produced two very impressive win in the sprints with 12.8 and 26.2 into a strong headwind, winning both races with electric starts and a great pick up and acceleration phases. Chloe Tighe was impressive with terrific last laps to dominate the 800m and 1500m winning in 2.18.3 and 4.44.5. Natasha Lodge added to our tally with a B string second place in the 800m and a win in the 1500m. Louise Capicotto and Kathleen Moeller threw everything all afternoon in a competition that boasted athletes of a higher calibre than most UKWAL meetings.
In the men’s events the stand out performance was Seb Wilson Dyer Gough’s win in the Long Jump with 6.93m; an impressive series and a good platform in his preparation for the Southern Champs. Seb also triple jumped 12.09m and ran a 23.6 200m race for another two second places. Harriers throwers really delivered with M40 Stuart Thurgood winning the A string Shot in 12.40m, M50 Garry Power getting second in the A Discus with 34.97m and Dejean Marshall Brown winning the B string with 33.96m. Thurgood threw 50.90m for second in the Hammer and M50 Des Austin backed him up with 26.85m for second in the B string. Sean McBride threw a terrific 53.01m for a dominating Javelin win. As a unit, the male and female throwers made by far the biggest points contribution to the Herne Hill team, which can expect to improve significantly at the next fixture at home at Tooting.