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The Common Runner

Week 12, 2014

Saskia Millard Wins English Schools Cross Country Champioships

London’s Saskia Millard (Coach: James McDonald) showed her versatility and capped a hugely successful two weeks by securing the Junior Girls’ title, having taken the England Athletics indoor title over 800m indoors at the beginning of the month. The UK’s fastest U15 800m runner this year used her finishing speed to hold off Hampshire’s Southern Champion, Josie Czura (Coach: Gerry North, Club: City of Portsmouth), who herself finished 5 seconds ahead of Sophie Hamilton of Somerset. The battle for bronze was close, with two seconds separating 3rd from 7th and Hamilton’s effort contributed to her team taking silver, behind Millard’s London and a consistent Surrey six. Full Results.

This Sunday 23rd march we celebrate sport relief weekend with the Tooting Bec Miles at Tooting Bec Track from 9.00 am - 1.00 pm you can register to run 1-3-6 miles via the sport relief website  already over 300 people have registered !!

If you can't run please come along & help its a great opportunity for showcasing the Club as well as helping to raise lots of money for Sport Relief. We are trying to better our 2012 total of over £16,000 raised at the Tooting Bec Miles.

There will also be a pack run leaving from the track at 10.30 running 5-10 miles.

If you can come and help we require help with registration, marshalling, cheerleading as well as an announcer, refreshment seller and making cakes to sell for this great charity.

Please let me know if you can help even for an hour, we'd like helpers to help set up at 8.00 am when the track opens.

Many thanks in advance,

Steve Bosley 07721 555688 or email


Club Hour Track Run on Saturday March 29th, 10am

Run as far as you can in 1 hour on Tooting track. A perfect Saturday session for those looking ahead to Spring marathons or if you just fancy a run for an hour without being obstructed by dogs and children on scooters! 1 hour of running, followed by lunch - please let me know at if you'd like to come to the lunch which will most likely be at The Railway just by Streatham Common station. 

The club hour record is 19,505m (12 miles, 212 yards) which was set by Mick Gowan (born 13th July, 1943) on 20th March 1967. David Cocksedge would like to add that Mick Gowan's time of 4:01.0 for the mile (set at Motspur Park on 21st July 1965) is coming up for close to 50 years as a HHH club record. Mick ran that time for 5th place in the BMC City Mile on a track that no longer exists: Motspur Park is now a training ground for members of struggling Fulham FC. The race was won by Bill McKim in 3:59.5. Ninth and last in that race was Belgrave's John Thresher in 4:02.9!

And the runner who has covered the most distance receives the Fred Appleby Trophy.

We also need some lap counters too, so let me know if you'd like to help out!


Victory in the ‘wilderness’: 43 women step off the treadmill, into the mud and on to the podium

Okay, we didn’t win the league, we came third. And it wasn’t in the wilderness, it was in Surrey. But I wanted something grand to catch your attention so I could share with you the real drama and achievements of this season’s Surrey Cross Country League as experienced by our club’s senior and veteran women athletes.

This cross-country season, in our 125th year, we made it on to the podium, with Herne Hill Harriers’ women claiming third place in the Surrey League.  The ‘victory’ is that we’re getting better: last season (2012/2013) we made it to fifth place. This season we made it to third, with 487 points, after some closely fought battles with Thames Hare and Hounds, who came second with 456 points. Belgrave Harriers continued to be a commanding presence and won with an impressive 311 points.  That we are contending with these very strong cross country clubs is, however, extremely encouraging - and very exciting.
I say ‘we’ – and it most definitely is ‘we’, given the camaraderie among HHH’s senior women – but for now a few words on the extraordinary efforts of some hardy, trusty and talented individuals.  Where better to start than with our captain, Karen Ellison?  In all four of her league races this season, she placed in the top 20, showing steel, determination – and speed.   Karen also has true grit, as she showed at the ECCA National Championships where she came 73rd.  We know, of course, that she was also the first qualifying woman home, and trophy winner,  in the South of Thames 5 Mile Championships.  We are very lucky to have her showing us the way.  Lucky, too, to have the wonderful Helen Hadjam and Julia Wedmore, two of our other top scorers, who have reliably – and tirelessly! - turned in very strong performances in the league races.
Where would we be, also, without our other scoring athletes: Cathy Ansell, who ran two dazzling races coming 1st and 3rd at Coulsdon and Lightwater respectively, Nikki Sturzaker, Cleo Bartholomew, Ieva Lobaciute, Ceri Diss, Sue Swaine, Jo Ritson and Fiona Brown? And where indeed without the other 32 valiant team members, many of them competing in all four events, ensuring that our scoring runners held their positions by fending off the challenges of our competitors?  All of them strong and battle-ready.
In what other way is this season one of ‘victory’? I can find 43 women who will tell you the answer.  That’s right: 43!  This season we had one of the highest numbers of senior and veteran women taking part in the Surrey Cross-Country League.  Every one of them temporarily turning her back on the comforts of modern London to embrace all the mud and chill that Surrey can offer.  During the wettest winter in England since 1766, these women fearlessly stepped off the treadmill and into the mud.
Which brings me to the ‘wilderness’ effect: defined as the psychological effect of being in wilderness for a period of a week or more…fundamentally it involves “feelings of expansion or reconnection”.   As I’ve conceded, Wimbledon Common and Lloyd Park don’t really qualify as ‘wilderness’ and even my race times aren’t clocking in at ‘a week or more’. Yet, for the forty something minutes of a race, I think I approach something like “feelings of expansion or reconnection”.  Others tell me the same. They like the wild challenge of running ‘off-piste’, up-hill and cross-country.  And that, too, is our victory.

Sarah Guest


Springing into action: Our Women’s 10K Road Championship at Frank Harmer 10k, Brockwell Park 

Now that winter, with its frost, wind, icy rain and character-building cross-country racing, is safely behind us, let us welcome spring: cut lawns, softer shoes, lighter steps - and the start of the road-running season.
So we spring into action with the Frank Harmer Memorial 10K. An important race hosted by the club and open to all runners, but also Herne Hill Harriers’ women’s 10K road championship.  
A sunny day with a keen wind sees us gather in Brockwell Park, excited by the quality of the light and not quite sure whether to keep our gloves on or off.  Take them off, I say.
We have the fun run at 10:00; which is fun (but also deadly serious as there are Dennis the Menace badges at stake – phew, there are enough for everyone).  10:30 sees the start of the race.
All our Herne Hill Women are looking strong on lap one. Lap two and things are hotting up, gloves are being removed and thrown at unsuspecting marshals.  (Next time this marshal will bring her riot gear.)  Lap three brings the glorious finale: a last dash up a short incline sees the runners to the finish where they are welcomed with Dennis the Menace badges, bananas and more.
Nikki Sturzaker was first home with a time of 42:53. Close behind was Natalie Zara in second place with 43:26.  The third Herne Hill woman, with a time of 47:46, was Sarah Guest, making up the winning women’s team.  There was a PB for Mary Setyabule – who ran her own, longer course by including an additional circuit of the pond – with 49:38.  Carmel Baxter-Wilks ran her first race as a club member and was rewarded with an encouraging 54:39.  And Sarah Allen kicked off her road season in good form with 54:59.  Congratulations to all: the sun was out but the course was windy and hilly.  After the race, with bananas eaten and badges affixed, all gloves went very definitely back on.
Many of you may not know there is a splendid trophy for the winner of our women’s 10K road championship.  Nikki now does: she can take it home, quaff champagne from it, keep her socks in it or use it as a gong to announce the start of dinner.  And she will need polish, as it is very, very shiny.  So next year, save yourselves a trip to Ikea: you don’t need more glassware, drawer dividers or dining accessories; you need a big shiny, multi-purpose trophy, won at our very own Frank Harmer Memorial 10K.

Hayley Cook


What is a club for? (a personal view from Keith Newton)

This question is prompted by my attendance at the southern 6 and 12 stage road relays at Milton Keynes today.  18 of our athletes committed to this trip, ensuring we had a men’s and women’s team.  Thank you to those 18.  All ‘sacrificed’ the day for one of the major team events on the racing calendar.  The best HHH individual performance was Lewis Lloyd’s 15.22 for a long 5km on a course that is not the fastest, which ensured he was 6th quickest overall.  Many others were rightly pleased with their runs, and it was great to have a women’s team in the top 20. 

I was on the same train as Serpentine Running Club.  Having been 11th in 2012 and 2011 (2013 was cancelled due to snow), they were confident of a higher position as all of their guys had committed to the race.  They finished 5th.  We were 10th and 7th in those two years, but outside the top 20 this year. 

So what has gone wrong with our men’s team?  I ‘ran’ round at the National in Nottingham, and was shocked at the small number of HHH male runners who committed to that race.  I was even more surprised this weekend.  Every Tuesday I see 40-60 runners spread across the two senior distance groups at Tooting, yet we struggle to field a third of them in the major races.  I was aware of a few injuries which had taken out some of our better runners.  But I was shocked at the number of our sharper end runners who had opted for local park runs this weekend rather than the 12 stage. 

I am not sure why the majority of our runners will not commit to 6-8 major races over the winter.  Part of it may be that we can be even clearer as to what the priorities are, an issue a group of us are due to discuss in the next week to agree a way forward for 2014/15.  But I receive Geoff’s emails that others get, and I believe they are pretty clear that events like the 12 stage are considered to be critical for the Club’s standing in the distance world.

I want to deal with a few myths.  I have heard it said that the road relays are not for track runners.  I have also heard it said they are not for marathon runners as it breaks up their training.

Sadly, if these myths were true, team managers have done a poor job conveying this to track and marathon runners over the years.  On the old Wimbledon 12 stage course, Steve Ovett holds equal 4th fastest long leg, whilst the top 10 short leg times include runs by stellar track runners: Ovett; Mark Rowland; Steve Crabb; Seb Coe; John Gladwin.  All men who were 3.35 or quicker for 1500 and they were also not bad at 800m.  And today at Milton Keynes, Jess Judd, Hannah England, Steph Twell and many other track runners raced.  On the marathon front, I was fortunate to see Eamonn Martin at the national 12 stage running the long leg the week after his London Marathon win, and many (including Geoff) have used it as a ‘warm up’ for the London the following week which is the way it falls this year. 

Today at Milton Keynes, AFD team manager Mike Boucher had forgotten to tell GB’s best hope for London (after Mo Farah) Chris Thompson not to race because it might disrupt his marathon plans, and he duly smashed the long leg record.  Interestingly, Mike was as keen to credit the 3 or 4 AFD senior boy athletes who had raced the English schools the previous day for their victory, as Chris’ spectacular run.  Another sign of commitment to the club.  Others who probably hadn’t eased down but turned out for their club included John Gilbert and James Connor, both looking for fast times at London.  Another top marathon man, Scott Overall, towed the line for Blackheath and Bromley Harriers.

The HHH team included stalwart, Jeff Cunningham, who travelled yet again from Luxembourg to race for the Club, yet some of our London-based runners had not made the two hour journey north.  Another stalwart, Simon Coombes, juggled chasing round his son with chasing runners on the long leg.  As I and many others have found, it is also possible to manage a family with racing commitments for the Club.  Which brings me to the question posed:
In my view the Club should:
  • Expect coaches to support athletes on club nights;
  • Expect coaches to provide support to athletes between training nights.  Provide schedules where appropriate or advice on training.
  • Provide a framework for athletes to enjoy the sport and progress.
  • Enter teams for local, regional and national competitions.
We are all volunteers, and the above and other support are normally provided around full-time jobs and, often, family commitments.
In my view the Club should expect athletes:
  • To commit to training sessions (not always possible for those that don’t live close to Tooting) so that a critical mass is provided and there is some certainty for others that they will have runners to train with.
  • To commit to joining the club if they train with it (this is sometimes on a second claim basis, and we welcome such members).
  • To commit to racing in key competitions for the Club (typically 6-8 per winter), subject to
illness and injury.

As noted above, these are personal views not a formal Club statement.  But come on guys let’s pull together and try to address the slippage in overall performance and commitment we have seen in the last 12 months.  National 12 stage, 5 April 2014, Sutton Park, Birmingham.  12 of our very best runners are needed.    



HHH Open Meeting on 12th April





Quiz and End of Season Dinner

26th April The Brewer's Inn End Of Season Dinner. £35.

Please let Sarah at know if you'd like to attend.




Sarah Has a Cross-Trainer Looking For a Home, Must Be Able To Collect:



(Triathlon) Training Camp

We (the triathlon section of the club) are putting together plans to have a 1 week training camp/holiday at the beginning of July. The main emphasis will be around cycling with swim & run sessions too - and of course there will be no obligation to do every session! Nothing is set in stone yet but we are considering locations in the North of France, the French Pyrenees and Spain. If there is any interest could you let me (  know and if anyone has any ideas for locations too then please get in touch.



Southern Road Relays

Fleet Half-Marathon: 236th Andrew Grigg 1:30.49

Brockwell Parkrun: 11th Rick Pearson 18:46, 17th Malik Nehali 19:01, 34th Callum Barker 20:29, 55th Thomas Rigard-Asquith 21:31, 72nd Jasper Johnson 22:28     Crystal Palace Parkrun: 3rd MOhammed Ismail 16:23, 5th Carl Ferri 16:30, 8th Robin Jones 16:47, 10th MIke Boyle 16:51, 16th Tom LEvitt 17:56, 17th Robin Sanderson 17:59, 40th Alex Ferri 19:42, 43rd Natalie Zara 20:14, 17th Fraser Mcintosh 22:06, 167th Florence Born 28:21, 188th Fiona Mcintosh 30:30    Dulwich Parkrun: 1st Mohammed Ismail 16:32, 13th Robin Sanderson 18:22     Wimbledon Common Parkrun: 4th Tom Conlon 18:01


Tri Gear

For Herne Hill Triathlon branded gear please contact Phil ASAP. Products available vary from tri-suits, gilets, cycling jerseys...... 


The Sub-committee meets every two months to plan social events for HHH, the club needs your ideas to help run the events! Contact Sarah for further details.

Tri Coaching

Triathlon chairman Phil Henwood says "I would like to ask people to forward me details if interested in triathlon but not yet on my mailing list. Also, I am establishing a coaching base so again please can anyone contact me who would be interested in completing training towards being a tri coach or assistant coach." Phil's e-mail address is



Upcoming Sessions


Phil, Mark & Wayne's Group:

This week we're going to give you a variation on our theme. Instead of 10K paced reps that were due we're going to give you a longer tempo run with a surge followed by some speedy reps. For the hills, we're going sets of long-short-short. And on Saturday it's more theraband exercises followed by fast reps with longer recoveries. 


Tuesday, Tooting Bec Track, 7:15pm.

Warm up


Group 1: 

6000m comprising 5200m @ tempo pace then 800m @ 5K pace

6 x 200m @ 1500 pace with 45s recovery

Group 2:

5600m comprising 4800m @ tempo pace then 800m @ 5K pace

5 x 200m @ 1500 pace with 45s recovery

Group 3:

4800m comprising 4200m @ tempo pace then 800m @ 5K pace

4 x 200m @ 1500 pace with 45s recovery

(Recovery between tempo/5K run and 200's will be 3-4mins.)

Warm down


Thursday, bottom of Norbury Hill, 7:30pm

All Groups: 

2-3 sets of (500m, 300m, 300m)

The long rep (500m) is up to the tree opposite the start of the park; the short rep (300m) is up to the Covington Way crossing.


Saturday, Tooting Bec Track, 11am.

Warm up

Functional Strength (Therabands)


3 x 1000m @ 3K pace with 4 mins recovery

8 x 200m @ 1500 pace with 45s recovery

Mobility exercises

I'll be using video tape analysis to help give feedback on the drills. 

You can buy the therabands so bring money with you. (Short pink band is £2; Long blue band is £4; Buy both for £5.) You can then use the bands regularly.



Geoff & Keith's Group:

Tomorrow's Tuesday group session will be on the paths on Tooting Common: 6 x 3 min 30 reps off 90 sec rest between reps, alternating directions. Meet in the car park at 7.15pm.

On Thursday we shall also be on Tooting Common paths for a session of 12 x 1 min reps with a min recoveries. Again meet at 7.15pm in the car park.

PS, if anyone is up for a birthday drink with James Ward in the Rose & Crown after Tuesday's (tomorrow) session if some folks would like to join us.

Upcoming Races:
  • Sat 29th, Club Hour, Tooting track, 10am
  • Thu 3rd, East Surrey League Road Race, Ewell Court 
  • Sat 12th, Herne Hill Harriers Open Meeting
  • Sun 13th, London Marathon
  • Sat 19th, Victoria Park Open 5M
May June July August

For further details on XC & road league & championship races, contact Geoff
Upcoming Social Events:

  • Sat 26th, End of Season Dinner, The Brewer's Inn (£30 per person, 3 course dinner, trophies, reports & guest speaker.)

For more details please contact Sarah



The Common Runner Editor: Eriç Dol,

General Secretary & Young Athletes Rep: Steve Bosley,

Men's XC & Road Race Captain, Men's Road Race Secretary: Geoff Gerwood,

Men's XC Secretary: Andy Lea-Gerrard,

Men's Veterans' Secretary: Valdis Pauzers,

Women's Road, XC, Vets Secretary: Sarah Allen

Women's XC Captain: Karen Ellison,

Social Secretary: Sarah Allen

Triathlon Chairman: Phillip Henwood,

Copyright © 2014 Herne Hill Harriers, All rights reserved.

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