Herne Hill Harriers' U13 girls set glorious club record against the best in the country

Croydon Guardian: Terrific trio: Saskia Millard, Katy Ann McDonald and Alex Brown parade their medals after winning the Saucony National cross-country relays title for Herne Hill Harriers Terrific trio: Saskia Millard, Katy Ann McDonald and Alex Brown parade their medals after winning the Saucony National cross-country relays title for Herne Hill Harriers

Herne Hill Harriers coach James McDonald called the club’s U13 girls’ team “awesome” after they made club history by winning the Saucony National cross-country relays title.

Alex Brown, Saskia Millard and Katy Ann McDonald beat the best 100 teams from across the country to take top spot over the 6km course in Mansfield.

Moreover, the trio became the first team in the club’s 123-year history to run away with the middle-distance title.

The girls each ran 2km, with Herne Hill Harriers completing the course in 23 minutes, 10 seconds – seven seconds ahead of Northern champions Sale Harriers Manchester, and Manchester Harriers (23:37) in third.

Having won the Southern road relays and placed a very close second in the Southern cross country relays earlier this autumn the girls were one of the favourites and started well with Alex finishing her leg in 12th.

Saskia moved through the field before closing down the leaders and taking the lead in the final 100m.

Katy Ann, winner of the McCain Challenge in Bristol the week before, looked in control as she strode out and stretched the lead to 50m and held that lead throughout the third leg for a famous win.

McDonald said: “The girls were absolutely awesome, real history makers. They train so hard and it is fully deserved.

“They were not just racing against the best in Surrey or from the southern groups, but the country. They really put the effort in.

“Most youngsters just want to be in the quick races, they want to be the next Usain Bolt. But these girls have the commitment and dedication to be the best middle-distance runners in their age groups.

“On average they run about six to 10 miles a week – either on Streatham Common, in Richmond Park or, for a change of scenery, we all go out to Camber Sands.”

Overall, Saskia was second fastest in 7:29, while Katy Ann was sixth-fastest in 7:44, and Alex ran 7:56.

There were also good performances in the other age groups, with the club’s U13 boys’ team of Sam Cohen, Oscar Millard and Sam Moody finishing 15th, having been third after two legs, and the U15 boys’ team of Ed Olsen, Paul Burgess and Billy Black finishing 13th.

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