Eight is great for the Harriers!

There was an unprecedented 8 members of the middle distance squad who qualified for this year’s Virgin Mini Marathon, 7 Harriers qualified in the East Midland Team, with 1 further selected for Cambridgeshire (Jemima Davey) to make a brilliant total of 8 athletes selected to run in the most prestigious road race in the year for school age children.


Some of the athletes competing at the Virgin Mini Marathon trials which saw 8 Harriers Qualify to represent their region

This year the course has been reduced to 2.6km, stretching from Temple Place to The London Marathon finish in the Mall. The event comprises entrants from the nine regions of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, and will include teams from all 33 London boroughs. Over the years the Mini Marathon has unearthed a number of future athletics stars, some of whom have gone on to claim major international honours including Tokyo Olympics medallists Laura Muir, Keely Hodgkinson and Josh Kerr.


The trials for the East Midlands team was held over the proposed race distance of 2.6km which suited more of the middle distance athletes, and was held at the highly effective location of the Leicester Cycle track which was a flat 1km loop. A top 6 finish in the trial secured selection for the East Midland Team.


In the U13 Boys race Harlee Hooker and Finlay Brooker were completing the trial for the first time and both put in a great performance, Brooker was prominent from the start and remained in the qualifying positions throughout the race, and a gutsy final 200m secured his qualifying spot with a brilliant 5th place finish, with Hooker in a fine 10th place (4th reserve).


Finley Brooker a gutsy final 200m saw him qualify in 5th place


In the U13 Girls Race the only Harrier competing was Jess Lamb coming off a brilliant season on track ran a superb race to finish in 3rd place. Lamb paced the race brilliantly just sitting in on the lead pack of 4 athletes before winding up her finish to earn selection at her first attempt. Joining Lamb at the VMM was Cambridgeshire’s Jemima Davey who was selected for the South East region based on her outstanding track season.


Jess Lamb finished in 3rd place with a superb finish


In the U15 Girls Race with two Harriers out due to illness, it was down to Lara Turner to fly the KTH flag. She did not disappoint with a fantastic race to finish in 4th place. Turner also decided to sit in the lead pack of 6-7 athletes who were training the remarkable Shai King, who opened up a huge gap on the field. With 8 athletes in with a shout for the 6 qualifying places, it was a frantic final 300m but Turner showed her track pedigree to power her way through qualification, also at her first attempt.


Lara Turner showed her track pedigree to qualify in 4th place


There was a terrific U17 Men’s race which had Ben Brooker and Lucas Mansell competing for the Harriers. Brooker got off to a great start, sitting in the top 3 or 4 throughout the opening 2km with Mansell seemingly struggling in the 7-8th place, over the final 600m Mansell made his move and with 150m to go he passed Brooker prompting an immediate response which saw both athletes putting in a brilliant finish to qualify in 3rd (Mansell) & 4th place (Brooker) to book their places.


Fast finishing Lucas Mansell (259) finished in third place with Ben Brooker just behind in 4th place


The final U17 Women’s race saw three Harriers in action, a 4th victim of a bad cold sadly missing the trial. Elise Robinson & Demi Locker were both making their full KTH debuts with Alice Bates making up the strong Harriers contingent. Bates and Robinson go off to a fast start taking out the leading group, with Locker opting to sit in for the first 1km to ease herself into the race. The fast start affected Bates & Robinson who were both feeling the effects over the past 600m, Bates still qualified with ease in 2nd place with a brilliant run, but Robinson short on race fitness after a summer with no races following an injury, slipped back into 8th place. Locker judged her pace well, picking off athletes over the final 600m to secure the 6th and final slot with a fine finish.


Alice Bates (223) a brilliant 2nd place, with Demi Locker making her KTH debut in 6th (far right) and fellow debutant Elsie Robinson (centre) just outside of the qualifying places 


This was brilliant running from the Harriers and a fantastic start to the winter programme, previous year just 1-2 athletes qualified for this prestigious event. On this performance the Road/ XC season should be of a similar standard to the record breaking 2021 track season for the Middle Distance squad.


Well done to everyone who ran