BY TOM POLLAK
Richard McDowell continued his preparations for next month’s London Marathon with a convincing victory in the Hampton Court half-marathon.
He turns 40 the week before the event and feels it is his best chance for a podium finish in the Greenwich to The Mall 26.2 miles race.
Only a couple of the 3,500 runners were with him for the opening six kilometres along the Thames towpath to Kingston Bridge but once the leaders turned to run back to Hampton Court they faced a stiff headwind his rivals fell away.
He took six minutes off his previous best half-marathon time and is hopeful it will convert to a 2:23:00 marathon on April 28, which would be a three minute improvement on his time in Bournemouth last year.
One of his final tests before London will be the Orion 15 miles cross country race in Epping Forest on March 30, where he has finished runner-up in the past two years.
Zoe Pike warmed up for London by posting her best time for the distance since 2012 in the Perseverance Richmond half-marathon. She was second in the women’s race and top over-45 finisher in 87:53.
Marathon-running couple David and Claire Grima showed they are in the best form of their lives in the Reading half-marathon on Sunday. Both are competing in London. Claire posted a lifetime best of 77:07 improving on the 78:26 she clocked in Wokingham last year. She was the top woman over-40 finisher. David finished in 75:08 – 81st out of more than 8,000 runners – to improve on the 77:19 he clocked in the same event in 2015.
Jonny Cornish finished 18th in 68:03. This coming weekend, he will be in action for Hercules Wimbledon in the South of England 12-stage road relay championship at Milton Keynes on Sunday.
Georgie Clarke helped London win team bronze medals when she finished 67th out of 341 runners in the English schools championships intermediate girls race in Leeds last Saturday. She was the fourth London finisher. Millie Doyle was 191st out of 357 runners in the junior girls race, also representing London.
Two other Hercules Wimbledon runners were competing for Surrey. Ellen Weir was 111th out of 341 runners in the intermediate girls race while Lauren Armitage was 232nd out of 353 runners in the junior girls race.
Hercules Wimbledon had a trio of parkrun winners on Saturday. Joe Toomey completed a hat-trick of wins when he headed home a 432-strong field on Wimbledon Common in 17:38 finishing 16 seconds ahead of clubmate David Lewin.
Albans Fery was second woman finisher in 22:01.
A total of 17 Hercules Wimbledon runners took part.
Gina Galbraith was top woman finisher in Kingston in 18:08, her best time for the course.
She was fifth overall out of 301 runners. Justin Reid led in a 350-strong field in Highbury Fields, North London, in 18:16.
A trio of Hercules Wimbledon athletes are in action in the World Masters indoor championships in Torun, Poland, starting on Saturday. Anna Garner competes in the women’s over-60 1,500m and 3,000 m.
Alison Murray is one of just six competitors in the women’s over-50 pole vault, while Dominic Bokor-Ingram runs in the men’s over-50 400m and 800m.