Hercules Wimbledon AC round-up: McDowell overcomes handicaps to compete in masters event

BY TOM POLLAK

Runners from Hercules Wimbledon Athletic Club had another busy weekend with athletes in action as far afield as Reigate, Chepstow and Cardiff.

Nearer home, on Wimbledon Common, Richard McDowell overcame various handicaps to win Veteran Athletic Club’s Masters over-40 cross country title. McDowell would normally have been the overall winner but had to concede that honour to Mike Cummings of Herne Hill, who was competing in the event for the first time, having become an over-35 veteran at the end of August last year.

McDowell said: “I’ve been recently diagnosed with very low vitamin D which explains why I was feeling terrible most of the time.

“In addition, an aggravated adductor attachment has been the reason for some specific running related pain. As such I wasn’t sure I was going to even start, having had a couple of weeks off running.

“I sat on his shoulder until near the top of the climb on the second lap, and was working harder than I would have liked, so let him go. Had I dug deep I would have stuck with him for a bit longer, but the end result probably wouldn’t have been any different.

Both broke the course record of 24:48, set in 2016. They are likely to stand forever as the Wimbledon Common conservators have asked for the course to be changed to avoid golf fairways.

After winning the Surrey County girls U17 title and the latest Surrey League race on the previous two weekends, teenager Ellen Weir narrowly failed to make it a hat-trick. She finished runner-up in the Surrey Schools cross country championships intermediate girls race at Priory Park, Reigate,  in 13:49 seconds, 13 seconds behind the gold medal winner but well clear of third place.

The Wimbledon High School pupil, representing Merton, led a quartet of Hercules Wimbledon runners over the line. Lulu Weisz, representing North-East Surrey, was 13th in 14:58 and Millie Thorpe, representing Merton, 15th in 15:02. All three have been selected to represent Surrey in an inter-county match at Chelmsford on February 1. Anya Stacey, another Wimbledon High School girl, was 55th in 18:22.

Rosie Speed, one of Britain’s top young tennis players, took time off her number one sport to finish 17th out of 89 runners in the junior girls race in 13:02, representing Kingston.

The Surbiton High School student was invited to run for Surrey at Chelmsford on February 1.

Teenager Lauren Armitage was 25th in 13:15.

Anya Montgomerie, representing Sutton, was 45th in 14:09, five places ahead of Sophie Thorpe, running for Merton, who clocked 14:17.

Twins Charlotte and Sophie Conway, also representing Merton, were 58th and 59th in 14:29 and 14:30 with Bailey O’Leary (Kingston) 62nd in 14:39, one place and one second ahead of Anna Barker, also running for Sutton. Yasmin Hussein, also running for Merton, was 87th in 17:16.

Adam Hammadi, who goes to Rutlish, was 41st out of 84 runners in the intermediate boys championship in 21:58, representing Merton.

Jonny Cornish posted a PB of 29:38 in finishing fourth out of 183 runners in the Speedway 10km road race in Chepstow, Wales, on Sunday. It lifted him to third on the Hercules Wimbledon all-time list. He went inside 30 minutes for the first time improving on his 30:06 set at Telford in 2018.

Ross Franks and Charlie Eastaugh clocked PBs of 8:22.86 and 8:28.44 for 3,000m competing in an indoor meeting in Cardiff.

Theo Etienne started his year in good form when he clocked fast times of 6.63 and 6.70 in finishing second and third in his 60m races in the London Indoor Games at Lee Valley.

It was his fastest time for the distance since 2017.

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