Hercules Wimbledon Athletic Club’s cross country runners made a superb start to their Start Fitness Surrey League programme on Saturday with the senior men and U17 girls taking the team honours and teenager Georgina Clarke winning the girls U15 race on Wimbledon Common, writes Tom Pollak.
It was the senior men who proved outstanding in their five miles race in Richmond Park.
They threw down the gauntlet to defending league champions Kent AC as they made a flying start and ran out comfortable winners by 30 points to post a record low score of 183 points.
Although Kent AC started well, with four finishers in the top seven, Hercules Wimbledon showed greater depth in strength as they packed their scoring 10 runners in the first 37 to Kent AC’s 10 in 52 and that was enough to tilt the scales Hercules Wimbledon’s way.
Howell Craske led the Hercules Wimbledon team home finishing eighth of the 229 runners in 26:44, just nine seconds ahead of Finn Johnson, who posted his best-ever league performance to finish 10th.
Tom Jervis, running in the league for the first time, was two seconds behind in 11th place with Richard McDowell (14th in 27:09), Fred Slemeck (15th in 27:14), Jonny Cornish (18th in 27:26), Alex Bellew (19th in 27:32), Will Russell 24th in 27:46, Belal Ahmed (27th in 27:55) and Joe Clark (37th in 28:15) completing the scoring team.
With 39 runners in action, Hercules Wimbledon had more competitors than any of the other eight clubs and also took the B team honours for the first time – scoring 126 points to Kent AC’s 130.
The B team was Jonny Earl (40th in 28:21), David Lewin (47th in 28:48), Rhys Boorman (61st in 29:26); Kieran White (65th in 29:33), teenager Henry Silverstein (80th in 30:08); Tom Buckley (82nd in 30:12), Rob Tuer (90th in 30:29), Neil Fraser (95th in 30:44), David Grima (98th in 30:51) and Stephen Hough (124th in 32:11).
Georgina Clarke ran out an impressive winner of the girls U 15/17 race in the Start Fitness Surrey Ladies League meeting on Wimbledon Common in 16:47, winning by 13 seconds. With Ellen Weir (eighth in 17:49), Millie Thorpe (24th in 19:27) and Milly Hodgson (26th in 19:34), the U15 team was fourth.
The U17 runners took the team honours thanks to Johanna Tofte (fifth in 18:21), Rebekah Riches (seventh in 18:31), Selma Hegvold (ninth in 18:34) and Niamh Thomson (12th in 19:08).
Claire Grima had a disaster when she caught the wrong train from her Kingston home and missed the start of the senior Division One race. She later ran in the Division Two race over an identical course and ran out a comfortable winner in 26:50 which would have placed her eighth in the Division One race – and the Hercules team second.
Veteran Gina Galbraith led the team home finishing 14th of the 234 runners in 27:20 with Eileen Toomer (17th in 27:33), Elena Dauster (43rd in 28:42), Zoe Pike (44th in 28:42) and Victoria Johnston (78th in 30:15) completing the scorers.
The U13 team of Lauren Armitage (13th in 10:05), Ore Adele (22nd in 10:24), Bailey O’Leary (33rd in 10:34) and Anna Barker (34th in 10:35) finished a solid fifth.
The B and C teams were ninth and 14th out of 22.
In the young athletes races in Richmond Park, Cameron Elliott (40th in 16:22) led the boys U13 team to eighth and Hector Revill (22nd in 14:29) the U15/17 team to 10th .
Lisa Laws made a winning return in the Whitstable 5km parkrun on Saturday to take the women’s race in 17:27. Since she last ran there four years ago, she has suffered injury and had a son, Finlay.
Eloise Davies was also first woman at Marlow winning in 21:42. Peter Lee headed home 14 Hercules Wimbledon runners on Wimbledon Common finishing seventh of the 543 competitors in 18:55.