Despite missing two of their top runners, Hercules Wimbledon Athletic Club still managed to secure the senior men’s silver medals in the Surrey Road relay championships for the second successive year.
The club gained a hat-trick of silver medals thanks to the over-40 and over-50 men’s teams while the senior women just missed out.
Fred Slemeck and Ben Toomer, who played key roles in last year’s senior men’s medal-winning success, were both unavailable.
Hercules Wimbledon showed impressive strength in depth as only one member of last year’s sextet featured in this year’s silver medal-winning squad. Equally impressively, club runners posted six of the best 12 individual senior times. The relays were staged from their Wimbledon Park headquarters for the 21st consecutive year.
Two red and gold vested Hercules Wimbledon runners spearheaded the field at the end of the first lap. Howell Craske (14 minutes 29 seconds) running for the B team and Will Russell (14:49) for the A team.
Veteran Kieran White (15:35) and Finn Johnson (14:36) kept Hercules Wimbledon in contention before Andrew Penney, the only member of last year’s silver medal-winning team in this year’s squad, ran a storming fourth leg. He clocked 14:08, the fastest time of the day by a Hercules Wimbledon runner, repeating his 2017 achievement when he was also the fastest member of the team. His was also the second fastest individual time of the day.
The B team finished a strong fifth of the 19 teams to close in. Rob Tuer (15:50), David Lewin (15:30), Neil Fraser (15:40), Keith Scofield (18:43) and Joe Clarke (15:20) were the other members of the team. Hercules Wimbledon were the first club to close in a second side.
Super-vet Paul Williams marked his return to racing after a gap of almost 30 years by being a member of the silver medal-winning over-50 team. Stuart Fraser (16:27) got the team off to a good start handing over 19 seconds clear. Pete Clarke (16:27) held the lead on the second leg before Williams, running in his first competition since 1989, posted a respectable 18:15. Peter Lee (17:27) clinched the medals on the anchor leg.
Hercules Wimbledon’s over-40 team also made a strong start with Justin Reid (16:08) handing over 13 seconds ahead. Andrew Davies (17:24) slipped to fourth before Matt de Freitas (15:57) brought them back into silver medal contention with the fastest time of the quartet and the day’s fourth best over-40 time. Peter Collins (16:49) secured the medals on the anchor leg.
Hercules Wimbledon’s senior women’s team missed out on medals for the second consecutive year, finishing fourth of the 17 teams.
Marathon-running mum Claire Grima was the fastest member of the quartet running the opening leg in 16:45, the fourth fastest time of the day, and handing over in third place. Fran Clarke (19:27), Estle Viljoen (19:38) and Alex Binley (18:24) completed the team.
Belal Ahmed competed in the historic Berlin Marathon on Sunday where Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge won in a world record-breaking 2:01:39, smashing the old mark by more than a minute. Ahmed was 37th of more than 20,000 runners on the notoriously flat and fast course in a personal best of 2:23:11.
A week after scoring a runaway victory in the Surrey Bacchus Marathon in Dorking, Richard McDowell clocked a PB for pushing his son Wilfred round in a buggy when he finished second of 474 runners in the Clapham Common 15km parkrun on Saturday in 17:08, far better than his previous best of 17:42 on Tooting Common in July. He was just 20 seconds behind the winner. The previous week he’d won the Dorking event by a massive 34 minutes.
Fred Slemeck took time out from honeymooning in the Scottish Highlands to win the Atholl 5km parkrun by almost two-and-a-half minutes in 17:32, heading home a 207-strong field.
Elena Dauster was second woman finisher at Fulham Palace in 19:41 and Alison Purnell was third woman on Wimbledon Common in 21:54, one of 13 Hercules Wimbledon runners taking part.
Dominic was just outside his season’s best of 2:03.6 in finishing sixth in the 800m final in 2:04.92 after taking second in both his heat (2:08.90) and semi-final (2:06.49). Emilie just failed to make the 400m final after finishing fourth in her semi-final in 61.33. Earlier, she was fourth in her heat in 62.71.
Competing in the over-50 400m Mark White was seventh in his semi-final in 56.83 after winning his heat in a faster 56.17. Training group fellow member Glenn Gray also reaches the over-50 400m semi-final where he was fifth in 56.38 after finishing fourth in his heat in 56.74.