Hercules Wimbledon have big weekend of success in cross-country and marathon action

BY TOM POLLAK

Hercules Wimbledon Athletic Club enjoyed an outstanding weekend of success by lifting the South of England senior men’s cross country title, winning the British Masters’ marathon title and clinching gold medals in the Surrey Masters cross country championships.

The club were making their debut in the South of England cross country relay championships on Wormwood Scrubs, west London and posted an emphatic victory, leading on three of the four legs and posting two of the day’s top-three fastest individual times of the day for the 5km lap.

Will Woodcock brought the team in first on the opening leg clocking 13 minutes 42 seconds, the third fastest time of the day, and handed over six seconds ahead of Blackheath & Bromley. Charlie Eastaugh (13:54) stretched the lead to 19 seconds.

Finn Johnson kept them in title contention clocking 14:07 on the third leg and handed over in second spot, seven seconds behind defending champions Highgate.  Ross Franks ran a storming 13:29 to post the second-fastest time of the day and bring Hercules Wimbledon home in 55:12, 12 seconds ahead of defending champions Highgate.

L-R: Martin O’Halloran, Gina Galbraith (women’s over 40 gold medallist), Peter Giles (men’s over 75 gold medallist), Rowena Hornshaw, Fenella Willis, Alison Purnell, Lisa Thomas (women’s over 50 gold medalist)

Team manager Keith Schofield said: “We are all delighted to have won this area title. It is fantastic for the club and just shows us all how far Hercules Wimbledon has come in the last few years.

“To post the second and third fastest times on the day makes it even better.”

The club also had teams in the age group races. TheU15 girls team was eighth and third Surrey club with first leg runner Lulu Weisz clocking 7:39, the fastest time of the trio, in handing over in sixth place. Millie Doyle (8:08) slipped to ninth before Millie Thorpe (7:54) lifted the team to eighth place on the anchor leg.

Georgie Clarke (8:42) was the fastest member of the trio which finished 11th and third Surrey club in the girls’ U17 event. Niamh Thompson (9:15) and Selma Hegvold (10:01) were the other Hercules Wimbledon runners.

At the other end of the age scale, Richard McDowell lifted the British Masters marathon title in York, finishing third out of more than 4,000 runners in 2:25:00.

McDowell was not far off his marathon best of 2:23:08 set in finishing top veteran in April’s  London marathon. He had the satisfaction of beating last year’s British Masters’ winner Paul Martelletti (Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets) who was sixth this time more than two  minutes behind McDowell.

“I went about as well as can be expected given that I only completed three long runs in the lead-up,” said McDowell. “I kept the leader, Mark Buckingham, elite triathlete and training partner of the Brownlee brothers in sight until about 30km but with about 10km to go I was starting to fade.

“Fortunately most others were fading too. It was cool with a fair breeze, so working in a pack would certainly have been beneficial, but I didn’t have the luxury of company for much of the race. I had aimed for around 2:25, and finished in 2:25:00 Considering my preparation, the conditions and the rolling course, I’m pretty happy with that.”

Hercules Wimbledon gained a hat-trick of gold medals in the Surrey Masters cross country championships which were staged in Morden Park for the first time on Saturday.

The club’s oldest runner in action, Peter Giles, won the men’s over-75 gold medal in 28:28. Gina Galbraith was top Hercules Wimbledon finisher in the women’s 6.3km championship taking the over-40 gold medal in 26:05. Lisa Thomas took the over-50 gold medal in 26:44. With Alison Purnell silver medallist in the women’s over-55 category in 28:58 the trio took the over-45 team silver medals.

Former international race walker Estle Viljoen took the bronze medal in the over-45 category in 28:12. Peter Lee (37:27), Tom Cheetham (40:32) and Charles Hamden-Smith (41:00) combined to take the team silver in the men’s over-50 category.

Teenager Ellen Weir was top female finisher in Saturday’s Wimbledon Common 5km parkrun, posting the top age-graded performance of the day. She clocked a PB of 18:48 to slice 48 seconds off her previous best time set in March this year. She was sixth of 348 runners and the first of nine Hercules Wimbledon finishers.

Matt Sharp was third of 336 runners in Dulwich Park in 16:04 while Jessame Coulson was top woman finisher in Bridport, Dorset, in a personal best 22:11.

Hercules Wimbledon are competing in the Bruce Judd Surrey Young Athletes cross country relay championships at Stoke Park, Guildford, on Saturday.

David and Claire Grima are competing in the Frankfurt Marathon on Sunday.

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