Hercules Wimbledon round-up: McDowell regains title as build-up continues for two big events

Richard McDowell regained his Veteran Athletic Club’s cross country title on Wimbledon Common last Saturday, writes Tom Pollak.

The race formed part of his preparations for this weekend’s South of England Championships and the London Marathon in April.

McDowell set off at a moderate pace and was happy to allow Paul Cheetham of Thames Hare & Hounds to take the lead. Cheetham stayed in front until halfway around the second lap on an uphill section of the course, when McDowell went ahead and continued to pull away to cross the finishing line of the 4.5 miles course in 25:55 seconds, 13 seconds ahead of Cheetham.

The race came at the end of a tough training week for McDowell, during which he covered a record 173 kilometres.

He and Cheetham warmed down by completing a third lap of the course before McDowell headed off to his Colliers Wood home to complete 21 kilometres on the day.

His big goal for 2019 is to get an age group medal in the veteran over-40 category at the London marathon. He turns 40 on April 19, nine days before the 26.2 miles race.

“I’m following a fairly relentless programme to try and knock a few minutes off my current PB to achieve a podium finish,” he said.

Hercules Wimbledon collected a bagful of medals in the Veterans Championship.

The race saw the return of Peter Giles, one of the club’s oldest runners, after a five-month break. Giles, 74, retained his over-70 age group title to complete a quartet of wins. He took the gold medal in 35:25.

He finished fourth in his age group in his previous race – last July’s Caterham Rotary half-marathon, which incorporated the British Masters Championship.

The second Hercules Wimbledon finisher in Saturday’s event was Malcolm Davies, who took the silver medal in the over-50 category in 28:47.

Tom Cheetham came third in the over-55 category in 31:03. Tom Morris took the over-60 bronze medal in 35:34.

Helen Davies was second in the women’s over-45 category in 32:48. Anna Garner took the women’s over-60 gold medal in 34:08.

Ryan Facey, in his second year with Hercules Wimbledon, posted a personal best of 22.99 in qualifying for the semi-finals of the South of England  200m indoor championship at Lee Valley on Sunday.

Benjy Street was the best of two dozen Hercules Wimbledon runners in action in the Surrey Schools cross-country championships at Reigate Priory on Saturday. He headed home the 96-strong boys U13 field in 11:35.

Henry Silverstein was 13th out of 48 runners in the senior boys race. Thomas Beare and Connor Foley were 25th and 27th out of 80 runners in the junior boys championship.

Ellen Weir was 12th out of 67 runners in the intermediate girls championship, with Niamh Thompson and Selma Hegvold 20th and 23rd respectively.
Lauren Ermitage was seventh out of 103 runners in the junior girls championship, with Lulu Weisz 14th and Millie Thorpe 19th.

More than a dozen Hercules Wimbledon youngsters will be competing in the London Schools cross-country championships on Wormwood Scrubs next Wednesday.

The squad will be headed by Georgie Clarke, who attends Emanuel School in Battersea. She continued her comeback after injury by winning the women’s race in the Wimbledon Common 5km parkrun on Saturday in 20:30. David Lewin was second of the 499 runners in 17:05, with Adam Harwood fourth in 18:04.

Over-50 veteran Vicki Filsell was the second woman home in 21:17. Justin Reid was sixth out of 1,514 runners in Bushy Park in 16:51.

Eloise Davies finished second in the women’s race in 23:02 on her debut appearance in the Wormwood Scrubs event. Daniel Clarke took more than a minute off his previous best when he finished eight out of 340 runners in the Kingston parkrun in 19:01.

Stuart Fraser was the best of seven Hercules Wimbledon runners competing in an inter-club 4.5 miles cross-country match in Richmond Park on Saturday. He was 10th out of 73 runners in 28:49.

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