Hercules Wimbledon aim to make home advantage count on Saturday

After winning their opening match in Richmond Park last month, beating reigning champions Kent AC in the process, Hercules Wimbledon Athletic Club’s senior men’s cross country runners will be aiming to take full advantage of running over their home course when the club hosts the second of this season’s Start Fitness Surrey Cross Country League Division One matches on Wimbledon Common on Saturday,  writes Tom Pollak.

Hercules Wimbledon will be strengthened by the return of Ross Matheson and Andrew Penney, who both missed the opening match. Matheson will be competing in his second Surrey League match after finishing fourth on his debut appearance in the league on Wimbledon Common last February.

Penney, who like Matheson, will be competing in his first cross country race of the winter, was 10th in the league race last February, although he finished a higher sixth in January’s league match over a more testing course on Farthing Downs, Coulsdon.

They will both be aiming for a top 10 finish on Saturday to help secure another victory for Hercules Wimbledon and strengthen the club’s position at the top of the league. In the opening match, Hercules Wimbledon showed their considerable strength in depth by winning both the A and B team contests.

However, this weekend the club will be without Ben Toomer, who led them to victory in the Richmond Park match as he is now working in the United States.

More than 200 runners are expected to take part in the senior five miles race due of at 3pm. The race for youngsters, involving around 100 runners, over two-and-a-half miles starts at 2.30pm. The start and finish at the Thatched Cottage, about five minutes walk from West Side, Wimbledon Common.

Hercules Wimbledon showed their considerable depth in strength by taking the team honours in an inter-club match in Richmond Park in which none of the club’s top 12 runners took part. The top Hercules Wimbledon finisher in the 4.9 miles race hosted by the Bank of England was teenager Zac Purnell who finished third of the 56 runners in 26 minutes 37 seconds.

Another teenager, Hector Revill was eighth in 29:33 with John Hazell (10th in 30:43), Fred Jimack (12th in 30:52), Richard Evans (14th in 32:18), John Querstret (16th in 32:47), Stewart Bond (17th in 32:59), top woman finisher Lisa Thomas (21st in 33:37), Ben Revill (23rd in 33:50) and Hannah Fernando (28th in 35:38) completing the scoring team.

Hercules Wimbledon narrowly won the 10-to-score contest with 152 points beating Thames Hare & Hounds (158) and the Bank of England (258).

Hercules Wimbledon’s Justin Reid was seventh out of 1436 runners in the Bushy Park 5km parkrun on Saturday in 16:44 with Dave Grima 10th in 16:51. Adam Harwood was once again the best of 16 Hercules Wimbledon runners on Wimbledon Common finishing third out of 621 runners in a personal best of 17:15, just one second faster than his previous best set in August.

Teenager Henry Silverstein was fourth 12 seconds later while Gina Galbraith was top woman finisher in 19:05.

Hercules Wimbledon’s Alex Robinson and Liam White, both on their way back after injury, showed encouraging form on debut appearances in the Amager Faelled parkrun in Denmark where they finished third and eighth in 17:25 and 18:58, respectively. Daniel Clarke, the 13-year-old son of Hercules Wimbledon chairman Dave, chopped almost two minutes off his previous best in finishing 22nd out of 328 runners in the Kingston event in 20:05.

He finished ahead of his mum, Fran, who was third woman in 21:30. The event was won by Hercules Wimbledon’s Jonny Earl in 16:03, just one second shy of his best set last month.

Making it a hat-trick of Hercules Wimbledon parkrun wins was Ellen Weir who took the women’s event on the Isle of Wight in 21:08 with her dad Andy heading home the 337-strong field in 17:53.

Meanwhile, Joe Toomey was second out of 640 runners on Clapham Common in a personal best of 16:44, seven seconds behind the winner, chopping 23 seconds off his previous best set in July. Rachel Brenton was fourth woman finisher at Bryn Bach in Wales.

Hercules Wimbledon’s  distance running superset Tom Cheetham finished 11th out of 250 runners in the Thames Meander marathon from Kingston to Barnes and back on Sunday in 3:12:30 to complete his 82nd marathon.

While Hercules Wimbledon host the men’s match on Wimbledon Common, the club’s women and girls runners are in action in the second Start Fitness Surrey Ladies League meeting in Nonsuch Park, Epsom with the senior women’s race starting at 11am.

The Hercules Wimbledon runners who competed in Richmond Park

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