Hercules Wimbledon Athletic Club’s senior men in the medals – age is no barrier to success

Hercules Wimbledon Athletic Club’s senior men took team medals in the annual London cross country championships – and the club’s golden oldies gained a hat-trick of medals in the British Masters Home cross country international in Northern Ireland, writes Tom Pollak.
Pete Giles – the club’s oldest racer at 73 – was just pipped in the British Masters international over-70 6km race in Londonderry on Saturday, finishing just one second behind the winner. He led the England team to gold medals. Anna Garner was the third member of the gold medal-winning over-60 England women’s team who finished sixth.
Coming hard on the heels of their team victory in the second of this season’s Start Fitness Surrey League races on Mitcham Common, Hercules Wimbledon’s senior men confirmed their standing as the top Surrey team this winter by taking the bronze team medals in the London championships at Parliament Hill Fields, north London.
They were led in by Jonny Cornish, who finished fifth of the 494 runners in the 10km championship in 34 minutes 23 seconds. Then came Ben Toomer (11th in 34:23), Fred Slemeck (13th in 34:55), Andrew Penney (14th in 35:00), Finn Johnson (16th in 35:11) and Dimos Evangelides (18th in 35:32).
Cornish, Toomer, Slemeck and Penney clinched the bronze team medals in the four-to-score contest.
It was the club’s third medal-winning performance in the event in seven years having taken silver in 2011 and bronze in 2013.
The women’s team were robbed of their top runner in the 6km championship when Claire Grima dropped out with a chest infection.
The women’s quartet was led to ninth team place by Eileen Brandley, who has shown much improved form this winter. She was 20th of the 275 runners in 22:55 – a big improvement on her 143rd place the last time she ran in the event in 2015. Lucy Wertheim was 37th in 23:51 with over-50 veterans Anne Hegvold and Lisa Thomas 55th in 24:25 and 79th in 25:31 respectively.
The London Youth Games championships were held before the two senior championships with 29 Hercules Wimbledon youngsters turning out for the Merton and Wandsworth borough teams.
Georgie Clarke (16th in 7:57) and Rebekah Riches (25th in 8:11) were members of the bronze medal-winning Wandsworth under-15 girls team.
Ellen Weir was the top Merton finisher, taking 20th place in 8:00 out of the 209 runners.
Highest-placed Hercules Wimbledon runners in the eight youngsters races was Lloyd Hodgson, 15th out of 204 runners in the boys’ under-13 race representing Merton.
Alex Binley (19:48) was top woman finisher in Saturday’s Wimbledon Common.
Matt Gibbons was the first Hercules Wimbledon finisher, taking second place out of the 394 runners in 18:14 in his first race for more than two months. Kieran White was second veteran over-40 finisher in the Brighton 10km road race on Sunday in 33:14, taking 15th place out of 1,938 runners.

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