Hercules Wimbledon look to bounce back from county championship setback

Hercules Wimbledon Athletic Club’s senior men’s cross country runners are aiming to bounce back from a disappointing county championships weekend to strengthen their grip on the Start Fitness Surrey Cross Country League, writes Tom Pollak.

The third match of the season takes place on Mitcham Common on Saturday.

Too many absences thwarted the club’s attempt to win the Surrey senior men’s team title for the fourth successive year while Jonny Cornish was unable to defend his Oxfordshire title due to an untimely bout of severe earache.

Cornish expects to return to action in the crucial league race and team manager Fred Green is hopeful they will be back to almost full strength.

Ben Toomer flew back specially from the United States, where he now works, but was unable to run at the Surrey Championships at Croydon because of an Achilles tendon injury. He hopes to have recovered sufficiently to race on Mitcham Common.

“We have 11 strong runners for the 10-to-score contest,” said Green. “I am hopeful we will win again.”

The club took the first of this season’s league matches in Richmond Park by 30 points and the second in pouring rain on Wimbledon Common by 111 to lead defending champions Kent AC by 141 points with two matches remaining.

Hercules Wimbledon have never won the Surrey League title since its formation in 1967 although the former Hercules club did so in 1965.

The absence of Toomer, who was reduced to a spectator role, Jonny Earl, Andrew Penney and Tom Jarvis, Matt Sharp and Alex Robinson, who were all injured, resulted in Hercules Wimbledon’s winning run coming to an end in chilly conditions at Croydon’s Lloyd Park.

At no point did the club even look likely to collect a set of team medals as Finn Johnson led the charge in finishing 11th of the 240 runners covering the 12km in 39:57. With Fred Slemeck 15th in 40:26, Richard McDowell 19th in 40:47, Joe Clark 35th in 42:01, Will Russell 39th in 42:24 and David Grima 64th in 44:38, they finished just outside the medals in fourth place.

The club’s joint women’s U17 and U20 team finished fourth. They were led in by Elena Dauster who was eighth in the U20 5.7 km race in 22:59 with Johanna Tofte and Selma Hegvold, seventh and 17th in the U17 5.7km race in 23:12 and 24:41, completing the team.

Ellen Weir led the girls U15 team to sixth place, finishing 11th of the 71 runners and covering the 4km in 16:03. Lulu Weisz was 18th in 16:26, Millie Thorpe 21st in 16:33 and Eloise Davies 33rd in 17:12 to complete the team. Lauren Armitage was the top Hercules Wimbledon finisher in the girls U13 3km race finishing 19th of the197 runners in 11:54.

Claire Grima led the Hercules Wimbledon senior women to seventh team place covering the 8km in 30:58 to finish 12th of the 138 runners. Gina Galbraith (23rd in 32:16), Eileen Toomer (30th in 32:45) and Fran Clarke (57th in 35:54) completed the scoring quartet.

David Lewin headed home a 626-strong field to win Saturday’s Wimbledon Common 5km parkrun in 17:09 to post his fourth win since his debut appearance in October 2016.

He was the best of 12 Hercules Wimbledon runners. Peter Collins was top over-45 veteran in 18:14 with Richard Evans top over 55 finisher in 19:49.  Alex Binley, competing in the event for the first time since the end of September, was second in the women’s race in 20:28. Rob Tuer was sixth out of 473 runners in Dulwich Park in 17:00, Millie Doyle fifth in the women’s race in Richmond Park in 22:04 and Georgie Clarke fourth in the women’s race at Parke, Devon, in 23:48.

Armani Thomas posted a PB 7.40 twice for 60 metres in the South London Athletics Network indoor meeting at Carshalton on Sunday in finishing third in his two races. His previous best was 7.52. Best of the five Hercules Wimbledon sprinters in action was Ryan Facey who clocked 7.01 in his 60 metres race.

Teenager David Odumeru showed impressive form in returning to sprinting after a three-year absence with a PB 7.52 in the London Indoor Games at Lee Valley on Saturday. He was the best of a quartet of Hercules Wimbledon sprinters eclipsing his previous best of 8.38 in 2016.

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