Strong performance by HW's Senior Men in the National Road Relays
The senior men's team performed strongly in the National 12-stage Road Relay Championships in Sutton Park, Birmingham – athletes run alternate long legs (5.3 miles) and short legs (3.1 miles) – finishing 23rd of the 63 teams, and the first Surrey team to close in. Their showing was the best for many years (having placed 35th and 30th respectively in the last two years). Jonny Cornish ran the fastest long leg, gaining four places on the fifth stage, while Andrew Penney posted the fastest short leg time on stage six, handing over to Freddie Slemeck who gained another four places. Richard McDowell showed impressive form ahead of this weekend's Virgin Money London Marathon in which he will be running for the third time. He made his debut in 2016 when he finished in 2:42:16 and last year clocked 2:35:17.
Distance running couple Claire and David Grima line up together at the Championship start on Blackheath and hope to run most of the 26 miles 385 yard course together, though this is the eighth time both have entered and Claire has always managed to finish ahead! This will be David's ninth appearance and Claire's 12th. She made her debut in 2004 with David entering for the first time five years later.
In 2011 they set a Guinness Book of Records world record time of five hours 42 minutes 11 seconds for a married couple in a marathon, however this was broken in 2013. They posted their fastest times in 2016 when Claire clocked 2:42:51 and David 2:43:50. Finalising their preparations this week, David said: “I can tell you that training has gone well and Claire is targeting a PB and hopefully first place in the V40 category.” As usual they will be cheered on by their two sons, Luca, 7 and Jasper, 5.
A dozen more Club runners will be in action in the Marathon. Eileen Brandley, who showed impressive form during the winter cross country season, will be aiming to improve massively on her previous London time of 3:39:34 set on her debut in 2016. It will be her third marathon. She clocked 3:32:06 in Paris in 2015.
Felix Allen, who was the fourth V45 finisher in the Brighton marathon last Sunday in 2:54:48, is due to turn out in the London event for the fourth time. He ran inside three hours for the first time with 2:58:28 last year and improved his personal best with 2:56:37 in the Berlin marathon last September.
Teenagers Zac Purnell and Ellen Weir head the Hercules Wimbledon youngsters representing Merton, Wandsworth and other London boroughs in the Virgin Money Giving mini-marathon over the final three miles of the Marathon course from Billingsgate.
There was further disappointment for Hercules Wimbledon’s Dwayne Cowan in the 4x400 metres relay at the Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast last Friday. After just failing to make the final of the individual event, he and the other members of the quartet suffered further upset when first leg runner Matt Hudson-Smith pulled up injured after 50 metres and crashed to the track. Cowan offered his commiserations to his teammate and reflected on what might have been: “It’s very frustrating and I’m just sorry for Matt. He’s in really good shape so it was a good opportunity for us to get the gold. Our team was in good shape. There was something there for us, so that makes it even more disappointing.”
This is a busy weekend for Hercules Wimbledon athletes. Apart from those competing in the London Marathon and Mini-marathon, the senior men and women start their track and field season in the Kinnaird and Sward Trophies meeting at the Weir Archer Athletics Centre, Kingston, on Saturday while the Cub’s younger athletes make their debut in the Youth Development League at the Millennium Arena, Battersea Park, also on Saturday.
Watch out England!
Hot news: Justin Reid has been selected for the V45 Combined Celtic Team v England for the Great Birmingham 10k in May (the vets competition is combined with the elite race).
14 April: English National 12-stage road relays: alternate long legs (5.3 miles) and short legs (3.1 miles): Alex Robinson (32nd) 28:07; Belal Ahmed (33rd) 17:06; Jonny Earl (37th) 29:56; Kieran White (35th) 16:59; Jonny Cornish (31st) 27:59; Andrew Penney (29th) 16:01; Freddie Slemeck (25th) 28:07; Joe Toomey (25th) 16:58; Finn Johnson (26th) 30:24; Neil Fraser (24th) 17:26; Richard McDowell (22nd) 28:00; Rob Tuer (23rd) 17:35.
15 April: Brighton Marathon: Felix Allen (68th overall) 2:54:48; Adam May (215th overall) 3:06:43; Tom Cheetham (290th overall) 3:10:47.