Fantastic Festival of Running

Freddie and Claire.jpg

Fantastic Festival of Running

Hot on the heels of the 3000m Night, the Club played host to yet another great night of running on Wednesday, 15th August. The 5000m Festival, now in its fourth year, goes from strength to strength: this year of the 127 runners who completed the races, 74 recorded personal bests, and there were 23 season's bests. 19 runners achieved sub-15 minute times (as against 15 last year) and 70 went sub-16 minutes (compared to 48 who hit that target at last year's meeting).

In winning the final race of the night, Jonathan Escalante-Phillips of Cambridge and Coleridge AC clocked a pb and meeting record of 14:11.29, with a 59 second last lap, to win the inaugural Ray O'Donoghue Memorial award for the best performance of the night. In the same race, there were p.b.s for Freddie Slemeck (14:36.47) and Ben Toomer (14:37.54), a season's best for Andrew Penney (14:37.83) and a p.b. for Belal Ahmed (14:45.08) as Freddie just edged ahead in a charge for the finish line. 

In race 4 Naomi Taschimowitz of Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers, set a women's meeting record in a pb of 15:54.14, placing her 16th fastest in the country, and there were too for HW athletes Claire Grima and Gina Galbraith.

Dwayne Cowan is celebrating winning a European Championships silver medal after running a crucial second leg for Britain’s 4x400 metres relay team in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium on Saturday evening, writes Tom Pollak.

Cowan took over in fifth place but, running strongly, he managed to gain ground on his rivals over the final 200 metres as he moved into second spot but then had to dramatically move out from the inside lane to lane five without impeding any of the other runners – which would have risked disqualification – to get the baton to his British team-mate Matthew Hudson-Smith.

He lost valuable ground in manoeuvring across the track. Cowan said afterwards: “I had no choice. I thought about slowing down and coming round but I decided to go for it and try and cut across but I think I lost a lot of time.”

Martyn Rooney, who ran the anchor leg said: “It was a scrappy race – I think a lot of teams went out to get in our way, that was their tactic and they made it hard for Dwayne but he held his head.” The quartet clocked three minutes 00.36 seconds, the fastest time recorded by a British team for the event this season.

The previous day Cowan also ran the second leg for the British team which won their 4x400 metres relay heat in the fastest time of the eight teams that qualified for the final, a slower three minutes 1.82 seconds. Earlier in the Championships Cowan narrowly failed to qualify for the individual 400m  final after finishing fifth in his semi-final in a season’s best of 45.45.

About a dozen of the next generation of HW athletes were in action in the South of England age group championships at Lee Valley over the weekend.

Best of the bunch was the youngest athlete in the group, 11-year-old Mabel-Rose Scales, who won the U13 Girls high jump with a personal best of 1.46 metres, a three centimetre improvement on the height she cleared a fortnight earlier in helping Surrey win the U13 inter-counties match at Kingston. It concluded an impressive season for the youngster in which she won the Surrey, South of England, National Preparatory Schools and Independent Schools high jump titles.

Another medallist was Zipporah Golding who ended an injury-disrupted season by taking bronze in the U15 Girls 100 metres in 12.86. On a busy day she won her heat in 12.93 and was second in her semi-final in 12.95. Teenager Dhanisha Banee ran well to reach the U15 Girls 200 metres final. She was second in her heat in 27.27, fifth in her semi-final in 27.48, and then seventh in the final in 27.31.

More than 200 runners took part in the Wimbledon 5km Dash road race, incorporating the Surrey championships, organised by the Club on an overcast Sunday morning. Gilbert Grundy and Tom Griffiths, both from Guildford & Godalming AC, were the first two over the finish line in 15:16 and 15:49.

Claire Grima, cheered on by her two young sons, Luca and Jasper and husband David, was runner-up in the women’s race and first woman V40 finisher in 18:15. Alison Purnell won a surprise bronze medal in finishing third in the Surrey women’s V55 Championship in 22:36. Most of Hercules Wimbledon’s top road runners gave the 5km road race a miss as they prepared for the 5000m Festival Night three days later, so the Club’s first finisher was V40 runner Peter Collins who was 24th in 18:03.

Adam Harwood headed home a 376-strong field in the Wimbledon Common 5km parkrun on Saturday in a personal best of 17:16 to post a second successive win in the event in which he first ran in June 2009. In his 184 appearances in the event, he gained his first win in February 2015 with other triumphs in April 2016, March 2017, and January and May this year. His time on Saturday sliced four seconds off his previous best set in June.

Richard McDowell was the second of 11 Hercules Wimbledon athletes in action finishing fourth in 17:52. Rob Tuer was second of 314 runners in the Brighton & Hove parkrun in 17:21. It was this second appearance in the event. He clocked a faster 17:09 on his debut in July 2013. Gina Galbraith won the women’s event at Chichester by more than two minutes in 19:37 while Ellen Weir was second in the women’s section on the Isle of Wight.

Hercules Wimbledon