May the fourth be with us!
The Senior Men's team will be aiming to gain a fourth consecutive Surrey team title at Lloyd Park, Croydon, tomorrow (Saturday), with Ben Toomer flying in from New York to boost the Club’s hopes of success. He will also be staying on for the third of this season’s Start Fitness Surrey Men’s League Division One matches on Mitchum Common on January 12th, in a bid to help keep the team on course for a first Surrey League title since 1965.
Toomer led the Senior Men's team to a comfortable victory in the Surrey Championships 12 months ago, finishing fourth of the 220 runners at Denbies Vineyard, Dorking. He also led the team to victory there in 2016, finishing ninth, but missed the 2017 Championship at Croydon, where it was Fred Slemeck (11th) who led the team to gold.
Although three members of last year’s winning team will be missing as Andrew Penney (11th) is unavailable and Matt Sharp (20th), and Alex Robinson (21st) are recovering from injuries, Finn Johnson (15th) and Richard McDowell (17th) will be competing again, along with Slemeck (23rd) and Joe Clark (34th). Tom Jervis, who has shown good form this winter, will be making his Surrey Championship debut, and team manager Fred Green is confident Hercules Wimbledon can make it four wins in a row.
The Senior Men’s Championship over 12km is the last of the eight-race programme and HW will be chasing medals and titles across the board, as well as places in the Surrey teams to compete in the UK Inter-Counties Championships at Loughborough in March.
Richard McDowell warmed up for the Championship with a challenging programme, winning the Hercules Wimbledon/Lauriston Runners Club’s five miles multi-terrain event last Saturday. He had already run the 5km from his Colliers Wood home intending only to help out at the race. “I didn’t intend to compete, but I was persuaded,” says McDowell. He shared the early pace with David Grima, reaching the half-way point 11 seconds ahead of George Longworth. Then McDowell stretched his legs during the second half of the race to throw off Grima’s challenge and win by a comfortable 21 seconds in 28:27, before setting off on his warm-down 5km home. Longworth was third in 29:02 with Fran Clarke first woman in 34:30.
Jonny Cornish made a flying start to 2019 with a comfortable win in the New Year’s Day 10km road race in Hyde Park. He led the near 500-strong field from the start to win by almost a minute in 30:55 which proved an ideal warm-up for the defence of his Oxfordshire title at Horspath, Oxford on Sunday.
Cornish, who was making his debut in the event, admitted he didn’t have a race plan but hoped there might have been more fast runners in the field. 'Normally I go out fast but no one went with me. I led all the way and was aiming for under 31 minutes. I really liked the course and was pleased with my run considering I’ve been struggling with a cold in the last few days.' Clubmate Kieran White was third M40 in 33:29, finishing ninth overall.
HW athletes will also be in action at the SLAN indoor meeting at the David Weir Leisure Centre, Sutton, on Sunday.
HW athletes turned out in time-honoured fashion for the Lauriston Runners 30 minute paarlauf (above) in which athletes are drawn into teams of two: an A and a B runner. In one of the closest finishes in the 64 year history of the event, the winners were Dave Grima and Barry King – King had already taken part in the Bushy Park parkrun earlier in the morning. Between them they covered five miles 817 yards to win by just five yards from Logan Mills (Thames Hare & Hounds) and HW's Adam Fenton.
George Longworth and Hannah Fernando were third, covering five miles 622 yards, followed by three other HW pairings: Liam White (still on the comeback trail after knee surgery) and Stewart Bond (5 miles 572 yards); Kieran White and Tony Austin (five miles 330 yards); and Knut Hegvold and daughter Selma (five miles122 yards). A total of 13 teams took part, with athletes and officials enjoying the traditional mulled wine and Christmas fare at Lauriston Runners Club’s headquarters afterwards.
Richard McDowell was the top Hercules Wimbledon finisher in the South of the Thames 7.5 miles Championship race staged in torrential rain in Beckenham Place Park on December 15. He was 26th out of 337 runners in 40:48. Joe Clark was 38th in 41:51, teenager Zac Purnell 45th in 42:32 and Anna Garner top W60 in 55:54.
Mammoth Start to the New Year for McDowell
Richard McDowell kicked off 2019 with a winning parkrun double – also covering 30 kilometres en route and in between – on the Hampshire/Surrey border on New Year's Day. He ran 11km from his parents’ home in Farnham to the Rushmoor event where he headed home a 702-strong field in a personal best of 16:07, taking 49 seconds off his previous best. Then he ran 5km to Frimley Lodge for a 10am start, where he beat 740 other runners for his second win, in another personal best of 16:51 (a big improvement on his time of 18:09 when finishing second in last year's race). Finally, he ran the 17km home! '43km for the day', says McDowell, and if you take the times for the first 42km, then I ran a 2:50 marathon in the process! Amusingly', he notes, he wasn't alone in his double act, as he was followed home in both the Rushmoor and Frimley Lodge races by the same two athletes – 'though the athlete in second place didn't run between the races!'
Rob Tuer also ended the year on a high note. After finishing 18th at Bushy Park on Christmas Day in 17.14 he was back on Saturday, 29 December to post a personal best, finishing second out of 1405 runners in 16:49, and improve on his previous pb of 17:01 set the previous weekend.
Tuer and Justin Reid were among a quartet of HW runners in the 2000 plus field in the Christmas Day race. Top HW finisher and first M45 across the line was Reid who was 12th in 16:57 seconds. David Gold was 99th in 19:27 and Barry King top M65, taking 310th place in 22:20. Reid was in action again on the 12th, finishing 29th in 17:38.
Teenager Ellen Weir was second woman in the Isle of Wight parkrun on December 29 in 21:20 with dad Andy posting the top age-graded performance, finishing third overall in 18:19.
Teenager Henry Silverstein headed home the Wimbledon Common field for the second weekend in 17:42, six seconds faster than on the previous Saturday. Fellow teenagers Sam Barker and Hector Revill were second and fifth of the 405 runners in 17:57 and 18:41 with M45 veteran Peter Collins seventh in 19:01. Twenty-one Hercules Wimbledon runners took part. The only other Hercules Wimbledon parkrun winner on the final Saturday of 2018 was V40 Gina Galbraith who was top woman finisher in Chichester in 19:58.
Justin Reid and Rob Tuer also competed in the Bushy Park event on 22 December where they were seventh and eighth out of 1310 runners in 16:56 and 17:01 with Reid posting the top male age-graded performance of the day.
HW runners dominated on Wimbledon Common, taking both the men’s and women’s individual honours with a total of 31 runners from the Club taking part. Teenager Henry Silverstein headed home the 410-strong field to win in 17:48, just 10 seconds slower than his personal best for the course, set when he gained his only previous win in 52 appearance in the event, in September 2016.
David Grima was second in 18:07, Adam Harwood fourth in 18:34, Peter Collins seventh and top M45 in 19:11 and Peter Lee 10th and top M50 finisher in 19:23, with the best male age-graded effort of the day. Gina Galbraith posted the leading women's age-graded performance of the day as first woman finisher in 19:45.
Kieran White made it a hat-trick of HW winners with a winning debut in Wendover Woods in 17:41 where he also posted the top age-graded performance, finishing 27 seconds ahead of the runner-up.