The Senior Men's team are (probably still!) celebrating winning the Start Fitness Surrey Cross Country League title on Saturday for the first time in the history of Hercules Wimbledon AC. It was a great day for the Club all round, as the Senior Women's team posted their best performance of the season in the Ladies League to put them in 4th position, just 20 points off third, while the U13-U17 Girls teams are also looking good for medals going into the final match on March 2nd.
The Senior Men won their final match by 89 points to achieve a clean sweep of all four matches along with the League title, which was won back in 1965 by Hercules AC, two years before the amalgamation with Wimbledon AC. Let's just put that into perspective: in 1965 TVs were black and white, England still hadn't won the World Cup and a pint of beer cost around 10p in today's money!
Even though the team went into the final match in Lloyd Park with a 216 points lead there was no let-up in their determination and they packed their scoring ten runners (pictured below) into the top 38 of the 212 finishers over the muddy course of approximately 5 miles. First home was Andy Greenleaf (seventh in 26:52), just 24 seconds behind race winner John Sanderson from Guildford & Godalming, who frequently trains with the HW runners in Battersea Park and on Wimbledon Common.
Andrew Penney, who finished third in the last match on Mitcham Common, was ninth in 27:11, with Fred Slemeck, who was celebrating his 29th birthday, 11th in 27:16, Jonny Cornish 15th in 27:27 and Richard McDowell 16th in 27:33. Finn Johnson, 20th in 27:43, was followed by Elliot Palmer (22nd in 28:01), Rhys Boorman (26th in 28:14), Will Russell (34th in 28:25), and Dimos Evangelidis (38th in 28:43).
Sportingly the defending champions, Kent AC, who have held the title since 2013, brought the League trophy to Lloyd Park where their runners gathered to applaud and shake hands with their successors, before handing the cup to HW Captain Rob Tuer. Needless to say a night of celebration followed at the Fire Stables in Wimbledon, with awards presented to all those who had scored over the 4 matches, including Zac Purnell, who was the leading U20 runner overall (with Henry Silverstein runner up). The top HW scorer over the four matches was Finn Johnson, who pipped Fred Slemeck by just one point, finishing in overall 5th place in the League.
In the earlier Young Athletes race over one lap of the course U17 Hector Revill was first HW athlete home (51st in 15:44).
Match result: 1 Hercules Wimbledon 198 pts; 2 Thames Hare & Hounds 287; 3 Kent AC 311; 4 Herne Hill Harriers 399; 5 South London Harriers 417; 6 Guildford & Godalming 520; 7 Belgrave 535; 8 Ranelagh 622; 9 Striders of Croydon 806.
Final standings: 1 Hercules Wimbledon 700 pts; 2 Kent AC 1029; 3 Thames Hare & Hounds 1251; 4 Guildford & Godalming 1808; 5 Herne Hill Harriers 1890; 6 South London Harriers 1972; 7 Belgrave 2034; 8 Ranelagh 2399; 9 Striders of Croydon 3297.
Earlier in the day and in much windier conditions, the women's team finished an excellent third in their match in Richmond Park. They were led in over the 5 mile course by Claire Grima who was ninth of the 205 runners in 33:28. Eileen Toomer (17th in 34:22), Gina Galbraith (26th in 34:58), Zoe Pike (27th in 35:00) and Alex Binley (28th in 35:02) completed the scoring team from the 14 HW runners in action.
In the Girls match, over 2.5 miles, there was team victory for the U17s: Johanna Tofte (fifth in 17:24), Selma Hegvold (ninth in 19:31), Rebekah Riches (10th in 19:40) and Georgia Hanley (14th in 20:21); and a second place finish for the U15s, led in by Ellen Weir, who was second of the 45 runners in 17:05. Georgie Clarke, who earlier in the week finished sixth in the London Schools Intermediate Girls Championship, was again sixth in 17:42, with Millie Thorpe eighth in 18:25 and Albane Fery 22nd in 19:26.
In the U13 Girls race, over 1.75 miles, the quartet of Indira Ferree (11th in 12:54), Sophie Thorpe (14th in 13:03), Ore Adewale (20th in 13:13) and Anya Montgomerie (24th in 13:41) were third team home.
One athlete missing from the final Cross Country League men's match was Belal Ahmed, who was in Barcelona for the eDreams Half Marathon on Sunday, where he finished 40th in 1:06.52, a time which moves him up to fifth on the all-time HW rankings list.
This weekend, Hercules Wimbledon athletes are in action in the Surrey Indoor Track and Field Championships at the David Weir Leisure Centre, Carshalton.