HERCULES Wimbledon teenager Ellen Weir bounced back after suffering from Coronavirus to head home the England under 20 team in the Home Countries cross country international in Belfast on Saturday.
While the 18-year-old Wimbledon High School pupil was making a successful return to racing, some of the club’s older athletes were picking up five individual titles in the Veterans Athletic Club’s cross country championships nearer home on Wimbledon Common.
Running over a hilly grassland four kilometres course with a few muddy patches, Weir led England to the silver team medals behind Scotland, She was fifth of the 36 runners in her race in 14 minutes 22 seconds, 26 seconds behind the winner.
She once again ran a shrewd race, working her way steadily through the field. “Last week, training was hard after Covid," said dad Andy, who accompanied Ellen to Belfast. “But, she was happy with the result, and felt she was running properly, if lacking a bit in speed.”
Meanwhile, her Hercules Wimbledon clubmate Richard McDowell was heading home a 93-strong field in Veteran Athletic Club’s five miles cross country championship on Wimbledon Common. Inspired after listening to an interview with Britain’s former world 10,000 metres record-holder and London marathon race director Dave Bedford, whose tip was if you have the legs, go out very hard from the start, McDowell did just that.
He explained: “I made the mistake of taking it too easy the last time this race was held, and despite being quite fresh at the end, didn't have the finishing speed to clinch the win. With Bedford’s words in my head, I did indeed take it out hard from the off. I had company until around halfway round the first of two laps, where the course drops down to Queensmere pond from the Windmill and managed to pull away on the descent.”
He stretched his lead to win by 48 seconds in 25:49. His Hercules Wimbledon clubmate Justin Reid was seventh in 29:04 to take the Over-50 title while Over-45 veteran Gina Galbraith took the women’s title in 31:16.
Peter Giles, the oldest of the nine Hercules Wimbledon runners in the race, won the veteran Over-75 title in 38:06 while Anna Garnier took the women’s Over-65 gold medal in 38:40.
Hercules Wimbledon youngsters picked up six medals in the South of England indoor age-group championships at Lee Valley.Thomas Wharton broke the championship record in winning the Under-15 800m in 2:21.24 while Elliott Turbin won the Under-15 high jump and was third in the 200m. Connor Kelly took silver in the Under-17 200m and bronze in the high jump. Isabella Harrison won the girls Under-13 800m bronze medal.
Hercules Wimbledon had a quartet of parkrun winners on Saturday. Robbie Hynes took the Shepton Mallet event in 17:20 with other wins posted by Kieran White (18:40 at Rushmere), Jonny Earl (16:02 in Melbourne) and Alex Binley (20:13 in the Bath Skyline event.
This weekend, Hercules Wimbledon’s cross country runners are heading for Beckenham Place Park in South-East London for the South of England cross country championships being staged there for the first time. The traditional venue, Parliament Hill Fields, North London, is unavailable as it is being used for next month’s English National cross country championships. Every three years, an alternative venue has to be found in the South.
The first race for Under-15 boys starts at 11am with the last of the 10 races over 15km for senior men, due off at 2.50pm.