It was third time lucky for Hercules Wimbledon’s Richard McDowell as he won the Orion 15 miles cross country race, a traditional end of the season event, in Epping Forest on Saturday, writes Tom Pollak.

McDowell, 39, finished third two years ago and runner-up last year and gained an impressive victory this time as he won by a record margin of more than four minutes in this event which was being staged for the 65th time.

After a period of no rain, the undulating woodland course was much drier and therefore faster than usual and in the conditions the short spikes McDowell chose to wear proved an ideal selection. He took the race out from soon after the start and, after two runners from the 357-strong field attempted to keep with his pace, he pulled away at five miles to run the last two-thirds of the race on his own to post a comfortable win in his final race before tackling the Virgin Money London Marathon course at the end of the month.

Despite the figure-of-eight course being a kilometre longer than in previous years McDowell’s one hour 31 minutes 27 seconds was significantly faster than his 1:34:05 when he was third in 2017 and 1:34:23 in finishing runner-up last year. Afterwards a delighted McDowell said: “There were plenty of undulations to test the legs and still a fair amount of mud despite the overall dry conditions. I’m now off to India for a couple of weeks of warm-weather training before tapering off in preparation for London.”

McDowell will be competing in London just nine days after turning 40 and is aiming at a top three finish in his age group. He will be running the London marathon for the fourth time and will be looking to improve on the 2:27:56 he clocked last year.

One of Hercules Wimbledon’s most promising young athletes, 12-year-old Mabel-Rose Scales, received two trophies at the club’s AGM and awards presentation evening last week. She received the silver salver for the best performance by a female athlete in 2018 during which she was unbeaten in championship events and the Elite Athlete’s Trophy for her topping this year’s UK under 13 high jump rankings with her club record-breaking 1.55 metres clearance in winning the Surrey indoor title in February.

Officially titled a 5km track mob match against rivals Highgate and Kent AC the event under the Wimbledon Park athletics stadium lights last wednesday evening could more appropriately have been called a Night of 5000m PB’s as 24 of the 33 runners who took part in the two races achieved personal best times. Best of the bunch was Hercules Wimbledon’s Jonny Cornish who, in his first track race of the year, sliced 11 seconds off his personal best in winning in 14:47.7 ahead of Highgate’s Alex Crossland who improved on his previous best by 15 seconds in clocking 14:49.3.

Although there were no pacemakers, the leading six runners took turns at the front for the 12 and a half laps. Cornish emerged from that leading group at the bell and pulled ahead to win by around 15 metres. Hercules Wimbledon’s Charlie Eastaugh, the English under 17 indoor 800m champion back in 2007, running his first-ever 5000m track race clocked 15:05.9 in finishing seventh out of 19 competitors. Jonny Earl improved on his previous best by seven seconds in finishing 10th in 15:20.0.

Two Hercules Wimbledon supervets gained medals in the World Masters indoor championships in Torin, Poland. Alison Murray was third in the over 50 pole vault with 2.80m while Dominic Bokor-Ingram also took bronze in the over 50 400 metres in 54.12. Anna Garner, the British Masters women’s over 60 champion over the distance, was sixth in the women’s over 60 1500 metres and fifth in the cross country championship.

Hercules Wimbledon’s David Lewin headed home a 556-strong field in Saturday’s Wimbledon Common 5km parkrun in 18:12 with club mate Ellen Weir finishing second in the women’s race in a personal best 19:36, taking seven seconds off her previous best. Twenty Hercules Wimbledon runners were in action. Justin Reid headed home a 392-strong field in Highbury Fields in 17:37, posting the top age-graded performance of the day and improving on his 18:16 set on his debut appearance in the event a fortnight earlier.

Gina Galbraith made it a hat-trick of Hercules Wimbledon parkrun wins as he took the women’s race in Bishop’s Park, Fulham, in a personal best of 18:03, taking nine seconds off her previous best. She also posted the top age-graded performance. Clubmate Elena Dauster was second in the women’s race in 18:52, a big improvement on the 19:33 she clocked over the course last September. Fastest of nine Hercules Wimbledon runners taking part was over 45 veteran Peter Collins who finished seventh out of 589 runners in a personal best of 17:25 and the top male age-graded effort of the day.

Hercules Wimbledon face a busy weekend with the senior men competing in the England 12-stage road relay championship in Sutton Park, Birmingham on Saturday and the club staging it’s annual Young athletes open meeting for the 38th time at Wimbledon Park athletics stadium starting at 12 noon on Sunday. More than 200 athlete are taking part.