Hercules Wimbledon AC’s road runners have qualified for next month’s National Championships after a dominant showing at last weekend’s South of England Road Relay Championship.

The club’s senior men finished as the top Surrey team in the six-stage relay event, held at Bedford Autodrome on Sunday, and qualified as one of just two Surrey teams.

First leg runner Richard McDowell clocked the fastest Hercules time of the day (18 minutes 20 seconds) to finish 24th of more than 60 teams from across the south of England.

Steeplechaser Rob Tuer (19:20) held onto 24th spot before Jonathan Cornish (18:41) lifted the team to 18th place. Alex Robinson (19:05) gained one place before Russell Price (20:50) and Joe Toomey (20:01) slipped to 19th place out of 57 teams to finish.

By finishing in the top 25, Hercules Wimbledon earned their place in the National Championships – due to be held in Birmingham’s Sutton Park on October 8.

Team manager Tuer said: “Despite missing some of our top runners we were pleased to make the nationals. We aim to be much stronger for the national.”

Elsewhere, Hercules Wimbledon’s Matthew Sharp continued his return to fitness after five months’ absence due to injury when he lifted the South of England 10,000m track title at Stoke Mandeville in 33:10.04, adding it to the Surrey title he won at Tooting Bec in August.

Another fine track performance by a Hercules runner came from Ben Toomer, who took almost 40 seconds off his previous best when winning a 5,000m race at Ladywell Park, Catford, in 14:58.5.

It was his first time inside 15 minutes and improved on his previous best of 15:37.14 set in taking the bronze medal in last year’s Surrey Championships at Kingsmeadow.

Toomer followed up his track victory by finishing third in the Windsor half-marathon on Sunday in 1.13:04.