Hercules Wimbledon 5k Team Race

ordered warm up

On Saturday October 17th,  Hercules Wimbledon hosted a 5K team road race against some of their local rivals in the Surrey/South London area along with a couple of special invited guests, writes Ben Noad. 190 enthusiastic runners gathered in cool but calm conditions which were idea for distance running.

The event took place with strict social distancing. This involved holding the women’s race first at 1:30pm with only the athletes and officials allowed in the secure area at the start and finish located at the Wimbledon Park athletics track. Twelve women’s teams entered and one runner from each team went off in each of the start waves, 60 seconds apart. Team results were calculated by adding the six times together and the  team with the lowest time were declared the winners. To reduce overtaking each team seeded their runners fastest to slowest for the wave starts.

New Zealand's Georgie Grgec (pictured above), for Herne Hill Harriers, prevailed after a long battle with Naomi Taschimowitz (handicap 0.0) pulling away to complete the last 500m alone, which finished on the track, to record an impressive 16:35  on this challenging course that includes a long climb up Church Road. Those runners that failed to run the course beforehand expressed mild shock at the severity of the climb. Australian, Michelle Pearson, running for  Belgrave  completed the podium with 17:16.

Georgie led Herne Hill Harriers to a fine team victory with a combined time of 111 minutes 58secs. With Belgrave Harriers second and Kent AC third.

The men's race, of 11 teams with 10 men per team, was run along the same lines. Team results were based on the lowest time of the 10 runners. The men were divided into their waves and got ready to do battle for their clubs. For many this was the first time that they had been able to race since February/March. The excitement and banter were evident as the athletes got ready for their pre-race briefing. 

Pictured here, Nick Goolab (handicap -5.7) ran a smart race by doing the very thing that no-one expected. He sat in and let the others set the pace but he’s not the British record holder over this distance for nothing and normal order was resumed as the runners tackled the climb up Church road. He came home in a course record of 14:34  followed by Highgate's Roger Poolman (handicap -4.4) in 14:50. Alexander Leprêtre (handicap -5.6) from the 2nd wave completed the podium places.

Highgate dominated the team race winning by close to four minutes. Herne Hill Harriers got a rare victory over Kent AC in third to perhaps show they are closing the gap for future Surrey League battles ahead.

The event was very well received among the athletes, coaches and, most importantly, the officials. Comments included ‘It felt somewhat normal again’ , ‘Great to see teammates again’ ‘Nice to do something that matters’A blueprint for future events