HERCULES Wimbledon Athletic Club teenager Ellen Weir continued her return to fitness after recovering from Coronavirus by taking the bronze medal in the South of England cross country championships at Beckenham Place Park on Saturday.

A week after leading the England team home in the Home Countries cross country international in Belfast, Weir ran strongly again to secure a place on the medal rostrum. Underlining Hercules Wimbledon’s all-round strength, the senior men’s team just missed out on medals while the Under-17 women’s squad were top Surrey team in sixth place.

Wimbledon High School pupil Weir, 18, covered the six-kilometre undulating parkland course on a blustery afternoon in 22 minutes 39 seconds, 24 seconds behind the gold medal winner Harriet Bloor from Lewes with Aldershot’s Pippa Roessler taking the silver medal in 22:18.

Team manager Keith Scofield was delighted with the senior men’s performance which was achieved without some of the club’s top runners. “It was a fabulous performance from the lads today,” said an ecstatic Scofield. Fourth place repeated Hercules Wimbledon’s performance two seasons ago when the championships were last staged. Fourth place is also the best Hercules Wimbledon team performance in these championships since the 1970’s.

Leading the gold and red-sashed Hercules Wimbledon runners home was Dan Cliffe, last year’s Cheshire champion, who finished a fine 15th of the near 700-strong field on his debut in the event. He covered the nine miles in 49:38, less than two minutes behind the race winner. He won a private battle with his Hercules Wimbledon clubmate Fred Slemeck by just two seconds. Other members of the scoring team, which was the top from Surrey and South London, were Oli Carrington (43rd in 51:11), George Mallett (45th in 51:13), Rhys Boorman (79th in 52 :52) and Jamie Bannister (115th in 54:40). Hercules Wimbledon had 14 runners in the race in which their fourth place put them just ahead of South London rivals Belgrave and South London Harriers.

Abigail Grey led the Under-17 women’s team home finishing 31st of the 200 runners in the 5km race in 19:43. Lulu Weisz (33rd in 19:50), Eloise Davies (36th in 19:58) and Charlotte Lam (94th in 22:36) completed the scoring team.

Benjy Street was the third Surrey finisher in the boys Under-15 4.5km race in 16:09 with Oliver Holden (27th in 16:25) also having a good run. Hercules Wimbledon were second-placed Surrey team. Harry Allen was the best of a trio of Hercules Wimbledon runners in the boys Under-13 3km championship finishing 25th of the 165 runners in 11:38.

Thomas Whorton was the standout Hercules Wimbledon performer in the Surrey Schools cross country championships in Reigate’s Priory Park taking the boys Under-13 title in 11:17 and winning by six seconds. His cross country win came a week after a record-breaking win in the South of England indoor 800 metres championship. A trio of Hercules Wimbledon girls secured their place in the Surrey team for the English Schools Championships at Tonbridge with fine runs in the senior girls championship. They were Albane Fery (fourth in 14:46), Kiara Valkenburg (fifth in 15:03) and Lulu Weisz (eighth in 15:06).

There were a quartet of Hercules Wimbledon winners in Saturday’s parkruns with Hussein Ahmed, Hal Davidson, Rosemary Fernando and David Lewin winning in Gladstone Park and Richmond Park and on Clapham Common and Wimbledon Common.