WIMBLEDON Park once again cemented its status as South London’s running hub as Hercules Wimbledon Athletic Club hosted its annual 5,000m Night this Saturday. Athletes from across the south of England descended on the track, with no less than seven athletes running times which sees them ranked in the top 100 in the UK this year.

In the Men’s A race Jonathan Cornish led home the Hercules athletes, finishing fourth behind Ned Potter of Chichester. Cornish, celebrating a pair of England Athletics call-ups was keen to improve on his 14:24 personal best, doing much of the early leading and working hard to the end. He was deservedly rewarded with a new best of 14:14.48 , ranked 84th in the UK this year.

Cornish’s 5,000m improvement adds to a breakthrough summer in which he has bettered his times in every distance from 1,500m to 10,000m and will leave him in a confident mood heading into his England debut on August 20 at the Asics Home Nations 5k in Cardiff.

A whisker behind Cornish was Andrew Penney, who took 16 seconds off his personal best to finish sixth in 14:15.28. The performance is made all the more impressive given the Hercules athlete became a father for the first time just two weeks ago. Determined to leave his newborn baby and partner proud Penney duly delivered and moves to 87th in the UK rankings.

Penney, already a multiple time Surrey representative adds to 800m, mile and 1,500m personal best all achieved this summer.

Surrey Cross-Country silver medalist Fred Slemeck has enjoyed a similarly glittering 2022, running most of the race by himself but gutting out a deserved new personal best. Slemeck’s time of 14:35.38 was a one-second improvement on his 2021 best and leaves him well poised as the season transitions back on to the roads and cross-country, two disciplines in which he excels.

Other highlights of the evening included a fifth place for Joe Croft in the evening’s C race, running 15:28.36, just over a second ahead of Oli Carrington, in eighth also of Hercules. Both represent season bests for the two athletes.

Likewise in the B race, Ed Mallett ran 15:25.82 for 18th in a competitive field.

Finn Johnson finished sixth in the evening’s third race, running 16:01.12 in his first outing over the distance this year.

Aldershot away for Hercules title-chasers

All eyes on will now move to this Saturday’s Southern Athletics League Division 2 West fixture in Aldershot, where Hercules will hope to cement their status at the top of the division. After three of the five fixtures Hercules sit first on 661.5 points, almost 60 clear of their closest challenger, Basingstoke and Mid Hants AC.

A win this weekend would put them in an almost unbeatable position heading into the league finale, to be held in Wimbledon Park on September 10.

Hercules’ opponents on Saturday are Aldershot Farnham and District, Newquay and Par and Epsom and Ewell who sit, eighth, 16th and third respectively in the current standings.