A large contingent of Hercules Wimbledon runners will be in action in this weekend’s Virgin Money London Marathon from Blackheath to The Mall and in the Virgin Money Giving London Mini-Marathon over the last three miles of the course from Old Billingsgate to The Mall, writes Tom Pollak.

Heading the marathon runners from the club are husband and wife Claire and Dave Grima, who will be be competing in the event for the 13th and 10th time, respectively. Once again, they will be setting off from the same start-line on Blackheath.

Claire first competed in London in 2004 clocking a modest three hours 15 minutes 33 seconds while Dave made his debut in 2009 in an equally modest 3:10:56. Since then they have drastically improved their times. Dave clocked 2:43:50 in 2016 while Claire has a best time for the London marathon of 2:42:51 when she was ninth in the women’s race the same year.

The couple raced together for the first time in 2009 and since then on seven occasions in 2011, 2013, 2014 , 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. At one time they held the Guinness World record for the fastest combined marathon time by a married couple. Claire has finished eighth in the women’s race for the past two years and last year she was also the women’s veteran over 40 winner.

Once again they will be cheered on by their two sons Luca and Jasper from their vantage point on Westminster Bridge before being reunited after the race.

Richard McDowell, who turns 40 nine days before the big race is hoping for a top three finish in the over 40 category. He is competing in London for the fourth time and prepared for this year’s race with some altitude training in India.He posted his best London performance last year when he finished 15th in the British championship race in 2:27:56.

Hercules Wimbledon’s Dimos Evangelidis will be competing in London of the fourth time and is also an over 40 veteran. He finished just ahead of McDowell last year in 14th place and was fourth in the over 40 category in 2:27:39.

The fastest Hercules Wimbledon entrant on paper is Belal Ahmed who hopes to have boosted his chances this year by altitude training in Morocco. He has a best marathon time of 2:23:11 set in finishing 37th in Berlin last year.He previously competed in London in 2016 when he finished in the top 100 in 2:29:57.

The oldest Hercules Wimbledon runner in action will be 72-year-old Maurice Sharp who will be running his first London marathon since 2015 when he was 40th over 65 finisher in 3:48:11. However, he clocked a faster 3:36:25 in 2011. Tom Cheetham, 52, a prolific marathon runner, who has completed more than 50 races over the gruelling 26 miles 385 yards distance, is also due to run on Sunday.

Teenagers Georgie Clarke, representing Wandsworth, and Ellen Weir running for Merton are the best of the Hercules Wimbledon runners in action in the mini-marathon which is completed before the big race starts.

Claire and Dave Grima showed they are both in good form for the marathon by posting personal best times in the Exmouth 5km parkrun last weekend. Dave was fifth in the men’s race in 16:37, taking 75 seconds off his previous best for the course, with Claire top woman finisher in 17:24, also a big improvement on her previous best by more than a minute. Richard McDowell also warmed-up for London with a parkrun win heading home a 361-strong field on Clapham Common in 15:35, a big improvement on his previous best of 17:08 set last September.

Hercules Wimbledon runners once again dominated the Wimbledon Common 5km parkrun last Saturday filling two of the top three men’s places and providing the women’s winner. David Lewin was the best of the 22 Hercules Wimbledon runners in the event finishing second in 17:40, five seconds ahead of teenager Hector Revill. Teenager Lulu Weisz led the women home in a personal best of 19:55, slicing just three seconds off her previous best time set the previous week. There were a total of 296 finishers.

Elsewhere, Fred Skemeck made a winning debut in the Preston parkrun in a fast 16:28, heading home a 469-strong field. Robbie Hynes also made a winning debut at Wotton in 17:32, finishing well over two minutes ahead of the second runner. Gina Galbraith made it a quintet of Hercules Wimbledon parkrun wins taking the women’s race at Chichester in 18:20, the day’s top age-graded performance, taking a massive 57 second off her previous best.

This weekend, Hercules Wimbledon’s youngsters are competing in their opening YDL Lower Age Group match at the David Weir Leisure Centre, Carshalton, on Saturday.