In the past, he has run marathons in the Polar region and in the sweltering heat of Africa and now Hercules Wimbledon’s Felix Allen is training for a new challenge - racing up a tower block in the City of London, writes Tom Pollak.

Allen has been forced to reduce his racing mileage after he developed arthritis in both his big toes, an inherited condition, for which he underwent surgery in February.

“Other members of the family have had it and I was forced to stop running completely,” said Allen. “The problem means the more you run the more it hurts,” he added.

Now, Allen is preparing to compete in his first tower race in Broadgate Tower near Liverpool Street in July. It involves running up 35 floors 16 times and attracts more than 100 competitors from home and abroad. “It has really boosted my fitness,” said Allen. “It’s quite a sub-culture and in London there are currently a few charity events.”

Allen explains that running up tower blocks didn’t affect the arthritis as much as he used different quad and calf muscles. Meanwhile, he continued his build up for his latest challenge with his biggest win since his operation by heading home a 138-strong field in the Mercedes Benz World 5km road race at Brooklands, near Weybridge on Sunday.

He was racing two days after his 47th birthday around a relatively flat course on this world famous motor-race circuit in Surrey. Allen won by almost two minutes in 17 minutes 42 seconds, beating fellow over 45 veteran James Crosby. Allen, who has a best marathon time of under three hours is more familiar with ultra-distance races including a Polar marathon in Greenland in sub-zero temperatures in November 2017 and then, a few weeks later, competing in 40C heat in the Senegal marathon.

However, after his Weybridge win, he admitted: “Marathon running is just a dream at the moment as I really have to limit my mileage. I have been very injured since the Spring of 2018 although the operation in February has helped.”

A large contingent of Hercules Wimbledon runners were in action in Central London over the Bank Holiday weekend competing in the Vitality London road races. Ross Franks was just pipped in his one mile race on Sunday. He said: “It was my first experience of racing the Westminster mile and I absolutely loved it! I am happy with how I ran. I moved through the field and sat off the lead runners with 800 metres to go.”

He added: “I just didn’t have enough to outsprint the lead runner, just missing out! I was disappointed at first as you always want to win but it’s a step in the right direction.”

Lisa Thomas and Anna Garnier won the women’s over 50 and over 60 categories in 5:40 and 6:29 respectively.

Thomas was in action again on Bank Holiday Monday in the 10km road race finishing third in her age category in 40:50. Richard McDowell and Matt Sharp were second and third in the veterans over 40 category in 31:32 and 31:59, respectively. They were the best of the 24 Hercules Wimbledon runners among the record 19465 finishers.

Hercules Wimbledon international Theo Etienne made a promising start to his summer track racing programme in posting a lifetime best 200m time in an open meeting at Lee Valley. He clocked 21.29 to shave 0.36 seconds off his previous best set last summer. He also clocked a swift 10.84 in winning his 100 metres race.

This weekend, Hercules Wimbledon’s youngsters are in action in their second Lily B Girls League and Ebbisham Boys League matches of the season, respectively at Walton on Saturday and Coulsdon on Sunday. Also on Sunday, the club’s oldies are in action in the annual Surrey Masters Championships at Ewell Court.

Meanwhile, some of the club’s top athletes are in action in the South of England senior and under 20 championships at Bedford on Saturday and Sunday while next Wednesday (Jiune 5th), Hercules Wimbledon host the third of this season’s Rosenheim League Eastern division matches at their Wimbledon Park track headquarters starting at 6.30pm.