The manager of Hercules Wimbledon senior men’s cross country team reckons a new training ethos is the secret behind their mammoth triumph at the Surrey Championships.

Leading the club to team gold through the rain and mud at Denbies Vineyard in Dorking last weekend was Ben Toomer, who finished the 12km course in ninth, clocking 43 minutes 55 seconds.

Solid packing among the 331 runners ensured success with Fred Slemeck finishing 11th in 44:46, Dimos Evangelidis 13th in 44:59, Joe Clark 14th in 45:27, Kieran White 21st in 46:23 and Richard McDowell 23rd in 46:40.

Two more runners finished in the top 50 with Neil Fraser finishing 37th in 47:47 and Rob Tuer 50th in 48:50.

Hercules, who regained the title they last won in 2014, finished on 91 points, a massive 52 points ahead of Herne Hill Harriers in second.

Team manager Fred Green said: “It was an impressive win. We won by more than 50 points and that is a big margin, and it continues our impressive season.

“Last November we won a Surrey League race for the first time since 1978.”

He added: “It is one of the results of an initiative we have introduced this winter with our top cross country runners training together in a smaller group.”

Following his impressive showing, Toomer is now likely to represent Surrey in the UK Inter-Counties cross country championships at Cofton Park, Birmingham, in March.

There was also promise for the future with the boys U15 team taking the bronze medals.

They were led home by Zac Purnell, who finished ninth in 15:33, with Henry Silverstein 11th in 15:40, Sam Barker 18th in 16:05 and Alexander Abrahams 22nd in 16:13.

Matthew Gibbons finished seventh out off 36 runners in the men’s U17 championship.

Marathon runner Claire Grima led the 11-strong Hercules Wimbledon contingent home in the senior women’s 8km race finishing 13th in 35:23, with Gina Galbraith 30th in 37:56, Fran Clarke 41st in 38:44 and Lisa Thomas 62nd in 40:15, completing the team which finished seventh.

Hercules Wimbledon’s Valerie Parocki finished 17th out of 77 runners in the girls U13 race, with Ellen Weir three seconds behind in 19th, Rebekah Riches 31st in 13:18 and Madeleine Casey 35th in 13:26.