Distance Running News, 14-20 May

Graham Rush produced a strong performance to finish eighth in the British 10,000m Championship in Highgate. The Cheltenham Harrier lined up in a high class field that also incorporated the European 10,000m Cup event, but was not daunted by the high class line up and struck to his pre-race pacing plan as he attempted to get close to his personal best of 29:04. After passing the 3km mark in 8:34, Rush passed through 5000m in 14:28 before the pace in his pack slowed slightly to reach 8km in 23:26. With a strong finish though the PHD student managed to post his second fastest time for the distance with a pleasing 29:13.28 to finish in 24th position as Italy’s Richard Ringer (27:36.52), France’s Mohad Adoumni (27:36.80) and Italy’s Yemeneberhan Crippa (27:44.41) claimed the European Cup medals and Kent’s Alex Yee (27:51.94) held of the Aldershot pair of Andy Vernon (27:52.32) and Chris Thompson (27:52.56) to take the British title. Whilst Rush took advantage of the cool evening conditions, the hot mid-afternoon temperatures were far from ideal for the athletes competing in the earlier races of the day. In the D race Alex Bampton managed to hold his target pace of 31 minutes for the first half of the race, but the conditions got the better of him as he posted 31:46.25 for twentieth place. Dan Owen had a similar experience in the E race with a 15:40 opening 5km on his way to 32:11.59 for twelfth position. Marcus England handled the heat better than most in the F race as he went through halfway in 16:15. Finishing just fourteen seconds outside his road PB with a time of 32:58.31, England took fourteenth place in a race that saw teammate Charlie Jones finish 23rd in 34:06.81. Also on the track, George Watson contested the guest 1500m race at the Loughborough International where he posted a time of 4:13.74

Earlier in the week Doug Wight took third place in the Berkeley 10k road race in a time of 34:20 as Stroud’s Lee Stopford (33:04) and Gloucester’s Steve Millward (33:10) filled the top two places. In ninth place Mark James (35:45) finished as third veteran runner before Elliot Prince (36:53) and Andy Gore (37:11) claimed top twenty finishes. Dave Rantell (39:09), wheelchair athlete Les Hampton (44:02) and Debbie Smith (46:45) also contested the flat and scenic event. Weekend parkruns saw first place finishes for Dan King (16:10) in Poole and for Dave Aubrey (16:54) in Cheltenham where Dan Minors (18:44) placed ninth. Amber Watson (22:05) meanwhile was the fourth lady home in tenth place overall at the Studley parkrun in Australia.

U13 & U15 Youth Development League, 19 May

The National Youth Development League moved into Round Two on Saturday 19 May, taking place in the impressive Sports Village at the University of Bath. The world class facilities inspired all the young athletes to deliver some impressive performances. Cheltenham compete in the Premier Division – South West, with a combined Boys/Girls Under 13 and Under 15 team. Featuring six Athletic Clubs, around 240 athletes are involved on the day. Cheltenham achieved an excellent result, coming third in the Match and keeping themselves in line for a possible end of season Regional play-off spot.

In the U15 Girls, Hope Heward-Mills made a strong debut coming 3rd in the 100m and 200m A string races with PBs of 13.3secs, 28.4secs respectively. In the 300m Georgia Webb ran a powerful race, leading until the final metres, to finish 2nd in a PB of 44.4 secs. Amy Jackson Fawkes and newcomer Rosie Pushnik both managed PBs of 2.32secs and 2.44secs respectively in the 800m races and Millie Tombs ran a PB of 5.36 in the 1500m. In the Field events, Scarlett Oram, also joining the team for the first time, achieved a PB of 8.02m in the Shot Put.

The U13 Girls contributed significantly to the overall results, with a small but talented squad. Lorna Willmott ran a PB to win the 150m A race in 19.9 secs. In the 800m, where Cheltenham have real strength in depth, Jess Duncton won the A race by some 30 metres coming in with a PB of 2m30.3, and Milly Foster came 2nd in the B race in 2m46.4. Seren Jones proved the versatility of the squad by setting a new PB of 4m08.1 in a quality 1200m race, and then throwing a PB of 15.63m in the Javelin, placing 3rd. Her fellow runner Freya Howell stepped into the B Javelin event, to also record a PB of 10.92m. In another very high quality field, Jess Duncton took 2nd in the A string Hurdles in 11.7 secs, with Willmott taking 1st in the B string in the same time of 11.7 secs. The two also scored strongly in the Long Jump, both jumping over 4.60m. In another brilliant relay for Cheltenham, Duncton and Willmott combined with Lily Marchant and newcomer Catherine Smith to come 2nd in the 4 × 100m relay.

In the U15 Boys, Ben Powell ignored the heat to finish 2nd in the 1500m with a time of 4m 41.8. In a strong High Jump competition James Stanton came third with 1.65m, Arthur French also placing third in the B string with 1.50m. Finlay Jamieson had a busy afternoon in the throwing events, his best being a 3rd place in the Hammer A string with 22.05m; Will Excel put in a 27.95m throw to grab second place in the Javelin A string. The 4 × 300m relay team of Joe Coley, Ben Powell, Ed Holdsworth and Ryan Berry brought home 3rd place in a very tight finish.

In a quick U13 boys 200m, Sam Cotton came 3rd in 27.8secs. In the B string Thomas Webster ran 28.8secs to take 1st place. Webster also placed 1st in the B string High Jump. There was a double 1st in the hurdles with Harry Ineson winning the A race in 13.4 secs and Barny Shaw winning the B race in 13.6 secs. Ineson continued the day with further success, winning both the High Jump and Long Jump A string competitions. The 4 × 100m relay team of Shaw, Ineson, Webster and Seth Rodrigues put in an outstanding team effort to win in 54.7 secs. Placing 3rd on the day, and following a 3rd place finish in the previous Match in Swansea, Cheltenham can look forward to the next fixture and the opportunity to push for a play –off place in July. The next match in the League takes place in Yate on 17 June

Distance Running News, 9-13 May

There were half marathon wins for Hilary Mott in Tewkesbury and Dan King in Hereford, as the pair led their respective Cheltenham Harriers ladies and men’s teams to team victory. In Tewkesbury it was defending champion Annabel Granger of Bristol who was the leading lady in the early stages whilst Mott settled into the race in second place. However, at around four miles the Cheltenham athlete caught Granger and then slowly started pulling away to open a decisive race winning gap. Crossing the line in an excellent personal best time of 83:38, Mott finished eighth overall as she went on to take the win in by over two minutes. The battle for third place was a closer affair with Tewkesbury’s Shona Crombie-Hicks finishing 23 seconds clear of Harrier Fee Maycock who stopped the clock at 83:36. Completing the victorious Cheltenham team was Sarah Sheppard who ran 94:40 on a rare appearance over the longer distance to finish as eleventh lady home. Leah Hopton recorded 2:00:04 whilst Paul Wade made a welcome return from injury to post 86:23 for twelfth place. In the wheelchair event Ed Grazier placed second with 69:42 and Les Hampton crossed the line in 1:42:35 for fourth place.

The Harriers men dominated in Hereford with three men in the four man lead pack in the early stages as Dan King, Eliot Taylor and Jon Barnes were joined Barry Reynolds of Hereford Couriers. Barnes had clearly not recovered from winning the Newport Marathon two weeks ago and fell off the pace after the opening 5km with the lead trio staying together until Taylor dropped off in the ninth mile of the hilly course. Reynolds and Kings matched each other stride for stride and remained together as they entered the last mile, with both athletes hitting the front to make their bid for victory. However, it was King’s strength and speed that eventually took him clear as he recorded a 5:18 final mile to take the win by ten seconds in an impressive time of 73:40 on his debut over the distance. Taylor then took third in 74:38 before Barnes finished fourth in 75:19 and Dave Aubrey made it four Cheltenham runners in the top five with 78:30. In the accompanying 10m event Charlie Jones made it a Harriers double as he took the win in 33:52. Meanwhile at the Great Bristol 10k Phil Wylie took a fine second place in 30:37 as he was outsprinted by Bristol’s Tom Merson who edged three seconds clear in the final run in.

On the track Graham Rush opened his season over 5000m at the British Milers Club Grand Prix in Manchester. The GB international led the field as he closely followed the pacemaker through the opening stages and he remained at the front as he reached 4000m in 11:21 with the group down to just five runners. However, Blackheath’s Phil Sesemann hit the front with 850m to go and split the field as he went on to take the win in 13:59.27. Despite losing places on the final lap, Rush’s time of 14:11.27 for fifth place was just six seconds outside his personal best and showed encouraging early season form. At the same meeting Emma Hansen contested the ladies 800m D race where she lowered her PB to 2:16.85. Earlier in the week Alex Bampton was also in fine form over 5000m at the BMC Gold Standard event at Lee Valley. After going through 3000m in 8:58, the Oxford University student slipped just outside 15 minute pace, but still managed to trim a second off his best time with an impressive 15:06.08 for thirteenth place. At the Loughborough University Open George Watson took on the middle distance double, with 2:04.70 for third in the 800m followed by 4:11.96 for seventh over 1500m. Five Harriers contested the Gloucestershire Championships 5000m in Gloucester with Marcus England claiming bronze with 15:54.8. Martin Soakell impressed with a personal best of 17:38.8 with Elliot Prince (17:50.4) and Ian Giles (18:50.9) following him home before Rachel See picked up the county ladies title with a new personal best of 19:35.0. The Cheltenham parkrun saw a record turnout of 723 people, as the event paid its respects to former Harrier and event director Richard Walklate. Dan Owen (16:30) and Alex Lee (16:36) led the field home as they donned caps to pay homage to the popular athlete. Ollie Jones (17:40) and Doug Wight (17:41) took third and fourth and James Bingham (18:06) placed eighth. Further afield Amber Watson (21:54) was the first lady home at the Studley parkrun in Australia.

Distance Running News, 1-7 May

Richard de-Camps enjoyed an excellent week of results with a personal best at the Hereford 5k road race and a Midland League win over 1500m on the track. A strong Harriers squad again lined up for the second race in the Hereford midweek series and they were quickly prominent at the head of the field. Alex Lee lead a six man pack through the opening mile with his teammates de-Camps, James Chantler-Mayne, Dan Owen and Eliot Taylor joined by opening race winner Stuart Hawkes of Tipton. Lee continued to set the pace until just after two miles where Hawkes hit the front to up the pace and split the pack. de-Camps tried to match the recent Brighton Marathon winner as Lee fell a few yards adrift. As Hawkes pulled clear the two Cheltenham runners then swapped places as Lee tried to close the gap ahead. Whilst Hawkes had the race won as they turned onto the athletics track with 350m to go, Lee was ten metres clear of de-Camps. However, the track specialist hit back with a big finish to take a fine second place just six seconds behind Hawkes. de-Camps’ time of 15:23 was a nineteen second road PB and also twelve seconds faster than his best time over 5000m on the track. In third place Lee recorded a pleasing time of 15:28 before Taylor came through to record an impressive PB of 15:41 for fourth place. The wave of white vests continued as Marcus England lowered his PB to 15:50 and Owen took sixth in 15:53. Chantler-Mayne (15:59), Charlie Jones (16:02) and Dave Aubrey (16:11) then continued the dominance as they made it eight Cheltenham athletes in the top nine. Alice Taylor then repeated her win of the opening series race as she was the first lady home in an impressive 17:43 as she finished 38 seconds clear of the Forest of Dean’s Victoria Baker. Dan Minor then finished as second V45 runner with a season’s best of 18:00 before Martin Soakell quickly followed in a personal best of 18:04 and Scott Jones completed the Harriers contingent in 18:09.

The weekend then saw de-Camps play a key role as the clubs’ distance runners made a strong contribution to the team at the opening Midland Track and Field League Division One fixture at Yate. Having already placed second in a tactical 800m A race in 1:59.05, de-Camps was well placed as a large group reached the bell in the 1500m. In the closest of battles down the home straight the Cheltenham athlete edged out Bristol’s Kurt Taylor by 0.1 seconds to take the win in 4:03.6. Dan Owen ensured maximum points in the event as he took the B string win in 4:06.7 for sixth place overall whilst non-scorer George Watson took eighth in a PB of 4:09.4. Owen had earlier won the 2000m steeplechase in 6:21.0 as he kicked clear on the final lap. Luke Kearns made it a Harriers double by winning the B string in 6:41.2 for third place. The hot weather wasn’t conducive to fast times in the 5000m where Oli Mott (15:49.6) was second A runner in fourth place and Dan Thomas (16:30.4) was the second B runner in fifth position. In the 800m B race George Hawthorne made his senior debut with third place in 2:05.5. The ladies 3000m brought good points for the team with Hilary Mott winning the sprint for the line to take second in 10:44.4 and Naomi Eaton taking the B string win in 10:49.2 as she finished in fourth place. In the 1500m Rachel See impressed with a personal best of 5:13.7 to finish as fourth A runner in fifth position whilst Ella Burfitt was fourth B runner in 5:27.8. At the Bank Holiday Monday Brewer Games in Cheltenham Matthew Dwerryhouse finished second in the 1500m in 4:34.2, a position matched by Dan Minors in the 3000m in 10:41.9. Parkrun success over the weekend came at a variety of locations with Alice Earle (19:40) finishing as the first lady home at the Newcastle event and Alex Lee (16:28) winning in Cheltenham where Tamsin Carpenter (22:33) also had a run out. Marc Fallows (17:20) set a new course record on his way to victory in Cirencester whilst Ian Giles (19:32) enjoyed crossing the line first at the Gloucester North event. At the Gloucester City parkun Gareth Edwards (18:33) and James Bingham (18:49) finished second and third respectively.

Distance Running News, 26-29 April

Cheltenham Harriers athletes enjoyed a successful weekend as Jon Barnes took a fine second place at the Newport Marathon and Alex Bampton set an excellent 10,000m personal best at the British Universities Championship. In his third marathon, and first race over the classic 26.2 mile distance since 2015, Barnes went into the race hoping to break the 2:40 barrier as he embarked on the inaugural South Wales event. Whilst enjoying conditions much cooler than his clubmates faced at London last weekend, a stiff breeze was far from ideal on a course that was relatively flat and fast. Right from the opening stages it was Barnes and Neath’s James Carpenter who pulled clear of the field as they covered the opening 5km in 18:31. By the time they had passed 10km in 36:53 the pair had extended their lead and they were never challenged as the passed the halfway mark in 77:11. The fascinating duel continued with neither athlete getting away and they passed 21 miles together in 2:03:57. However, at this point Barnes started to tire and by 23 miles Carpenter had pulled six seconds clear as he went on to establish a race winning gap. The Welshman went on to take the win in 2:33:32 with Barnes managing to hold his race together to record a very impressive 2:34:13, a time fifteen minutes quicker than the PB he set whilst winning the 2015 Hereford Marathon.

The previous day on the track saw Alex Bampton take on the countries best student runners at the British Universities 10,000m Championships in Loughborough. Having set a 69:14 personal best at the Valencia Half Marathon last month, Bampton went into the race with his previous best time of 31:29.42 a realistic target. After making an early decision to the let the lead pack go, Bampton paced himself to halfway in 15:25 having passed through the opening 3000m in 9:14. Fading only slightly in the second half, the Oxford University post-graduate recorded an excellent 31:07.65 for a pleasing tenth place. Also in action at the Paula Radcliffe track was George Watson who was contesting the Loughborough University trials over 3000m where he finished ninth as he lowered his personal best to 9:08.62. There was also an early season PB for Andrew van Kints in the Guernsey Endurance Open where he finished second in the 5000m in a time of 15:50.4.

Back on the roads there were second placed finishes for both Dave Tomlin and Fee Maycock at the Dave McNamee Memorial 10k at Temple Guiting. Just seven days after completing the London Marathon, Tomlin recorded 36:36 as finished 53 seconds adrift of Bourton’s Tim Carter for the hilly course that is not conducive to fast times. Elliot Prince (39:20) and Andy Gore (39:33) took fourth and fifth respectively before Dave Rantell (39:52) fittingly made it four Cheltenham runners in the top seven of the rebranded Cotswold 10k that honours the former Harriers stalwart. Maycock’s 41:11 saw as the second lady home as she finished 46 seconds behind Tewkesbury’s Shona Crombie-Hicks. Mike Ede (41:04) then finished as second vet 60 runner before Paul Barnes (45:59), Leah Hopton (50:37) and Adrian Higgs (53:12) completed the club contingent. Also taking on a hilly challenge was Gareth Edwards who finished second in the Malvern Trails Half Marathon in 1:40. Weekend parkruns saw Martin Soakell (18:58) and Ian Giles (19:15) finish fifth and sixth at the Cheltenham event where Hannah D’Ambrosio (21:43) was the second lady home. Alister Brown (19:54) took second place in Evesham, a position matched by Kaitlyn Sheppard (21:14) who was the first lady home at the Tewkesbury parkrun.