Distance Running News, 14-15 April

Cheltenham Harriers ladies team enjoyed their highest ever finish at the National Six Stage Road Relay Championships in Sutton Coldfield with a fine fourteenth place. The highly competitive opening stage saw Beth Hawling take on the undulating 5.4 mile long leg and bring the team home in thirteenth place with a time of 31:34. The shorter 3.2 mile short leg then saw Hilary Mott gain two places with an impressive time of 18:23 before Vickie Wilkinson both gained and lost a place to hold position with a pleasing 19:55. Alice Taylor then took on the final long leg and recorded 33:32 as the team again found themselves in thirteenth, before Naomi Eaton improved on her Midland Relay time at the same venue with 19:46 to maintain position. The final leg then saw new signing Roxanne Jones make her team debut and her 20:54 brought the Harriers home in an excellent fourteenth position. Having claimed the bronze medal at last month’s Midland Championships the team were again pleased to be the third placed Midland team.

The men’s twelve stage event was held over the same course, with runners alternating between the long and short legs. Phil Wylie gave the team a good start on leg one as he came home in 19th place with a time of 27:14 before Eliot Taylor’s 16:46 left the team in 21st position. Making their first appearances at the iconic venue, Luke Pollard posted a pleasing 28:06 to hand over in 22nd and George Watson held position with 16:52. Oli Mott’s 28:03 then took the Harriers into 23rd before Charlie Jones clawed back three places with 16:42 as the race reached the half way stage. Dan Owen then posted 29:44 to hand over in 24th place to Dan King who gained two places back with 16:51 and then Alex Lee took the team back into 20th with 28:35. Edd Charlton-Weedy then completed his preparations for the London Marathon with a 16:51 clocking as the positions remained unchanged before Marcus England both lost and gained a place with 28:59. The final leg then saw Dave Aubrey run well to gain a place as his 16:54 brought the Cheltenham team home in nineteenth position as the fifth Midland team home.

The weekend also saw Ian Glles finish sixteenth in the Boston Marathon with his time of 2:58:54 earning him first place in the MV50 category at the Liincolnshire race. At the Cheltenham parkrun Ben Price moved up to fifth place on the Cheltenham parkrun all-time ranking lists with a win in 16:0. Further Harriers representation saw Doug Wight (18:12) placed fourth, Matt Lambourne (18:30) finished sixth and Gareth Edwards (18:36) take eighth whilst Katerina Horrocks (22:37)and Isabel Ovens (22:51) also enjoyed a run out at the Pittville Park event . Marc Fallows meanwhile contested the Cirencester parkrun where he took first place in 17:43.

Distance Running News, 4-8 April

Fee Maycock produced yet another excellent marathon performance to finish as the first over 50 lady home with another sub three hour clocking at the Manchester Marathon. Having recorded a time of 2:56.40 in Frankfurt last October, Maycock had finished 2017 with the fifth fastest time for the age group in the UK rankings and was looking to put down an early season mark for the 2018 lists. Beginning the race with a 40:34 opening 10km, she lay just 35 seconds behind former Harriers teammate Shona Crombie-Hicks (Tewkesbury) at the first time check. By halfway this gap was reduced to 12 seconds with Maycock registering an 86:37 split. From 14 miles the pair ran side by side before Maycock pulled clear after passing 20 miles in 2:13.04. Continuing to run well through the closing miles the Cheltenham athlete crossed the line in an impressive 2.56.50 to win the LV50 age group and finish as twelfth lady home. Maycock’s time also earned her top place in the UK rankings for the age group and gives the country’s other top LV50 runners something to aim for throughout the year. Despite a difficult build up to the race Crombie-Hicks finished exactly one minute behind to win the younger LV45 age group. The only other Harrier contesting the race was Leah Hopton who also ran well as she lowered her personal best to 4:11:43.

Further success for the Harriers ladies saw Alice Taylor enjoy two race wins in a week with a victory in the Kymin Dash 7 mile multi-terrain race in Monmouth just four days after finishing as first lady in the opening event of the Hereford 5k road race. Taylor won the midweek event by 49 seconds as she clocked 18:00 to finish clear of Chloe Wheeler of the Forest of Dean. Roxanne Jones made her debut for the club and recorded 20:25 to finish as sixth lady home. At the head of the race a large contingent of Harriers men were in a lead group of fifteen that went through the opening mile into a strong wind in a relatively slow 5:14. Tipton’s Stuart Hawkes then hit the front and his strong injection of pace plit the field as he took Alex Lee and Bristol’s Luke Evans clear of the field. Lee stuck with the pace until the final half mile before having to settle for third in 15:51 as Hawkes (15:25) and Evans (15:35) claimed the top two spots. Behind Lee the Harriers then packed well as a wave of white vests saw Dave Newport’s squad comfortably take the team win as they packed seven runners into the top nine. Eliot Taylor took fourth in 15:56 and Marcus England claimed fifth in a personal best of 15:59. Charlie Jones (16:03) then pipped Jon Barnes by a single second before Dave Aubrey (16:21) and Dan King (16:26) made it seven Harriers in a row. In twelfth place Mark James (16:56) finished as second veteran. Martin Soakell lowered his road PB for the distance to 18.25 whilst Dan MInors and Steve Bradley recorded times of 18:29 and 19:00 respectively.

Jon Barnes followed up his pleasing midweek performance with a victory in the Forest of Dean Trails Half Marathon where his time of 75:09 saw him finish 41 seconds clear of Gloucester’s Steve Millward. There was also a weekend win for Ben Price at the Enys 10k race in Cornwall where he posted a time of 33:28. Weekend parkruns saw the Harriers prominent at the Cheltenham event where Alex Lee (16:31) and Beth Hawling (18:11) claimed first place finishes. Marcus England (16:41) and Dave Aubrey (16:58) claimed second and fourth respectively before Ian Giles (19:29) completed his build up to the Boston Marathon and Katerina Horrocks (22:45) finished as third lady home. Dave Tomlin (17:24) took the win at the Kingsway event in Gloucester, whilst the Gloucester City parkrun saw Gareth Edwards (17:57) and James Bingham (18:13) finish second and third respectively. Andy Gore (18:00) placed sixth at the Wolverhampton event and further afield Amber Watson (22:14) was the second lady home at the Studley parkrun in Australia.

Distance Running News, 27 March - 3 April

Cheltenham Harriers were prominent at the opening instalment of the new Filton Flyer 5k road race series. This new series is Bristol and West AC’s replacement for the obsolete Aztec West 5ks. On the testing course, James Chantler-Mayne put himself in the lead group from the start, with Marcus England just off the front pack. As the group split, the GB junior triathlete eventually took third with a time of 16:11 as Stroud's Brett Halliwell (15:42) and Avon Valley's Max Davis (16:01) claimed the top two spots. Meanwhile, England continued his excellent 2018 form as he lowered his personal best to 16:15 to take fifth place. Andy Prophett posted a time of 18:30, with Martin Soakell not far behind as he set a road PB of 18:40.

On Good Friday, Ben Price won the inaugural Westonbirt Easter 10k, organised by DB Max Events. Despite over 800 runners taking part, there was little competition for Price who finished 6 minutes ahead of his nearest rival, Claire Hann, in a time of 32.42 – a pleasing time for the GB elite duathlete on a slow course. On Saturday, there were plenty of representatives from the club at various Parkruns at home and abroad. In Cheltenham, Marcus England took the win in 17.05, closely followed by Dave Aubrey in 17.10. Oliver Doherty dipped under 20 minutes and Ella Burfitt came home as the 3rd lady in 21.25, with Katarina Horrocks placing 6th in 23.05. Elsewhere, Phil Beastall made his comeback following some time off with a win in 16.44 on an altered course at the Worcester Pitchcroft Parkrun. Alex Doherty, refreshed after his Age Group win at the British Duathlon Championships (2nd overall), clocked a time of 17.41 for 4th place at the same event. Mark Fallows took the win at the Cirencester Parkrun in 18.36 with Tom Keylock placing 7th in 20.36. James Wilkinson came 10th in the Gloucester Parkrun in a time of 19.31. There were also several Harriers racing abroad with Gareth Edwards placing 4th in the Warsaw Parkrun in a time of 18.40 and Elliot Prince and Andrew Kaighin competed in the three day Algarve Challenge in Portugal over the long weekend. The first event was on Good Friday, involving a 4.5k cross country race, in which Prince placed 8th and Kaighin 13th. On Saturday the competitors endured a 5k beach race with Elliot placing 11th and Kaighin 16th. The final event was a challenging half marathon which took place on the Sunday. Elliot stopped the clock at 84.42 to take 22nd and Kaighin was 56th in 94.52. The final race of the long weekend involving Cheltenham Harriers was Tewkesbury Running Club’s Bushley Mile where 2nd lady Sarah Sheppard posted 5.47 to finish as the 2nd lady. Kaitlyn Sheppard stopped the clock at 5.59 to finish 7th and Mark James placed 3rd in 5.02 in the mens race.

Distance Running News, 24-25 March

Alex Bampton produced an excellent performance to break the 70 minute barrier for the first time at the Valencia Half Marathon. On a windy day that also saw the event host the World Marathon Championship, the Oxford University student started sensibly and went through the opening 5km in 16:33 before passing the 10k mark in 33:10. After a 16:39 split for the next 5km into the wind, Bampton then posted a 16:05 for the split to 20km. He then continued to speed up with an impressive 3:03 final kilometre to record a time of 69:14, a result that that saw him take over a minute and a half from his previous personal best and finish 36th from the mass start runners not involved in the World Championship. Beth Hawling meanwhile represented England in the Home Nations International Cross Country race in Nottingham where she established herself in the lead pack of five on the opening lap. On the second circuit her England teammate Ellie Baker broke clear and went on to claim the win, whilst Hawling battled for second with Charlotte Christiensen (England) and Anna Tait (Scotland). The two England runners then pulled clear and battled it out for second, before Hawling pulled clear to finish four seconds clear of her teammate on the final downhill section.

The weekend also saw the Harriers host their annual 14 mile Cleevewold race with runners facing many testing climbs on the 14 mile multi-terrain event on Cleeve Hill. Alex Lee led the challenge for the host club and traded the lead with Richard Purkis of North Gloucestershire Orienteering Club throughout the first half of the race. Whilst Lee was strong on the up hills, Purkis repeatedly made up ground with his fast descents and eventually pulled clear of Lee to take the win by 56 seconds. Last year’s winner Tomasso Migliuolo was almost four minutes further back in third. Dave Tomlin was the first veteran home in fourth place before Doug Wight made it four Harriers in the top six for a comfortable team victory. Miguel Mundinano was the third veteran in ninth place whilst Andy Gore finished thirteenth and Ian Giles took the V50 cetargory win in 19th position. Further veteran honours came as Mike Ede won the V60 age group in 33rd before Simon Critchley (36th), Anthony Rossi (41st), Paul Barnes (54th), Dave Hemmings (55th) and Michael Imeson (98th) completed the Harriers contingent. The Gloucester 20 mile road race gave four Harriers a good opportunity to test out their fitness as part of their preparations for next month’s London Marathon. Joe Willgoss impressed with a personal best of 2:04:17 for sixteenth place whilst Andy Gardiner recorded 2:07:15, Matt Lambourne posted 2:25:44 and Leah Hopton completed the three lap course in 2:55:23.

The weekend also saw several club athletes compete in the elite races at the British Duathlon Championship in Bedford with Luke Pollard the highest placed Harrier in tenth place ahead of Phil Wylie in twelfth and Ben Price in thirteenth. In the elite ladies race Naomi Eaton finished fourteenth. In the age group races at the same venue Alex Doherty put in an impressive performance to finish second overall to take gold in his 35-39 age group. Weekend parkruns saw Alex Lee (16:03) take the win in an event PB at the Cheltenham event where Jo WIlkie (20:36) was the first lady whilst there were three Harriers in the top four at the Kingsway event in Gloucester where Dave Tomlin (17:23) took the win ahead of Gareth Edwards (18:26) and James Bingham (18:41) who finished third and fourth respectively.

European Indoor Masters Champs, 19-24 March

Jane Horder and Michael Gardiner enjoyed success at the European Masters Indoor Championships in Madrid. Horder took gold in the over 60s 60m hurdles in a championship best performance time of 9.89 seconds and was also a member of the GB 4×200m relay time who broke the world record by just over two seconds She also placed fourth in the 60m sprint, running 9.07 in the heat and 9.10 seconds in the final. Gardiner meanwhile took silver in the over 45s 400m in a time of 53.31 seconds.

Distance Running News, 17 March

Cheltenham Harriers celebrated success at the Midland Road Relay Championships in Sutton Coldfield as their ladies and men’s teams both claimed superb bronze medals. With sub-zero temperatures, frequent blizzards and ice cold winds, there was more than the famous Sutton Park hills for the athletes to battle against as the region’s top clubs went head to head. In the ladies six stage event Alice Taylor led the Harriers off on the opening 5.4 mile long leg. Running well, she handed over in fifth place from the 55 teams with a time of 32:39 as Bristol, Birchfield and Tipton filled the early medal positions. Rachel Longstaff then tackled the first of the 3.2 mile short legs, gaining two places with an impressive 18:44. This took Cheltenham within 55 seconds of Bristol, as Birchfield started to build an unassailable race winning lead that was never challenged. Beth Hawling then took the next long leg and quickly set about reducing the deficit as she took the team up into second place. Stopping the clock at 30:43, the fourth fastest time of the day, Hawling finished 29 seconds clear of rivals Bristol as she handed over to Naomi Eaton. In her first race of the year, Eaton recorded 19:53 to maintain position, although Bristol closed to within 13 seconds. Veteran Fee Maycock then ran well with a 20:24 clocking, but was overtaken by Bristol who then started the final leg with a 36 advantage over the Harriers. With no imminent pressure from behind, the bronze medals were assured as Sarah Sheppard’s 21:01 brought Jo Wilkie’s team home in a third place. This fine achievement was the first time a Cheltenham team had ever claimed medals in the regional six stage championship.

The men meanwhile competed over 12 stages with the Cheltenham team hoping to add to their silver and bronze medals from the previous two championships. Oli Mott got the team off to a great start with a 27:40 long leg to put the team in second position from 57 teams, as Birchfield took a 59 second lead and Tipton trailed the Harriers by just six seconds. Phil Wylie then ran third fastest leg of the day as his 27:13 closed within two seconds of the leaders, with Tipton now 25 seconds adrift and defending champions Bristol just a further 29 seconds behind. The positions remained unchanged on leg three with Alex Bampton impressing with 27:36 as Birchfield gained 13 seconds and Tipton lost 19. The final long then saw Ben Price post 27:50 as Birchfield extended their lead to 36 seconds whilst the Harriers held an advantage of 22 seconds over Tipton and an exact one minute over Bristol. Richard de-Camps took the first of the eight short legs and recorded 16:38 to gain a second on Birchfield, but Tipton and Bristol meanwhile made gains of 13 and 49 seconds respectively. Dan Owen’s 16:23 saw Birchfield gain six more seconds, but the gaps behind grew as Bristol overtook Tipton. The Bristol charge then continued on leg 7 as they swept into the lead through Will Christoffi, whilst James Chantler-Mayne ran well for 16:38 on his Sutton Park debut to close within thirteen seconds of Birchfield. Alex Lee then ran the team’s fasters short leg with 16:20 to take Cheltenham back up into second, with the gap ahead to Bristol now 28 seconds and the gap to third placed Birchfield up to 55 seconds. Leg 9 saw Marcus England post 17:03 to hold position, but Birchfield closed to within 28 seconds as Bristol extended their advantage to over a minute. Stage 10 then saw things close up yet again with Eliot Taylor’s 16:38 meaning that after three and a half hours of racing Bristol were just 24 seconds ahead of the Harriers and Birchfield just 13 seconds behind. Both the Harriers rivals had strong leg 11 athletes, with Charlie Jones’ 16:51 meaning the Harriers dropped back to third with one leg remaining, with gaps of 67 and 36 seconds now to Bristol and Birchfield. The final leg saw Jacob Pickering post 17:08 to ensure the bronze medals as the Cheltenham time of 4:03:58 trailed Bristol (4:02:05) and Birchfield (4:02:21), but kept the team clear of fourth placed Tipton (4:04:41).

The Harriers also entered a B team into the competition and showed their strength in depth with a fine display as Dan King (29:14) put the team in 14th before Dave Aubrey (29:11) gained three places and Edd Charlton-Weedy (29:16) moved the squad up into seventh place. Dan Thomas (29:29) then took the team up to sixth on the final long leg, a position that Mark James (17:44) held on the opening short stage. Mike Gray (20:16) struggled on stage 7 as the team dropped back to tenth, but an impressive 17:40 from Alex Lindfield gained two places back. The team position then was held through Andy Gore (18:20), Matt Lambourne (18:57), Roger Mullins (18:02) and Ian Giles (19:14) before team manager Andy Prophett (19:36) ensured the team remained the highest placed B team in eighth place overall. Weekend parkruns meanwhile saw Gareth Edwards (17:48) enjoy a win at the Worcester Pitchcroft event whilst Gwenael Blanck (18:43) was first over the line at the Cheltenham event where Rachel See (21:09) was the second lady home.