Distance Running News, 10-14 July

Rachel Longstaff continued her fine recent form with a seventh place finish in the ladies 1500m at the British Milers’ Club Gold Standard meeting in Watford. In a race won by USA international athlete Sarah Pagano in 4:18.94, the Cambridge University student’s 4:37.5 was her second fastest time over the distance and just three seconds outside her recent personal best. Unsurprisingly, the clash with England’s World Cup semi-final meant that entry numbers were down as the Harriers hosted the second of their Midsummer Open Meetings. However, George Hawthorne ran well to post a season’s best of 2:05.2 for second place in the 800m as Will Ferguson (CLC) took the win in 2:02.6. The 3000m saw Nick Brown and Henry James finish fifth and sixth in 9:51.0 and 10:06.9 respectively as Oxford’s Will Gardiner won a closely contested race in 9:30.8.

Meanwhile on the roads Graham Rush won the York 5k in a time of 14:57 for a 55 second winning margin. Dan King made the trip over the Welsh border to contest the Chepstow Harriers organised Rose Inn 4 mile road race, where he finished ninth in a time of 21:41. On a quiet weekend of action several Harriers made good use of various parkruns ahead of their upcoming track races, with four athletes recording first place finishes. Dave Tomlin set a course PB of 16:44 as he claimed the win at the Kingsway event in Gloucester, whilst recently crowned duathlon age group world champion Alex Doherty lowered his course PB to 17:04 to cross the line first at the Evesham parkrun for a record fourteenth time. Dave Aubrey (17:26) led the field home at the Cheltenham event in Pittville Park where Dan Minors (18:31) set a course PB in fifth place and Oscar Godden (19:25) also enjoyed a run out. Kaitlyn Sheppard’s 20:31 saw her finish as the leading lady in Tewkesbury and Matt Lambourne recorded 19:16 for fifth place in Daventry.

Distance Running News, 2-8 July

Dan Owen moved to the top of the UK rankings as he set a new Cheltenham Harriers and Midland League 2000m steeplechase record as the club’s distance runners excelled at their home league match at the Prince of Wales Stadium. Having only finished third in the 3000m steeplechase in 9:15.2 at the British Athletic League match in Bedford the previous day, Owen was eager to post a fast time in Sunday’s fixture and took the lead straight from the gun. Unchallenged throughout, the Dave Newport coached athlete stopped the clock at an impressive 5:49.1, as he took over three seconds off his own PB, club record and league record as well as moving to the top of the national rankings for the less frequently contested steeplechase distance. Luke Kearns ensure maximum points in the steeplechase as he was first B runner home in third place overall with 6:49.2. The ladies 3000m then also provided the team with the perfect 16 points as Hilary Mott led from the start to quickly open up a gap on the field. Easing up to conserve energy in the closing laps, Mott took the win in 10.44 before Fee Maycock won the B string win a personal best of 11:05.0 in third position. Mayccok’s time was also a Cheltenham Harriers LV45 and LV50 club record and places her fourth on the national LV50 rankings for the year. The men’s 5000m saw six Harriers toe the line as the excessive 4pm temperatures made conditions far from ideal. Birchfield’s Alistair Rutherford led for the opening mile, with only Alex Lee in contact as the five remaining Harriers stayed in the pack. Once Lee made his move the race was never in doubt and he finished clear of the field to take the win in 15:39.5. In his third race of the afternoon, Rhys Park ran well within himself, just doing enough to take second overall and claim the B string win in 15:50.3. Dom James enjoyed a fine track debut to finish fourth in 16:06.0 before Charlie Jones (16:07.9) and Marcus England (16:09.6) took the next two places and Eliot Taylor (16:15.6) completed the Cheltenham squad in eighth. Earlier in the meeting the men’s 1500m also brought a good points with Richard de-Camps finishing second in 4:08.6 as Tamworth’s Tom Randolph won the race by a single second. In fourth place Park took the B string win in 4:12.1. In the ladies race Mott took second in a PB of 4:57.6 and Maycock finished as second B runner in 5:24.8 for yet another club LV50 record. The 800m saw Park take third in the A race in 2:00.3, with John Merrett finishing third B runner in a V45 club record of 2:07.2 just behind non-scorer George Hawthorne who recorded 2:06.7. In the ladies B race Georgia Palmer impressed on her senior debut as she took the win in a PB of 2:25.2 after Katerina Horrocks had finished fifth in the A race in 2:33.9.

Midweek action also saw the Harriers host the first of their Midsummer Open meetings, with the mile the focus for the club’s distance runners. Dan Owen took the win in 4:17.3 as he finished 1.5 seconds clear of Bristol’s Ben Robinson. Alex Lee (4:35.7) took sixth before places ten to twelve were taken by Ollie Jones (4:47.0), Marc Fallows (4:47.3) and Mark James (4:49.4). The B race saw Matthew Dwerryhouse (4:50.9) take the win from Nick Brown (4:53.0) before Mike Gray (4:59.2) and Roger Mullins (5:01.8) followed in fifth and eighth respectively. Martin Soakell then lowered his PB to 5:02.6 whilst James Bingham (5:12.0) and Dan Minors (5:26.1) also had a run out. Alister Brown (5:04.9) took second in the C race in which Kaitlyn Sheppard (5:33.0) was the second fastest lady of the evening. In the D race Katerina Horrocks (5:50.2), Molly Dibden (5:50.4) and Fee Maycock (5:50.7) had a close battle with Maycock’s time a club LV45 and LV50 record that also places her second on this year’s national LV50 rankings. Elswehere, Andrew van Kints won the 3000m at the Guernsey Open in 9:05.77.

Whilst the focus for most of the club’s athletes was the track, the week started with a Monday night victory for Alex Lee (33:30) at the Frampton 10k where Mark James (36:45) was the first veteran home in fifth place. Dave Rantell (38:56) followed before Fee Maycock (40:38) finished as second lady and Martin Ford (47:13) was the first V70 athlete. At the Gloucester 10k defending champion Richard Dare (35:03) finished second behind Stroud’s Lee Stopford in a race where Gareth Edwards (38:00) and Steve Bradley (41:05) also battled against the heat. Weekend parkruns brought three first place finishes with John Parker (16:45) and James Bingham (17:26) filling the top two slots at the Cheltenham event where Dan Minors (18:45) placed tenth. Mark James (17:23) was first home at the Kingsway event in Gloucester whilst Dave Tomlin (17:30) took the win at the Killerton parkrun in Devon.

Distance Running News, 30 June

Cheltenham Harriers enjoyed an excellent team victory in the Cotswold Way Relay as Oli Mott and Dom James both enjoyed fine stage victories. The event, which comprises ten separate stage races, follows the Cotswold Way from Chipping Campden to Bath Abbey with competitors having to self-navigate the demanding off road route. In the cooler 7:00am conditions Dan King took the opening 12 mile leg to Stanway and got the team off to a good start as he placed third behind Nick Barry (CLC) and Steve Millward (Gloucester), but importantly ahead of likely rivals for the team event from Bristol, Bath and Stroud. Mott then took the Harriers into the lead on the second 11.5 mile stage to Cleeve Common. Finishing almost six minutes clear of the field he broke James Denne’s course record as give the Harriers a ten minute lead over Bath in the team standings. Captaining the team on the leg to Severn Springs Elliot Prince took a pleasing third place. Whilst Bath lost significant ground, Peter Grandon finished second for Bristol to gain time on the Harriers and take his team into second, but the Cheltenham team still enjoyed a good lead. However, Bristol’s star man Owain Jones was on the fourth stage of Cranham and he gained over six minutes on Richard Dare, who himself ran well for second place. This still left the Harriers with a 3:45 lead at the start of stage five to Stroud, but Maciej Bialogonski’s third place gave the Avon club almost ten minutes over Mark James who placed ninth meaning Bristol held a 6:21 advantage with half of the stages completed.

Dave Aubrey’s third place on the route to Dursley reduced the deficit to the leaders by 1:30, but a second place on stage seven to Wotton-under-Edge saw Bristol gain 36 seconds over fifth placed Gareth Edwards. However, it was the 12 mile leg to Old Sodbury that proved to be pivotal in the race, with Dom James taking an excellent stage win for the Cheltenham team whilst the Bristol runner athlete finished in 22nd place over eighteen minutes later. Off road specialist Tommaso Migliuolo was going well on the penultimate leg to Cold Ashton, but a navigational error whilst in second place saw him lose time and finish in ninth place, although with Bristol in eleventh his error was less significant. With an advantage of over thirteen minutes going into the final stage, it was left to club stalwart Roger Mullins to bring the team home with a sixth place finish and a final winning margin of 10:16 over Bristol as the club regained the trophy it last won in 2016. The Harriers also had a team entered in the mixed category, with the highlight being Hilary Mott finishing as first lady on stage three as she finished in fifth place overall, whilst last minute call up Alex Lindfied took a pleasing fourth place on the final leg to Bath Abbey. Other stage placings were Andrew Kaighin 15th, Anthony Rossi 22nd, Mike Gray 15th, Russell Forsbrook 15th, Charlotte Deacon 101st, Paul Barnes 45th and Jo Fletcher 32nd as they finished as fifth mixed team.

Graham Rush was in action on the track where he contested the 5000m at the British Championships in Birmingham where he lined up against the country’s best runners in a 27 strong field. In touch with the lead group until the final kilometre, Rush placed fourteenth in a season’s best time of 14:08.49, just three seconds outside his PB as Richmond’s Marc Scott took the title in 13:47. Beth Hawling (17:58) made a welcome return to action at the Cheltenham parkrun where she finished as first lady home in sixth place whilst Martin Soakell (18:45) took tenth position. There were also wins for Fee Maycock (19:55) who was first lady and fourth overall at the Gloucester North event and for Dave Tomlin (18:06) at the Trelissick parkrun in Cornwall. Harriers also filled the top two places at the Swindon parkrun through Alex Bampton (16:19) and Dan Thomas (16:54)

Distance Running News, 20-24 June

Ben Price continued his rich vein of form with an excellent personal best at the Bristol and West 5000m meeting held in Yate. Price was one of three Cheltenham runners in the lead pack of seven athletes that followed the pacemaker through the opening kilometre in 2:58. An identical second kilometre meant the group reached 2000m in 5:56, with Harriers Richard de-Camps and James Chantler-Mayne falling off the pace at the start of the third kilometre. This left Price in a pack that included the Bristol pair of Jack Bancroft and Ben Robinson, as well Chiltern’s Allan Stewart and Taunton’s Phil Burden. The pacemaker stepped aside after taking the athletes through 3000m in 8:55, with the Bristol athletes then pulling clear as Price tracked Burden whilst a further gap opened over Stewart. Still following the Taunton runner, Price passed through 4000m in 11:59 with a personal best almost certain, but with his prospect of a sub 15 clocking looking less likely. The GB elite duathlete responded by moving up into third and reached the bell in 13:50, before his 71 second last lap stopped the clock a 15:01.89 for a 23 second PB. However, this left Price in fourth as he was pipped on the line by just 0.11 seconds by the fast finishing Stewart as Bancroft (14:45.14) and Robinson (14:47.68) impressively took the top two spots. Alex Lee moved through from the second pack to finish eighth in 15:20.46, before de-Camps and Chantler-Mayne completed the top ten with 15:23.80 and 15:25.80 respectively. In thirteenth Eliot Taylor set a track PB of 15:41.51 that matched his best road time for the distance, whilst Charlie Jones was one place behind with 15:50.32. In the B race Dave Aubrey excelled as he lowered his PB to 16:06.68 for sixth place and veteran Mark James improved on his recent road form with 16:24.95 for eleventh position. Gareth Edwards ran a well-paced race in the D event to lower his PB to 17:42.39 for ninth, with teammate Martin Soakell one place behind with 17:52.97. The E race saw Ian Giles record 19:14.07 for eleventh place whilst Rachel See stopped the clock at 19:42.17 for fifth place in the F race.

At the British Milers’ Club Grand Prix event in Loughborough, Rachel Longstaff followed up her excellent 17:08.62 PB from the previous weekend’s England under 23 Championship with a ten second improvement to her1500m PB as she recorded 4:34.55 for third place in the ladies’ D race. Dan Owen was in action in the men’s 5000m C race where he attacked the race from the start to pass through 3000m in 8:44. Despite fading in the later stages, the Midland Champion still posted a season’s best of 14:54.71 for tenth position. In the A race Rhys Park finished in 23rd position in 14:55.93. Midweek BMC regional action saw Richard de-Camps continue his fine 1500m form as he won the 1500m A race at Tipton in a season’s best of 3:58.55 on an evening where conditions were not conducive to fast times. Meanwhile at the meeting to mark the opening of the new Birmingham University track Jacob Pickering finish fifth in the mile B race in a time of 4:32.62. On the roads Marcus England contested the Swansea Half Marathon where he ran isolated in fifth place for the last 11 miles of the race for a time of 71:49. After returning to action with a win at the Bourton Hilly Half last weekend, John Parker found an even tougher 13.1 mile event as he won the North Devon AONB off road event in a time of 87:15. The fastest parkrun by a Harrier this weekend came from Dave Tomlin at the Kingsway event in Gloucester where he finished third in a course PB of 16:56.

U13 & U15 Youth Development League, 17 June

The young athletes of Cheltenham Harriers achieved a significant landmark on Sunday 17 June, as the National Youth Development League moved to Round Three in Yate. By placing fourth on the day, but maintaining third place in the Premier League overall, they have qualified for the Championship play-off round for the first time. This is a fantastic result, especially as two of the other teams in their Division made it all the way to the Nationals last yearThe grey cloud and gusting winds seemed out of place, but the conditions did little to affect the enthusiasm and commitment of the Under 13 and Under 15 athletes.

The Hurdles have become a real strength this season, and meant that Cheltenham started well, with the first events on the track being the U13 age group. Harry Ineson and Barnie Shaw made it a double first for Cheltenham in the A and B races, in 13.76s and 13.14 respectively. The girls then followed with Jess Duncton coming third in a very fast A race with 11.80s, and Lorna Willmott winning the B race and breaking her own Club record with 11.25s. Staying with the U13 Girls, there were successes right across the team. Serena Ihle-Matthews made a strong debut, placing second in the A shot with 7.24m, following it with a throw of 15.73m in the A javelin to take third. Seren Jones put in one of the performances of the day, setting a new PB of 4:05.16 in winning the A 1200m and coping well with the strong gusting wind. In the 150m, Jess Duncton placed third in a very fast A race in 20.19, with Lorna Willmott then winning the B race in a new PB of 19.54s.

In the U13 boys, the 800m proved fruitful as William Holdsworth came second in the A string with 2:35.38; and then an excellent run by Barnie Shaw took him to victory in the B race in 2:32.71. In the field, Sam Cotton and Harry Ineson made it another double first in the Long Jump, Cotton winning the A with a jump of 4.32m and Ineson winning the B with 4.29m. Ineson went on to win the A High Jump with 1.41m. Connor Hilton had another successful day in the field, winning the boys A Shot Put with 7.15m, and then the B javelin with 21.34m. The versatile Hal Jamieson placed fourth in the A javelin with 22.79m, before completing a gruelling 1500m.

In the U15 events, a number of the athletes were suffering the effects of competing for Gloucestershire the previous day at the Schools SW Championships in Exeter. Such is the spirit in the squad that they made sure they turned out for this crucial League match. Kaityln Sheppard, Jorja Webb, Molly Gould, Ed Holdsworth and Alfie Wood all overcame fatigue to place well in their events, with Molly Gould looking fluent to come third in the A string Hurdles in a time of 12.31s. Making her debut in the competition, Daisy Hall placed third in the A High Jump with 1.40, before running a very strong first leg in the 4×300m relay.

In the U15 boys, Ryan Berry took third place in the 300m A, with Joe Coley following up with third place in the B race. In the Pole Vault, Robert Smith showed his consistency, matching his PB with 2.40 to take second in the A string. Finlay Jamieson and Arthur French competed strongly in probably the only event unaffected by the conditions, taking second place in the A and B Hammer in 26.84m and 23.59m respectively. A similar result followed for the javelin throwers, Will Excell taking second in the A string with 31.30m and Oliver Risborough placing second in the B string with a throw of 24.29m. The U15 boys then produced some excellent running in the relays that wrapped up the scoring for the day. Robert Smith, Arthur French, Harry Brooks and Sam Smith combined to place third in the 4×100m relay, and then some very impressive running by Joe Coley, Ed Holdsworth, Will Excell and Ryan Berry brought home second place in the 4×300m relay. As an overall outcome from the day, Cheltenham have cemented their position in the Premier Division for next season, and can look forward with real excitement to the Championship Round in July.