There was a breakthrough personal best performance from Will New, plus race victories for Dan Owen and Alice Taylor as Cheltenham Harriers dominated the 5000m races at the fourth and final Midsummer Open Meeting at the Prince of Wales Stadium. A stellar line up for the A race saw a field of twenty-one sub 16:20 runners toeing the line in what was one of the best fields assembled for a local distance race for quite some time. Whilst windy conditions threatened to spoil the opportunity of fast times, the quality of the field meant that the race did not disappoint. A five man lead group quickly moved clear at the front as GB youth triathlete James Chantler-Mayne took up the early running. Fellow Cheltenham athletes Phil Beastall and Dan Owen, plus Stuart Hawkes (Tipton) and Jack Turner (Stroud) remained in in close contact. After passing the opening kilometre in 3:04 the three Harriers all took turns on the front as they reached 2km in 6:08 as Turner started to struggle to maintain contact. The pattern of the race continued, with the shared effort on the front taking the leading quartet through the 3000m mark in 9:12. It was then Beastall and Owen doing most of the work as the pace picked up in the penultimate kilometre, as a three minute split saw Chantler-Mayne and Hawkes falling adrift. With just two and a half laps remaining Beastall upped the pace again, with Owen hanging on to his move before the smallest of gaps opened with just over 600m remaining. However, the Midland 1500m champion grew in confidence in the home straight and he regained the lead to take the bell in 13:55. Beastall stuck to his rival and then made his own bid for victory by taking the lead with 250m remaining, a position he held until the final 80 metres. At this point Owen sprinted clear to claim the win with a 62 second final lap which stopped the clock at 14:57.9 as Beastall followed in second place in 14:59.4. Hawkes then took third with 15:21.4 before 17 year old Chantler-Mayne put in another impressive performance to finish just two seconds outside his personal best with 15:26.7 for fourth place.
Not feeling as that he either wanted or needed a race, Oli Mott had offered to pace a group of at 75 second laps on a 15:37 schedule that Will New, Richard de-Camps and John Parker were all keen to follow. Doing an excellent job, the metronomic Mott took a big second pack through 1600m in 5:00 with New tucked in right behind him. Passing 3200m in 9:59, New remained on Mott’s shoulder with just de-Camps and Parker now in contact. With three laps to go Mott and New had caught Turner whilst de-Camps and Parker were now slightly adrift as the pace picked up slightly. As Mott stepped aside in the final straight New completed a 70 second last lap to take fifth place in 15:30.1 as he lowered his track personal best by 28 seconds and surpassed his fastest road time for the distance by 18 seconds. Not far behind de-Camps ran well for a 15:35.2 PB in seventh place whilst Parker was just 0.11 seconds outside Anthony Bailey’s club veteran record with 15:39.6 for eighth place. Charlie Jones (15:54.0) and Richard Dare (15:56.0) then completed the top ten before Harriers filled twelfth to seventeenth place in a great show of depth through Eliot Taylor (16:14.8), Marcus England with a 16:18.2 PB, Ben Colabella (16:23.0), Marc Fallows (16:32.2), Alex Lee (16:34.1) and Mark James (16:39.0).
Such was the quality of the A race that several runners with recent sub seventeen minute times were seeded in the B race which saw Dave Roper acting as pacemaker, taking the field round in 80 second laps for a 16:40 schedule. Whilst the front group gradually dwindled to leave Worcester’s Dan Geisler to take the win in 16:37.4, there was a fine 16:47.1 PB for Andy Gardiner in third place and Mike Gray posted 16:58.2 for fourth position. Toby Wort then stopped the clock at 17:14.2, Alex Doherty recorded 17:18.2 on his Harriers debut and Andy Gore crossed the line in 17:24.0. Also enjoying his first appearance in the club vest was Joe Willgoss who finished strongly for 17:29.6 whilst James Bingham posted 17:37.7. The fastest ladies at the meeting were also seeded in the B race and again there was a high quality field which saw Cheltenham runners take a one-two with Alice Taylor claiming the ladies win in 17:46.9. Teammate Naomi Eaton then impressed with 18:17.1 to finish fourteen seconds clear of third placed Gemma Hargraves (Almost Athletes). In the same race Gareth Edwards recorded 18:02.4 and Martin Soakell excelled to lower his PB to 18:15.8 after wheelchair athlete Gareth Picken had led the field home in 16:04.2. In the C race Dave Francis enjoy a win and a PB of 18:35.3 in his first race for the club whilst Sarah Sheppard was the sixth fastest lady across the two races with a pleasing 19:23.6. Ben Haywood was the fourth Harriers debutant of the evening and he recorded 20:02.2 before V70 athlete Martin Ford completed the 29 strong Harriers contingent in 20:51.4.
The previous evening saw race wins for both Mark James and Shona Crombie-Hicks at the Blaisdon 10k road race. James moved clear of the lead group shortly after half way to collect a comfortable fifteen second victory over Peter Woodward (Forest of Dean). Alex Lindfield (36:45) and Dave Rantell (37:37) finished third and seventh respectively before Crombie-Hicks finished as first lady in 39:40 with teammate Fee Maycock taking second in 40:55. Paul Barnes (42:46) finished as second V55 runner and Dave Hemmings crossed the line in 46:18. Also on the roads Jo Wilkie finished as third lady at the Shakespeare Summer 10k in Stratford in a time of 43:35. Back on the track Rachel Longstaff equalled her 1500m PB of 4:44.8 at the BMC regional meeting in Oxford. Weekend parkruns saw Will New (17:14) and Alex Lee (17:34) finish first and second in the Cheltenham event where Matt Evans (19:15), Henry James (19:46), Dave Francis (20:10), Ben Haywood (20:37) and Dave Hemmings (21:09) also had a run out. Luke Kearns (16:29) meanwhile claimed a win at the Belfast Victoria event and Toby Wort (17:18) took second at the Kingsway parkrun in Gloucester.