Cheltenham Harriers athletes enjoyed a success at the British Milers Club Grand Prix meeting in Loughborough where Graham Rush claimed a win on an evening that saw Dan Owen and Alex Bampton claim personal bests. Bampton and Owen were first to line up in the 5000m B race in a twenty-three strong field. Going through the opening kilometre in 2:59 and 3:00 respectively, the pair lay in fifteenth and seventeenth place. The next kilometre saw Bampton gain a few more seconds over his teammate as he went through 2000m in 5:58, but Owen had moved back onto his shoulder as the pair reached 3km in 8:57 in twelfth and thirteenth place. With 1400m remaining the Midland steeplechase champion went past Bampton as he began to move through the field to pass 4km in 11:57, whilst Bampton was now just outside the 15 minute schedule with 12:01. Feeling good and knowing that his PB was within reach, Owen continued to pick up the pace and gain places with an impressive 2:51 final kilometre. Crossing the line in 14:48.6 for fifth place he had lowered his PB by eleven seconds in a race won by York’s Sam Dickinson in 14:38.2. Bampton meanwhile slowed in the final kilometre, but he was still able to take three seconds off his PB as he came home in eleventh place in a pleasing 15:07.1. Having watched his two teammates set PBs Graham Rush was intent to follow suit and lower his PB of 14:05.25 as he lined up for the 5000m A race. As the fastest man in the field on paper, Rush was intent on following the pacemaker closely and went through the first kilometre in 2:47 and second kilometre in 5:37 with only Shettleston’s Lachlan Oates attempting to follow him. With the pacemaker stepping aside after five laps it was down to Rush to keep the pace moving with Oates remaining tucked in behind as they went through 3km in 8:28. The Scotsman finally started to drop off the pace with three laps to go as Rush hit 4k in 11:19 and reaching reached the bell in 13:01. Despite digging in and winning by eight seconds, Rush’s time was frustratingly just 0.72 seconds outside his pb as the clock stopped at 14:05.97.
In the first of the four Cheltenham Midsummer Open Meetings Mark James set a Cheltenham Harriers veteran record as he finished third in the A race that was won by Gloucester’s Harry Wells in 4:32.2. James’ time of 4:36.4 beat Marc Fallows’ previous record mark of 4:37.09. Dan Thomas ran well to take fifth in 4:39.7 before Iain Devlin (4:46.5), Roger Mullins (4:54.3) and Matthew Dwerryhouse (5:01.3) crossed the line. After wheelchair athlete Gareth Picken had recorded 4:42.1, Toby Wort was the first runner across the line in the B race with 5:06.4. Martin Soakell posted a pleasing time of 5:20.8 and Emma Quekett stopped the clock at 5:55.2. The same evening also brought success for Liam Roarty at an open meeting in Dublin where he lowered his 5000m personal best by eight seconds with an impressive 15:37.18 for seventh place.
John Parker made a welcome return to race action with two wins in a week as he led Cheltenham Harriers teams to victory at both the Frampton and Evesham 10k road races. Lining up in a road race for the first time this year the veteran was straight to the fore at Frampton where only Alastair Cambell of Stroud kept him company through half way. At that point Parker upped the pace to drop his rival and go on to take the win unchallenged in 33:38. With Cambell dropping out not long after get dropped by Parker, his Stroud teammate Lee Stopford took second some 48 seconds behind Parker. Mark James ran well to take third in 34:55 before Steve Maguire completed the winning Harriers team in thirteenth place in 37:16. Dave Rantell was the third over 45 runner across the line in 37:27 and James Wilkinson then recorded 38:21. The battle to be the first lady saw Shona Crombie-Hicks start quickly and establish a lead over teammate Naomi Eaton who opted to start steadily to try and run negative splits. Easton’s plan worked well as she closed the gap in the second half to catch and pass the veteran with just a quarter of a mile remaining as she recorded 39:26 for a nine second victory. Debbie Smith’s 45:46 ensure the Harriers ladies finished as second team behind host Stroud. Dave Rantell (37:27), James Wilkinson (38:21), Gareth Edwards (40:31) and Sue Townsend (49:22) also contested the event. John Parker ended his week as it had begun with a victory at the Evesham 10k. Cirencester’s David Bell kept him company for 4k before falling off the pace as the Cheltenham athlete went through halfway in 16:35. Crossing the line in 33:52, Parker had a 30 second margin over team-mate Marcus England who overtook Bell in the final mile. Dave Rantell the completed the winning team in eighth place in 37:31 before Ty Berg recorded 38:13. Shona Crombie-Hicks was a comfortable winner of the ladies race in 39:37 before Ian Giles (40:31) and Agata Giles (53:25) completed the Harriers contingent. There was also a race win for Richard Dare at the Gloucester 10k where he won by over a minute and a half in 34:54 whilst Gareth Edwards placed tenth in 40:15. The weekend’s parkruns saw Phil Beastall (16:11) take the win in Cheltenham where Will New (16:47) and Steve Hall (18:51) finished third and ninth respectively. Dave Hemmings (20:36) and Martin Ford (20:56) also had a run out in Pittville Park whilst Andy Gardiner (17:55) was claiming the win in Wotton and James Wilkinson (18:06) took third at the Kingsway parkrun in Gloucester.