Distance Running News, 10-11 February

Cheltenham Harriers won the final Birmingham Cross County League Division One race of the season with a club record score to claim the league silver medals for the first time. Lying behind Loughborough University at the start of the day, and with a strong team on the start line, it was clear that the Harriers would maintain second place ahead of rivals Birmingham University. However, in the early stages it was clear that the opportunity of just a second ever league victory was on the cards as the team packed well ahead of the Loughborough and Birchfield teams on the Warwick University course. Graham Rush and Phil Wylie were both prominent in the early stages of the race, with Wylie content to push the pace as he reduced the lead group to just four runners by the end of the first of three laps as the two Harriers were joined by Jack Gray (BRAT) and Will Richardson (Birchfield). Dave Roper and Phil Beastall also occupied places inside the top ten whilst Ben Price lay in around twentieth and an under the weather Oli Mott sat in the mid-thirties as the Harriers packed well. The second lap saw Gray pick up the pace as he and Rush pulled clear, with Wylie lying fourth with one lap to go as Beastall in seventh opened up a gap over Roper in ninth. Price lay in 21st whilst Mott was in 40th as his place in the scoring six man team came under threat from Jon Barnes and Richard de-Camps who in turn were just a few yards ahead of Marc Fallows and Alex Lee.

In the final half lap Rush quickly moved clear of Gray as he went on to win by eight seconds before Jayme Rossiter (Loughborough) took third before Wylie finished in a pleasing fourth place. This gave Rush the overall league title whilst Wylie took the individual bronze for the series. Beastall continued his fine recent form to finish in the top ten for the first time with an excellent eighth position as Roper took tenth just six seconds later. A good last lap from Price saw him equal his best ever league position of nineteenth whilst the battle to make the Harriers A team continued behind. Barnes had briefly overtaken Mott, but the latter finished well to finish in 41st as Barnes (43rd), de-Camp (44th), Lee (47th) and Fallows (49th) quickly followed. This gave the six man scoring team from Dave Newport’s training group a score of just 83 points which was a 13 point improvement on the two year old club record from when the Harriers won their only other league event. This gave the Cheltenham team a 26 point victory over Birchfield as Loughborough took third on 116 points. As expected the final league standings showed the Cheltenham team take second with 451 points as they finished behind Loughborough (244) but clear of Birmingham University (659) and Birchfield (688). In the B team completion Barnes, de-Camps, Lee and Fallows laid the foundations for a team win as the Cheltenham second team was completed by Jacob Pickering having his best run of the season in 56th and Dave Aubrey in 77th. The victory moved the team up a place in the final standings as they leap frogged Birmingham University to take second behind Loughborough. The Harriers C team also provided great support as Roger Mullins (82nd), Elliot Prince (102nd), Andy Gore (138th), Russell Forsbrook (163rd), Matt Evans (170th) and Lee Groenewegen (201st) enjoyed being part of a great day for the club. At the same venue Hilary Mott was the first Gloucestershire athlete home in the Midland Women’s League race as she finished as ninth division two athlete home in 27th place overall.

Elsewhere Rhys Park was just four seconds outside his 5000m personal best as he recorded a time of 14:18.10 at the Huskey Classic indoor meeting in Seattle where he finished ninth in the B race. Also indoors James Brewer finished tenth in his 1500m heat at the British Championships in Sheffield with a time of 3:58.84 as Tom Lancashire (Bolton) won the race in 3:54.49. Weekend parkruns saw Fee Maycock win the Gloucester North event in 19:33 as she beat all the men home whilst Dave Tomlin (17:21) took the win at the Kingsway event in Gloucester and Gareth Edwards (19:00) was the leading Harrier at the Cheltenham parkrun.