Cheltenham Harriers ladies team made it three wins from three as they extended their lead at the top of the Gloucestershire Cross Country League with another fine team performance in Gloucester. Leading Harrier Hilary Mott was quickly to the fore as she split the field with some aggressive front running tactics. Setting a pace that only Gwen Kinsey (Stroud) followed, the pair established a lead over Liza Barry (CLC) who was soon isolated in third. Kinsey was content to sit on Mott’s shoulder before making a decisive move at the half way stage of the race. Whilst Kinsey moved clear to win the 6.5km event by 47 seconds, Mott ran well to lay the foundations for the Harriers team win with an impressive second place as Barry took third eight seconds later. Second Cheltenham runner home was Vickie Wilkinson who gained two places in the second half of the race to finish in sixth position as she finished as second LV40 runner. Running her best race of the season Nicola Whiteman moved through the field to claim a pleasing eleventh place to complete the scoring team. With a season’s best of just nineteen points the Harriers claimed a seven point victory over Stroud who moved up to second in the overall standings some 61 points behind Jo Wilkie’s Cheltenham squad. The Harriers B team of Rachel See (15th), third LV45 runner home Debbie Smith (21st) and Lizzie Sandham (28th) finished fifth overall and as leading B team to leave them as the top B team in sixth place in the league standings. The master’s team of Wilkinson, Whiteman and Smith finished second on the day behind Stroud, with the two clubs holding the same positions in the league table. Joan Shaw (49th), Sophie Lane (80th), Christina See (113th) and Ruth Bird (115th) completed the ten strong Harriers contingent.
The men’s race saw a group of four Cheltenham runners quickly pull clear of the field as Harry Bishop led John Parker, Oli Mott and Dan Owen to a 50m lead over CLC’s Will Ferguson after the two small laps. The first of three large laps saw the quartet locked together with Bishop and Parker taking most of the wind and Owen content to sit at the back of the pack. However, the Gloucestershire Champion hit the front on the next lap to pull himself and Bishop clear of Parker and Mott. Whilst the front two both tested each other in a fascinating duel, Parker pulled clear of Mott who in turn was caught by Ferguson before the race entered the final lap. With just over a mile to go Bishop managed to shake off Owen before extending his lead to ten seconds by the finish to claim his first league win. Ferguson followed in third before Parker was the first veteran home in fourth and Mott completed the top five. Seventeen year old Jacob Pickering then made a big breakthrough to come home as fifth Harrier in ninth place as he finished as second under 20 runner behind Bishop. Roger Mullins completed the winning Harriers team as he finished as second veteran home in tenth place. With a 24th consecutive league victory for the Harriers A team completed the focus shifted to whether the Cheltenham B team could finish second behind their teammates and remain second in the overall standings. Tomasso Migliuolo continued his good recent form in 12th before Paul Horsfall and Alister Brown placed 18th and 25th respectively. Andy Gore followed as third vet 45 runner in 26th as he crossed the line just one place ahead of Dan Minors. Dave Rantell completed the Harriers B team in 28th place which gave the Cheltenham side a score of 137 to claim second place, 36 points ahead of third placed Gloucester. The Master’s team of Parker, Mullins, Gore and Minors comfortably took the team victory to extend the Harriers lead at the top of the veteran league table. James Wilkinson (38th), Iain Devlin (42nd), Ian Giles (47th) and Matt Evans (59th) provided vital backup.
Beth Hawling had an impressive GB debut with an excellent 21st place in the under 23 women’s race at the European Cross Country Championships in the French town of Hyeres. The Matt Richards coached athlete paced her race well in the 50 strong field to move up from 33rd at the end of the first lap to 30th position a lap later. Hawling continued to move through the field and into 26th on the third circuit before gaining two more places on the final lap and another three places in the finishing straight. The 21 year old was the fifth British athlete home as the GB team took victory by packing their four scorers into the top fifteen.
There were personal bests for four of the five Cheltenham athletes that contested the Telford 10k. Alex Bampton broke the 32 minute barrier for the first time with an excellent 31:49 that earned him 41st place in one of the highest standard 10ks in the country. Marcus England then took more than half a minute off his PB from the recent Leeds 10k with 34:15 as he finished eight seconds clear of teammate Jon Barnes. Gareth Edwards lowered his PB to 36:35 to move up to 31st in the club 2015 ranking lists before Lee Groenewegen set a PB of 38:21. Mark James claimed his seventh win at the Kingsway parkrun in Gloucester in 18:50.