Distance Running News, 12-13 February

Graham Rush completed the successful defence of his Birmingham Cross Country League Division One title with a fine victory in the final race of the season in Wolverhampton. From the start of the 9km race the Dave Newport coached athlete was well placed in the lead pack, knowing that a top three finish was needed to guarantee the individual title. By the second lap the front group had dwindled to just three runners, with Coventry’s Toby Spencer and Rugby’s Jacob Allen alongside Rush. Towards the end of the second circuit Allen, who had beat Rush at last weekend’s BUCS Championship, fell off the pace as the other two athletes shared the work at the front. The Cheltenham runner then upped the pace on the final lap and opened a gap over Spencer with around half a lap to go. Rush crossed the line first to claim his third league win of the season with a four second winning margin over Spencer with Allen a further 34 seconds adrift in third.

Behind Rush the rest of the Cheltenham scoring team packed within 30 seconds of each other, with Harry Bishop the second Harrier home in 29th place. Ben Price, In his first race since September, moved up the field throughout race to finish just four seconds and one place behind Bishop. Three seconds and three places later Richard de-Camps produced another consistent performance before Oli Mott came home in 36th position a further 14 seconds back. Alex Chantler-Mayne then celebrated his 18th birthday by producing his best cross country performance to date as he completed the scoring six man team in an impressive 39th place. This gave the Cheltenham team a season’s best score of 168 points for fourth place on the day, 21 points adrift of rivals Stoke who held onto their bronze medal position. This left the Harriers fourth in the final league table, just 76 behind Stoke, but 405 points clear of fifth placed Birchfield, as the university teams of Loughborough and Birmingham again filled the top two spots.

Marc Fallows led the Cheltenham B team home in 41st place with Jacob Pickering next home in 61st position. Roger Mullins finished in a season’s best 72nd as he held off Marcus England who finished 78th. Tommaso Migliuolo then claimed his highest ever league finish of 89th and Kieran Hill enjoyed a fine debut in 92nd. This gave the Harriers victory in the B team competition with a 19 point winning margin over Loughborough. The student team topped the overall standings ahead of Birmingham University with the Harriers taking third place. Alister Brown (108th), Elliot Prince (109th), Andy Gore (116th), Russell Forsbrook (139th), Mark James (156th), Ian Giles (176th) and Lee Groenewegen (179th) completed the nineteen strong Harriers squad.

Meanwhile in America James Brewer produced his best performance for several years as he won the mile at the Huskey Classic in Seattle in a time of 4:00.37, a new Cheltenham Harriers record for the indoor mile. At the same meeting Rhys Park there was also a Harriers club record for Rhys Park who took eleven seconds off his 5000m personal best with a time of 14:18.94 for ninth place in the B race.