Cheltenham Harriers distance runners produced an impressive set of performances as they filled the first seven places in the 5000m at the opening Midsummer Open meeting at the Prince of Wales Stadium. As planned before the race, Graham Rush led the lead pack through the first kilometre in 3:04 with teammates Dave Roper, Alex Lee and Anthony Bailey in close attendance. Having recorded a time of 14:17 for the distance four days earlier, the England international continued to set a pace to suit his teammates as he led them through the 2km point in 6:10 and 3km in 9:15. Whilst Bailey fell away in the fourth kilometre, Rush was able to gradually up the pace as he sensed that both Roper and Lee were running well and heading for strong performances. In the final kilometre Lee stuck closely to Rush and had opened up a small gap over Roper as they reached the bell. However, Roper dug deep on the final lap to come back past Lee as Rush cruised over the line to take the win in 15:07.84 having completed an excellent pace-making service for his teammates. In second Roper produced his fastest track time for several years with 15:08.39 and in third Lee took 25 seconds off his previous best time for the distance with 15:09.53. Bailey meanwhile remained in fourth position with a pleasing 15:42.51.
In fifth place Phil Beastall ran the whole of the race isolated and his 15:52.65 marked a welcome return to race action after a nine month injury lay off. Jon Barnes and Marc Fallows shared the pace as they both surpassed their 2016 road times with 16:06.83 and 16:08.61 respectively as Dave Newport’s training group filled the top seven spots in the race. Further Harriers success came as Marcus England and Jacob Pickering sets PBs of 16:36.91 and 16:49.26 in thirteen and fourteenth place. Mike Gray followed in fifteenth with a season’s best time of 16:54.65 as he became the 27th different Cheltenham Harrier to break the 17 minute banner on either the road or track in 2016. The B race saw Alex Clements running well to take second place with a PB of 17:42.95 whilst Rachel See also showed impressive form with a PB of 19:43.56 before Jo Wilkie recorded 20:03.08 and V70 runner Martin Ford clocked 20:07.85.
Fourteen Harriers contested the Bourton Mile road race with Graham Rush leading the club home in second place in 4:20, five seconds behind Bristol’s David Bishop. The fast starting Scottish Commonwealth Games 1500m runner left Rush straight from the start, with the gap remaining relatively unchanged in the second half of the race. Dave Roper ran the whole race isolated in third and crossed the line in 4:36 whilst Jacob Pickering was the first under 20 man home as he took fifth in 4:49. Russell Forsbrook finished as second veteran in eighth place in 4:51, with Matt Evans one place behind in 5:04 and Dave Rantell was the third over 45 runner with 5:25. Veteran Shona Crombie-Hicks clocked 5:30 to finish as third lady home behind Bristol’s Kate Hulls and Charnwood’s Elsie Butler before Richard Birch recorded 5:34. Jo Wilkie finished as second veteran lady in 5:46 with Rachel See (5:51) and Paul Barnes (5:54) quickly following before Katerina Horrocks (6:08), Samantha Pickering (6:44) and Christina See (9:44) completed the Harriers contingent. The weekend’s Cheltenham parkrun saw Alex Lee and Dave Tomlin finish first and second in 16:31 and 17:22 respectively.
5000m race photos from Tony Stanton. View photos.