Another dominant performance by Cheltenham Harriers ensured that their A and B teams finished first and second in the Gloucestershire Cross Country League as Dave Roper secured the individual title in the final league fixture at Tewkesbury. A six man lead pack formed on the first small field as Roper led the a group that contained fellow Harriers Ben Price and Dmitry Nazarenko out onto the first of three large laps. By the end of the first circuit Roper’s pace had split the pack with just Team Bath’s GB junior triathlete Miles Burton able to keep up with the Cheltenham athlete. The youngster was reluctant to share the pace and sat menacingly on Roper’s shoulder. When Roper upped the pace on the second lap to try and pull away, Burton was able to respond and match the Harrier. Burton finally hit the front in the last mile to take the win by fourteen seconds, with Roper having the consolation of taking the individual league title after a consistent season.
Bronsgrove’s Joe Smith ran isolated in third for most of the race whilst Nazarenko was content to follow Price until around the half way point. The 17 year old then pulled away to finished twenty seconds clear of Price as the duo finished fourth and fifth respectively. The result also ensured Nazarenko took the overall league under 20 silver medal whilst Price finished third in the overall standings. James Bingham ran well for sixth as he saw off the challenge of Kenilworth’s Phil Gould on the final lap before Richard Dare came home in eighth and Jon Barnes completed the Harrier six man A team in ninth place. This gave the Harriers their 21st consecutive team win as they claimed their sixth consecutive league title with their best ever points total.
Andy Gore led the Harriers B team home in 16th place to finish as second veteran in the overall league standings. Elliot Prince them followed in 19th before Paul Horsfall moved through the field to impress in 23rd place. Finishing as third over 45 runner home in 33rd place was Miguel Mundinano, whilst Matt Evans and Mike Gray completed the B team in 36th and 37th respectively. This gave the Harriers B team second place behind the Harriers A team both on the day and in the final league standings for the second year in a row. The Harriers C team also packed well to finish fifth on the day through Steve Stretton (42nd), debutant Simon Gallimore (44th), James Wilkinson (45th), veteran Ian Giles (56th), Iain Devlin (61st) and Gareth Edwards (78th). Dave Hemmings completed the four man Harriers veteran team in 97th as they took the league title despite finishing second on the day to Kenilworth by a single point. Mike Ede in 119th and Ken Buckle in 166th completed the 21 man Harriers squad.
The Harriers ladies finished third on the day through Rachel See (13th), Katrina Hawkins (14th) and Joan Shaw (23rd) to finish third in the overall standings. See was the first under 20 runner both on the day and in the league whilst Hawkins and Shaw were first and second in the over 50 age group standings which also mirrored their final race category positions. Ruth Bird’s 90th place ensured the Harriers veteran team finished fifth on the day to take the league silver medals. Meanwhile Gavin McCaugherty continued his good recent road form with third place at the Brueton parkrun in Solihull in a time of 17:04.