Cheltenham Harriers men’s team successfully started their bid for an eighth consecutive Gloucestershire Cross Country League title as they extended their unbeaten run in the league to twenty-six fixtures with a winning team performance at Little Rissington. Anthony Bailey was soon at the front of the race as the runners set off on two circuits of the hilly course. The leading Cheltenham athlete had opened up a small gap over a chasing pack of Will Ferguson (CLC), Gary Hughes (Stroud) and the Bath pair of Dan Jones and Jim Webb by the end of the first lap. By half way round the second lap Bailey was back in the pack and the leading five runners remained close together until about three quarters of the way through the race. Hughes was the first to pull clear on but Jones and Webb responded, with Bailey entered the final kilometre in fourth place. The leading veteran then went past Hughes to claim third position as he finished eleven seconds behind race winner Jones and seven behind Webb; Hughes and Ferguson finished just three and five seconds later.
Liam Roarty then impressed on his cross country debut for the Harriers as he moved his way through the field and up into sixth to finish one place and thirteen seconds clear of teammate Jon Barnes. Eleven seconds Will New came home In ninth place before Marcus England in twelfth and Marc Fallows in sixteenth completed the victorious six man team. Their score of 53 gave them a 42 point winning margin over second placed Team Bath. The Harriers B team also packed well to finish third overall on the day through Roger Mullins (22nd), Kieran Hill (27th), Mark James (29th), Mike Gray (32nd), John Merrett (35th) and Jacob Pickering (36th). The C team took tenth place with Andy Gore (40th), Elliot Prince (51st), Matt Evans (62nd), James Bingham (76th), James Wilkinson (87th) and Ian Giles (119th). Mateusz Podsiadly (122nd) and Steve Maguire (142nd) completed the twenty strong Harriers squad. The four man veteran team of Bailey, Fallows, Mullins and Merrett also won their team competition with a 76 point total that placed them 78 points clear of Team Bath.
In the women’s race Jane Thomas ran well to finish in twelfth place as she led the Cheltenham team home as they started the defence of their league title. In seventeenth place Fee Maycock was the second over 45 runner before Rachel See completed the Harriers team in 27th place. The trio took fifth place on the day with 56 points as Bath University (18), Team Bath (25) and Stroud (46) filled the top three spots. The club B team of Louise McRitchie, Sarah Sheppard and Nicola Whiteman came in 35th, 36th and 37th respectively as they finished as the leading B team in eighth place overall. The master’s team of Maycock, McRitchie and Sheppard took second in the veteran competition just five points behind the Forest of Dean. Joan Shaw in 64th and Christina See in 146th completed the Harriers contingent.
Phil Wylie meanwhile won the Great West Half Marathon in Exeter in a time of 70:10. Weekend parkruns saw Phil Beastall break the course record at Tewkesbury with a winning time of 16:19 and Andy Gardiner win the Rushmere event in Leighton Buzzard in 18:43. Alex Lee’s 16:20 win in Pittville Park equalled Dmitry Nazarenko’s record of twenty-one Cheltenham parkrun wins.