Cheltenham Harrier Graham Rush ran the second fastest leg of the day as he took victory on the opening leg of the National 12 Stage Road Relay Championships in Sutton Coldfield. Having produced the fastest leg of the day to help the Harriers to team silver in the Midland Championship two weeks ago, the Dave Newport coached athlete took on some of the country’s best runners over the same Sutton Park course. Going up the long hill after the opening mile, Rush was on the front of a large group of around eighteen runners. Whilst the group slowly split behind, Rush remained at the front before deciding to up the pace in the third mile; a move that was only matched by Bedford’s 14:01 5000m runner Jack Goodwin. However, Rush eventually moved clear to open up a six second winning margin over Goodwin, with Bristol’s Will Christofi a further three seconds adrift in third. The Cheltenham athletes time of 26:08 for the 5.38mile course was a 24 second improvement on his Midland time and the second fastest of the event; bettered by only GB international Dewi Griffiths of Swansea on stage seven
The unenviable task of taking over in the lead fell to Richard de-Camps who ran the hilly first 3.16 mile short leg in 16:38 to hand over to Alex Lee in ninth place. Lee then recorded a 28:26 long leg to leave the Harriers in fifteenth before a 16:50 short leg from Andrew van Kints put the team in seventeenth position. Oli Mott ran well to gain two places with 27:58 before Darren Jordan’s pleasing 17:14 saw the team in eighteenth at the half way point of the race. Harry Bishop then gained two places with 28:00 to improve on his Midland’s time. Jacob Pickering also lowered his regional time with 17:17 to put the team in eighteenth. Dave Roper held position on leg nine as he recorded 29:03 before a 17:53 from team manager Andy Prophett left the team in nineteenth. The final long leg of 29:41 from Will New saw Dave Aubrey start the final leg in twentieth place, a position he held to the finish with a time of 18:04.
The Cheltenham Harriers Ladies won the ladies team prize at the Angels 10k at Ashleworth as they packed three athletes into the top four. Veteran Shona Crombie-Hicks was first home in 38:03 with 16 year old Megan Brinley impressing with 39:21 for second place. Vickie Wilkinson completed the three to score team in fourth place in 40:36. Debbie Smith (45:03), Jess White (47:32) and Joan Shaw (48:06) completed the six strong squad. Fellow Harrier Anthony Bailey took a comfortable overall victory as he crossed the line in 34:34 for a two minute winning margin. Dave Rantell (38:15), Richard Birch (39:24), Paul Barnes (43:28), Dave Hemmings (43:47) and vet 70 athlete Ken Buckle (56:33) also contested the event.