Cheltenham Harriers showed their strength in depth by qualifying two teams for the National 12 Stage Road Relay Championships with an impressive display at the Midland Championship in Sutton Coldfield. Dan Owen led the A team off on the opening leg and produced his best ever road performance to bring the team home in eleventh place. Owen completed the tough newly revised 5.08 mile long leg in 26:42 before Alex Bampton held position on the second leg with a 14:24 clocking over the new 2.69 mile short leg. Stage three saw Graham Rush gain two places with a 26:04 long leg before Darren Jordan ran the team’s fastest short leg in 14:23 to take the Harriers up to eighth. Anthony Bailey then ran 28:08 to hand over in tenth before Russell Forsbrook gained a place with a 14:39 sixth leg. John Parker’s 27:28 moved the Harriers into eighth on the final long leg, a position that Roger Mullins held with his 14:50 clocking. Team manager Andy Prophett ran 15:11 to take his team past Birchfield into seventh before Richard Dare’s 14:32 maintained the status quo. The eleventh stage saw Marc Fallows overtake Leicester to take the team into sixth place as he equalled Dare’s time. James Miller then ran 14:27 to ensure the Cheltenham team a top six finish behind Notts, Tipton, Bristol, Coventry and Heanor.
The growing Harriers squad meant that the club fielded a B team for the first time in many years, with national qualification via a top 25 finish a realistic target. Dave Aubrey got the team off to a good start with a 29:25 long leg for 31st place which Mike Gray held with a pleasing 15:15 on his short leg. Matt Evans then ran well to gain four places with 29:28 before Gavin McCaugherty moved up four more positions with 15:25. Corin Hughes ran 30:12 to complete leg five in 24th place, with Steve Maguire clocking 15:57 to gain a place. Andy Gore (30:24) and Gareth Edwards (16:27) maintained position before Will New hit the comeback trail with an impressive 14:46 to take the team into 21st place. Iain Devlin then produced his best run of the winter with 15:32 to move the Harrier into 18th and within sight of national qualification. Andrew Kaighin gained a further place with 16:16 on the penultimate stage before Simon Burley clocked 16:20 to bring the team home in 20th place overall as they fished third B team behind Tipton and Notts.
Three Harriers used the Gloucester 20 mile road race as part of their build up to the London Marathon, with Dave Rantell placing ninth in 2:07:54 and Elliot Prince finishing eleventh in 2:08.40. Seventy year old Martin Ford was the first over 60 home in 2:25.37.