Cheltenham Harriers put in a fine team performance to finish in an impressive third place at the Midland Cross Country Relays in Walsall. Dave Roper took the opening leg and was happy to take the pace on the early stages, although he decided to sit back in the six man lead group as they ran into the wind on the second half of the lap. With each runner completing two 3km laps, the top five remained locked together at the end of the first circuit before Roper pulled clear of the group to open up a lead. Stopping the clock at 19:30, the Dave Newport coached athlete had extended his advantage to twelve seconds over Owl’s Tom Bell by the finish. It was soon obvious that the Leicester club would take the lead on leg two as Ed Highton passed Jon Barnes who was in third place by the end of his opening lap, as Martin Williams took Wolverhampton up into second. Barnes was also passed in the closing stages by Gloucester’s Richard deCamps who finished one second ahead of the Cheltenham runner who recorded a time of 20:52. Leg three saw the Harriers quickly move back up to third as Alex Bampton passed Gloucester’s Nathan Smith. Bampton’s time of 21:11 reduced the gap by five seconds to second placed Owls who were now fifty seconds ahead of the Harriers with one leg remaining. Fourth placed Birchfield were now just fifteen seconds behind, but the final leg saw Graham Rush quickly end any doubts of a top three finish for the Harriers as he clocked the third fastest time of the day. However, his 19:25 was unable to make inroads towards Wolverhampton and owls who claimed the top two spots.
The Harriers B team were led off by Dmitry Nazarenko who put in an impressive opening leg to finish in ninth place in 20:23. Fellow teenager Matt Crew also ran to move the team up into seventh with a pleasing 21:02 before Alex Lee ran 22:13 to hand over in eighth place. Mike Gray then clocked 22:39 to ensure the Harriers were the first B team home in tenth place overall. Gavin McCaugherty took the opening leg for the Cheltenham C team and handed over in 31st place with a 23:19 leg. John Merrett’s 22:44 moved the team up three places before Matt Evans took the team up to 24th with 23:31. The final leg saw Lee Groenewegen record a time of 26:07, with the former 400m runner produced a scintillating sprint finish from a seemingly impossible position to pass the Halesowen B team right on the line. This placed the C team 26th of the 49 complete teams.
Martin Ford gained yet another British Masters gold medal as he finished first vet 70 home in the Salisbury Half Marathon that incorporated the national championships. Not only did Ford claim the national title, but he also beat all the vet 65 competitors and went to the top of the national rankings for his age group with a time of 90:06. Vet 40 runner Andy Gore placed twelfth overall in a time of 81:01. Andrew van Kints ran a personal best at the Amsterdam Marathon where he placed 59th in an impressive 2:38:19 after going through halfway in 1:16:02. Closer to home, Roger Mullins finished 55th in the Birmingham Half Marathon in 78:28. At the Cheltenham parkrun Olivia Rook was the first lady home in a time of 20:54 whilst Jacob Pickering placed second overall in a PB of 17:38 and Ben Williams finished third in 17:59.