Distance Running News, 18-20 February

Cheltenham Harriers Ladies team remained undefeated to win the Gloucestershire Cross Country League as Hilary Mott claimed the individual league title in the final race of the season at Warwick University. From the start the Harriers trio of Mott, Vickie Wilkinson and Rachel See were prominent in the lead pack which had dwindled to just five runners by the end of the first lap. On the second circuit Helen Brown (Forest of Dean) and Wilkinson pulled clear with Mott dropping off the pace in third. Whilst Brown went on to take the win by eleven seconds, Wilkinson enjoyed her best performance of the season in second. Mott finished a further eleven seconds back in third to give herself a season’s total of eight points, meaning that she shared the individual title with veteran Brown. Wilkinson’s score of 15 points saw her finish third overall and as second veteran athlete. In seventh place the victorious Harriers team was completed by Rachel See who also secured the under 20 league title. With a five point winning margin on the day the team finished the season on 75 points, 72 points clear of second placed CLC Striders. Team manager Jo Wilkie returned from injury in 19th whilst Joan Shaw finished 31st. The pair combined with Wilkinson to take the veteran league title after finishing second on the day. Shaw also took the LV50 league bronze medal. Christina See came home in 77th place which saw the B team finish twelfth on the day and as the leading B team in the overall standings in fourth place. Despite missing the final race Debbie Smith still managed to finish as third LV45 runner in the final league standings.

The Harriers men went into the final fixture knowing that the league title was already theirs, but with the club’s leading twelve athletes from the previous weekend’s Birmingham League race sitting out the fixture, it was always going to take a real team effort to complete the dual target of keeping the club’s unbeaten league run going and keeping the B team in second place in the overall standings. The shorter first lap saw Phil Gould of host club Kenilworth leading the field with Harriers Alex Bampton and Alex Lee sitting in around fifth and sixth place. The second longer circuit saw Bampton move up alongside Gould before opening up a gap on the Kenilworth runner towards the end of the lap. Lee meanwhile had moved up into third place ahead of CLC’s Will Ferguson. The final lap saw Bampton, in his first race for two months, extend his lead over Gould to ten seconds by the finish as he took his first ever race win. Lee dropped a place on the final lap, but still crossed the line in an impressive fourth place as he finished half a minute clear of teammate Anthony Bailey who was the leading veteran runner in fifth position. Dave Roper returned after illness to help the team and placed fourteenth before Andy Gore came home as second V45 runner in sixteenth place. Alister Brown then completed the scoring six in eighteenth as he made the Cheltenham A team for the first time. This gave the Harriers a score of 58 for a 53 point winning margin over second placed Kenilworth, therefore meaning that Andy Prophett’s squad won the league title for a seventh consecutive year as they extended their unbeaten run to 25 races over a six year period.

The Harriers B team finished third on the day to secure the overall league silver medals for the third consecutive year with Elliot Prince (23rd), Paul Horsfall (27th), Matt Evans (30th), Gavin McCaugherty (32nd), Dave Rantell (34th) and Mark James (36th) all packing well. The Harriers C team took seventh on the day through Gareth Edwards (39th), Mike Gray (46th), James Wilkinson (49th), Ian Giles (50th), Richard Birch (54th) and Anthony Rossi (60th). The veteran team of Bailey, Gore, Rantell and Giles also won on the day to complete the successful defence of their league title. The overall individual league title also went to the Harriers with the absent Harry Bishop having already secured the gold medal with a score of seven points that saw him finish five points ahead of runner up Will Ferguson. Roger Mullins finished the season as second veteran in the overall standings behind Oxford’s Heath Bampton.

On the track Beth Hawling came home with a 3000m bronze medal and a new personal best of 9:47.95 from the British Universities Indoor Championship in Sheffield. The Cardiff University student was in third place for much of the race as she finished less than a second behind Annabel Simpson of Glasgow University in a race dominated by GB international Jessica Judd of Loughborough who took win in 9:36.50. On the roads Russell Forsbrook finished tenth and as third veteran at the Weston Prom 5 mile road race in a time of 28:35.