Distance Running News, 2-7 September

Cheltenham Harriers dominated the Cheltenham Half Marathon with five runners in the first six as Dave Roper took a well-earned race win. The event saw Roper and team-mate Graham Rush in a three man leading pack that also included Cirencester’s David Bell. Cheltenham’s top two runners had gone head to head twice this summer with Rush coming out on top over 3000m on the track and 5000m on the road. This time, however, a more intriguing battle was expected, with Roper renowned for his strength over the longer and more challenging courses. The lead pack of three were still together after the opening 5km, but by the time they had reached 7km Roper had picked up the pace and opened up a 10 metre lead over Rush and Bell. By 10km he had extended to around 80m over Rush who had in turn established a significant lead over Bell. The top three places then remained unchanged as Roper extended his lead to over a minute to cross the line victorious in 69:25. Rush, who also finished second in this year’s Cambridge half marathon, took second in 70:36, with Bell finishing third in 72:02.

Dave Aubrey, James Bingham and Will New stuck to their pre-race plan of sticking together for the early stages of the race and starting off at around 74 minute pace. The trio were placed sixth, seventh and eighth at the half way mark, but moved up to third, fourth and fifth as two runners ahead pulled out of the race. New opened a small gap over his teammates on the dreaded racecourse section of the course, but Bingham clawed him back on the tough and unwelcome hill with just over a mile remaining. Bingham had the strength to push on to finish fourth in 74:30, with New knocking over a minute off his PB for fifth in 74:36. The ever improving Aubrey set yet another PB with an impressive 74:51 to finish as fourth Harrier home in fifth place.

Andy Gore finished as third veteran home in fourteenth place in 79:20, with Richard Dare using the event as a controlled training run in 80:50. Steve Hall knocked over two minutes from his PB with 81:56 before Alex Lee came home in 83:01. Gareth Edwards then clocked 85:36 to take over three minutes from his PB before James Wilkinson (86:23), Richard Birch (87:57), Steve Maguire (90:10), Matt Evans (91:15) and Jamie Courtenay (1:41:08) followed him home. For the Harriers women Debbie Smith led the way with 1:47:29, with Sam Pickering (1:50:49), Vickie Wilkinson (1:52:01), Becky Amor (1:53:05), Jess Collins (2:08:58) and Ruth Bird (2:26:37) completing the club contingent. In the wheelchair race Ed Grazier took the win in 69:47 and Les Hampton took third in 1:51:36.

At the World Masters Mountain Running Championship in Austria, Martin Ford finished fourth in the vet 70 age group in which fellow Harrier Ken Buckle took twenty-fifth place. There was also a victory for Jon Barnes in the Breinton 10 mile road race in Hereford where he claimed the win on a challenging course in 57:59. Mike Gray finished second in the Meteor Mile road race at Gloucestershire Airport in a time of 4:49, two seconds adrift of Severn’s Mark James. On the track Alex Bampton set a PB of 15:58.8 for eighth place in the Radley College 5000m event at Oxford, a time that moves him up to thirteenth in the Harriers combined 2014 ranking list for 5k road and 5000m on the track. At the Cheltenham parkrun Dmitry Nazarenko claimed his fifteenth event win with a 17:10 clocking for the 5km course. Ben Williams took third place in 18:20, with Ian Giles (19:38), Andrew Kaighin (19:41) and Rowan Tibbs (19:42) following before vet 50 runner Stewart Walton lowered his PB to 20:41.