Distance Running News, 2 December

Cheltenham Harriers teams enjoyed a weekend of cross country success with the ladies winning their Midland League Division Two fixture and the men taking a fine third place in their Birmingham League Division One match. Having finished second in the opening fixture of the season the Harriers ladies travelled to Stratford for their combined division one and two race held at Clopton Park. Naomi Eaton again led the team home, improving on the last fixture to finish 14th overall and claim second place in division two. Twenty-nine seconds later Alice Taylor crossed the line to finish a pleasing fifth in the division and 21st overall. Fee Maycock then took 13th and 52nd positions before team manager Jo Wilkie completed the scoring team with 17th and 60th. This gave the Harriers a score of 37 points as they comfortably took the team win ahead of Black Pear (67) and CLC Striders (99) at the top of the 23 team division. With league leaders Telford only managing fourth place on the day it meant that Cheltenham team moved to the top of the league with 97 points ahead of Black Pear (155) and Telford (166). Showing a big improvement on the opening match Emma Silversides finished 27th in division two to combine with Maycock and Wilkie to ensure the Harriers also won the divisional masters team race with a score of 32 points. Telford took second just four points behind to remain at the top of the table with the Cheltenham team now just 15 points adrift in second overall.

The men’s team meanwhile answered one of sports toughest questions, could they do it on a cold and wet Saturday afternoon in Stoke? On a challenging new course at Park Hall Country Park the Harriers were missing several of their top athletes, but put in a stellar team performance as they again packed well. After the first of three laps Phil Beastall was lying in third just behind Sutton Coldfield’s Sean Evans as Birmingham University’s Jonathan Davies opened up a race winning lead. A lap later Joe Wilkinson (Loughbrough) had moved up into third as a close tussle with Evans and Beastall followed on the final circuit. By the finish the Sutton Coldfield man took second place by a single second from Wilkinson who in turn finished just four seconds clear of fourth placed Beastall. On his cross country debut last month Luke Pollard had finished 27th and proved himself to be a very useful addition to the Harriers squad. In around 20th position after the opening mile, the international duathlete kept moving through the field and by halfway it was clear that a top ten finish was possible. In ninth with a mile to go Pollard produced the Harriers performance of the day as he gained two more places to cross the line in an excellent seventh place. Dan Owen and Richard de-Camps started together and moved through the field into the low 30s by halfway after being around 50th after the opening mile. Owen then continued to make gains as he went on to claim his highest ever league finish with 23rd place whilst de-Camps held position for a pleasing 30th. Ten seconds later Dan Thomas gained his highest league finish in 33rd as he too mad big gains on the final lap. The battle to be the final scorer in the Harriers A team was again a close affair with Doug Wight producing his best race of the season to claim an impressive 41st position. The Harriers score of 138 earned the club third on the day in the sixteen team league behind Loughborough University (94) and Tipton (130) as they finished just ahead of Birchfield (143) and Birmingham University (161). Whilst this result kept the Cheltenham squad in fifth place overall, they remain in contact with the medal positions on 315 points as the top of table shows Loughborough University (144) leading the way from Birchfield (241), Tipton (275) and Birmingham University (280).

Claiming their first ever top 50 finishes Marcus England (45th), Dan King (47th) led the B team home. Dave Aubrey (67th), George Watson (71st), Jon Barnes (73rd) and Tommaso Migliuolo (91st) then packed well to see them take the win with 394 points. Loughborough took second some 92 points adrift, but the student team still top the standings from the Harriers though by 38 points. The Harriers C team provided vital back up with Alex Lindfield (106th), Alex Doherty (116th), Nick Brown (119th), Elliot Prince (145th), Dave Francis (153rd) and Alister Brown (167th) all enjoying the challenge of the testing course. Weekend parkruns saw Alex Lee (16:39) take the win at the Cheltenham event where James Bingham (17:49) took third and Oliver Doherty (19:06) had a run out. There were also third place finishes for Steve Bradley (19:11) at the Kingsway event in Gloucester and for Ian Giles (20:53) at the Gloucester North event