Cheltenham Harriers concluded their impressive season at the National Cross Country Championship in London as top twenty finishes from Phil Wylie and Graham Rush led the squad to a club record thirteenth place in the team competition. With the country’s top runners gathered in quagmire conditions on the iconically tough Parliament Hill course, Rush and Wylie were well placed after the long uphill start and quickly established themselves towards the back of the large lead group of 18 that stayed together for almost the opening 5km. As the pace picked up Rush dropped just outside the twenty whilst Wylie was just outside the top ten. Entering the final mile Wylie was eleventh and just a few yards off tenth.However, he couldn’t quite make up the gap and finished the gruelling 11.2km course in an excellent eleventh place, just five seconds off a top ten finish. This meant that the Dave Newport coached athlete beat his own previous highest national championship position of seventeenth and also claimed the highest ever finish by a Cheltenham Harrier in the race. Meanwhile Rush had moved into twentieth as they approached the final mile and a strong finish saw him gain three more places to finish in an impressive seventeenth place, a seven place improvement on last year.
Andrew van Kints was the third Harrier home as he showed good form in 167th before Phil Beastall followed in 215th place. Marc Fallows ran well for 236th place before veteran Andy Gore completed the six man scoring team in 366th place. This ensured the team took 13th place, and second Midlands team, in a competition that saw 145 of the country’s top clubs send full teams. Dave Aubrey was pleased to make the top 400 in 399th place before Jay Dowding followed in 470th and Steve Hall placed 708th. This earned the Cheltenham team 14th place in the nine to score team event. Matt Evans and Lee Groenewgen also enjoyed their national debuts in 887th and 1279th in a field that saw a record 2005 finishers. Earlier in the day Alex Bampton completed a fine cross country season by finishing 44th in the under 20 men’s race in which Matt Crew ran well for 82nd place.
There was further success for the Harriers distance running squad as they took the team win at the Bourton 10k road race. Anthony Bailey ran well to finish as first veteran in 33:07, just eight seconds outside his PB, and take second place behind CLC’s Will Ferguson. Darren Jordan followed to finish as third veteran in fifth overall in a pleasing 33:43. Roger Mullins, who had been with Jordan at the half way point, came home tenth in 34:18 to finish just one second and one place ahead of the fast finishing Alex Lee who moved through the field to run negative splits. This gave the Harriers four man team a score of 28 for a nine point win over second placed Cirencester. Elliot Prince (35:57) and Andy Prophett (36:08) followed before Steve Maguire showed good form for a PB of 36:31. There were also PBs for Simon Gallimore (36:53), Jacob Pickering (37:05) and Gareth Edwards (37:32) who led home James Wilkinson (37:57), Ian Giles (38:47) and Richard Birch (39:17). V70 runner Martin Ford was the first over 65 runner to finish in 39:59 before Beth Wynn (40:45), Rachel See (44:02) and Richard Walklate (52:55) completed the Harriers contingent. The previous day Gavin McCaugherty registered a personal best of 17:00 as he finished second in the Brueton parkrun in Solihull.