Distance Running News, 21-24 January

There were race wins for Oli Mott and Shona Crombie-Hicks as Cheltenham Harriers had the first two men and first two ladies home at the Linda Franks 5 mile road race. As the runners embarked on the new two lap course around Hatherley and The Reddings, Mott and teammate Richard Dare instantly opened a lead at the front of the field that ensured the top two positions were never in doubt. Dare managed to keep with Mott to around the halfway point, before Mott pulled clear and extended his lead on the second lap to claim his first race win in Harriers colours with an impressive time of 25:45. Dare remained unchallenged in second to cross the line in 26:47. Crombie-Hicks also claimed her first win a Cheltenham vest as she quickly put herself clear as leading lady to record a time of 30:00. Fellow Harrier Beth Wynn took second in 31:55 as she finished 27 seconds clear of third placed Steph Lane of Bourton.

The battle for third man saw Marcus England move clear in the second mile before getting caught by Gloucester’s Jack Evans at around the half way mark. Finishing fourth in 28:04, eleven seconds behind Evans, England ensured the Harriers took the team honours in the three to score contest. One of the most impressive Harriers performances of the day came from Gavin McCaugherty who moved through the field and up into fifth place for a time of 28:10, a personal best by over half a minute. Back in eighth Andy Prophett finished as first veteran home in 28:44 before Mark James (28:50) and Elliot Prince (29:07) made it seven Cheltenham runners in the top ten. Gareth Edwards PB form continued with an impressive time of 29:21 before Lee Groenewegen (30:54) and Richard Birch (31:42) followed him across the line. Paul Barnes’ 33:41 saw him comfortably finishing as leading V55 runner before Sam Pickering completed the ladies team in 39:20. Racing over the same distance, in windy conditions at the Weston Prom 5 mile road race, Russell Forsbrook finished as second veteran home in 28:49 for tenth place overall.

The weekend saw the Harriers with two athletes representing England in cross country events, as Beth Hawling and Graham Rush were both awarded their debuts for the team. Competing in Elgoibar in Spain, Hawling finished twentieth in the Jaun Muguerza International which was won by Kenyan Irene Cheptai. Rush meanwhile had a much shorter journey as he finished sixth in Cardiff in a match against Wales held within the British Athletics Cross Challenge. In the ladies race Rachel See finished in 36th place whilst Jacob Pickering finished seventh in the under 20 men’s race. Also racing in Wales, but indoors rather than the mud, Richard de-Camps opened his track season with a 3:59.41 win in the 1500m B race at the Cardiff Open.