Distance Running News, 22-23 February

Graham Rush continued his excellent recent form with a 24th placed finish at the National Cross Country Championships in Nottingham. The Dave Newport coached runner started steadily and moved his way through the field, but was still outside the top fifty after the first of three 4km laps. Rush continued to work his way through the high quality field and moved into the top 25 in the final sprint to claim 24th place. His performance is the highest ever finish in the national by a Cheltenham Harrier, surpassing the 25th place of Steve Robinson in the mid-1990s. Also in action at Wollaton Park were Dan Owen and Jeremy Bradley who finished in 194th and 287th respectively.

There were big personal best performances from Ben Price and James Bingham as the Harriers claimed a team win at the Bourton 10k. Price and teammate Anthony Bailey sat in the second pack of runners for the first 7km, around ten seconds down on the lead pack of eventual winner Oli Mott (Bristol), Chris Illman (Cirencester) and Brett Haliwell (Stroud). As the pack split during the final laps of the village, Price finished just two seconds behind Haliwell in fifth place to break the 33 minute barrier for the first time with a 32:53 clocking. Bingham worked alongside Martin Rees (Les Croupier) for most of the race and passed Bailey in the closing stages to finish ninth in 33:32, his first time under 34 minutes. Bailey finished one place and eight seconds later to secure a top ten finish. The battle to be the fourth and final scorer for the victorious team was a close affair with new signing Alex Bampton and Darren Jordan having a close tussle. Jordan finally saw off his young challenger in the final stages to take 13th in 34:19 as he finished as third veteran home. Bampton followed just three seconds and one place later before Roger Mullins came home in 34:33 for 17th place.

Richard Dare made a welcome return from injury to finish in 35:07 as he outsprinted former race winner Andy Prophett who finished just one second later. Dmitry Nazarenko (35:14) and Elliot Prince (35:24) quickly followed before Dave Aubrey and Matt Evans set personal bests of 36:10 and 36:21 respectively. Ian Giles ran well for 37:20 and Gavin McCaugherty set a pb of 37:30 before Steve Linton and Steve Hall both followed in 37:42, with Hall marking his first appearance in club colours with a new pb. The closest Harriers battle of the day saw Gareth Edwards set a pb as he inched ahead of James Wilkinson in a keenly thought sprint finish, with both runners given identical times of 38:28. Steve Maguire was the next Harrier home in 38:34 before Dave Hemmings clocked 38:43 and Simon Burley recorded 39:34 on his Harriers debut. Youngster Jacob Pickering ran 40:45 whilst Vickie Wilkinson led the Harriers ladies home in 41:23. Josh Spering (42:28), Rachel See with a pb of 45:01, Sam Pickering (49:10) and Graham Brookhouse (49:11) completed the 27 strong Harriers contingent.