Distance Running News, 22-24 April

Cheltenham Harrier Andrew van Kints produced an impressive personal best performance to lead home Gloucestershire’s club athletes at the London Marathon. Aiming to break his previous best time of 2:38:19 set in Amsterdam in 2014, the RAF runner set off aggressively with a 34:58 opening 10km before going on to reach the half marathon mark in 74:26. Inevitably, van Kints slowed in the second half as he found the final 7km tough but after digging deep he lowered his PB to of 2:35.19. Anthony Bailey was the next Harrier home; having gone through the half way point in 77:23 the veteran crossed the line in 2:40:37 clocking. Having set PBs over a range of shorter distances recently Marcus England was clearly in shape to smash his previous best time of just over three hours and did not disappoint with an impressive 2:41:11 after an opening half of 78:38. The battle to be fourth Cheltenham runner home was always going to be interesting with five athletes all setting off at around three hour pace. At the halfway mark Richard Birch (88:36) headed James Wilkinson (89:14), Alex Clements (89:34), Gavin McCaugherty (89:57) and Paul Wade (90:10). McCaugherty and Clements managed to run negative splits with McCaugherty enjoying a 2:58:28 in his first marathon and Clements breaking the three hour mark for the first time in his first race since joining the Harriers. Birch came home in 3:05.13 after slowing in the final few miles, with Wilkinson recording 3:05:52 and Wade completing the course in 3:14.08. Seventy-two year old Martin Ford again defied age to finish as the events first over 70 athlete home in 3:24:42 and Michael Imeson stopped the clock at 4:13:07. In the mini marathon wheelchair race Gareth Picken placed fifth with a time of 14:52.

Away from marathon action the most impressive performance of the weekend was in California where Rhys Park lowered his 5000m personal best to 14:14.77 at the Stanford Twighlight track meeting. Also on the track veteran Russell Forsbrook recorded a time of 4:34.46 for the 1500m at the Bristol Open meeting. Back on the roads Shona Crombie-Hicks warmed up for the Belfast Marathon at the Southampton Half Marathon where she finished as sixth lady home in 85:27. Weekend parkrun results saw Megan Brinley finish as the first lady home at the Cheltenham event in Pittville Park in 19:49 where Matthew Dwerryhouse was the third man home in 18:36. Jon Barnes made a welcome return to action after injury with second place in the Hereford event in 17:22 and Mark James took the win at the Kingsway event in Gloucester in a time of 18:24.