Distance Running News, 24-25 March

Alex Bampton produced an excellent performance to break the 70 minute barrier for the first time at the Valencia Half Marathon. On a windy day that also saw the event host the World Marathon Championship, the Oxford University student started sensibly and went through the opening 5km in 16:33 before passing the 10k mark in 33:10. After a 16:39 split for the next 5km into the wind, Bampton then posted a 16:05 for the split to 20km. He then continued to speed up with an impressive 3:03 final kilometre to record a time of 69:14, a result that that saw him take over a minute and a half from his previous personal best and finish 36th from the mass start runners not involved in the World Championship. Beth Hawling meanwhile represented England in the Home Nations International Cross Country race in Nottingham where she established herself in the lead pack of five on the opening lap. On the second circuit her England teammate Ellie Baker broke clear and went on to claim the win, whilst Hawling battled for second with Charlotte Christiensen (England) and Anna Tait (Scotland). The two England runners then pulled clear and battled it out for second, before Hawling pulled clear to finish four seconds clear of her teammate on the final downhill section.

The weekend also saw the Harriers host their annual 14 mile Cleevewold race with runners facing many testing climbs on the 14 mile multi-terrain event on Cleeve Hill. Alex Lee led the challenge for the host club and traded the lead with Richard Purkis of North Gloucestershire Orienteering Club throughout the first half of the race. Whilst Lee was strong on the up hills, Purkis repeatedly made up ground with his fast descents and eventually pulled clear of Lee to take the win by 56 seconds. Last year’s winner Tomasso Migliuolo was almost four minutes further back in third. Dave Tomlin was the first veteran home in fourth place before Doug Wight made it four Harriers in the top six for a comfortable team victory. Miguel Mundinano was the third veteran in ninth place whilst Andy Gore finished thirteenth and Ian Giles took the V50 cetargory win in 19th position. Further veteran honours came as Mike Ede won the V60 age group in 33rd before Simon Critchley (36th), Anthony Rossi (41st), Paul Barnes (54th), Dave Hemmings (55th) and Michael Imeson (98th) completed the Harriers contingent. The Gloucester 20 mile road race gave four Harriers a good opportunity to test out their fitness as part of their preparations for next month’s London Marathon. Joe Willgoss impressed with a personal best of 2:04:17 for sixteenth place whilst Andy Gardiner recorded 2:07:15, Matt Lambourne posted 2:25:44 and Leah Hopton completed the three lap course in 2:55:23.

The weekend also saw several club athletes compete in the elite races at the British Duathlon Championship in Bedford with Luke Pollard the highest placed Harrier in tenth place ahead of Phil Wylie in twelfth and Ben Price in thirteenth. In the elite ladies race Naomi Eaton finished fourteenth. In the age group races at the same venue Alex Doherty put in an impressive performance to finish second overall to take gold in his 35-39 age group. Weekend parkruns saw Alex Lee (16:03) take the win in an event PB at the Cheltenham event where Jo WIlkie (20:36) was the first lady whilst there were three Harriers in the top four at the Kingsway event in Gloucester where Dave Tomlin (17:23) took the win ahead of Gareth Edwards (18:26) and James Bingham (18:41) who finished third and fourth respectively.