Distance Running News, 26-27 September

Phil Beastall smashed his personal best to finish an excellent second place in the Cheltenham Half Marathon as Cheltenham Harriers had four of the first six runners home. After three miles Beastall was in the second group around a hundred metres behind Harriers teammate and defending champion Dave Roper who was closely following the pace set by pre-race favourite Ian Williams of Tipton. Beastall had moved clear of the chasing group by four miles, but kept the leading pair in his sights throughout the race. The front two continued to match each other stride for stride as they reached the 9 mile mark just inside the testing section of the course at Cheltenham racecourse, before 2:24 marathon man Williams pulled clear as Roper began to fade. Beastall then overtook his teammate just after the 11 mile mark, but was unable to close the gap to Williams who extended his lead to 42 seconds by the finish. A delighted Beastall took second with a new PB of 71:09 with Roper coming home 55 seconds later in third place.

For the first half of the race the Harriers trio of Jeremy Bradley, Alex Lee and Anthony Bailey were together in sixth to eighth places, with teammate Richard Dare not far behind in ninth at the halfway point. Bradley and Lee then overtook Coventry’s Ben Jones in the later stages as the former 68 minute man took an impressive fifth in 72:42, just 26 seconds behind CLC’s Will Ferguson. Lee was rewarded with sixth place as he took almost five minutes off his previous best with a 73:17 clocking. Dare and Bailey finished in tenth and eleventh respectively with Dare recording a PB of 74:17 and Bailey finishing as the leading veteran in 74:47 to equal his PB. The personal bests continued for Dave Newport’s training group as Marcus England took two minutes off his previous best with 76:56. Andy Gore (79:06), Gavin McCaugherty (82:16) and Matt Evans (82:45) followed before Gareth Edwards lowered his PB to 83:19 and Paul Wade clocked 83:37. Jacob Pickering enjoyed an 84:48 debut over the distance whilst Dan Minors ran well for 85:15 and James Wilkinson recorded 86:33. There was a sixth place for the Harriers in the ladies race as Hilary Mott lowered her personal best to 86:35 and Lee Groenewegen impressed with 87:03. Simon Critchley (88:18), David Symes (94:01), Jamie Courtenay (98:47), Debbie Smith (99:48) Phil Williams (1:41:03), Sue Townsend (1:41:06), Samantha Pickering (1:55:45) and Claudia Ovens (1:56:56) completed the Cheltenham contingent.

At the Cirencester 10k Matt Crew finished eighth in 36:16 before veterans Dave Rantell (37:40), Paul Barnes (42:12) and Dave Hemmings (44:03) continued their quest for county race series points. A Harriers team finished second in the Gloucestershire Cross Country Relays at Plock Court in Gloucester. Ben Williams (10:29) put the team into third place on the opening leg before John Merrett (10:06) took the Harriers into second place behind Stroud. Miguel Mundinano (10:52) and Mark James (11:06) then held position, with James running within himself having already won the Kingsway parkrun in Gloucester earlier in the day. Meanwhile at the Berlin Marathon Steve Hall just missed out on a sub three hour clocking with a time of 3:00.41. At the off road Forest of Dean Half Marathon Jon Barnes finished second in 78:55 with Andrew Hussey third and first veteran runner with a time of 81:00.