Distance Running News, 27 June

Graham Rush smashed the Cheltenham Harriers 5000m record with an excellent performance at the British Milers Club Grand Prix at Watford. With limited track experience behind him the 32 year was contesting his first grand prix event and was content to sit in around fifth place as the pacemaker took the B race field through the first kilometre in 2:52. Rush continued to look comfortable as the laps ticked by and had moved up into the third as they passed 3000m in 8:38. But with the pacemaker stepping aside the front group slowed again prompting Rush to make his move and hit the front with four laps remaining. The front pack soon split to just four runners, but a lap later Rush just had Kent’s Alex Yee on his shoulder. A 66 second lap saw the Dave Newport runner reach the bell in 13:07 with Yee still tucked in behind him. As Rush upped the pace again he opened a few metres lead over his rival, but Yee then closed this gap in the home straight and passed Rush right on the line to take victory by 0.01 seconds. However, Rush’s time of 14:09.19 was a personal best by 26 seconds and saw him take 20 seconds from Rhys Park’s club record. Remarkably Park’s record lasted for less than four months after he had beaten after Mick Hewer’s previous record had stood for 48 years. Rush’s time, achieved with negative splits, also saw him achieve the qualifying time for next weekend’s British Championships and moved him up to 34th in the current UK rankings. At the same meeting James Miller ran well to record 1:55.52 for seventh in the 800m G race. Elsewhere, Jon Barnes lowered his track PB to 15:57.44 for ninth place in the Welsh Championships whilst Alex Lee won the Cheltenham parkrun in a course PB of 16:50 for a one minute victory over fellow Harrier Luke Kearns.

The Harriers entered two teams in the Cotswold Way Relay, a series of ten separate stage races that covered the 103 miles from Chipping Campden to Bath Abbey. Marc Fallows finished third on leg one from Chipping Campden to Stanway as Stroud took a good early lead through Dan Robinson. On the same leg Vickie Wilkinson finished as fourth lady in 37th place for the second Harriers team that was competing in the “mixed team” category. Leg two to Cleeve Common then saw Mike Gray finish fourth for the mixed team as he finished ahead of Elliot Prince who took ninth place. Jo Wilkie then finished as first lady home at Severn Springs whilst Miguel Mundinano earned a pleasing sixth position. The route to Cranham saw Richard Dare take second behind Stroud’s Gary Hughes before Alex Foyne finished 69th. Oli Mott had a memorable Cheltenham debut as he badly turned his ankle before hobbling to victory on the stage to Ebley Mill that also saw Richard Birch finish in fourteenth spot. Paul Horsfall then very sportingly shared the stage win with Chippenham’s Chris Maxwell as the route reached Dursley. With the whole race ran without marshalls runners are expected to recce and navigate the route themselves, but Horsfall relied on Maxwell to show him round and felt that sharing first place was the right thing to do. On the same stage Ian Giles placed eleventh for the mixed team before A team member Gareth Edwards took third on the route to Wotton-under-Edge to finish one place ahead of team mate Alister Brown. Dave Aubrey and Dave Hemmings then followed this up by placing 12th and 39th as the race reached Old Sodbury. Roger Mullins was in the lead pack that went off course on leg nine to Cold Ashton before eventually finishing thirteenth whilst Becky Amor finished 69th. The final stage then saw a surprise last minute call up for Andrew Kaighin who finished eleventh for the Harriers second team, just one place ahead of clubmate James Wilkinson. By the end of the event the men’s team had placed third behind Stroud and Team Bath whilst the mixed team placed sixth in their category and in eighteenth overall in an event that comprised one hundred teams.