Cheltenham Harriers Ladies team continued their revival with another Gloucestershire Cross Country League team victory over a challenging course on Malvern Common. Having the won the opening league fixture at the start of the month the team were eager to build on their good start and again packed well. By the end of the first of two large laps Hilary Mott was in a three way battle for third place with Helen Brown (Forest of Dean) and Sally Hogan (Bromsgrove), as the trio chased second placed Eilidh Prise (Aberdeen) and clear leader Rebecca Pierce (Bath) The battle for the team victory was clearly a two way affair between the Harriers and Bromsgrove, with Vickie Wilkinson lying sixth one place ahead of the second Bromsgrove runner and Rachel See holding a single place over the Worcestershire club’s third scorer. Going up the hill for the second time Mott moved clear into third, with the gap to Prise narrowing on the descent and down to just ten seconds by the finish as Mott took third place just four seconds ahead of Brown. Wilkinson came home as second vet 40 runner in seventh place, one place behind Bromsgrove’s second runner as the team battle went to the wire. With Rachel See running well to finish as second under 20 runner in thirteenth position, for a two place advantage over Bromsgrove, this gave the Harriers a team score of 24 for a three point victory. More significantly though, the gap over second placed CLC Striders at the top of the league table extended to a healthy 51 points. Providing vital backup to the A team were veterans Nicola Whiteman in 17th, Debbie Smith in 37th, Joan Shaw in 44th and Christina See in 142nd. This meant the Harriers B team placed eighth on the day team to leave them as the leading B team in the overall standings in fifth place, whilst the veteran team again placed second behind league leaders Stroud.
Not to be outdone by the women the Harriers men made it 23 consecutive league victories as they again put on a dominant display. The first of three large laps saw new Harriers signing Richard de-Camps make an instant impression as he put himself in second place as he chased eventual winner Josh Davis of North Somerset. Behind de-Camps fellow Harrier Harry Bishop was isolated in third, although by the end of the second lap their positions had switched and by the finish Bishop was 11 seconds clear as the pair took second and third places respectively. Oli Mott made a welcome return to action after a four month injury layoff to pick his way through the field up into sixth place with Jeremy Bradley coming home in tenth place. Roger Mullons was again the second veteran home in thirteenth place before Paul Horsfall came home in 23rd position. With de-Camps ineligible for the team competition Jacob Pickering rose to the challenge of completing the scoring six man team as he ran a mature race to move through to 26th place to finish as third under 20 runner home on his senior debut. The Harriers B team had finished second behind their own A team in the opening fixture, but with a large Harriers squad racing on the roads the following day a repeat performance was always very unlikely. However, good packing through Russell Forsbrook (38th), Dan Minors (45th), James Wilkinson (46th), Alister Brown (47th), Matt Evans (57th) and Ian Giles (73rd) earned the team sixth on the day and kept them in second place in the overall standing. The veterans team of Mullins, Forsbrook, Minors and Giles also won their competition to extend their lead at the top of the league. Ian Devlin (75th), Steve Maguire (79th), Elliot Goodman (86th), Lee Groenewegen (90th) and Ken Buckle (185th) completed the Harriers squad.
Dave Roper put in a fine performance to take the victory as Cheltenham Harriers filled the first five places at the Tewkesbury 5 mile road race. Straight from the gun Roper looked to dominate the race and his 4:54 opening mile put him clear of his rivals. At this point Cirencester’s Adrian Williams lay isolated in second ahead of a four man group consisting of Harriers teammates Anthony Bailey, Richard Dare, Alex Lee and Will New who passed the mile in 5:10. Whilst Roper remained unchallenged at the front of the race to take the victory in 25:42, the race for the places behind was hotly contested. Williams was caught by the chasing Harriers pack at around halfway before being quickly dropped with the quartet of white vests locked together until just before the four mile mark. With Dare slightly losing ground, Lee pushed on at the four mile mark with veteran Bailey following him to leave both New and Dare isolated. His fastest mile of the race saw Lee move clear to take second in an impressive personal best of 25:58, with Bailey also claiming a PB with 26:10 as he saw off the challenge of New who finished quickly to cross the line just one second later in a new PB. Not to be outdone, Dare also set a PB of 26:19 to complete a Harriers clean sweep of the top five places. In eighth and ninth places former race winners James Miller and Andy Prophett recorded 27:46 and 28:00 respectively, with third veteran home Prophett sprinting clear of Marcus England whose PB of 28:03 ensured there were eight Cheltenham runners in the top ten. In twelfth Gavin McCaugherty lowered his PB to 28:40 before Mark James finished one place behind in 29:00. In fifteenth Dave Rantell was second over 45 runner home in 29:24, with Jay Dowding finishing one place and thirteen seconds later to make it twelve Harriers in the top sixteen. Richard Birch set a PB of 31:14 before vet 70 runner Martin Ford was the first over 55 runner home in 32:44. Paul Barnes (32:53) edged out Dave Hemmings (32:55) before Samantha Pickering (39:08) completed the Cheltenham contingent. Starting ahead of the main field Wheelchair athlete Gareth Picken impressed in his first five mile race with a time of 26:02. Earlier in the week Andy Prophett finished as second veteran at the Aztec West 5k in Bristol with a season’s best clocking of 16:51.