Cheltenham Harriers claimed their highest ever finish in the National Six Stage Road Relay Championship with an excellent fifteenth place finish in Sutton Coldfield. The opening stage of the testing 5.88km course saw Graham Rush positioned towards the front of a large pack that remained together for almost the first two miles. Just before the turning point of the dog leg Rush moved into the lead and gradually upped the pace, causing the group to dwindle until just Tom Lancashire of Bolton remained on his shoulder. Going up the hill after Keepers Pool with around 500m remaining Rush opened the smallest of gaps over the Beijing Olympian, but the 1500m man then charged past to win the stage by four seconds. Rush took second in 17:21 as he beat his own personal best and Cheltenham Harriers record on the course by seventeen seconds to record the fifth fastest time of the day. The second stage saw Phil Beastall pass the Bolton athlete at the top of the notorious Sutton Park hill as the Harriers then enjoyed almost a mile at the front of the national championship. Caught before the turning point of the dog leg, Beastall continued to run well as he brought the team home in third place with an 18:02 clocking, 25 seconds faster than his previous best time on the course. Harry Bishop then recorded an 18:41 leg to leave the Midland bronze medalists in eleventh place at the halfway point of the race before Dave Roper’s 18:42 left the club in thirteenth place. Alex Lee then gained a place on stage five with a 19:06 that gave the Cheltenham team a good chance of beating their previous highest finish of seventeenth place, but there were still six teams within the 34 seconds behind the Harriers at the final changeover. Richard Dare ran then ran well with a 19:21 leg that brought the team home in a very pleasing fifteenth place as they finished as third Midland team.
The Harriers B team had also qualified for the event and lined up in the national championship for just the second time. Mark James took the first leg and his 20:49 saw him hand over to Andy Prophett in 72nd place. Prophett equalled his time at last month’s Midland Championship with a 20:20 clocking to take the team up to 70th before Andrew Kaighin held position with a 21:35 leg. Marcus England then took 23 seconds off his time from last month as his 20:25 saw him gain a place. James Wilkinson also ran a course PB with his 21:19 moving the team up into 67th place before Gareth Edwards also ran his fastest time on the course with a pleasing 21:29. This saw the Cheltenham B team take 64th place and also finish as the eighth B team.
At the Cardiff Half Marathon Will New lowered his personal best to 72:45 as he finished in 38th position to knock 19 seconds off his previous best. Earlier in the week Andy Prophett finished as the first veteran home at the Aztec West 5k in Bristol in a time of 16:59. Just one position ahead was Mark James who took seventeenth place in 16:56 whilst Steve Maguire clocked 18:09. At the Cheltenham parkrun Matt Evans placed fifth in 18:15, with Dave Rantell crossing the line just five seconds later in fifth. Matthew Dwerryhouse recorded a time of 19:11 whilst Katerina Horrocks was the second lady home in 21:30.
The Harriers All Time 6 Stage Rankings have been updated after the national six stage. View Rankings