The talk in the athletics world this weekend was all about breaking 2, but whilst Nike and Eliud Kipchoge failed to hit their 2 hour marathon target, Cheltenham Harrier Jacob Pickering broke the two minute barrier for the first time as he won the 800m at the Midland League division Two fixture at Worcester. The Birmingham University student aggressively hit the front from the gun and pulled clear of the field in the opening 200m, then maintaining the gap as he reached the bell in around 58/59 seconds. Heading down the back straight for the second time Pickering was visibly starting to tire and he was soon swallowed up by the chasing pack as he dropped back into fourth position. However, the teenager managed to remain in contact with the lead group and coming off the final bend he moved wide and kicked for home to move through from fourth to first in the home straight. Taking the win by 0.8 seconds Pickering reduced his personal best from 2:02.2 to 1:59.3. The 800m B race also brought good points for the Harriers as Mark James ran well for third place in 2:05.3.
The 2000m steeplechase then saw maximum points for the club with Dan Owen taking the win in 6:17.0 and Luke Kearns finishing second overall to win the B string with an impressive 6:34.0 on his debut at the event. Owen then returned to the track later in the afternoon to contest the 1500m with Richard de-Camps. The pair entered the final straight in his first and second place before being denied victory by Stoke’s Louis Wrigley who crossed the line 0.7 seconds clear of Owen who took A string second in 4:05.6 whilst third placed de-Camps claimed the B string win in 4:06.5. The 5000m saw five Harriers in action with Phil Beastall leading from the gun with only teammate Alex Bampton trying to go with his swift pace. After a mile Bampton dropped back as Beastall went on to take the win in 14:48.3 to equal his road PB for the distance. An impressive Bampton then crossed the line in second place to claim the B string win a big personal best of 15:10.5. Non-scorers Liam Roarty and Dan Thomas ran the whole race together before Roarty kicked clear in the final straight to set a new PB of 16:04.3 for fourth place. Thomas enjoyed his Harriers debut with a 16:06.1 PB in fifth place whilst fellow new signing Alex Lindfield also set a PB with a pleasing 17:11.0. In the women’s distance events Hilary Mott ran well in a strong field to finish fourth in the 3000m in a PB of 10:23.0 whilst Fee Maycock was second B runner in 11:19.1. The pair later claimed two third places in the 1500m as they recorded times of 4:59.2 and 5:31.5 respectively. There were also two third places in the 800m races where Katerina Horrocks clocked 2:31.8 and Agata Giles crossed the line in 2:44.0 as the distance athletes played their part in helping the club to an excellent team victory.
The second race in the Hereford 5k series saw Charlie Jones, Mark James and Jon Barnes representing the Harriers. Barnes led the pack out with Jones, James and Dan King (Wye Valley) all close behind as the group stayed together through the opening mile. Jones then took the lead in the third kilometre and then kept swapping positions back and forth with King as the duo pulled clear of Barnes and James. Heading into the last kilometre the leading pair remained neck and neck before Jones found an extra gear in the final 400m to open a racing winning gap as he claimed his first ever road race win by two seconds in a new personal best of 16:02. Barnes took third in 16:11 before Mark James took the veteran prize in fourth as he lowered his PB to 16:14 to ensure that the Harriers comfortably repeated their team victory from the first race of the series. At the Great Bristol 10k Will New recorded a time of 33:21 to finish in fifteenth place whilst Ben Colabella put in an impressive performance to lower his PB to 34:30. Competing over the same distance at the Dudley Kingswinford 10k Andy Gore was the second over 45 runner home in 36:38 and Dave Tomlin won the hilly Bluebell Blunder multi-terrain race in the Wye Valley. Weekend parkruns saw wins for Tomiln (17:09) at Tewkesbury and Phil Wylie (15:16) at Exeter Riverside whilst Ian Giles (19:26) finished second at the Gloucester North event.