Distance Running News, 30 June

Cheltenham Harriers enjoyed an excellent team victory in the Cotswold Way Relay as Oli Mott and Dom James both enjoyed fine stage victories. The event, which comprises ten separate stage races, follows the Cotswold Way from Chipping Campden to Bath Abbey with competitors having to self-navigate the demanding off road route. In the cooler 7:00am conditions Dan King took the opening 12 mile leg to Stanway and got the team off to a good start as he placed third behind Nick Barry (CLC) and Steve Millward (Gloucester), but importantly ahead of likely rivals for the team event from Bristol, Bath and Stroud. Mott then took the Harriers into the lead on the second 11.5 mile stage to Cleeve Common. Finishing almost six minutes clear of the field he broke James Denne’s course record as give the Harriers a ten minute lead over Bath in the team standings. Captaining the team on the leg to Severn Springs Elliot Prince took a pleasing third place. Whilst Bath lost significant ground, Peter Grandon finished second for Bristol to gain time on the Harriers and take his team into second, but the Cheltenham team still enjoyed a good lead. However, Bristol’s star man Owain Jones was on the fourth stage of Cranham and he gained over six minutes on Richard Dare, who himself ran well for second place. This still left the Harriers with a 3:45 lead at the start of stage five to Stroud, but Maciej Bialogonski’s third place gave the Avon club almost ten minutes over Mark James who placed ninth meaning Bristol held a 6:21 advantage with half of the stages completed.

Dave Aubrey’s third place on the route to Dursley reduced the deficit to the leaders by 1:30, but a second place on stage seven to Wotton-under-Edge saw Bristol gain 36 seconds over fifth placed Gareth Edwards. However, it was the 12 mile leg to Old Sodbury that proved to be pivotal in the race, with Dom James taking an excellent stage win for the Cheltenham team whilst the Bristol runner athlete finished in 22nd place over eighteen minutes later. Off road specialist Tommaso Migliuolo was going well on the penultimate leg to Cold Ashton, but a navigational error whilst in second place saw him lose time and finish in ninth place, although with Bristol in eleventh his error was less significant. With an advantage of over thirteen minutes going into the final stage, it was left to club stalwart Roger Mullins to bring the team home with a sixth place finish and a final winning margin of 10:16 over Bristol as the club regained the trophy it last won in 2016. The Harriers also had a team entered in the mixed category, with the highlight being Hilary Mott finishing as first lady on stage three as she finished in fifth place overall, whilst last minute call up Alex Lindfied took a pleasing fourth place on the final leg to Bath Abbey. Other stage placings were Andrew Kaighin 15th, Anthony Rossi 22nd, Mike Gray 15th, Russell Forsbrook 15th, Charlotte Deacon 101st, Paul Barnes 45th and Jo Fletcher 32nd as they finished as fifth mixed team.

Graham Rush was in action on the track where he contested the 5000m at the British Championships in Birmingham where he lined up against the country’s best runners in a 27 strong field. In touch with the lead group until the final kilometre, Rush placed fourteenth in a season’s best time of 14:08.49, just three seconds outside his PB as Richmond’s Marc Scott took the title in 13:47. Beth Hawling (17:58) made a welcome return to action at the Cheltenham parkrun where she finished as first lady home in sixth place whilst Martin Soakell (18:45) took tenth position. There were also wins for Fee Maycock (19:55) who was first lady and fourth overall at the Gloucester North event and for Dave Tomlin (18:06) at the Trelissick parkrun in Cornwall. Harriers also filled the top two places at the Swindon parkrun through Alex Bampton (16:19) and Dan Thomas (16:54)