Graham Rush was in top form, setting a Cheltenham Harriers best ever time, as he led the club to twenty-third place in the National Six stage Road Relay Championships in Sutton Coldfield. Track specialist Dan Owen again took the opening leg and equalled his fastest ever time over the hilly 5.88km course with an impressive 18:13 clocking for 29th place. Rush then made moves through the field to take the Harriers up to thirteenth with an excellent time of 17:48. Not only did Rush improve on his previous best on the iconic course, he also went one second quicker than James Brewer’s club record set at last year’s event. Dave Roper also showed that he too is returning to his best form with an impressive 17:58, just five seconds outside his PB, as he moved Cheltenham up into eighth at the half way point of the race. With the team having used all their fastest runners, Dave Aubrey had the unenviable task of taking the fourth leg knowing that he would have runners overtaking him. Despite his lack of experience Aubrey put in a solid 19:51 leg to hand over to James Bingham in fourteenth place. Bingham then ran three seconds faster than Aubrey to leave the Harriers in twenty-third with just one stage remaining. Will New then ran 19:34, his fastest ever time on the course, to hold this position and complete a very pleasing team performance.
The Harriers also had a B team lining up for the Championship for just the second time after an excellent qualifying performance at last month’s Midland Championship. Marc Fallows thrived with the opportunity of running on the highly competitive opening stage with a 19:38 clocking, 22 seconds quicker than he ran at the Midlands event, to hand over in 71st place. Nineteen year old Alex Bampton was one of the three teenagers making their six stage debuts and impressed with a time of 19:30 as he gained three places. Matt Crew then gained three more places to take the team up to 65th with an excellent 19:48 before fellow seventeen year old Dmitry Nazarenko gained three more places with a pleasing 19:54. Mike Gray then held position with a 21:07 fifth leg before Elliot Prince gained a place with 20:51. This left the team as the second Gloucestershire team home in 61st place out of the 77 complete teams.
Earlier in the week Andrew van Kints finished third in the RAF Honnington 10k in Bury St Edmonds in a time of 33:04 whilst Will New equalled his 5k road PB of 16:09 for fourteenth place at the Aztec West 5k in Bristol. At the same race Steve Maguire ran a time of 17:57 and Lee Groenewegen set a new PB of 20:24. James Wilkinson lowered his PB to 83:45 at the Cardiff Half Marathon where Jon Barnes ran a time of 76:42. Jacob Pickering was in fine form at the Cheltenham parkrun with a PB of 17:41 for third place, with Ian Giles setting a course PB of 18:42 for sixth place and Matt Evans clocking 19:07. Agata Giles was the fourth lady home in a new PB of 20:32.
The Harriers 6 Stage Rankings have been updated after the national six stage. View Rankings