Phil Beastall produced an excellent personal best performance to finish sixteenth in the English 10k Road Running Championship that was held with the Leeds Abbey Dash. Renowned as one of the highest quality races within the UK, the race again attracted some of the country’s top athletes. With Beastall, Graham Rush and Dan Owen all selected for the Midlands it meant the Harriers made up half of the six strong Midlands team for the inter-area match that was also incorporated into the race. Given the standard of the field, the opening mile of just 4:50 was slower than might have been expected with both Rush and Beastall part of a pack of around twenty athletes. The large group stayed together until just before the halfway mark with Beastall going through the halfway mark in 15:12. The slightly downhill fourth mile then saw Rush pull away from Beastall. Beastall then put in fourth and fifth mile splits of 4:44 and 4:49 as he sought to beat his previous road 10k PB of 30:45 and his track 10,000m best time of 30:12. Picking up places in the last mile Beastall caught a slowing Rush with 150m remaining to stop the clock in an outstanding time of 30:03 with his teammate just three seconds and one place behind. Owen meanwhile put in a good performance to run 31:21 for 43rd position as he surpassed his road PB of 32:19 and his track 10,000m best of 31:41. In his first race since joining the Harriers Luke Pollard then impressed with a personal best of 31:33 to prove what a great addition the squad he should be. Breaking the 33 minute barrier for the first time Charlie Jones and Dan King enjoyed setting PBs of 32:51 and 32:55 respectively before training partner Jon Barnes set a road PB of 33:02 and Elliot Taylor posted a time of 33:11. Alice Taylor was the final Harrier home as she finished just three seconds outside her PB with a time of 37:43.
Whilst a few athletes had travelled to compete on the national scene, the main event for the county’s top runners over the weekend was the second fixture of the Gloucestershire Cross Country League on a new course at Malmesbury. In the men’s race Ben Price went on to claim a well-deserved win after he pulled clear of Dave Bell (Cirencester) in the early stages of the second lap. The Cheltenham Half Marathon winner then extended this lead over the final lap of the testing circuit to finish 25 seconds clear of his rival with Aaron Pritchard (Bath) a further eleven seconds adrift in third place. James Denne ran a well-paced race to finish in a pleasing fifth spot before Dan Thomas produced another good run in seventh place. The team then packed well with Alex Chantler-Mayne and Jacob Pickering finishing as the leading under 20 athletes in ninth and tenth place respectively. Marc Fallows then finished as the leading veteran athlete in eleventh place to ensure the Harriers enjoyed a 31st consecutive league win with just 43 points. Bath again finished as second team with a score of 122, before the Harriers B team took third place with 198 thanks to the efforts of Marcus England (14th), Doug Wight (18th), Alex Lindfield (27th), Andy Gore (44th), James Bingham (45th) and James Wilkinson (50th). With Nick Brown (51st), Russell Forsbrook (52nd), Elliot Prince (60th), Dave Rantell (65th), Alister Brown (69th) and Steve Bradley (71st) packing well the Cheltenham C team finished 7th overall and ahead of all other club B teams. Dan Minors (77th) and Ian Giles (86th) provided further depth before Claude Bernard finished as the third V60 runner in 123rd place. The veteran team of Fallows, Gore, Forsbrook and Rantell repeated their second place of the opening fixture as Bath again took the team win.
In the ladies race Naomi Eaton and Bath’s Katerine Svane moved clear of the field on the opening of their two laps with the Cheltenham athlete happy to lead. However the impressive Svane moved clear on the second lap to claim the win, with Eaton crossing the line twelve seconds later to take a fine second place as she finished seventeen seconds clear of Gloucester’s Niamh Powell. Despite having ran a sub 3 hour marathon just six days earlier, Fee Maycock put on her spikes to help the depleted Cheltenham team and remarkably took seventh place overall. Not only did the 50 year old win the LV50 category, but she was also the first veteran runner home. Rachel See then put in an improved performance to take 24th place which ensured the team took second with a score of 33 points. With Bath putting out a very strong team and scoring a miserly 12 points, it means that the Harriers now lie second in the league overall with a points deficit of 10 points to Bath. With Dana Machakova (33rd), Emma Silversides (38th) and Debbie Smith (66th) packing well the club B team placed tenth. Tamsin Carpenter (108th), Agata Giles (120th) Charlotte Deacon (144th), Christina See (180th) completed the squad. Competing in the same race as ladies the Harriers under 17 girls packed well for a team win thanks to Olivia Davis (25th), Emma Quekett (36th), Katerina Horrocks (43rd) and Ella Burfitt (64th). The Masters team of Maycock, Silversides and Smith took fifth on the day, with their determined performance keeping the Harriers at the top of the overall standings.
At the Tewkesbury Guy Fawkes 5 mile road race veteran Mark James ran well to cross the line in second place in 27:44 as he finished exactly one minute behind Stroud’s Alistair Cambell and ten seconds ahead of Severn’s Chris Brown. Dave Rantell finished as third over 45 runner home as he took tenth overall in 30:13 despite racing the previous day. Just four seconds later Dave Francis posted an impressive PB in eleventh place as he pipped former race winner Andy Prophett by a single second. Shona Crombie-Hicks then repeated her 2016 ladies race win with a time of 30:22 that saw the LV45 athlete defeating all her younger rivals. Sarah Sheppard recorded 32:49 to finish as fifth lady before Paul Barnes (33:45), Dave Hemmings (34:17) and Leah Hopton (38:00) completed the Harriers contingent.