Distance Running News, 5-6 December

Graham Rush ensured a home victory for hosts Cheltenham Harriers as he won his second consecutive Birmingham Cross Country League Division One race in Pittville Park. A relatively steady start saw a large front group sticking together during the first of three laps, with Rush leading the way as his rivals were content to let him set the pace. The next circuit saw the pack reduce to just six athletes with Eritrean Olympian Weynay Ghebresilasie (Birchfield), Toby Spencer (Coventry) and Alex Brecker (Stoke) all still looking good as Rush continued to lead. However, with just over a lap to go the Cheltenham athlete made his move and upped the pace, quickly establishing what was to be a race winning gap. Completing the 9.5km course in 30:29 Rush finished five seconds clear of Spencer, with Brecker a further five seconds back in third place.

The second Harrier was Harry Bishop who had put himself in the top ten on the first lap. The 19 year old ran well to finish in seventeenth and as fourth under 20 runner home, a fine achievement in a league that is dominated by the university squads of Loughborough and Birmingham. Alex Bampton had lost vital ground on the first lap after stopping to tie his shoelace. He then ran a mature race, refusing to panic and gradually moving his way back through the field to be rewarded with his highest league position of 28th place. Richard de-Camps followed just three seconds and two positions later to improve by eleven places from the previous fixture. Alex Lee took 46th place before Richard Dare then completed the scoring six man team in 49th place to help the Harriers to a score of 171 for fourth place on the day. This took the club above Birchfield in the overall league standings as they moved up to fourth overall behind Loughborough University, Birmingham University and Stoke who also filled the top three positions on the day.

One of the most impressive Harriers performances of the day came from 17 year old Alex Chantler-Mayne who was making his senior cross country debut. A fast positive start saw him head Dare for much of the race, before finishing in an excellent 52nd position to lead the club B team home. Jeremy Bradley (54th), Anthony Bailey (65th), Will New (75th), Roger Mullins (79th) and Marcus England (90th) all packed well to give the team a score of 415. This placed the Harriers third on the day behind the two university teams, with the same positions being held in the overall standings. Further emphasis of the depth in the Cheltenham squad followed as Andrew van Kints (92nd), James Miller (95th) and Tommaso Migliuolo (99th) made it fifteen Harriers in the top one hundred. Alister Brown (108th), Elliot Prince (110th), Andy Gore (116th), Iain Devlin (145th), Ian Giles (175th), Lee Groenewegen (196th) and Michael Imeson (249th) completed the 22 strong Cheltenham contingent.

Three Harriers contested the Cheltenham parkrun in Pittville Park before helping to set up the course for the league fixture. Mark James took the win in 18:13, Gavin McCaugherty placed second in 18:34 and Gareth Edwards finished sixth in 19:12. Meanwhile Dan Minors placed fourth at the Fountains Abbey parkrun in Ripon in 18:41. Representing Oxford Brookes University in the Oxford Cross Country League Rachel See finished 35th in the women’s race.