Distance Running News, 7-11 June

Dan Owen claimed a fine double with victories in the 3000m steeplechase and 1500m at the Midland Championships in Nuneaton. A class above the rest of the field in the steeplechase and unconcerned about his time on a windy day, Owen was able to ease down in the closing stages to take a comfortable victory in a relatively modest 9:46.75. However, the 1500m was always going to be a much tougher test as Owen lined up alongside teammate Richard de-Camps. With no athlete wanting to set a pace in the wind, Owen deliberately went to the front to slow things down and the first 800m was covered in a pedestrian 2:24. The pace then started to wind up gradually with the Andy Beadle coached athlete still holding the lead with 450m to go when he was passed by Tamworth runner Stephen Parkes. de-Camps and Aaron Brown (Tipton) also passed Owen on the back straight to leave him fourth position with 200m remaining, a position he still held as they reached the home straight. A strong last 100m then saw Owen reduce the deficit to finally pass Parkes and de-Camps with just 30m to claim gold in 4:12.01. de-Camps then took silver in 4:12.52 with Parkes finishing third in 4:12.84. In the 5000m Phil Beastall led from 400m into the race as the pack behind him gradually dwindled to just four athletes with just three laps remaining. At this point Jack Bancroft (Bristol) made a decisive race winning move leaving Beastall and Joe Smith (Tipton) battling for the minor medals as they in turn pulled clear of Jack Millar (Bristol). Smith then overtook the Cheltenham athlete with 700m to go, but Beastall hung on before sprinting past the Tipton man in the final 100m to claim silver in 15:09.77 just one second ahead of Smith and five seconds behind Bancroft. In the same race Charlie Jones made his 5000m track debut to finish tenth in 16:03.11.

Graham Rush meanwhile made his GB track debut in the European 10,000m Cup in Belarus. The thirty five athletes were seeded into two races with Rush being placed in the faster A race. Very hot conditions meant it was not a day for fast time with Rush claiming thirteenth place from the twenty starters and sixteen finishers in a time of 30:03.97, just one second and one place behind leading Brit Matthew Leach. To put Rush’s performance into perspective, he was the only one of the six GB representatives in the men’s and women’s races to be within a minute of their season’s best.

Earlier in the week at the Hereford 5k road race the Harriers produced a dominant team performance with seven of the first eight finishers. A nine man group pulled clear from the start and remained together as they went through the opening mile in 5:11. Eliot Taylor, Will New, Charlie Jones and Wye Valley’s Dan King all took turns on the front with the strong lead pack also including fellow Harriers Dave Aubrey, Mark James, Jon Barnes and Ben Colabella. Joe Reardon (Aberdare) fell off the pace around the half way point, with the leading eight man group still working well as a pack as they reached the 3km mark. At this point Will New picked up the pace and the group began to fragment slightly as they passed the 2 mile point in 10:19 with the front four of New, Taylor, Jones and King opening up a small gap over their rivals. King was next to make his move with half a mile to go as he and Jones moved a few yards clear. Jones then hit the front with around 500m remaining to open a few metres on King as the race moved onto the athletics track with 350m to go with a procession of Harriers vests in pursuit. Jones maintained his form to cross the line two seconds ahead of King to claim the race win in a personal best of 15:56 and the overall series title. Taylor then took third in 15:58 and New claimed fourth in 16:01. James gained two places in the final run in as he took both the on the day and series veteran title in a new personal best of 16:02. Barnes then crossed the line in 16:04 before Aubrey showed good form with 16:09 and Colabella posted an impressive PB of 16:12 for eighth place. Steve Maguire then recorded a season’s best of 17:52 before Naomi Eaton finished as third lady in a time of 18:35. The Harriers team victory ensured they claimed the team prize for the series after also winning the earlier two races in the competition. The Worcester Pitchcroft 10k saw Fee Maycock claim a win as she finished as first lady in 39:08 at an event where James Wilkinson posted a time of 38:48 and Charlotte Deacon set a PB of 50:24. Andy Gore meanwhile took on the challenge of the 54.2 miles Cotswold Way Race to the Tower where he finished third in 9:36:59. Weekend parkruns saw Wil New (16:54), John Parker (17:03) and Toby Wort (17:31) fill the first three places at the Cheltenham event in Pittville Park whilst Dave Tomlin (17:26) was first across the line at the Kingsway event in Gloucester.