Distance Running News, 7 January

Phil Beastall took the individual title as he led Cheltenham Harriers to the perfect team score of 21 as they completely dominated the Gloucestershire Cross Country Championship at Old Down Country Park. As well as having all their six scorers in the first six runners home, the Harriers also showed their depth with their B team finishing second and their C team claiming the team bronze medals. The battle for the individual title saw a group of four Harriers quickly open a lead over the rest of the pack as Beastall, Oli Mott, Ben Price and Dave Roper pulled clear. After the first of four laps of the hilly course Beastall and Roper had moved away from their teammates to set up another head to head show down. Whilst Roper had pipped his rival to take victory in the previous Gloucestershire League race, this time it was Beastall who pulled clear on the second lap to open up what turned out to be a race winning lead. By the half way point Price had a small lead over Mott as he tried to chase down Roper. With the positions not changing in the second half of the race, Beastall extended his winning margin to 35 seconds to take the title and the Dave McNamee Cup. Price meanwhile closed to just six seconds behind Roper as the pair took the silver and bronze medals. Mott then followed in fourth before guest runner Huw Evans of Welsh club Les Croupier crossed the line. Marc Fallows then claimed the county veteran title as he placed fifth before Marcus England finished sixth to give the Dave Newport coached training group the perfect score of 21. In seventh place Alex Chantler-Mayne claimed the under 20 county title as he led the B team to silver medals with Will New (9th), Dave Aubrey (11th), Roger Mullins (12th), under 20 silver medallist Jacob Pickering (14th) and Mateusz Podsiadly (15th). The Harriers C team completed the club’s domination of the event by taking the team bronze thanks to Elliot Prince (16th), Corin Hughes (19th), third over 45 runner home Dave Rantell (24th), Matt Evans (27th), Russell Forsbrook (30th) and Dave Hemmings (40th). The Harriers veteran team of Fallows, Mullins and Rantell also took gold in the veteran competition.

The Harriers ladies team were prominent from the start of their race as they packed well on the opening shorter lap. Despite losing team manager Jo Wilkie to a nasty fall on the first downhill section of the course, the team responded by running well to claim the silver medals as Vickie Wilkinson took sixth place to finish just two seconds and a single place clear of teammate Fee Maycock, who in turn was thirteen seconds of third and final scorer Rachel See. Their team score of 21 left the Harriers just three points behind champions Stroud. Wilkinson was also the third veteran home with Maycock the second runner over 45 to finish as they combined with tenth placed Sarah Shepherd to claim veteran team gold by six points over Cirencester.

Graham Rush made his Great Britain debut in the televised Edinburgh Cross Country International where he placed 28th in a strong field in a race which saw the USA’s Leonard Korir take the win and Rush’s GB teammate Mo Farah finish seventh. Elsewhere Alex Lee won a record 22nd Cheltenham parkrun as he surpassed Dmity Nazarenko’s record of 21 victories with a time of 16:23 at the Pittville Park. There were also wins for Mark James (17:59) at the Kingsway parkrun in Gloucester and Liam Roarty (19:24) at the River Valley parkrun in Ireland whilst Alex Clements (18:29) finished second at the Great Lines parkrun in Medway.