Distance Running News, 8-12 April

Cheltenham Harriers completed the club’s most successful season with a club record breaking performance at the National 12 Stage Road Relay Championship in Sutton Coldfield. Graham Rush took on the highly competitive opening 9km long leg over the new and hillier Sutton Park course. The Dave Newport coached athlete ran an excellent race to come home in fourth place from the sixty-seven teams, with his time of 27:16 the seventh fastest of the day. James Miller was always going to find the second leg tricky after Rush’s outstanding run and his 17:05 for the 5.1km short leg left the Harriers in sixteenth place. Phil Wylie then put in an excellent leg to move the Cheltenham team up to fifth with a 27:25 leg that was the ninth quickest of the day. The fourth stage saw Will New run well to maintain position with a 16:51 leg that had seen him briefly move into fourth place before Alex Bampton clocked 29:52 to hand over in thirteenth place. Jon Barnes held this position for the whole of his leg with his 16:45 taking the team to the halfway point of the race well on course to beat the previous club best finishing position of twenty-second place.

Phil Beastall impressed with a 29:10 long leg to hand over in fifteenth place to Darren Jordan who held position with a 16:55 before Dave Roper gained the team two places with a 29:43 leg. Russell Forsbrook then ran eighteen seconds quicker than he ran at the Midland championship with his 17:33 leaving the Harriers in fourteenth place. John Parker also showed improvement since the regional event with a 33 second improvement for a 29:44 to hand over in fourteenth place with one leg remaining, 12 seconds behind Liverpool and 46 seconds ahead of Edinburgh based Corstophine AC. The pressure of the final leg fell on Paul Horsfall who responded well by catching the Liverpool runner who then hung on to the Cheltenham athlete. After over four and a half hours racing the pair were caught by the Corstophine runner with just half a mile to go. Whilst Horsfall could not match the Scottish runner, he managed to open up ten metres over the Liverpool athlete before the final uphill finishing straight. However, the Liverpool runner sprinted past Horsfall who had improved on his Midland time by 27 seconds for a pleasing 17:29. This gave the Cheltenham team an excellent fifteenth place finish ahead of Tipton and Newham and Essex who placed sixteenth and seventeenth respectively and as third Midland team behind Notts and Bristol.

Earlier in the week Gavin McCaugherty broke the seventeen minute barrier for 5km for the first time as he placed tenth in the Hereford 5km in 16:58, four seconds and two places behind teammate Mark James whilst Russell Forsbrook placed twelfth in the Yeovil 5k in 16:29. Gareth Edwards completed his first marathon with a 3:19:44 in Brighton whilst at the Cheltenham parkrun Fraser Willmore (18:11) placed fourth, Matt Evans (18:36) finished sixth and Steve Hall (18:40) came home seventh.