Distance Running News, 8th February

Graham Rush became the first Cheltenham runner to win a Birmingham League Division 1 race as the Harriers produced their best ever team performance with an excellent second place at Pittville Park. With very strong winds making conditions for the runners challenging, it was no surprise that a large front pack of around ten athletes, including Rush and Dave Roper, stuck together for the first of the three laps. By the end of the second lap the lead group was reduced to just four runners with Rush happy to sit in the group containing Toby Spencer (Coventry), Weynay Ghebresilasie (Birchfield) and Ian Rawlinson (Tipton). With Spencer dropping off on the final circuit, the other three runners were still locked together with 300m remaining. At this point Rush accelerated to hit the front and open up a small gap over Gherbresilaise. The Eritrean Olympian was unable to reduce the deficit as Rush sprinted home to claim a one second victory, with Rawlinson a further second adrift in third.

Dave Roper battled well for seventh place as the Harriers team were packing well around the course. Ben Price and James Bingham both impressed with strong performances to earn their highest ever league finishes in 27th and 28th place respectively, with Dan Owen following in 36th place. The battle to complete the Harriers six man team was a close affair with Anthony Bailey running well for 48th place to finish one place ahead of Jeremy Bradley. This gave the Harriers a team score of just 147 points to finish second on the day behind Loughborough Students who took the team win with 129. This surpassed both the Harriers best ever team finish of third and their previous lowest score of 149 points. The result also moved the club up to sixth in the final league standings as they moved above Coventry and finished just 34 points behind Birchfield.

Not to be outdone the B team also produced their lowest ever score of 354 points with a great display of team packing as Bradley was followed home by Jon Barnes in 53rd and Marc Fallows in 55th place. John Parker made a welcome return from injury in 62nd place as he finished one position ahead of Roger Mullins, with club stalwart Andy Gore completed the team in 72nd place. This gave the team second place on the day and also in the overall B team league behind Loughborough. Whilst C teams are not shown in the official standings, the Harriers C team of Andrew Hussey (97th), Matt Evans (102nd), Will New (113th), Ian Giles (134th), Gavin McCaugherty (139th) and Tommaso Miglioulo (142nd) were only beaten by the top two B teams. Matt Fisher (161st), Gareth Edwards (167th), Iain Devlin (181st) and Richard Birch (192nd) completed the 22 man Cheltenham squad.

In the Midland Women’s League race held at the same venue Jane Thomas ran well to finish 39th whilst at the Midland Indoor Championships in Birmingham James Miller took the 800m silver medal in a time of 1:56.11