There were half marathon wins for Hilary Mott in Tewkesbury and Dan King in Hereford, as the pair led their respective Cheltenham Harriers ladies and men’s teams to team victory. In Tewkesbury it was defending champion Annabel Granger of Bristol who was the leading lady in the early stages whilst Mott settled into the race in second place. However, at around four miles the Cheltenham athlete caught Granger and then slowly started pulling away to open a decisive race winning gap. Crossing the line in an excellent personal best time of 83:38, Mott finished eighth overall as she went on to take the win in by over two minutes. The battle for third place was a closer affair with Tewkesbury’s Shona Crombie-Hicks finishing 23 seconds clear of Harrier Fee Maycock who stopped the clock at 83:36. Completing the victorious Cheltenham team was Sarah Sheppard who ran 94:40 on a rare appearance over the longer distance to finish as eleventh lady home. Leah Hopton recorded 2:00:04 whilst Paul Wade made a welcome return from injury to post 86:23 for twelfth place. In the wheelchair event Ed Grazier placed second with 69:42 and Les Hampton crossed the line in 1:42:35 for fourth place.
The Harriers men dominated in Hereford with three men in the four man lead pack in the early stages as Dan King, Eliot Taylor and Jon Barnes were joined Barry Reynolds of Hereford Couriers. Barnes had clearly not recovered from winning the Newport Marathon two weeks ago and fell off the pace after the opening 5km with the lead trio staying together until Taylor dropped off in the ninth mile of the hilly course. Reynolds and Kings matched each other stride for stride and remained together as they entered the last mile, with both athletes hitting the front to make their bid for victory. However, it was King’s strength and speed that eventually took him clear as he recorded a 5:18 final mile to take the win by ten seconds in an impressive time of 73:40 on his debut over the distance. Taylor then took third in 74:38 before Barnes finished fourth in 75:19 and Dave Aubrey made it four Cheltenham runners in the top five with 78:30. In the accompanying 10m event Charlie Jones made it a Harriers double as he took the win in 33:52. Meanwhile at the Great Bristol 10k Phil Wylie took a fine second place in 30:37 as he was outsprinted by Bristol’s Tom Merson who edged three seconds clear in the final run in.
On the track Graham Rush opened his season over 5000m at the British Milers Club Grand Prix in Manchester. The GB international led the field as he closely followed the pacemaker through the opening stages and he remained at the front as he reached 4000m in 11:21 with the group down to just five runners. However, Blackheath’s Phil Sesemann hit the front with 850m to go and split the field as he went on to take the win in 13:59.27. Despite losing places on the final lap, Rush’s time of 14:11.27 for fifth place was just six seconds outside his personal best and showed encouraging early season form. At the same meeting Emma Hansen contested the ladies 800m D race where she lowered her PB to 2:16.85. Earlier in the week Alex Bampton was also in fine form over 5000m at the BMC Gold Standard event at Lee Valley. After going through 3000m in 8:58, the Oxford University student slipped just outside 15 minute pace, but still managed to trim a second off his best time with an impressive 15:06.08 for thirteenth place. At the Loughborough University Open George Watson took on the middle distance double, with 2:04.70 for third in the 800m followed by 4:11.96 for seventh over 1500m. Five Harriers contested the Gloucestershire Championships 5000m in Gloucester with Marcus England claiming bronze with 15:54.8. Martin Soakell impressed with a personal best of 17:38.8 with Elliot Prince (17:50.4) and Ian Giles (18:50.9) following him home before Rachel See picked up the county ladies title with a new personal best of 19:35.0. The Cheltenham parkrun saw a record turnout of 723 people, as the event paid its respects to former Harrier and event director Richard Walklate. Dan Owen (16:30) and Alex Lee (16:36) led the field home as they donned caps to pay homage to the popular athlete. Ollie Jones (17:40) and Doug Wight (17:41) took third and fourth and James Bingham (18:06) placed eighth. Further afield Amber Watson (21:54) was the first lady home at the Studley parkrun in Australia.