Dave Roper led the Cheltenham Harriers men’s team to victory at the Gloucestershire Cross Country Championships in Gloucester. By the end of the first of four laps Roper had established himself at the front of race, with Stroud’s Tom Russell right on his shoulder and a small gap to Tom’s brother Ander. As the race approached the halfway point Roper continued to apply the pressure and opened up a ten metre gap over the Scottish international. However, Russell pulled himself back onto level terms and matched the Cheltenham athlete stride for stride despite Roper’s surges as they went into the last lap. The due remained together until 200m to go when Russell sprinted clear to take the title with Roper having to settle for the silver medal.
The race for fifth place was a repeat of the gold and silver medal showdown on the same course in 2001. On this occasion, unlike in 2001, Julian Wilkie got the better of Stroud Olympian Dan Robinson. It was good packing that ensured the Harriers team victory thanks to Marc Fallows in ninth, Jeremy Bradley in eleventh, Ben Price in fourteenth and Andrew van Kints in sixteenth. Dave Rantell was the third veteran home in twentieth place as he finished one place ahead of vet 50 gold medal winner Dave Randall. Further age group success came with Chris Perrett taking under 20 silver and Mike Ede finishing as first vet 55 runner.
The Harriers women continued their good cross country season as they claimed the county silver medals behind a strong Stroud team. Beth Wynn led the team home in fifth place overall to take the under 20 gold medal as she pulled clear of Severn’s Rachel Underhill in the final lap. Jane Thomas produced her best ever cross country result with an impressive seventh place, one place ahead of teammate Louise McRitchie who was second veteran home. Joan Shaw again showed good form to finish as first over 50 runner.
There was also success for the Harriers youngsters as they secured four team and three individual victories. Ben Roberts claimed a comfortable win in the under 13 boys race as he led the team to gold medals with Oliver Powell in second and Casey Fallows in fourth. Similarly Grace Pitman took the under 11 girl’s title as the team took victory with Olivia Rook in third and Jessica Burke in fifth. Tom French took the under 11 boy’s title with Henry Rayner in sixth and Daniel Hearn in eighth to ensure team gold. The under 15 boys also took the team honours as George Bygrave claimed individual bronze and Jacob Pickering and Jasper Greenleaf finished sixth and seventh respectively. The Harriers under 13 girls took bronze through Agata Giles in sixth, Isabel Ovens in seventh and Georgia Byrd in thirteenth. Dmitry Nazarenko continued his good form with under 17 bronze whilst Rachel See claimed the gold in the same age group.
For further Harriers performances see the full results.