Cheltenham Harriers men created history as the club’s B team finished second behind their A Team at the Gloucestershire Cross Country League fixture in Pittville Park. Dave Roper took the individual honours as he crossed the line in first place for a 55 second victory over Bath’s Alex Carter. It was on the final lap that Carter pulled clear of Andrew van Kints who ran well to take third place. Ben Price went past Dan Owen on the final lap as the duo finished eighth and ninth respectively, with Jon Barnes one place behind to make it five Harriers in the top ten. Roger Mullins completed the A team in sixteenth place to give the club a fifteenth consecutive league victory with a miserly 47 points and extended their lead at the top of the league table.
James Bingham led the Harriers B team home as he out sprinted teammates Andrew Hussey and Richard Evershed, with the trio occupying 23rd, 24th and 25th places respectively. Dave Aubrey produced his best ever race with an impressive 29th place before Andy Gore (30th) and Mike Gray (33rd) ensured the club’s second string were only beaten by their A team on the day. This also moved the B team up into third place in the league standings whilst the Harriers C team finished ninth on the day. The masters team of Hussey, who was third veteran home, Gore, new signing Darren Jones and Miguel Mundinano also won their team competition. Their 54 point margin over second placed Bath saw them move four points ahead of their rivals at the top of the league table.
In the women’s race Julia Cooke looked all set for victory as she moved clear of Bath’s Holly Rush after the stream crossing on their second and final lap. However, a hamstring injury denied the medical student a win as she ground to a halt with just 150m remaining. Cooke commendably walked the final stretch to gain valuable team points, but after losing in excess of a minute she crossed the line in sixth place. Vickie Wilkinson ran well to finish as third veteran home in eighth and Kerry Heath-Smith took nineteenth place as the Cheltenham team finished second behind Stroud. The masters’ team of Wilkinson, Heath-Smith and Joan Shaw, who was the first over 50 runner home, finished second on the day and moved to the top of their league.
The only Harriers individual victory in the young athletes races came in the under 11 girls race where Olivia Rook enjoyed a win. With Grace Pitman in fourth and Freya Coull fifth this gave the Harriers the team victory, with their B team of Rosie Williams (7th), Gemma Veal (8th) and Lottie Roberts (9th) also impressing to finish as second team. The under 15 girls also earned a team win through Eleanor Hathaway (3rd), Agata Giles (7th) and Jess White (8th) whilst the under 13 girls claimed second place through Bethan Samuel (4th), Ellen Foster (13th) and Ella Burfitt (14th).
In the boys events the Harriers under 13 team won their event thanks to Oliver Powell taking a fine second place, with support from Luke Kearns in third and Fraser Willmore in fifth. Ben Williams impressed with second place in the under 15 age group in which Jasper Greenleaf took fifth and Michael Horrocks finished twentieth to help the team to second place. The under 11 boys team placed fourth through William Bateman (7th), Harry Todd (13th) and Oliver Beaney (17th) whilst Alex Chantler-Mayne ran well for fourth place in the under 17 race.
For further Harriers performances see the full results.