Dave Roper claimed a comfortable win as he led Cheltenham Harriers to a comprehensive team victory at the opening Gloucestershire Cross Country League fixture at Guiting Power. Roper and teammate John Parker soon established themselves at the front of the field and moved clear of the chasing pack in the second kilometre. At the start of the second of three large laps Roper opened a race winning gap over his training partner with Stroud junior Brett Haliwell back in third place. Whilst Roper extended his advantage, Haliwell reduced the gap to Parker to just 50m with one lap remaining before passing the Cheltenham athlete on the final circuit to claim second place 57 seconds behind Roper.
Dan Owen ran well to finish as the second under 20 runner home in fourth place as he overcame Severn’s Kyran Hale in a sprint finish. Eight seconds back Jon Barnes produced his best run for some time as he moved through the field to take a pleasing sixth place. Marc Fallows was the fifth Harrier home in eleventh whilst James Bingham had one of his best ever performances to complete the victorious six man team in seventeenth place. The Harriers team score of just 42 saw them gain a 120 point cushion over second placed Severn as they made it 10 consecutive league victories as they seek a fourth consecutive league title. In the same race Mike Ede returned from injury to finish as third vet 55 runner home in eighty-fifth place overall.
The Harriers women also made a good start to their league season as they finished as second team behind Stroud. Beth Wynn led the team home in seventh place as she finished as third under 20 runner, whilst veterans Lucy Merigold in tenth and Louise McRitchie in fourteenth completing the scoring team. With Joan Shaw finished as the first vet 50 runner home in twenty-third the Harriers veteran team finished second just six points behind Clevedon.
Earlier in the day Grace Pitman won the under 11 girl’s race as she led the Harriers team to victory thanks to support from Gemma Veal in fourth and Hannah Seakins in eleventh. The under 15 boys ensured another team victory with good packing from George Bygrave in 7th, Jacob Pickering in 8th and Michael Horrocks in 11th. The under 11 boys team of Thomas French (3rd), Daniel Hearne (10th) and Daniel Marshall (13th) finished second, a position matched by the under 13 team of Ben Roberts (4th), Oliver Powell (12th) and Sam Greenleaf (13th). The under 13 girls team of Agata Giles (7th), Freya Lane (8th) and Isabel Ovens (14th) placed third whilst the under 15 girls team of Emma Meecham-Jones (7th), Jessica White (8th) and Claudia Ovens (9th) finished second. In the under 17 boys race Dmitry Nazarenko impressed with a fine fourth place.
For further Harriers performances see the full results.