Cheltenham Harriers men created Gloucestershire Cross Country League history with an unprecedented show of their strength in depth at the final race of the season at Plock Court in Gloucester. It was no surprise that the club wrapped up their fifth consecutive league title and extended their unbeaten run to over four years with their seventeenth consecutive race win, but it was the exploits of the club’s B and C team that took the club’s domination of the league to a new level.
At the front of the race Dave Roper returned from injury to take a three second win over Stroud’s Brett Halliwell to secure the individual league title. The race to be the second Harrier home was a close affair with just nine seconds covering Dan Owen in fifth, James Bingham in sixth, Jon Barnes in seventh and Ben Price in eighth. Roger Mullins ran well to complete the A team in thirteenth place as the team scored a miserly forty points.
At the start of the final race the Harriers B team lay third in the overall standings, with team manager Andy Prophett challenging his squad to turn out in force with the aim of overhauling second placed Kenilworth. It became evident from the start of the race that with a huge squad assembled that the silver medals were theirs with some good team packing. Jeremy Bradley led the team home in 15th as he saw off the challenge of second vet home Andy Gore and 17th placed Dave Aubrey. Matt Evans ran well for 21st place whilst Corin Hughes made an unexpected return to action in 23rd position. Miguel Mundinano completed the team in 26th place to secure individual silver in the v40-44 age group. This ensured that the Harriers became the first club to have a B team finish second overall in the league.
Such was the Harriers turnout that the club’s C team created more history as they finished third overall on the day. Andrew Hussey led the team home as he claimed the V45 silver overall by finished in 27th place. Elliot Prince followed in 28th before Mike Gray (40th), Dave Hemmings (42nd), Gavin McCaugherty (45th) and Matt Fisher (52nd) ensured that the Harriers third team finished ahead of fourth placed Severn AC. The veteran team of Gore, Mundinano, Hussey and Hemmings took the masters team honours on the day and secured the overall league title. Outside the scoring teams Steve Linton (56th), Iain Devlin (75th) and Gareth Edwards (81st) completed the Harriers squad.
Missing the fixture to compete in the British University Championships in Stirling Graham Rush finished 31st in a strong field, with Alex Bampton and Tommaso Migliuolo finished 50th and 174th respectively in the B race.
Andy Prophett led a trio of Cheltenham runners home at the Alsager 5 in a time of 27:55, with Russell Forsbrook clocking 28:08 and Steve Maguire setting a personal best of 30:30 on his first appearance in Harriers vest.