Cheltenham Harriers produced a fine team performance to finish eighth in the Midlands 6 Stage Road Relay Championship in Sutton Coldfield. Rhys Park led the team off and opened an early lead up the infamous Sutton Park hill before handing over in sixth place with an impressive 18:15 leg. The experienced Darren Jordan ran well with a 19:46 leg to hand over in ninth before John Parker moved the Harriers up to eighth with a pleasing 18:46. Anthony Bailey’s 20:01 fourth leg then took the Cheltenham team past rivals Stroud to hand over in seventh as the two clubs battled to be the leading Gloucestershire team. Despite Phil Beastall running an impressive 19:44 Stroud hit back on the fifth stage as Matt Withey took them up to seventh, 39 seconds ahead of the Harriers. As the two teams watched the final leg Will New overtook Stroud’s Matt Doyle with his 20:01 bringing the Harriers home in eighth place.
The Cheltenham B team went into the race with the aim of securing a top 25 finish that would secure qualification for next month’s national championship. Dave Rantell led the team off and his 20:50 placed 47th on the highly competitive opening stage before Russell Forsbrook ran the team’s fastest leg to gain fourteen places with a time of 19:56. Jon Barnes then moved the team up to 26th with a 20:23 leg that brought them within fourteen seconds of Severn AC’s A team by the half-way point of the race. Andrew Kaighin then moved the team up to 23rd and five seconds ahead of Severn with a 20:37 clocking before Mike Gray’s 21:35 left the team in 27th place and 29 seconds behind their rivals with one leg remaining. With national qualification and local rivalry at stake Roger Mullins showed good form with a 20:27 leg that took the Harriers past Severn’s Austin Blackburn to finish as fourth B team home in 22nd position.
For the first time for many years the club also fielded a C team with Dave Aubrey’s 21:51 placing them 62nd after the opening stage. Matt Evans gained five places with a 22:18 leg before Gavin McCaugherty moved the team up to 56th with a 22:14 clocking. Iain Devlin ran well on leg four with a 21:23 stage that saw him gain eight places before Elliot Prince moved up a further seven positions with a time of 20:54. With one more place gained by James Wilkinson’s 22:57 the team finished as the second C team home, placing 40th overall out of the 87 complete teams.