Senior Cross Country Report, 5 November

There was a race win for Oli Mott as he led his Cheltenham Harriers team to a twenty-seventh consecutive victory in the Gloucestershire Cross Country League in Gloucester. The early stages of the race saw Cirencester’s Dave Bell open up a lead over the main pack, but by the time the two small laps of the field had been completed Mott had left the group and was sitting on Bell’s shoulder. The two athletes remained clear at the front with Mott tucked in behind Bell until the third and final larger lap. Mott then made a decisive move that Bell was unable to respond to as he went on to win by an eight second margin. The battle for third place was a similarly close affair as Ben Price pulled seven seconds clear of Will Ferguson (CLC) on the final lap to finish fourteen seconds behind Bell. Anthony Bailey was the leading veteran in eighth position before Dan Owen made it four Cheltenham runners in the top ten. Making an impressive debut for the club Ben Colabella ran well for 28th place before John Merrett put in a pleasing performance to complete the six man team in 30th place. The Harriers score of 82 points saw them comfortably clear of Team Bath (126) and Cirencester (129).

With the club also sending teams to the Leeds Abbey Dash 10k and Tewkesbury 5 mile races the following day ,the task of keeping the club B team in the overall medal hunt was the challenge that team manager Andy Prophett set for his squad. Ben Williams (35th), Andy Gore (38th), James Bingham (52nd), James Wilkinson (62nd), Steve Hall (66th) and Elliot Prince (83rd) responded by finishing sixth team on the day as Ian Giles (103rd) and Mike Ede (174th) provided vital back up. The result keeps them in third place overall on 517 points ahead of Cirencester (538) sand Stroud (560) as the Harriers A team (135) and Team Bath (221) occupy the top two spots. The club’s veteran team of Bailey, Merrett, Gore and Hall took second on the day behind Team Bath, but remain at the top of their league table.

The rejuvenated Harriers ladies team had their biggest turn out for many years as they aimed to move back into the medal positions after a fifth place in the opening fixture. Making her cross country debut Hannah D’Ambrosio impressed as she led the team home in eighth place. Rachel See and Vickie Wilkinson had a good battle over the final lap as they finished sixteenth and seventeenth respectively, with Wilkinson also finishing as the third veteran runner. This gave the team second place with a score of 41 points behind Team Bath (16) and narrowly ahead of Stroud (41) whose third finisher was behind Wilkinson. Bath (41) also top the league standings with Stroud (89) in second place and the Harriers (97) now up into third. The depth of the ladies squad was then shown as Fee Maycock finished as first LV45 runner in 19th place before team manager Jo Wilike (28th) and Nicola Whiteman (32nd) completed the B team that were again the leading B team in seventh place overall. The Masters team of Wilkinson, Maycock and Wilkie won their competition by four points from the Forest of Dean and now only trail their rivals by a single point in the overall standings. Joan Shaw was the third over 50 runner home in 53rd before Ellie Hathaway (59th), Charlotte Deacon (128th) and Christina See (154th) completed the Harriers contingent.