Cheltenham Harriers continued where they left off last season as their A and B teams finished first and second in the opening race of the Gloucestershire Cross Country League held at the Cotswold Farm Park. Dave Roper and Graham Rush were soon at the front of the race, with only Severn’s Harry Bishop attempting to go with the duos’ fast pace. By the end of the first lap the two Harriers had a clear advantage and continued to extend this over the field over the second circuit. On the third and final lap Rush stepped up the pace to open up a race winning gap as they entered the small wooded section. He then extended this lead to twenty seconds by the finish, with Roper finishing almost a minute ahead of third placed Garry Hughes of Stroud.
Seventeen year olds Dmitry Nazarenko and Matt Crew lined up for their senior cross country race and showed no fear of the extra distance as they put themselves in the second pack on the first lap. In contrast, the more experienced James Bingham, Dave Aubrey, Will New and Richard Dare sat back and planned to move through the field as the race progressed. Whilst losing some ground on the final lap, Nazarenko still finished as second under 20 runner home in an impressive seventh overall, with Bingham finishing just seven seconds later as he moved through to take a pleasing eighth place. The battle to claim the final two spots in the Harriers team was a close affair as New, Aubrey and Dare gradually reeled in Crew on the final lap. New ran well to open up a gap over Aubrey and claim his highest ever league finish in eleventh place, with Aubrey closing the gap to just one second at the finish. This ensured the Harriers team packed their six scorers in the top twelve and took their eighteenth consecutive league victory with a miserly 41 points. Dare followed just four seconds later in thirteenth whilst Crew finished two further seconds adrift to win the three-way sprint for fourteenth place.
Having finished second in the league overall last season, the Harriers B team again wanted to show that they could beat the rest of the leagues A teams. Roger Mullins followed Dare and Crew home as third scorer in a pleasing 19th place before Andy Gore finished as third veteran home in 22nd position. New signing Jay Dowding took 35th place on his Harriers debut before veteran Steve Linton closed the team in 47th place. This gave the Cheltenham B team a score of 150 to take second place overall ahead of the A teams of Team Bath (157) and Severn (171). John Merrett ran his first cross country race this millennium to lead the C team home in 53rd place, with James Wilkinson (58th), Steve Maguire (67th), Matt Evans (71st), Steve Stretton (77th) and Miguel Mundinano (81st) packing well to finish ninth team overall and ahead of all other club B teams. The four man team of Gore, Linton, Merrett and Mundinano also finished as second veteran team with a score of 203, 33 points behind victors Team Bath. The Harriers were the only club to field four teams and their D team of Ian Giles (87th), Mike Ede (155th), Lee Groenewegen (175th), Gavin Cotter (214th), Michael Imeson (242nd) and Ken Buckle (245th) placing 28th overall.
The Harriers ladies also enjoyed success at they finished as first veteran team with Vickie Wilkinson (16th), Kerry Heath-Smith (19th) and Trina Hawkings (25th) packing well. Hawkings was also the third over 50 runner home, with the same three runners placing as fourth senior women’s team. The Harriers B team of Rachel See (38th), Nicola Whiteman (42nd) and Ruth Bird (136th) finished in 22nd place.
In the Munich Marathon Anthony Bailey ran a time of 2:45:46 to finish in sixty-third place after going through the halfway point in 1:19:25.