Senior Distance Running News, 28 October - 2 November

There was a race win for Dave Roper as the Cheltenham Harriers team claimed a nineteenth consecutive Gloucestershire Cross Country League win over a testing course at Malvern. Roper, Harry Bishop (Severn) and Garry Hughes (Stroud) quickly opened a lead over the field and the trio remained together on the first of the three laps. Hughes pulled out of the race early on the second lap as the two leaders ran stride for stride round the second circuit. Early on the third lap Roper made his move going up the long steep climb for the final time to open a race winning lead that he extended to nine seconds by the finish. Ben Price moved through from seventh place at the end of the first lap to the second pack which contested a four way battle for third place. As Will Ferguson (CLC) and Dan Jones (Bath) fell off the pace on the final lap, Price dug deep to keep with Stroud’s Dan Robinson on the long climb. The pair reminded locked together until the final fifty metres as Price won the uphill sprint for the line. Fell running specialist Jon Barnes enjoyed the tough hills as he ran well for eighth place whilst Dan Owen came home in tenth. James Bingham followed six seconds later in eleventh after a strong last lap saw him pass teammate Richard Dare who finished twelfth to complete the victorious six man team.

A weekend fixture clash meant that the Harriers B team didn’t have the depth it showed at the previous fixture, but it set about its task of keeping the club high up the overall standings. Roger Mullins led the team home in eighteenth place, with Andy Gore the third veteran home in twentieth. Dave Rantell was the third over 45 runner home in 48th and James Wilkinson ran well for 55th position. With Steve Stretton in 60th and Iain Devlin in 90th the team finished as the top B team in fifth place overall. Whilst the A team now have a 315 point lead over second placed Bromsgrove and Redditch, the B team are well placed in third overall just four points behind the Worcestershire club. Ian Giles in 105th place and Dave Hemmings in 117th completed the Harriers four man veteran team which finished first on the day. This moved the club to the top of the league standings with a 157 point advantage over second placed Kenilworth. Outside the scoring teams Martin Ford was the leading V70 runner home in 140th and fellow septuagenarian Ken Buckle finished in 202nd place. Rachel See led the Harriers ladies home in a pleasing 16th place, with Beth Wynn following in 20th and veteran Nicola Whiteman in 24th. This gave the team fourth place on the day and moved them up to third in the league table. Katrina Hawkins and Joan Shaw were second and third over 50 runners home in 27th and 30th respectively as the Harriers placed second in the ladies masters competition, a position they also hold in the overall standings.

James Miller enjoyed a race victory as Cheltenham Harriers filled the first eight places at the Tewkesbury 5 mile road race. By the end of the opening mile a lead pack of the five teammates had formed with Will New and John Parker prominent towards the front of a group that included Miller, Anthony Bailey and Dave Aubrey. By the two mile mark Aubrey had fallen off the pace, with Parker next to lose ground at around the half way mark. With New maintaining a good even pace at the front and Miller shadowing every move, Bailey was the next to drop off the pace soon after. Miller’s confidence clearly grew in the last mile, although New opened a few yards on a couple of occasions with the middle distance runner having to dig deep to hang on to the pace. With around 300 metres remaining Miller finally hit the front to open up a race winning gap to cross the line in a personal best 26:51, with New taking fifteen seconds off his PB with 26:57. Veterans Bailey and Parker followed in third and fourth in 27:20 and 27:23 respectively before Aubrey came home fifth with a PB of 27:45. Jay Dowding broke away from the second pack to take sixth in a PB of 28:10 before Richard Evershed and Alex Lee also set PBs as they completed the top eight as they crossed the line together in 28:18. Andy Prophett (29:20), Steve Linton (29:28 PB) and Dave Rantell (29:33) packed well in 14th to 16th before Gavin McCaugherty (29:53) and Jacob Pickering (29:57) both broke the half hour barrier for the first time. Richard Birch (31:46), Dave Hemmings (33:52), Jess White (36:39), Samantha Pickering (39:46), Ken Buckle (40:13), Jess Collins (44:03) and Ruth Bird (47:57) completed the Harriers contingent. At the front of the race wheelchair athlete Ed Grazier was in good form as he led the runners home in 23:46 with fellow wheelchair racer Les Hampton recording a time of 35:59.

Three Harriers contested the midweek Aztec West 5k in Bristol with Ben Price placing seventh in a new personal best of 15:32, James Miller equalling his PB of 16:12 and Jack Mundinano clocking 19:11. In the New York Marathon Steve Hall put in an excellent performance to break the three hour barrier for the first time with a 2:57:35 clocking after going through the halfway mark in 1:28:18.