Distance News, 26-27 January 2019

27 January 2019

Cheltenham Harriers ladies team put in a superb performance to finish fourth at the Midland Cross Country Championship in Leamington, as they agonisingly missed out on a medal by the narrowest of margins. Having finished tenth in the last Midland League Division 1 fixture, and with the tough Newbold Comyn course to her liking, Naomi Eaton again headed the team and was looking to break into the top twenty for the first time at these championships. Putting herself just outside the top ten on the first lap, her target was never in doubt as she came home in a pleasing fourteenth place. Rival and training partner Rachel Underhill was again in close proximity as she finished just two places and fourteen seconds later to give the team a good start. It was clear by halfway that Bristol were dominating the team standings, but the battle for the silver and bronze medals was a close affair between the Harriers, hosts Leamington and Birmingham’s BRAT club. By the finish BRAT had their first two runners home in fourth and ninth, whilst the front half of the Leamington team crossed the line in eighth and seventeenth place in the four to score contest.

BRAT then had their third scorer in 23rd to look strong contenders for the silver medals, before Laura Smith finished 25th to gain five places on Leamington who were now level on points with the Cheltenham team with just one scorer remaining. With coach Dave Newport doing the maths with pen and paper on the sidelines, it was a Leamington runner who next came home in 31st to guarantee they pipped the Harriers, The Cheltenham team closed just seventeen seconds later with an impressive 36th place from the ever dependable Fee Maycock. Eventual fifth and sixth placed teams Stoke and Birchfield then also closed their teams as BRAT still waited for their final scorer. The maths showed that they needed a 55th to equal the Harriers and they ensured it went right to the wire as Eloise Lee came home in 53rd place. With the scores totalled it was Bristol (36), Leamington (86) and BRAT (89) who took home the medals as the Cheltenham (91) team proudly finished fourth ahead of many of the region’s biggest clubs.

The following day saw several Harriers contesting the Staverton 10 mile road race hosted by CLC Striders. Whilst Gloucester’s Steve Kenyon (56:14) took a comfortable win, Joe Willgoss was in a three way battle for second place before losing touch with Ryan Bennett (Badgers) and Rob Farley (Bitton) just after half way. By the finish the Cheltenham athlete was just fifteen seconds adrift of second placed Bennett as he crossed the line in 57:10. In ninth place Mark James (59:50) missed out on a veteran win as he closed to within seven seconds of Severn’s James Rose. Dan Schofield (62:06), Gareth Edwards (62:27), Steve Bradley (68:03) and Paul Barnes (71:44) all followed before Leah Hopton (80:57) completed the Harriers contingent.


Five club members made the trip to Wales for the LLiswerry 8 mile road race with Charlie Jones taking fourth place in 43:32 before Dave Aubrey placed ninth with 44:52. Nick Holliday finished as second V60 runner home in 51:52 before Roxanne Jones and Caroline Cotterell  recorded 55:35 and 56:27 respectively. The previous day saw Ben Price and Alex Doherty produce great performances to finish first and third at the England Duathlon Championship whilst Jonathan Floyd marked his first appearance in a club vest with a low key win at the Hereford Winter 10k.

The weekend also saw four Harriers ladies claim parkrun first place finishes with Amber Watson (20:49) making a return to action at the Cheltenham event where Mark James (17:51) was the first man across the line  before Tommaso Migliuolo (18:17) in third and James Bingham (18:25) in fifth followed him home. In Tewkesbury, on the grass course not renowned for fast times, there was success for the Sheppard family as Kaitlyn (19:26) impressed with a course PB that also earned her fifth place overall whilst dad Kevin (17:08) was the first overall and sister Chloe (22:46) was the second lady home. Beth Hawling (18:22) was first lady and eighth overall at the Finsbury parkrun whilst Rachel See (20:11) led the ladies home in fifth place overall at the Claisebrook Cove event in Australia.