Distance Running New, 10 November 2018
12 November 2018
Cheltenham Harriers men and ladies both made pleasing starts to their respective Birmingham and Midland Cross Country League Division One campaigns, as they followed up recent victories in the Gloucestershire League by testing themselves against some of the region’s top athletes and clubs. The men were on familiar ground as the club hosted the fixture in Pittville Park as a field of just over 300 runners assembled for the 10km course. Ben Price led the Harriers charge placing himself in the low teens on the opening lap whilst Dom James put himself in the early twenties on his league debut and Alex Bampton started a little further back and waited to make his expected move through the field. Whilst Loughborough’s Pat Dever enjoyed a five second win over Birchfield Olympian Kadar Abdullahi, Price lost a few places on the final lap to finish a satisfying seventeenth in a class field. Bampton again judged his pacing right to finish just eight seconds and two places later whilst there was an identical time gap to James who impressed in 21st place.
The next three Harriers were also closely packed as Richard de-Camps finished 39th, Doug Wight put in arguably the Harriers performance of the day to cross the line three seconds later in 42nd and Dan Owen completed the scoring A team in 45th. This gave the club a team score of 183 that placed them fifth in the sixteen strong division behind Loughborough (64), Birchfield (65), Tipton (143) and Birmingham University (167) whilst Rugby and Northampton (273) claimed sixth place.
The depth of the Harriers squad was then evident as Eliot Taylor claimed his first top fifty finish in 50th before Alex Lee crossed the line in 63rd. Just three seconds later John Parker was the fourth veteran and first V45 athlete in 67th before Marcus England placed 73rd. James Bingham in 79th and Marc Fallows in 83rd gave the B team a total of 415 as they finished third in their competition behind Loughborough (348) and Birmingham University 394. The wave of white vests the continued Richard Dare (86th), Dave Aubrey (87th), George Watson (90th), Charlie Jones (95th) and Dan Thomas (96th) making it seventeen Cheltenham runners in the top one hundred before Joe Willgoss (116th) completed the C team. Chris Booth (120th), Alex Lindfield (129th), Alex Doherty (138th), Andrew Kaighin (144th), Andy Gore (187th) and Josh Playle (193rd) made up the D team before Dan Schofield (194th), Martin Soakell (218th), Matt Evans (242nd) and Mike Ede (264th) completed the impressive 28 man squad.
Having been crowned Division Two champions last seasons, the Harrier ladies team made the trip to Coventry’s Coundon Hall Park for their debut in the top tier of the Midland Women’s Cross Country League with the aim of holding their own against the high quality opposition. Alice Taylor was the leading team member during the early part of the race, but Naomi Eaton passed her in the second half of the race as she finished in an excellent twentieth place. Taylor finished strongly to finish just nine seconds later for a pleasing 22nd whilst Fee Maycock ran well to finish as fourth veteran in 33rd place. The battle to complete the four to score team was a close affair between four athletes all making their league debuts finishing within 32 seconds of each other. Leah Hopton came out on top as she finished strongly for 109th, Roxanne Jones placed 116th, Lucy Goode claimed 117th in her first cross country and Kathryn Morton impressed with 124th in a field of over 200 runners. The team score of 184 placed the Cheltenham squad ninth of the fifteen teams. The weekend also saw a few Harriers enjoy parkrun success with first places for Luke Pennington (17:20) in Cirencester and Liam Roarty (18:08) at the River Valley in Dublin whilst Nick Holliday (19:32) was eleventh home at the Worcester Pitchcroft parkrun.