Distance Running News, 12-13 October 2019

15 October 2019

Amber Watson produced a fine performance to win the ladies race as she led the Cheltenham Harriers team to victory at the opening Gloucestershire Cross Country League fixture of the season at Wotton-under-Edge. In the front pack from the start, Watson let early leader Olivia Green open up a gap on the opening small lap, before working alongside clubmate Kaitlyn Sheppard to catch and then overtake the University of Bath athlete.

The Cheltenham pair ran side by side clear of the field for the second lap as under 17 athlete Sheppard proved she was ready to mix it with the area’s best athletes in her first senior cross country race. It was Sheppard who finally opened up a gap on the final lap, but a determined Watson closed down the teenager before opening up a race winning gap in the final mile that she extended to seventeen seconds by the finish. Watson’s victory was her first senior cross country win since 2010 when she won the county championship whilst still an under 17 athlete.

Defending league champion Naomi Eaton was involved in a close tussle for third place, but had to finally settle for fourth position behind Gloucester’s Millie Porter. With Sheppard deemed too young by the league rules to score in the ladies team competition, Rachel See completed the three to score Harriers team in thirteenth place. With a team score of 12 the Cheltenham team started the defence of their league title with a 33 point margin over Gloucester in an unexpected new scoring system that removed all athletes aged under 20 athletes from the team scores.

Hannah D’Ambrosio held off the challenge of under 17 runner Poppy Clark as the pair finished 18th and 19th respectively before Sarah Sheppard (34th) and Vickie Wilkinson (39th) ensured the B team took fifth place. Wilkinson was also the third over 45 runner home and combined with Sheppard and Jo Wilkie (44th) to ensure the ladies masters team finished in third place.

Kayla Garland enjoyed her cross country debut in 73rd place whilst Clare Hawling impressed in 80th to finish as second V55 runner home. Joan Shaw (131st) then completed the club C team that placed fourteenth and Christina See (189th) completed the 12 strong team.

The Harriers men were starting their campaign to win an eleventh consecutive league title with Alex Lee leading the team in the early stages as he chased race leader Ben Robinson of Gloucester. By the third lap Lee had been passed by Cirencester’s Dave Bell and was back in third as teammate James Bingham closed him down. The leading veteran was enjoying the wet conditions and was running an inspired race before being edged out of third place in the sprint for the line by the University of Bath’s Remi Adebiyi. Lee battled gamely to finish sixth before Henry James produced arguably the team’s run of the day to take eighth place in his first senior cross country.

In ninth Marc Fallows was the first V45 runner before Eliot Taylor and second V45 runner John Parker in nineteenth completed the six man team. With a score of 58 points the team earned a 37th consecutive league victory ahead of Team Bath who scored 90 points.

The Harriers B team of Alex Lindfield (26th), Dan Minors (29th), Will New (33rd), Roger Mullins (42nd), Toby Fernandez (44th) and Chris Hayes (56th) finished as fifth team. Minors also finished as third V45 runner home as he completed the winning Harriers four man veteran team who scored 61 points for a 75 point winning margin over second placed Clevedon. The club’s C team of Gareth Edwards (62nd), Clark Lawson (64th), Simon Critchley (73rd), Ian Giles (75th), Charlie Marshall (91st) and Matt Lambourne (100th) finished eleventh. Michael Ede then finished as the leading V60 runner in 118th position as helped the veteran B team to fourth place whilst club stalwart Ken Buckle made a welcome return to action to finish as first V75 runner in the shorter supermasters race.

Elsewhere, Dom James went in search of higher quality competition by racing at the opening fixture of the British Athletics Cross Country Challenge in Cardiff where he finished in a very pleasing fourteenth place. Chris Booth also ran well in the Gwent League fixture held within the race whilst Ella Burfitt finished sixteenth in the under 20 ladies standings. Joe Turner and Marcus England used the Oxford Half Marathon as preparation for the upcoming Frankfurt Marathon, with Turner placing eighth in 71:40 and England eighteenth in 74:29.

Charlie Jones had planned on racing the same 13.1 mile distance in Birmingham, but flooding forced the organisers of the Great Birmingham Run to shorten the course to 11.07 miles which Jones completed in a time of 61:46 for twentieth place. Dave Aubrey ran well to finish second, just seven seconds behind the host club’s Dan Geisler, at the Worcester Beacon 7 mile multi-terrain race. The weekend’s parkruns saw Dave Tomlin (19:21) first home at Stratford Park in Stroud, Chris Cleary (18:25) place second at the Mallard’s Pike event and Dan Schofield (18:09) finish third at the Gloucester City parkrun.