Distance Running News, 13-16 February 2020

18 February 2020

Dom James enjoyed a successful week as he set a new 5k personal best before winning the Gloucestershire Cross Country League race as he led Cheltenham Harriers to another comprehensive team victory. On Thursday evening James lined up in Armagh in the UK’s top 5k road race hoping to run faster than his 5000m track PB of 14:42. The high calibre field in Northern Ireland certainly provided James with the opportunity to run fast on the five lap town centre course, Moving up from 82nd place after two laps the Cheltenham Half Marathon winner was lying 76th and 68th by the end of third and fourth laps. Pacing his race well, James gained another two places on the final circuit to stop the clock at an excellent time of 14:29.

Just three days later James lined up for the Gloucestershire Cross Country League fixture as the Harriers defied Storm Dennis by hosting the fixture in Pittville Park. After the first full lap James and teammate Ben Price had pulled clear at the head of the field, with fellow Harrier James Bingham isolated in third place.

Just half a lap later James had opened up a race winning lead and the top three remained unchanged for the rest of the race as James took the win by 37 seconds with Price another 34 seconds clear of Bingham. Not only did Bingham claim his highest ever league finish, but he made it three veteran wins out of three to claim the over 40 title with one race of the series remaining.

Richard Dare and Doug Wight had their own close battle as they placed tenth and eleventh at the end of the first full lap before moving up to eight and tenth respectively with one lap remaining. With about a mile to go Wight closed the gap to draw level with Dare before opening up a small gap, which Dare then closed to just one second in the final sprint for the line as the pair finished eighth and ninth respectively.

The evergreen Marc Fallows again closed the six man scoring team as he finished as third vetarn in twelfth place overall, a result that made it three consecutive V45 wins to wrap up the league title for his age group. With a team score of 35 the Harriers enjoyed a 39th consecutive league win with a comfortable 65 point winning margin over Team Bath who edged out the University of Bath by just two points in the battle for second.

The Harriers again showed their strength in depth as the B team of Henry James (21st), John Parker (26th), Alex Lindfield (28th), Andy Gore (39th), Dan Schofield (42nd) amd Ian Giles (45th) took fifth place, a position they retain in the overall standings. Third V45 athlete Parker and club stalwart Gore also combined with Bingham and Fallows to give the Cheltenham four man masters team a massive 142 point win over second placed Cirencester, whilst Giles finished as second V50 runner home.

Matt Wood (47th) led the C team to sixth on his cross country debut as he combined with Christian Hutchings (51st). Dave Francis (56th), Andy Kyle (59th), Chris Hayes (61st) and Charlie Marshall (64th) to also move the team up to sixth in the league table. Andrew Kaighin (66th) and James Wilkinson (77th) soon followed before Michael Ede ook the honours in the V60 category. Giles, Wood, Francis and Wilkinson also led the Harriers Masters B team to third on the day and up to second in the overall standings.

The ladies race saw in form under 17 athlete Kaitlyn Sheppard looking to repeat her county championship win against her senior rivals Just like at Rendcomb College last month Sheppard hit the front from the gun and instantly opened a lead which she continually extended throughout the race to enjoy a 22 second winning margin over the University of Bath’s Victoria Hiscock who pipped Leamington’s Kelly Edwards in the battle for second place.

Opening fixture winner Amber Watson returned to action for her first race since October and had moved up into fourth place by the end of the first full lap, a position she held unchallenged in on the final circuit. The battle to be third Harrier home was a closer affair with Ella Burfitt, Rachel See and Naomi Eaton sixth, eighth and ninth with one large lap remaining. By the finish it was See who came out in top as she took eighth, one place and eight seconds clear of Burfitt who in turn was fifteen seconds and one place clear of Eaton who made it five Harriers in the top ten.

With the league’s scoring system making under 20 athletes Sheppard and See ineligible for the team scores it meant the trio of Watson, See and Eaton made it three wins out of three with a score of 14 for a seven point winning margin over CLC Striders. Amber Bullingham ran well for 18th whilst Sarah Sheppard finished 29th and Nicola Whiteman placed 40th. Claire Hawling was the second over 55 runner home in 46th place before Vickie Wilkinson (61st), Joan Shaw (87th) and Christina See (121st) completed the 12 strong squad.

The weekend’s parkruns saw Rachel Longstaff (18:32) make a welcome return to action to finish eighth overall and first lady at the Coldham Common event in Cambridge. Locally Alex Lee (18:20) took first place at the King George V playing field event where Amber Watson (22:40) warmed up for the following days cross country by finishing as first lady home in seventh place overall.


Photos from the XC courtesy of Tony Stanton  https://www.flickr.com/photos/surgio