Distance Running News, 14-17 February 2019

19 February 2019

There was a fine individual race win for Dom James as Cheltenham Harriers men’s team won the Gloucestershire Cross Country League for the tenth consecutive season on an afternoon that also saw the Cheltenham ladies team and Naomi Eaton win league titles in Pittville Park. The in-form James quickly established a lead over the chasing pack in the opening half mile of the 10k race, extending it throughout as enjoyed an excellent 45 second victory.

The battle for second was a much more interesting affair with Dan Owen, Army athlete Kevin Sheppard and Bristol’s Jed Bartlett running together for the first two laps before Owen opened up a fourteen second gap over third placed Bartlett on the final circuit. The Harriers continued to pack well with Alex Lee and Jacob Pickering sixth and seventh respectively before Jamie Harper and Eliot Taylor completed the six man A team in tenth and eleventh positions. The emphatic team win ensured that Andy Prophett’s squad completed their decade of dominance with a tenth league title as they made it nine seasons and 36 fixtures unbeaten.

Such was their dominance on the day that the B team of Dave Aubrey (13th), Richard Dare (15th), Marc Fallows (17th), James Bingham (19th), Chris Booth (20th) and Nick Brown finished second overall and 59 points clear of third placed Bath University, However, this great team effort still left them fourth overall in the league, behind the A teams of Team Bath AC and Bath University. The Harriers C team finished eighth on the day through Alex Lindfield (31st), Dan MInors (35th), Dan Schofield (45th), Dave Rantell (67th), Matt Evans (85th) and Michael Ede (114th). The veteran team of Fallows, Bingham, Minors and Rantell also headed the masters team standings on the day and ensured they also topped the final standings. Top three placing in their age groups on the day came for Fallows (3rd V40), Minors (2nd V45) and Ede (2nd V60). In the overall end of season standings Owen took individual silver, Fallows V40 bronze, Minors V45 gold, Rantell V50 bronze and Ede V60 silver.

The Harriers ladies were also entering the final fixture with the league championship almost assured, but they were keen to finish the defence of their title undefeated and put on a strong showing. The individual medals were still to be decided though, with the absent Naomi Eaton assured of at least a share of the title whilst teammate Rachel Underhill was hoping to repeat her previous race victory to share the top honours. However, Underhill’s hopes were quickly dashed as Bath University’s Jessica Gibson dominantly broke clear of the field from the start and took an impressive two and half minute victory. In second for the whole race, Underhill ran well to finish 24 seconds clear of the Forest of Dean’s Chloe Wheeler, a result that gained her the overall league silver as Eaton took the title.

Arguably the most impressive Harriers performance of the day came from under 20 athlete Ella Burfitt who made a significant step up in class to finish sixth overall and as third junior athlete. The battle to complete the scoring three woman team was a close affair with Fee Maycock passing Amber Watson in the second half of the race before the fast finishing Watson hit back and moved from tenth to seventh in the last quarter of a mile to close the team. With a team score of just 12, this gave the Cheltenham team a 29 point winning margin over second placed Gloucester. In tenth Maycock finished as second LV50 runner both on the day and in the overall series. A good turnout saw under 17 athlete Emma Quekett (26th), Hannah D’Ambrosio (29th), Nicola Whiteman (33rd) and Roxanne Jones (38th) all packing well as Maycock, Whiteman and Jones finished as third masters team on the day. Leah Hopton (45th), Joan Shaw (76th) and Christina See (136th) completed the 11 strong squad.

Midweek action saw Dan Owen make the trip to Northern Ireland to compete in one of the Armagh 5k where he recorded a new road PB of 15:00 to come home in 114th place in one of the UK’s top races. Dan Thomas meanwhile finished 13th at the Bramley 10 mile road race in a time of 57:44 whilst Jon Barnes won the 37.5miles Railway Ultra in Shropshire. Weekend parkruns saw Ben Price (16:00) first home in Cheltenham where James BIngham (17:50) and Steve Hall (19:47) also made the top ten. Tommaso Migliuolo (18:22) was first across the line in Cirencester whilst Mark James (17:39) placed second at the Gloucester City event and Caroline Cotterell (20:34) was fifth lady at the Worcester Pitchcroft parkrun.