Distance Running News, 22-23 September 2018

24 September 2018

Cheltenham Harriers men claimed a fourth consecutive Midland 6 Stage Road Relay Championship medal with a determined performance in Sutton Coldfield. Dan Owen took the highly competitive opening leg and came home in fourth place behind Birchfield, Tipton and Stoke with a time of 18:17 for the hilly 5.88km course around Sutton Park. Ben Price then took the Harriers up into second with 18:23, whilst Birchfield established what was to become a race winning gap and Coventry moved up into third. On the third stage defending champions Bristol charged into second to head the Cheltenham team by 10 seconds at the half way point, with Luke Pollard’s 18:28 giving the club a single second advantage over Tipton. In what is likely to be his last appearance for the club, Graham Rush then moved the team back into second place with an 18:11 clocking that gave the Harriers a twelves second advantage over Tipton and 46 seconds over Bristol in the battle for the silver medals. Illness had meant that Phil Wylie had been a doubt all week, but he still somehow managed to produce an 18:17 leg as Tipton moved up into second. This meant Alex Lee started the final leg 18 seconds behind the West Midlands club, but with a 54 second advantage over Bristol. After pushing hard mid race, Lee was unable to make any inroads into the deficit and completed his leg in 18:45 to earn the team bronze medals in 1:50:21. Birchfield (1:48:01) and Tipton (1:49:51) took the top two spots whilst Notts (1:51:37) and Bristol (1:51:40) completed the top five.

The Harriers ladies lined up for the ladies 4 stage event held over a 4.33km lap, with Hannah D’Ambrosio running well on the opening leg to place 21st in 16:55. Hilary Mott then claimed the fastest leg of stage 2, and the tenth fastest of the day, with an impressive 15:47 that saw her gain twelve places. On her debut for the club Laura Smith then took the team up into seventh with 16:48, before Naomi Eaton gained a further place with a 16:22 stage that brought the team home in a pleasing sixth place just 75 seconds outside the medals. The B team of Nicola Whiteman (18:21), Rebecca Mace (18:32), Roxanne Jones (19:11) and Sophie Lane (21:23) ran well to finish 41st from a field of 118 teams

Back in the men’s race Harriers B team also showed the depth of talent within the club as Dom James (18:24) placed a very impressive sixth on the opening leg on his Sutton Park debut. John Parker (19:16) and Marcus England (19:17) then put the team in ninth place at halfway. Alex Bampton (18:51) then gained a place before Oli Mott (18:13) ran an excellent leg to gain a further two places. A mid race calf injury slowed Richard de-Camps (19:14) but he still managed to bring the team home in seventh position, just eighteen seconds behind the leading B team from Birchfield. Such was the quality in the Cheltenham C team that no other B teams had finished before they claimed eleventh overall and first C team through the efforts of Dan Thomas (19:51), George Watson (19:51), Doug Wight (19:14), James Denne (18:41), Eliot Taylor (19:14) and Jon Barnes (19:39). First D team in 22nd place overall were Joe Willgoss (20:20), Mark James (20:19), Ollie Jones (21:00), Alex Doherty (20:15), Alex Lindfield (20:22) and Marc Fallows (20:06) before Russell Forsbrook (21:29), Luke Kearns (20:31), Nick Brown (20:41), George Hawthorne (20:08), Chris Hayes (21:23) and Dan Minors (21:00) finished as top E team in 34th position. The club F team had a close battle to be the sixth Gloucestershire team home but were pipped by the A teams of Gloucester (41st) and CLC Striders (42nd) as they finished as leading F team in 44th place through Josh Playle (21:21), Dave Rantell (22:28), Andrew Kaighin (21:29), Matt Lambourne (21:20), Jacob Pickering (21:15) and Alister Brown (22:11). The G team just missed out on finishing in the top half of the field but Lee Groenewegen (23:25), Steve Bradley (22:45), Roger Mullins (21:30), Elliot Prince (22:13), Matt Evans (23:25) and Ian Giles (22:44) were still the leading G team in 64th position as a club record 50 Harriers competed in the event.

The following day Mark James placed second in the Angel’s 10k road race in Ashleworth in a time of 36:03 as he finished just 26 seconds behind Gloucester’s Steve Kenyon. Amber Watson ran well for third place on the demanding course in a time of 40:12 as Tewkesbury’s Shona Crombie-Hicks (39:47) and Gloucester’s Tracy Hinxman (40:01) filled the top two positions. Paul Barnes (43:33) claimed more valuable county race series points as he finished as third over 55 athlete home. The weekend also brought parkrun first place finishes for James Bingham (16:26) at the Swansea Bay event, Luke Pennington (17:21) in Cirencester whilst Kaitlyn Sheppard (19:56) was the first lady and fourth overall in Tewkesbury. Vickie Wilkinson (20:55) was the second lady home in Cheltenham where Simon Critchley (18:55) and Oscar Godden (19:10) also had a run out.