Distance Running News, 25-30 June 2019

01 July 2019

Cheltenham Harriers men put in a strong team performance to finish second in the Cotswold Way Relay after a thrilling battle with rivals Bristol and West. The event, ran as ten separate stage races, followed the 103 mile route from Chipping Campden to Bath with competitors battling against the soaring temperature as well as the notorious Cotswold hills. Leg one to Stanway House saw Simon Critchley put in a fine performance to finish in fourth place, but unfortunately he was only named in the B team whilst team captain for the day Elliot Prince took eleventh place for the A team. Leg two was arguably the most decisive of the race as Owain Jones gained big time for Bristol as he set a new course record whilst Andrew Kaighin took eighth for the Harriers. Andy Jones ran well for second on leg three before James Bingham claimed a win on stage four after a close battle with Gloucester’s Steve Kenyon.

Bristol then took another stage win on the fifth stage to Stroud as Dave Aubrey ran well for second place for the Cheltenham team. Further big gains for the Avon team came on leg six as they enjoyed another big winning margin whilst Dan Minors ran well for the Harriers. At this point many may have thought the Bristol lead was unsurmountable, but the Harriers hit back as Alex Lindfield won stage seven to Wotton-under-Edge.

Doug Wight also made big time gains on leg eight as he finished second to Gloucester’s James Denne before Oli Mott gained an impressive win as the race reached Cold Ashton.

With the race still in the balance going into the anchor leg, club stalwart Russell Forsbrook unfortunately struggled to cope with the extreme heat whilst Bristol made crucial gains. After almost thirteen hours of racing, just four minutes separated the two teams with Bristol taking the title whilst Stroud were twenty minutes adrift in third place.

The Harriers had a full ladies team in the race for the first time in many years, with Hannah D’Ambrosio finishing as third lady on stage four the team’s stand out performance. The collective team effort of Claire Hawling, Leah Hopton, Nikki Wiggins, D’Ambrosio, Nicola Whiteman, Nicola Knight, Sam Pickering, Teresa Roberts, Amber Watson and Vickie Wilkinson earned the team an impressive sixth place. The men’s B team finished 23rd with Critchley’s fourth place the stand out performance in a team that also saw Steve Hall, Mike Gray, Anthony Rossi, Michael Imeson, Mike Ede, Josh Playle and Ian Giles and Paul Barnes tackle the challenging route.  

On the track Dan Owen lined up for the 3000m steeplechase at the British Milers Club Grand Prix in Watford looking to break the nine minute barrier for the first time after his recent personal best of 9:00.51. Despite picking up a lower leg injury at the opening water jump, the Gloucestershire cross country champion was producing the race of his life as he went through the bell in 7:43 and well on course for a sub 8:55 time. However, the injury that had troubled Owen at each water jump finally took its toll at the final jump before he had to roll over the final barrier and limp across the line in an agonising 9:02.84 for eleventh place.  At the same meeting Richard de-Camps contested the 1500m D race, but found the 30 plus degrees temperature tough to deal with as he took fifteenth place in 3:59.55.

On the roads Dan Schofield recorded a time of 17:56 for 28th place at the Pomphrey 5k in Bristol whilst Steve Bradley’s 19:25 earned him fifth place at Severn AC’s Pilot Inn 5k in Gloucester. The weekend’s parkruns saw a Harriers one-two in Hereford where Charlie Jones (17:37) and Chris Cleary (17:59) led the field home whilst Dave Tomlin (17:38) was first across the line at the Stonehouse event. Caroline Cotterell (21:21) was the fourth lady at the Longrun Meadow parkrun in Devon where V60 athlete Nick Holiday (19:31) topped the age graded performance table. There were course personal bests in Cheltenham for both fifth placed Mike Hughes (18:03) and eighth placed and Martin Soakell (18:35) whilst at the Worcester Pitchcroft event Andy Prophett (19:08) edged out Jonathan Floyd (19:09) in their sprint for the line.