Distance Running News, 26-27 October 2019

28 October 2019

Joe Turner and Marcus England became the first Cheltenham Harriers this millenium to run sub 2:30 marathons as they produced excellent performances at the Frankfurt Marathon. Lining up with a PB of 2:25:45, set in Houston one month before he joined the club in April, Turner was again planning on running negative splits as he passed through the 5km mark in 17:06 and 10km in 34:08. Further splits of 16:52 and and 17:10 then followed before he reached the halfway mark in 71:57 to set up an attack on his ambitious sub 2:24 target. The metronomic Turner continued to make good progress up to 35km with 5k splits of 16:56, 17:04 and 17:01 respectively before eventually slowing to 17:22 in the run up to the 40km mark. With his target still within grasp, the Cheltenham athlete dug deep in the final 2km to cross the line in a superb new PB of 2:23:56 for 44th place in a world class field. Coincidentally, Turner’s time also earned him 44th place in the 2019 UK marathon rankings as he became the fist Cheltenham runner since Kevin Spilman in 1997 to go sub 2:30. 

Whilst most people would have been ecstatic having set a PB of 2:36:55 in London earlier in the year, Marcus England was gutted as the wheels came off in the final stages to deny him a chance of getting close to his sub 2:30 target. However, the determined England was again in good form as he lined up in Frankfurt determined to make the hard training miles count. Opening with 10km splits of 34:50 and 34:29 he went through halfway in 73:49 before recording a 35:11 split at the 30km mark. At this point England inevitability began to slow, but a 36:02 split to 40km meant that the sub 2:30 dream was still on as he went on to cross the line triumphantly in 2:29:16. Also in action in Frankfurt was Joe Willgoss who was looking to beat his PB of 2:50:27 set at last year’s London Marathon. And the maths teacher certainly got his pacing calculations spot on as he went through halfway in 84:19 before producing a five second negative split to set a new lifetime best of 2:48:33.

The Stroud Half Marathon saw fifteen Harriers lining up to chase fast times with Alex Lee leading the club’s charge. The former Tewkesbury Half Marathon winner was prominent from the start as a lead group that also included Cirencester’s Dave Bell, unattached runner Harry Bishop and Westbury’s Matt Ellis pulled clear in the opening two miles. Bell dropped off the pace in the fourth mile before Bishop and Lee then moved clear as Bishop picked up the pace. Around six miles in Lee hit the front and put daylight between himself and his rival on the climb towards Whitminster as he opened up a winning lead that he extended throughout the rest of the race. Lowering his personal best by almost twp minutes, Lee stopped the clock at an excellent 68:57 to cap an excellent victory before Bishop crossed the line 2:33 in arrears.

Richard Dare was in the third pack at 2.5 miles but ran a well paced race to move through the field and up into fifth by 8.5 miles. Closing on a podium finish as he finished strongly, Dare managed to move up into fourth place but still fell 23 seconds short of Stroud’s Lee Stopford. However, with an 89 second PB of 72:12 there was certainly reason to celebrate. Chris Roxburgh returned to race action after a five month injury layoff with an impressive 75:36 for seventeenth place whilst Anthony Bailey improved on his Cheltenham Half time with 77:34.

Mark James (80:55) and Dave Rantell (82:09) followed before Mike Hughes lowered his PB to 83:52. Rachel Underhill was the eighth lady home in 87:14, Matt Wood bagged an 87:29 PB and Dave Francis recorded 88:19.

Hannah D’Ambrosio ran well for 89:25 to finish as tenth lady before Paul Barnes finished as third V60 runner in 90:43. Amber Watson (91:06) soon followed before Clark Lawson (91:11) and Susan Dryburgh (98:58) both set PBs to complete a successful morning for the club.

Arguably the best performance of the weekend by a Cheltenham Harrier, however, came at the Leeds Abbey Dash 10k where Dom James smashed both his PB and the 31 minute barrier for the first time at one of the country’s highest standard races. After going through halfway in 15:20, James picked up the pace to record an excellent time of 30:15 that earned the Cheltenham Half Marathon winner 36th place. The trip to Yorkshire also brought success for Charlie Jones who lowered his PB to 32:20 whilst Eliot Taylor stopped the clock at 33:37.  Alongside James, Chris Booth has been one of the club’s biggest success stories of the last 12 months and he again stepped up another level at the Valencia Half Marathon as he took almost four minutes off his PB to record an excellent 71:34. Veteran Phil Wylie was also in fine form as he won the Tavistock 7 mile road race in a new course record of 36:23.

The weekend’s parkruns saw Doug Wight (17:09) and Gareth Edwards (18:58) first and second home at the KIng George V playing fields event in Cheltenham. Naomi Eaton (20:34) was third overall and first lady home in Cirencester whilst Alice Stalberg (21:47) was first lady and fourth overall at the Gloucester North event. New club member Petra Vymetalova (23:46) was the first lady in Evesham, Milly Foster (22:41) was the second lady at Cheltenham parkrun and Henry James (19:45) was third across the line in Hastings.