Distance Running News, 29-30 September 2018
02 October 2018
Ben Price successfully defended his title as Cheltenham Harriers filled the top four places with a dominant team performance at the Cheltenham Half Marathon. From the start of the race a lead pack quickly emerged with Price joined by teammates Dom James, Alex Lee, OlI Mott and John Parker in a six man group that also contained England mountain running international Alex Pilcher of Derby. Reaching the 3 mile mark in Montpellier in 15:43 the group continued to remain locked together. A 15:51 split for the next 3 miles then followed as the pack stuck together on the route back into the town centre and past the half way mark. In the eighth mile the split finally came, with Mott falling off the pace before Parker and Pilcher had to let Lee, Price and James move clear on the Honeybourne Line as they posted a 16:01 split to nine miles. The trio of Dave Newport coached athletes were still together as they entered Cheltenham Racecourse at eleven miles when Price upped the pace in a bid for glory. The duathlon international soon opened up a lead over the relatively inexperienced James who in turn gained time over Lee. Price’s 15:59 split to 12 miles was enough to mean the race was as good as won with a mile remaining and the Cheltenham Harrier could savour the moment and push for a personal best. Breaking the 70 minute barrier for the first time Price knocked 43 seconds off his 2017 winning time to enjoy a 26 second victory with an excellent 69:50.
In second place James again showed the outstanding progress as he made since joining the Harriers in May, knocking five minutes off his previous best time as he posted an impressive 70:16. Having finished sixth, fifth and fourth in the previous three Cheltenham Half Marathons Lee again improved by a single place to take third as he took 1:50 off his old PB with a very pleasing 70:39. Pilcher and Parker enjoyed a tussle over the final miles before the veteran pulled clear of the Derby athlete to ensure the Harriers filled the top four spots. Whilst taking nothing away from Price’s victory, Parker’s run was arguably the run of the day, with the 45 year olds time of 71:08 placing him third on the UK 2018 over 45 ranking list. After finding himself isolated in sixth place Mott eased back, but was caught by the fast finishing Ross Braden of Blackheath in the closing stages. However, last year’s runner up won the sprint for the line to stop the clock at 72:50 and ensure there were five Cheltenham runners in the top six. The Harriers success then continued as Joe Willgoss came home in eighth position with a PB of 74:18 before James Bingham finished as second veteran runner one place and eleven seconds later. Dave Aubrey then recorded 75:15 for twelfth and Dave Tomlin’s 75:30 earned him third in the V45 category as he finished as ninth Harrier in thirteenth position. Matt Lambourne lowered his PB to 81:02 with a fine performance before Dave Rantell celebrated moving into a new age group to finish as third V50 runner in 82:56. After Steve Bradley (86:39), Andy Gore (88:19) and Martin Soakell (88:24) had crossed the line Michael Ede ensured further veteran success as he finished as third V60 runner in 94:04.
Hilary Mott led the Cheltenham ladies home in fourth place, a position she occupied for virtually the whole race, in a time of 86:40 as Shaftsbury’s Rachel Felton (80:07), BRAT’s Chrissie Wellington (80:43) and Almost Athlete Helena Youde (82:55) took the top three places. Half Marathon debutant Amber Watson impressed with a gutsy performance to record 89:22 to finish as eighth lady whilst Leah Hopton (1:43:19), Katerina Horrocks (1:49:46) and Debbie Smith (1:50:07) completed the strong Harriers showing. Ed Grazier was a clear winner of the wheelchair race in a pleasing 68:31 whilst Les Hampton clocked 94:48.
Elsewhere Jon Barnes claimed victory in the Forest of Dean Trails Half Marathon in a time of 75:31 for a comfortable 2:47 winning margin. Weekend parkruns saw James Denne (16:14) set a course record at the Gloucester City event where Andrew Kaighin (18:25) took second place. In Cheltenham Beth Hawling (17:48) set a new course PB to finish as first lady in fourth place overall whilst Dan Minors (18:30) and Edward Holdsworth (18:54) also enjoyed a run out. Dave Tomlin (17:05) was first home at the Kingsway event in Gloucester whilst there were also first places for Alex Doherty (17:06) and Jess Hutt (22:41) in Evesham. Liam Roarty (17:58) headed the field at the River Valley event in Dublin whilst Luke Pennington (17:27) took second spot in Cirencester.