Distance Running News, 29 February - 1 March 2020

03 March 2020

James Bingham claimed the individual Gloucestershire Cross Country League individual title as Cheltenham Harriers men’s team celebrated a decade of domination by winning the league undefeated for a tenth consecutive season. The in-form Bingham had already clinched the V40 title with one race remaining, but was keen to add the overall individual honours to his medal collection in the season’s final race. Cirencester’s Dave Bell the only man on the start line at Old Down Country Park who could deny him this honour as the field set off on the first of four laps of the hilly course. County Champion James Denne of Gloucester made the early running on the first lap as Bingham sat in a four man lead group that also consisted of Team Bath’s Aidan Daniel and Bath University’s Remi Adebiye with Bell already adrift of the lead pack.

On the second lap Bingham hit the front as Daniel fell away, before Denne lost ground on the third lap. The determined veteran continued to grind out pace and worked the steep inclines, but the student half his age just sat on his shoulder throughout. Whilst Bingham kicked again on with 300m remaining on the final field, Adebiye, who ran a 3:54 1500m indoors in January, matched his move before kicking clear for a three second victory. However, with a best three race score of nine points BIngham took the overall league title, with Adebiye placing second on thirteen points and Bell’s seventh place on the day giving him a total of fifteen for third place overall.

Behind Bingham the Harriers were packing well with George Watson returning to action to claim fifth place, Doug Wight taking eighth and Marc Fallows finishing as second V45 runner in ninth place. Fallows, however, had already sealed the league V45 title, with absent teammate John Parker claiming silver in the same age group.

Tom Radley then impressed with his best finish to date in twelfth before a trio of Harriers battled it out to claim the final spot in the scoring six man team. In the end it was Alex Lindfield that edged out Andy Gore and Dan Schofield as they claimed 21st to 23rd respectively. 

With a team score of 57 the Harriers claimed their 40th consecutive league win by 64 points from Team Bath with a 245 point advantage over the same club in the end of season standings. Not only did this give Andy Prophett’s squad an eleventh consecutive league title, but it also meant they had claimed a full decade of titles undefeated.

Gareth Edwards crossed the line in 27th to claim the V40 silver medal for the season whilst also combining with Bingham, Fallows and Gore for a veteran team win on the day by 139 points over the Forest of Dean.

This also ensured the Harriers veterans comfortably took the masters league title. Dave Francis ran well for 31st and Elliot Prince claimed 34th before Matt Wood took 40th to ensure the Harriers B team finished fourth overall both on the day and in the final league standings. The reliable Matt Evans provided vital back up in 47th whilst the absent Michael Ede had already won the V60 age group and Ian Giles claimed V50 silver. 

The ladies race saw the Harriers team looking to finish the season undefeated whilst Kaitlyn Sheppard was in with a chance of the overall title. The under 17 athlete had defeated all her more experienced rivals in the previous fixture and again went to the front from the start and led on the opening of three laps. Victoria Hiscock of the Bath University, who had finished second behind Sheppard last month, however tracked down the youngster and overtook on the second lap before extending her lead to eighteen seconds by the finish. With both athletes having one win and two second places each, it meant the overall league title was shared whilst Sheppard also took home the under 17 gold medal. 

Amber Watson ran well to cross the line twenty seconds later in third, a result that saw her finish second overall in the 20-34 age group. Rachel Underhill passed teammate Rachel See only the final lap as the duo claimed fifth and sixth respectively to complete the three to score team that Sheppard is deemed too young for. With a score of just eleven this gave the team a ten point advantage on the day over runners up Bath University and a 104 point advantage over CLC Striders in the final league standings. See also finished a pleasing season in third place overall in the 20-34 age group.

Team manager Jo Wilkie ran well to finish as third over 40 athlete on the day in 20th place, a result that earned her the LV40 league silver medal. Sarah Sheppard then finished 32nd to complete the season third in the LV35 age group before Vickie Wilkinson completed the club’s B team in 42nd, with the team eighth on the day and fifth overall. The same trio of runners, however, did win the masters team event on the day by eleven points from CLC Striders, but remained second behind their rivals in the overall league standings. Once again Christina See provided back up in 106th whilst Clare Hawling and Joan Shaw finished first and second in the overall LV55 standings despite missing the final fixture.

On the roads Charlie Jones took almost two minutes off his personal best to finish third in an impressive 71:32 on a challenging course at the Newport Half Marathon. At the same event Eliot Taylor stopped the clock at 76:00 and Roxanne Jones posted a time of 96:20. Chris Booth struggled with injury as he recorded a time of 73:51 at the Big Half in London whilst Joe Turner ran a time of 32:36 at the Trafford 10k. The weekend’s parkruns saw Dom James (15:58) finish first in Cheltenham where Simon Critchley (18:42) and Josh Playle (19:16) placed sixth and ninth respectively. Dan King (17:36) took first place in Hereford whilst Dave Tomlin (17:!6) finished second at the Berkeley Green event.