Distance Running News, 31 December - 6 January 2019

06 January 2019

Dan Owen regained the Gloucestershire Cross Country Championship as he led the Cheltenham Harriers men’s team to an emphatic win after their ladies had also enjoyed a dominant team victory at Rendcombe College. The new course was a challenging route and what the traditionalists would call proper cross country, with the two stream crossings on each two mile lap adding both character and a focal point for spectators. Having won the title in 2015 and 2016, Owen was the main Cheltenham hope of an individual win for the fifth consecutive year, with Dave Bell of host’s Cirencester AC likely to be the biggest threat. By the end of the first lap a pack of six had broken away, with Bell and Owen joined by Harriers John Parker, George Watson and Doug Wight plus inexperienced Stroud youngster Noah Lambert.  With Marc Fallows and Jacob Pickering outside the top ten the Cheltenham scoring six were packing well and looking favourites to defend their team title.

In the early stages of the second circuit Owen picked up the pace and quickly opened up what turned out to be a race winning lead whilst the battle behind was a far more interesting affair. By the end of the second of three laps Wight had pulled clear of Bell who in turn had a gap over Parker and Watson, whilst Pickering was the big mover as he worked his way up to sixth.

The Birmingham University student them continued to move through the field on the final lap as he sensed that a medal was within his reach, going straight past the pack of Bell, Parker and Watson before catching and passing Wight with just under a mile remaining. Whilst Owen looked controlled to claim the title, Pickering crossed the line 17 seconds later for silver before Wight held onto bronze a further ten seconds adrift. The final run in saw V45 athlete Parker win the three way battle for third as he closed to within six seconds of Wight and took the veteran tile. Watson then ensured an all Cheltenham top five two seconds later to celebrate his 20th birthday by claiming the under 20 gold. Marc Fallows then completed the scoring six man team in eighth place as he finished as third veteran home with the Harriers score of 23 giving them a 45 point winning margin over Cirencester.

In his first senior cross country Matthew Dwerryhouse impressed in twelfth to finish as second under 20 runner before Nick Brown placed fifteenth and George Hawthorne crossed the line in seventeenth. With Hawthorne the third under 20 athlete home it also gave the Harriers the junior men’s team title. Fellow junior Oli Powell (20th), Andrew Kaighin (21st) and Phil Brush (22nd) then packed well to complete the Harriers B team who comfortably finished as team bronze medalists. Dan Minors (23rd) then ensure the club took the veteran team title before Elliot Prince (23rd), Matt Lambourne (39th), Andy Kyle (50th), Matt Evans (57th) and Michael Ede ensured the C team placed seventh whilst Ede also earned the V60 gold medal.

In the ladies race the individual race winner was never in doubt as Bristol’s junior international Zoe Wassall ran off from the start to win by a minute and a half. However, an intriguing battle between Harriers training partners Naomi Eaton and Rachel Underhill was taking place. Underhill had won the last Gloucestershire League race on a sprint finish from Eaton and again the duo were locked together. This time though it was always Underhill setting the pace, opening up a gap at each stream crossing before Eaton worked her way back to her.

However, after the final crossing and with less than half a mile remaining Underhill opened up a decisive gap to finish nine seconds ahead of her rival. Almost a minute behind was another close battle for fourth, with Rachel See again impressing as she held off Stroud’s Kimberley Newsome in the final run in take fourth place. With a team score of just nine points the Harriers were clear winners of the team event as second placed Stroud were eleven points in arrears. Veteran Christina See meanwhile claimed 73rd place.

Alex Bampton meanwhile was competing in the Buckinghamshire Championships in what was likely to be his final appearance in the club vest. The London based student certainly signed out on a high as he took his first county cross country title with a sixteen second victory over Windsor’s Alex Goodhall. Phil Wylie contested the South West Championships in Yeovil and ran well to finish second behind Bristol’s Owain Jones. In his first trace as a 40 year old it was no surprise that Wylie also claimed his first masters title in a race where Dan Thomas finished 36th.

The New Year period also provided additional race opportunities, with Richard de-Camps impressing on New Year’s eve with 15:26 for 15th place at the Nos Galan 5k in the Welsh town on Mountain Ash. New Year’s day then saw Charlie Jones win the Wye Valley 10k in Hereford in a time of 34:10 whilst his wife Roxanne recorded a time of 45:29. The first day of the year also saw Alex Chantler-Mayne claim a comfortable win in 27:54 at Severn AC’s Pilot Inn 5 mile road race where Andrew Kaighin placed fourth in 30:17 and Andy Prophett’s 31:49 earned him sixth position.

New Year’s day also brought additional parkrun opportunities with Rachel Underhill (18:48) taking the ladies course record at the Gloucester City event where she finished tenth overall after Dan Schofield (18:08) and Matt Lambourne (18:38) had finished third and ninth respectively. Chris Booth (18:18) meanwhile finished first in a course PB at the notoriously tough Tring parkrun. The record breaking continued at the weekend as Oli Mott (15:53) took the course record at the Western Springs parkrun in Auckland, whilst Alex Doherty (17:52) took first place in Evesham and Dave Tomlin (17:55) was first over the line at the Kingsway event in Gloucester. Caroline Cotterell (20:35) was first lady home at the Worcester Pitchcroft parkrun where Nick Holliday (19:25) placed fourth. Georgia Palmer (22:28) was the first lady home in Newent where she placed seventh whilst Chris Booth (17:24) took second at the Rickmansworth event in Hertfordshire and Oliver Doherty (19:33) was the leading Harrier at the Cheltenham parkrun in ninth place.