Distance Running News, 31 December 2019 - 5 January 2020

06 January 2020

Kaitlyn Sheppard demonstrated her great potential as she dominated the ladies race to claim a fine win at the Gloucestershire Cross Country Championship at Rendcomb College. A fast start saw the 15 year old open up a gap over her more experienced rivals straight from the gun to give herself a race winning advantage within the first mile of the race.

Teammate Ella Burfitt had moved through to second by the halfway stage, with the gap to Sheppard hardly changing on the second and final lap as the 19 year old put in an impressive performance on the demanding 6.5km course. Crossing the line triumphantly Sheppard enjoyed a seventeen second advantage over Burfitt, with Stroud’s KImberley Newcombe a further fifteen seconds adrift.

Rachel See then took ninth spot, but with the two teenagers deemed ineligible for the team scores, the Harriers ladies were denied what would have been a clear team win. Sarah Sheppard (22nd) and debutant Mell Schofield (54th) completed the official team that placed fifth whilst Christina See (73rd) also enjoyed a run out.

The men’s race was held over three laps with the James Denne (Gloucester) and Dave Bell (Cirencester) opening up a gap on the opening long uphill section as Ben Price led the Harriers charge in third place as he returned from injury for his first race since May. Once the race reached the relatively flat playing fields Price closed the gap to Denne whilst Bell started to fall back and James Bingham moved up into fourth. Price was clearly more comfortable on the long descent through the woods than the 2018 champion and he managed to open up a lead over his rival.

However, the second lap saw the same pattern occur with Denne gaining an advantage up the hill, Price closing on the flat and then regaining the lead on the downhill section. It was therefore no surprise when the Denne again opened up a gap on the final hill, but this time Price made relatively little inroads on the flat. Whilst closing again on the final descent, the Cheltenham athlete couldn’t quite make up the difference and had to settle for the silver medal four seconds behind Denne. Meanwhile Bingham moved way clear of Bell and closed to within twelve seconds of Price as he took third place and the county veteran title.

Good packing saw the Harriers again successfully defend their team title as Doug Wight (7th), Marc Fallows (8th), Anthony Bailey (11th) and Tom Radley (16th) completed the scoring six for a score of 47 to give them a 30 point margin over second placed Cirencester. Fallows also claimed the V45 title as Bailey finished third in the same age group as the duo combined with Bingham to take the veteran team title as Cirencester picked up another silver. The depth of the Harriers squad was evident as the B team took third overall through Mike Hughes (19th), Dan Schofield (20th), Gareth Edwards (28th), Steve Hall (29th), Phil Brush (34th) and Martin Soakell (39th) with Hughes, Edwards and Hall also claiming veteran team bronze.

Matt Lambourne (40th), Dave Francis (43rd) and Matt Evans (45th) quickly followed before Micheal Ede (53rd) claimed the V60 gold medal.

Further county cross country success came at the Hertfordshire Championships in Stevenage where Chris Booth finished second. Earlier in the week Charlie Jones ended a successful 2019 with a strong performance on New Year’s Eve at the Nos Galan 5k in the Welsh village of Mountain Ash. In an event famed for its high quality field, electric atmosphere and firework display, Jones was just four seconds outside his personal best as he placed eighteenth in a time of 15:38 on a lumpy course that is renowned for not being conducive to fast times.

New Year’s day saw Alex Lee (16:45) and James Bingham (16:53) fill the top two places at the KIng George V Playing Field parkrun where Dan Schofield (19:30) placed seventh and Georgia Palmer (22:55) was the fourth lady home. Also filling the top two places at a 9:00am parkrun were Tom Radley (18:41) and Ed Bingham (19:47) in Tewkesbury. The 10:30 start at the Cheltenham parkrun in Pittville Park then saw Ben Price (16:45) and James Bingham (17:08) claim the third Harriers one-two of the morning before Simon Critchley (18:36) and Radley (18:39) took fourth and fifth respectively. Ed Bingham (19:20) followed in eighth and Schofield (19:40) placed tenth whilst Matt Wood (19:41) and Gareth Edwards (19:53) had a run out and Palmer (21:56) was the sixth lady across the line

The weekend’s parkruns saw Rhys Park (15:19) take eight seconds off his own course record on the uneven trails at Hereford as he posted the UK’s sixth fastest parkrun of the week. Eliot Taylor (17:32) and Dan King (17:44) then finished second and fourth respectively whilst Chris Cleary (19:19) also had a run out. The course record also fell at the Gloucester City event where Dom James (15:35) took 37 seconds off the previous best time as he crossed the line in first place. Alex Lee (15:57) again finished first at the Cheltenham parkrun where Henry James (17:37) placed second. Clark Lawson (19:53) and Matt Wood (19:59) then crossed the line before Georgia Palmer (20:36) was the first lady home. Three Harriers enjoyed first place finishes for the first time as Simon Critchley (18:56) and Jonathan Floyd (19:40) led the fields home at the Gloucester North and Tewkesbury events whilst Kayla Garland (24:23) was first lady home at the KIng George V Playing Field parkrun. Ellie Hathaway (21:31) was first lady and second overall in Newent whilst Ellis Woolley (21:25) was the third lady in Stratford-upon-Avon. Dave Tomlin (17:48) and Mark James (18:29) meanwhile both claimed fourth place finishes at the Mallards Pike and Kingsway events.