Distance Running News, 7-8 December 2019

08 December 2019

Cheltenham Harriers ladies put in a fine team performance to finish sixth in the second round of the Midland Women’s Cross Country League Division One in Stratford. Whilst Naomi Eaton returned from injury and ran well to lead the team home in 18th place on the hilly course, Rachel See impressed to finish just nine seconds and three places later for a pleasing 21st position on her league debut.

Nine seconds also separated Petra Vymetalova and Amber Bullingham as they completed the four to score team in 49th and 53rd respectively. Team manager Jo Wikie then followed in 64th before Lucy Goode finished in 142nd place. With a sixth place finish on the day the Harriers team improved from tenth place in the opening match, meaning that they moved up to eighth in the overall league standings in the eighteen team top flight.

The men’s team meanwhile made the 95 mile trek to the North Staffordshire village of Betley as City of Stoke hosted the most northern fixture in the history of the Birmingham Cross Country League. With a heavily depleted team due to the fixture clash with the following day’s Telford 10k, the seven man Cheltenham squad rallied together to ensure they completed a scoring team and maintained their place in division one. Jacob Pickering led the team from the start and was outside the top fifty after the opening lap of a testing course. By the halfway point of the race, the middle distance athlete had moved inside the forty and he continued to make progress through the field on the third and final lap before finishing in his highest ever league position of 22nd place.

Veterans John Parker and Marc Fallows had a close battle throughout with the Parker leading his fellow V45 athlete for two laps before Fallows opened up a small gap on the final circuit. However, a strong last mile saw Parker go back past his rival to finish in a pleasing 62nd place before Fallows crossed the line 19 seconds later in 67th place. Chris Hayes then improved on his position in the opening fixture to finish 128th before club stalwart Ian Giles crossed the line in 137th as he made the club’s scoring team in the Birmingham League for the first time this century. Having not raced since March, Andy Kyle answered the call to help the team and completed the scoring six man team on his league debut in 167th before James Wilkinson provided vital back up in 188th position.

As expected the team finishing fifteenth of the sixteen clubs on the day, but they were pleased to limit the overall damage to the season. With a second place finish in the opening match the they are well clear of the relegation zone in ninth place overall and will look to move back up the table after Christmas.

The following day saw a large group of Harriers travel to Telford for one of the UK’s highest quality 10k road races on the renowned fast course within Telford Town Park. Having seen his recent PB of 30:15 wiped from the record books after the Leeds Abbey Dash was re-measured as 25 metres short, Dom James was eager to make the most of his fine recent form and put down another fast time. The Cheltenham Half Marathon winner showed great consistency to claim a new official PB one second faster than he ran in Leeds as he stopped the clock at 30:14.

Doug Wight made the biggest jump of the weekend as he flew to a 31:13 PB whilst holding off teammate Luke Pollard who also set a PB with 31:15.

George Watson then set a PB of 31:25, Charlie Jones equalled his PB of 32:05 and Chris Booth set a PB of 32:19 before Eliot Taylor recorded 32:55.

James Bingham (33:02) won his battle with Dave Aubrey (33:11) before Dan Schofield (36:29), Gareth Edwards (36:55) and Chris Cleary (37:00) quickly followed. Clark Lawson (37:05) and Jonathan Floyd (38:51) both celebrated PBs whilst Fee Maycock (39:43) finished as the third LV50 runner.

Elsewhere Mike Hughes set a PB of 36:37 as he finished tenth at the Andy Reading 10k in Bicester whilst Dan King (17:46) finished first at the Hereford parkrun. On the track in Cardiff veterans Nick Holliday (11:02.27), Caroline Cotterell (12:11.71) and Kathryn Morton (13:20.92) all opened their seasons over 3000m, with both Cotterell and Morton winning Welsh Masters gold medals in their respective age groups.