Distance Running News, 8-9 December 2018

11 December 2018

Rachel Underhill enjoyed a fine Gloucestershire Cross Country league win as she led the Cheltenham Harriers ladies to team victory, whilst the men’s team claimed yet another league win despite sending a strong squad to the Telford 10k where Alex Bampton posted a big personal best. At the cross country in Wotton-under-Edge, Underhill and teammates Naomi Eaton, Jemima Cooper and Rachel See were straight to the fore as a group of eight runners moved clear of the field on the small opening lap. Half way round the first large lap Eaton and Underhill started to pull clear, with Cooper the only runner attempting to go with the duo.

However, by the end of the lap she was isolated in third. The lead pair then matched each other stride for stride without any challenge from behind, both taking turns on the front to stay clear of the field whilst also testing each other. With around 200m remaining a gap eventually emerged as Underhill found an extra gear on the final run in to claim her first ever cross country victory. Eaton crossed the line just five seconds later to claim a fifth consecutive Gloucestershire League second place, as Team Bath junior Freya Spruit took third a further fifteen seconds adrift. Cooper faded slightly but still impressed on her Harriers debut to complete the scoring team in ninth place.


With a team score of just 8 points the Cheltenham team made it three wins out of three as the Forest of Dean (16) took second and Team Bath (43) claimed third. The Harriers B team showed the depth of the squad as they finished fourth overall with 45 points through Rachel See (9th), second V50 runner Fee Maycock (14th) and Hannah D’Ambrosio (31st). The same four teams also now hold the same positions in the league standings with just one race of the series remaining. In the same race veteran Christina See (140th) provided back up whilst under 17 runners Olivia Davies (18th) and Emma Quekett (36th) also gained experience.

In the following men’s race it was Dan Owen who lead the Harriers charge and he was the only athlete to go with the fast early pace set by previous race winner Alex Lawrence of Bath University. By the end of the first large lap the undergraduate has pulled clear and the race positions remained unchanged with no real threat coming from behind. Richard Dare meanwhile has started quickly and found himself in fourth place after the opening large lap, whilst Oli Mott, Alex Chantler-Mayne, Marc Fallows and Jacob Pickering meant the Cheltenham team were looking set for the win with six in seventeen. Chantler-Mayne and Pickering both ran mature races to move through the field and by the end of the second circuit the duo had joined Mott and Dare in a pack that held fourth to seventh places respectively as Clevedon’s Jed Bartlett was clear in third. It was Pickering who pushed on in the final circuit, as he ran an inspired race to reduce the gap to Bartlett before unleashing a huge kick in the final straight to pass the Clevedon man just before the line to claim third place. Mott, Chantler-Mayne and Dare finished within four seconds of each other in fifth, sixth and seventh respectively before Chris Booth ran his best race for the club to date to complete the victorious six man team in twelfth place. With a miserly season’s best score of just 35 points Andy Prophett’s team enjoyed a 35th consecutive league win as they finished comfortably clear of rivals Bath University (105) and Team Bath (119) to extend their lead at the top of the table.

The Harriers B team finished fourth on 154 points to remain fourth in the overall standings as Jamie Harper (15th), third veteran home Marc Fallows (20th), first V45 athlete Dave Tomlin (25th), Edd Charlton-Weedy (26th), Joe Willgoss (32nd) and Sam Harding (36th) all packed well. The C team managed ninth place thanks to the efforts of Nick Brown (37th), Iain Devlin (56th), Dave Rantell (65th), Alister Brown (78th), Simon Critchley (82nd) and Martin Soakell (85th). New club member Andy Kyle (86th) enjoyed his cross country debut, with Matt Evans (97th) and Steve Bradley (112th) following him home before Michael Ede (129th) finished as third V60 runner to complete the 22 man squad.

The team’s cross country success was even more impressive given that sixteen of the club’s faster runners had made the trip to Shropshire for the Telford 10k road race that morning. Arguably the highest quality 10k in the country, the journey was certainly worth while, as nine Harriers recorded personal bests. Alex Bampton had been in fine recent form and was looking to break the 31 minute barrier for the first time, but he exceeded his own expectations with an excellent 30:29 for 34th place to start the PB fest. Ben Price’s 31:07 and Luke Pollard’s 31:23 were also new fastest times before Richard de-Camps recorded 32:01 and Marcus England placed 100th with a 32:14 PB. Alex Lee soon followed with 32:24 before George Watson recorded a 32:26 PB as did Doug Wight with 32:38. John Parker’s 32:58 earned him third place in the V45 category before Charlie Jones posted 33:05 and Dave Aubrey set a 33:18 PB. James Bingham then crossed the line in 33:48 and Alex Doherty lowered his PB to 33:52. Dan Thomas and Mark James then followed in 34:31 and 35:19 respectively before Gareth Edwards completed the Harriers contingent with a PB of 36:10.

Further afield Will New made a welcome return to form with a 5000m time of 15:40.67 as he finished second in the Yale University indoor season opener in America. Jon Branes meanwhile struggled with stomach problems in the second half of the Lanzarote Marathon before gamely finishing in a disappointing twelfth in 2:55:23. The weekend also brought parkrun first places for Liam Roarty (16:40) at the Malahide event in Dublin, Chris Booth (17:11) in Cheltenham and  Luke Pennington (18:42) in Cirencester whilst Rachel Longstaff (19:05) was the first lady and sixth overall at the Bedgebury Pinetum parkrun in Kent.