Distance Running News, 3-4 November 2018

04 November 2018

Cheltenham Harriers men kept their unbeaten sequence of team wins going with the narrowest of victories, whilst their ladies team produced a dominant win at the second round of the Gloucestershire Cross Country League in Malmesbury. The ladies were first off and were looking to repeat their opening fixture win as they continued their defence of the league title with a large turnout at the testing Charlton Park course. By the end of the first of the two laps Naomi Eaton was in a lead pack of three that included Team Bath’s Heather Fell and the University of Bath’s Olivia Green. Meanwhile, Hilary Mott was just adrift of the second pack in sixth place whilst Amber Watson was on course for a top ten finish.  Fell, the 2008 Olympic Modern Pentathlon silver medallist, then upped the pace on the second circuit to leave Eaton isolated in second as Green fell backwards and Mott moved through the field. Whist the Bath athlete took the win by 37 seconds, Eaton’s lead over a three woman chasing group diminished as Mott battled with Green and Severn’s Rachel Underhill. Mott pulled clear of her rivals in the final stages to take third as she closed to within five seconds of Eaton who repeated her second place of the opening fixture.

Watson ran well for ninth to complete the scoring trio as the Harriers took a comprehensive win with just 14 points ahead of Team Bath (34) and the Forest of Dean (42). Great packing then saw the Harrier B team take fourth place with 47 points as Rachel See ran well for 12th, Fee Maycock finished as second V50 runner in 17th and Vickie Wilkinson finished in a pleasing 21st. Hannah D’Ambrosio (22nd), Sarah Sheppard (34th) and Nicola Whiteman (38th) then ensured the C team were 7th whilst the masters team of Maycock, Wilkinson and Sheppard finished second in their competition behind the Forest of Dean. Under 17 athlete Emma Queckett placed 39th. Kathryn Moreton was the first LV60 runner in 73rd and Joan Shaw crossed the line in 93rd before Christina See completed the thirteen strong squad in 169th position.

The Harriers men went into the race with 33 consecutive league victories having not been beaten since December 2009, but from the start it was clear that the University of Bath had put out a strong squad intent on ending that record. By the end of the first lap the students were clearly leading as they had ten runners ahead of the fifth Cheltenham athlete in the six to score team competition. Dan Owen, John Parker and Alex Lee were prominent towards the front of the race, but during the second of three laps a lead group of three emerged with Owen in the company of Gloucester’s James Denne and the university’s Alex Lawrence as the student team still held the advantage in the team race. Whilst Lawrence and Denne took the top two spots, Owen had to settle for third before Lee moved through well for fourth. Rory Dumville was then the second university scorer in fifth and V45 athlete Parker was comfortably the first veteran home in sixth place. The students then packed their next two runners in eighth and ninth whilst Dave Aubrey and Jacob Pickering made crucial gains on the final lap. With two additional places from his trademark sprint finish, Pickering claimed a pleasing tenth whilst Aubrey also ran well for twelfth. With the final two university scorers closing their team in fifteenth and sixteenth the Harriers still awaited their sixth man knowing it was going to be a close call. Ironically, it was Jamie Harper, who is based at Bath University with the GB modern pentathlon team, whose eighteenth place completed the Cheltenham team to give Andy Prophett’s team a score of 53 and a victory over their by one single point.

The Harriers B team also packed well for fifth place and second B team behind the university through Alex Chantler-Mayne (22nd) Marc Fallows (29th), Alex Doherty (32nd), Alex Lindfield (43rd), second V45 runner Dan Minors (54th) and Russell Forsbrook (58h). The result kept them in third place in the overall standings with Team Bath holding second position after finishing third on the day. The masters team of Parker, Fallows, Minors and Forsbrook also made it two wins out of two in the veteran competition. Simon Cricthley (75th), Iain Devlin (86th), Dave Rantell (88th), Ian Giles (107th), Steve Bradley (110th) and Matt Evans (143rd) ensured the C team finished thirteenth before Mike Ede finished third V60 runner in 160th.

The following day Marcus England enjoyed a win at the Tewkesbury Guy Fawkes 5 mile road race. With no real opposition to test him England led from start to finish to record a time of 26:21 as he won by more than a minute. In third James Bingham was the first veteran runner in 28:04 before fellow V40 runner Mark James finished fourth in 28:32. Matt Lambourne ran very well to finish fifth in 29:06 whilst Gareth Edwards record 29:34 for eighth. Dave Rantell (30:34) and Paul Barnes (33:18) finished second in their respective V50 and V55 age groups whilst earlier in the day Ed Grazier (24:41) and Les Hampton (35:160 finished first and third in the wheelchair race. In search of higher quality competition four Harriers made the trip to Yorkshire for one of country’s highest quality 10k races at the Leeds Abbey Dash. Despite running quicker per mile than England did in Tewkesbury, Dom James faded after the fast early pace to finish 84th in 32:12 before Eliot Taylor ran well for 32:45. Doug Wight was reward for the long journey with a new personal best of 33:07 whilst Charlie Jones stopped the clock at 33:31. Weekend parkruns saw George Hawthorne (17:36) finish second in St Albans whilst V60 runner Nick Holliday (19:36) was eleventh home at the Worcester Pitchcroft event.