British Masters Champs, 24-25 June

Michael Gardiner won 400m gold in 51.76 and 200m silver 23.76 in the over 45 age group at the British Masters Champs in Birmingham. Jane Horder won the 80m hurdles in 13.00 and the 300m hurdles in 51.25 in the LV60 category.

Distance Running News, 20-25 June

Graham Rush and Phil Beastall both enjoyed success at British Milers Club events as Rush set a Cheltenham Harriers club record over 3000m and Beastall smashed his personal best with a 5000m victory. In preparation for the forthcoming British Championship over 5000m, Rush stepped down a distance for a rare outing over seven and a half laps at the Grand Prix event in Watford. The early stages of the race saw a three man pack break clear at the front of the field, with Rush moving through to fourth place as he passed the 1000m mark in 2:40. Whilst Rush made little inroads into the gap ahead, his work on the front of the chasing group shook off all other challengers apart from Petros Sudafel (Enfield) by the time he had reached 2k in 5:24. A strong last lap from the Dave Newport coached athlete saw him drop Sudafel and reduce the gap to third place. In a race won by Sweden’s Suldan Hassan (8:03.09) from Blackheath’s Philip Sesemann (8:03.84) and Notts’ Doug Musson (8:08.62), Rush’s time of 8:09.30 took just over a second off Andy Reid’s 31 year old club record of 8:10.6. In the 3000m B race Dan Owen put in a solid performance to record a time of 8:30.29 for eighth place.

Earlier in the week Beastall was one of four Harriers contesting the 5000m at the BMC regional meeting in Tipton. In a race pacemaked by former Gloucester athlete Alex George, Beastall was happy to sit in second place in the early stages as Shaun Evans (Sutton Coldfield) led the way as they passed the opening kilometre in 2:59. George then got the pace back on track with a 2:54 split for the next kilometre as Evans, Beastall and Stuart Spencer (Notts) pulled away from the field. Evans then started to tire and was overtaken by Beastall just before the halfway point which was reached in 7:20. George continued to do an excellent job on the front and took Beastall and Spencer through 3000m in 8:47 before Spencer fell off the pace. With the pacemaker stepping aside at 4000m in 11:44 Beastall was alone and it was all about the race against the clock. The Gloucestershire cross country champion then ran his fastest kilometre split of the race to stop the clock at 14:35.9, knocking over twelve seconds off his previous PB as enjoyed a seventeen second victory over Spencer. Further down the field fellow Harriers Alex Bampton and James Chantler-Mayne were running well together in a group that went through the 3000m mark in 9:07. The duo remained together until the bell when Bampton pulled clear to finish sixth in 15:18. Chantler-Mayne’s excellent 15:24.3 personal best earned him ninth place in the race and fifteenth place in the national under 20 rankings for the distance. Dan Thomas came home nineteenth in 16:28.3 whilst Jacob Pickering trimmed his personal best to 4:12.9 with fifth place in the 1500m B race. Over in Ireland Liam Roarty had an excellent week as he took thirteen seconds off his 3000m PB with 9:00.13 at the Dublin open meeting before following that up with a nine second PB of 15:55.15 over 5000m in the national league at the same venue four days later.

Away the track the a Harriers team contested the Cotswold Way Relay, a 103 mile unmarshalled event from Chipping Campden to Bath that was contested as ten separate stage races. Stage one saw Richard Dare finish second on the 19.2km to Stanway House as Bristol took the opening stage by 1:15 through Peter Radford. With Stroud and Bath in third and fourth the four pre-race favourites quickly established themselves at the top of the leader board. James Denne then produced an excellent victory on the 11.5 miles to Cleeve Common as he set a new course record with a 2:56 win over Bath’s Jim Webb that put the Harriers into the overall lead. Mike Gray’s fourth place on the route to Severn Springs then maintained the lead as Bristol claimed another win through Pete Bains. Stage five was always going to be a crucial one with Oli Mott giving the Cheltenham team a win with a 31 second victory over Bath’s Dan Jones, but most significantly gaining over six minutes on Bristol’s Owain Jones as the race reached Cranham. Stroud then gained big time on leg five with a second place through Lee Stopford whilst Harriers team captain for the day Elliot Prince lost ground on Bath and Bristol as he finished twelfth. Despite this, after half the stages the Cheltenham team were 4:25 ahead of Bath, with Stroud 4:39 behind and Bristol 7:16 in arrears. Leg six to Dursley then saw Bath as the highest placed of the leading teams with third placed George Frost gaining 1:45 on Roger Mullins in fifth whilst Stroud had heavy losses and fell out of contention. Stage seven to Wotton-under-Edge, however, saw the Harriers lose the lead as Maciej Bialogonski took the win for Bristol almost nine minutes ahead of fifth placed Russell Forsbrook as Bath also gained almost seven minutes on the Harriers. Bath now led by 3:52 from Cheltenham with Bristol third a further minute back. A navigational error on the route to Old Sodbury cost Andy Gardiner around four minutes that saw him finish twelfth , losing 1:22 to Bristol as the Harriers slipped to third whilst Bath extended their lead with a fifth place finish. On the penultimate stage to Cold Ashton, however, the Harriers fought back as George Watson took an impressive stage win to gain 3:18 over fifth placed Bristol and regain second spot. Despite the best efforts of James Wilkinson with a solid seventh place on the final run to Bath Abbey, Bristol stormed back with a stage win that saw them reduce the gap to winners Bath to just ten seconds as they finished 4:51 ahead of the bronze medal winning Harriers team. There were also impressive performances by the Harriers ladies competing in mixed teams with Hilary Mott finishing as first lady and ninth overall on stage nine. Jo Wilkie and Gemma Collier were the third ladies on legs two and six respectively. The weekend’s Cheltenham parkrun saw Harriers fill the top five places as they incorporated the event into a training session that saw Phil Beastall (16:38), Will New (16:58), Dave Roper, John Parker (17:14) and Alex Lee (17:55) head the field whilst Phil Wylie (15:27) enjoyed a similar exercise with his first placed finish at the Exeter Riverside event.

World Records at South West Masters Champs, 18 June

Jane Horder competed at the South West Masters championships at Exeter where she broke the W60 80m hurdles and 300 hurdles world records – 12.97 for the 80 hurdles and 49.80 for the 300 hurdles, smashing the previous records which stood at 13.26 and 51.64 respectively. Horder now owns all the W60 hurdle records as she already have the indoor 60m hurdles record. She will now compete in the British Masters at the weekend and the European Masters in Aarhus, Denmark at the end of July.

Sprint and Hurdles News, 17-18 June

Cheltenham & County Harriers sprint hurdlers claim two medals at the England Athletics U20/U23 Championships in Bedford. Competing in her first year in the U23 age group Mollie Courtney won bronze in a closely contested 100m hurdles final in a time of 13.51s. Along the way she won her heat in a season’s best time of 13.44s. That time was significant as it was under the Commonwealth Games Nomination Standard for Northern Ireland for which Courtney is eligible to compete. Courtney, the 2017 NI & Ulster 100m hurdles champion, is the 10th athlete to achieve a NI standard for the 2018 Games to be held in Gold Coast, Austrailia.

In the U20 age group Sophie Yorke competed well through the 100m rounds to finish 5th in the final in a time of 11.99s. However she would have had in the back of her mind that she already had a qualification time for the European Junior Championships in the 100m hurdles. Winning her 100mH heat comfortably in a wind-assisted 13.55s Yorke then went on to claim silver in the final setting a new wind-legal PB of 13.47s. Being second over the line meant automatic selection for the European Juniors as the Bedford meeting acted as the trials for the Championships to be held in Grosseto, Italy in July.

Distance Running News, 13-18 June

Will New lead Cheltenham Harriers to a team win with a fine second place at the Rose Inn 4 mile road race in the Welsh village of Redwick. New, along with teammates Jon Barnes and Eliot Taylor went through the opening mile in 5:04 in a four man second pack as they lay in sixth to eighth places behind leader Oliver Williams (Les Croupier) and a chasing group of four athletes. Whilst Williams remained unchallenged the two chasing groups had merged into one by the time they had reached the two mile mark in 10:18. New then worked on the front of the group as he split the pack as only GB international Charlotte Arter (Cardiff) kept with him. By the time he had gone through 5km in 16:05 New was clear in second, but a resilient Arter closed the gap again with a kilometre remaining. The duo remained locked together until New pulled away in the final 300m to take second in a personal best of 20:43 after Williams had taken the win in 20:19. With four to score in the team competition Andy Gardiner then completed the victorious Cheltenham team in twelfth place as he showed a notable improvement in form with a pleasing 21:32. New and Barnes followed up their midweek endeavours with a weekend outing at the Shrewsbury Half Marathon where they started steadily and aimed to move through the field. Whilst new finished with his fastest three miles splits to take fifth place in 76:42, Barnes found the hot conditions and hilly course took its toll in the final miles as he crossed the line in 78:17 for seventh place.

Similarly tough conditions were evident at the Bourton Hilly Half Marathon where Shona-Crombie Hicks was the first lady home in 1:30:49. Dave Rantell had earlier crossed the line in fifth in 1:26:32 and Ian Giles recorded 1:38:20 before Sarah Sheppard was the fourth lady home in 1:40:24. Paul Barnes (1:44:01) and Dave Hemmings (1:48:00) also completed the challenging event. Crombie-Hicks had also enjoyed a midweek win at the Malvern 10k multi-terrain race where Hemmings had finished thirty-third. Three days later Malvern brought another Harriers victory as Gareth Edwards won the Malvern Trails Half Marathon. The Cirencester Park Summer Sizzler 10k was a race that lived up to its name as James Wilkinson (38:30), Martin Ford (44:14), Debbie Smith (46:05) and Ken Buckle (56:00) battled against the temperature. On the track meanwhile Dan Owen won the E race at Watford Open meeting in a pleasing time of 1:55.33. Weekend parkruns saw Andy Gardiner lower his parkrun PB to 16:33 as he won the Worcester Pitchcroft event in which Alister Brown (19:15) placed ninth. There were also wins for Fee Maycock (19:37) who was the first lady across the line at the Gloucester North parkrun and for Liam Roarty (19:59) at the River Valley parkrun in Dublin. Toby Wort (17:16) took second at the Kingsway event in Gloucester whilst at the Cheltenham parkrun Steve Hall (18:50), Simon Critchley (19:01) and Carsten Adams (19:21) enjoyed a run out.

Hurdles News, 10-11 June

Cheltenham Harriers athletes claimed two of the top 100m hurdles spots in area championships over the weekend. Mollie Courtney (U23) was crowned Northern Ireland & Ulster Senior Champion after winning in Belfast. Courtney recorded 13.61s but expressed disappointment with her time in a post-race interview. “I had hoped to run faster but the gusty headwind affected my performance today – I’ve definitely got a faster time in me”. In Nuneaton, at the U20/Senior Midlands Championships, Sophie Yorke (U20) was forced to use a 100m heat as part of her warmup for the hurdles. She won her sprint heat comfortably in a wind-assisted 12.11s. Shortly afterwards the wind picked up further for the combined U20/Senior 100m hurdles final which Yorke won overall in 13.31s to be crowned Midlands U20 Champion. Later she was denied a second gold, missing out by just 0.02s, in the 100m final claiming silver in 11.72s again running with a strong tailwind.

Distance Running News, 7-11 June

Dan Owen claimed a fine double with victories in the 3000m steeplechase and 1500m at the Midland Championships in Nuneaton. A class above the rest of the field in the steeplechase and unconcerned about his time on a windy day, Owen was able to ease down in the closing stages to take a comfortable victory in a relatively modest 9:46.75. However, the 1500m was always going to be a much tougher test as Owen lined up alongside teammate Richard de-Camps. With no athlete wanting to set a pace in the wind, Owen deliberately went to the front to slow things down and the first 800m was covered in a pedestrian 2:24. The pace then started to wind up gradually with the Andy Beadle coached athlete still holding the lead with 450m to go when he was passed by Tamworth runner Stephen Parkes. de-Camps and Aaron Brown (Tipton) also passed Owen on the back straight to leave him fourth position with 200m remaining, a position he still held as they reached the home straight. A strong last 100m then saw Owen reduce the deficit to finally pass Parkes and de-Camps with just 30m to claim gold in 4:12.01. de-Camps then took silver in 4:12.52 with Parkes finishing third in 4:12.84. In the 5000m Phil Beastall led from 400m into the race as the pack behind him gradually dwindled to just four athletes with just three laps remaining. At this point Jack Bancroft (Bristol) made a decisive race winning move leaving Beastall and Joe Smith (Tipton) battling for the minor medals as they in turn pulled clear of Jack Millar (Bristol). Smith then overtook the Cheltenham athlete with 700m to go, but Beastall hung on before sprinting past the Tipton man in the final 100m to claim silver in 15:09.77 just one second ahead of Smith and five seconds behind Bancroft. In the same race Charlie Jones made his 5000m track debut to finish tenth in 16:03.11.

Graham Rush meanwhile made his GB track debut in the European 10,000m Cup in Belarus. The thirty five athletes were seeded into two races with Rush being placed in the faster A race. Very hot conditions meant it was not a day for fast time with Rush claiming thirteenth place from the twenty starters and sixteen finishers in a time of 30:03.97, just one second and one place behind leading Brit Matthew Leach. To put Rush’s performance into perspective, he was the only one of the six GB representatives in the men’s and women’s races to be within a minute of their season’s best.

Earlier in the week at the Hereford 5k road race the Harriers produced a dominant team performance with seven of the first eight finishers. A nine man group pulled clear from the start and remained together as they went through the opening mile in 5:11. Eliot Taylor, Will New, Charlie Jones and Wye Valley’s Dan King all took turns on the front with the strong lead pack also including fellow Harriers Dave Aubrey, Mark James, Jon Barnes and Ben Colabella. Joe Reardon (Aberdare) fell off the pace around the half way point, with the leading eight man group still working well as a pack as they reached the 3km mark. At this point Will New picked up the pace and the group began to fragment slightly as they passed the 2 mile point in 10:19 with the front four of New, Taylor, Jones and King opening up a small gap over their rivals. King was next to make his move with half a mile to go as he and Jones moved a few yards clear. Jones then hit the front with around 500m remaining to open a few metres on King as the race moved onto the athletics track with 350m to go with a procession of Harriers vests in pursuit. Jones maintained his form to cross the line two seconds ahead of King to claim the race win in a personal best of 15:56 and the overall series title. Taylor then took third in 15:58 and New claimed fourth in 16:01. James gained two places in the final run in as he took both the on the day and series veteran title in a new personal best of 16:02. Barnes then crossed the line in 16:04 before Aubrey showed good form with 16:09 and Colabella posted an impressive PB of 16:12 for eighth place. Steve Maguire then recorded a season’s best of 17:52 before Naomi Eaton finished as third lady in a time of 18:35. The Harriers team victory ensured they claimed the team prize for the series after also winning the earlier two races in the competition. The Worcester Pitchcroft 10k saw Fee Maycock claim a win as she finished as first lady in 39:08 at an event where James Wilkinson posted a time of 38:48 and Charlotte Deacon set a PB of 50:24. Andy Gore meanwhile took on the challenge of the 54.2 miles Cotswold Way Race to the Tower where he finished third in 9:36:59. Weekend parkruns saw Wil New (16:54), John Parker (17:03) and Toby Wort (17:31) fill the first three places at the Cheltenham event in Pittville Park whilst Dave Tomlin (17:26) was first across the line at the Kingsway event in Gloucester.