U13 & U15 Youth Development League, 17 June

The young athletes of Cheltenham Harriers achieved a significant landmark on Sunday 17 June, as the National Youth Development League moved to Round Three in Yate. By placing fourth on the day, but maintaining third place in the Premier League overall, they have qualified for the Championship play-off round for the first time. This is a fantastic result, especially as two of the other teams in their Division made it all the way to the Nationals last yearThe grey cloud and gusting winds seemed out of place, but the conditions did little to affect the enthusiasm and commitment of the Under 13 and Under 15 athletes.

The Hurdles have become a real strength this season, and meant that Cheltenham started well, with the first events on the track being the U13 age group. Harry Ineson and Barnie Shaw made it a double first for Cheltenham in the A and B races, in 13.76s and 13.14 respectively. The girls then followed with Jess Duncton coming third in a very fast A race with 11.80s, and Lorna Willmott winning the B race and breaking her own Club record with 11.25s. Staying with the U13 Girls, there were successes right across the team. Serena Ihle-Matthews made a strong debut, placing second in the A shot with 7.24m, following it with a throw of 15.73m in the A javelin to take third. Seren Jones put in one of the performances of the day, setting a new PB of 4:05.16 in winning the A 1200m and coping well with the strong gusting wind. In the 150m, Jess Duncton placed third in a very fast A race in 20.19, with Lorna Willmott then winning the B race in a new PB of 19.54s.

In the U13 boys, the 800m proved fruitful as William Holdsworth came second in the A string with 2:35.38; and then an excellent run by Barnie Shaw took him to victory in the B race in 2:32.71. In the field, Sam Cotton and Harry Ineson made it another double first in the Long Jump, Cotton winning the A with a jump of 4.32m and Ineson winning the B with 4.29m. Ineson went on to win the A High Jump with 1.41m. Connor Hilton had another successful day in the field, winning the boys A Shot Put with 7.15m, and then the B javelin with 21.34m. The versatile Hal Jamieson placed fourth in the A javelin with 22.79m, before completing a gruelling 1500m.

In the U15 events, a number of the athletes were suffering the effects of competing for Gloucestershire the previous day at the Schools SW Championships in Exeter. Such is the spirit in the squad that they made sure they turned out for this crucial League match. Kaityln Sheppard, Jorja Webb, Molly Gould, Ed Holdsworth and Alfie Wood all overcame fatigue to place well in their events, with Molly Gould looking fluent to come third in the A string Hurdles in a time of 12.31s. Making her debut in the competition, Daisy Hall placed third in the A High Jump with 1.40, before running a very strong first leg in the 4×300m relay.

In the U15 boys, Ryan Berry took third place in the 300m A, with Joe Coley following up with third place in the B race. In the Pole Vault, Robert Smith showed his consistency, matching his PB with 2.40 to take second in the A string. Finlay Jamieson and Arthur French competed strongly in probably the only event unaffected by the conditions, taking second place in the A and B Hammer in 26.84m and 23.59m respectively. A similar result followed for the javelin throwers, Will Excell taking second in the A string with 31.30m and Oliver Risborough placing second in the B string with a throw of 24.29m. The U15 boys then produced some excellent running in the relays that wrapped up the scoring for the day. Robert Smith, Arthur French, Harry Brooks and Sam Smith combined to place third in the 4×100m relay, and then some very impressive running by Joe Coley, Ed Holdsworth, Will Excell and Ryan Berry brought home second place in the 4×300m relay. As an overall outcome from the day, Cheltenham have cemented their position in the Premier Division for next season, and can look forward with real excitement to the Championship Round in July.

Distance Running News, 12-17 June

Rachel Longstaff produced an excellent performance to post an impressive 5000m personal best as she finished sixth in the England under 23 Championship in Bedford. Her time of 17.08.62 was just over two seconds outside the Cheltenham Harriers club record. Also o the track Graham Rush was in fine form in a high quality 3000m race at the Trafford Open in Manchester. The GB international’s time of 8:09.31 was agonisingly just one hundredth of a second outside his personal best and club record as he placed fourth behind Jonny Mellor (Liverpool), Tom Lancashire (Bolton) and Charlie Hulson (Liverpool). Rush also made a rare appearance over 1500m at the BMC regional event in Leeds where he finished second in 3:57.92 as Border’s Matthew Grieve edged 0.12 seconds clear in the final straight. However, Rush’s time was good enough to claim the Cheltenham Harriers V35 club record as it surpassed Andy Prophett’s mark of 3:59.8.

Ben Price led the Cheltenham Harriers team home with a fine fifth place and Marcus England set an impressive personal best in a high-class field at the inaugural Summer Speedway 10k. Hosted by Chepstow Harriers, in the village of Beachley on the confluence of the Rivers Wye and Severn, the event was billed as am opportunity for fast times on a flat course. However, its peninsula location meant that the wind made conditions far from ideal. Whilst Cardiff’s Matt Clowes ran clear of the field from the start for a 30:19 win, the battle for second place was more intriguing as an eight man pack that included Price, fellow Harrier Alex Lee and a quartet of Bideford runners went through the opening mile in 4:55. The group split in the third mile with Lee falling off the pace as Price and the Bideford trio of Shaun Antell, Mark Jenkin and Aaron Richmond went through halfway in 15:45. Antell then pulled clear at the start of the second lap before Price lost contact with Jenkin and Richmond with 2km remaining. Finishing into the wind, Price was still able to post a pleasing 31:40 for fifth place for what was arguably a better performance than the 31:24 PB he ran at Telford earlier in the year. Lee soon followed and came home in ninth place with a time of 32:25. Arguably the best Cheltenham performance of the day came from Marcus England. After opening miles of 5:02 and 5:07, the marathon man went through halfway in 16:05. Despite slowing in the second half England still gained places and managed to take eight seconds off his personal best as he defied the conditions with a pleasing 32:34. On his debut for the club Dom James showed great potential with 33:56 for seventeenth place to complete the Harriers four man team that took second place behind a strong Bideford squad. In twentieth Alex Doherty used the race as a build up to the duathlon age group world championships and showed great form to be just 15 seconds outside of his PB with 34:33. Dan Thomas crossed the line one place and five seconds later before Doug Wight posted 34:55. Alex Lindfield was another athlete to conquer the wind as he took 21 seconds off his personal best with a very pleasing 35:09. Ian Giles then posted 38:54 before Alister Brown (40:21) completed the Harriers contingent.

At the Humph’s Hilly Half Marathon in Bourton-on-the-Water John Parker made a return to racing after a five month absence in impressive style. The 45 year old proved to be in another class to his rivals as he claimed a comfortable 76:42 victory for a 2:18 winning margin over Weston’s Kieron Summers. With Dave Rantell (86:00) and Paul Wade (90:06) eighth and fourteenth respectively the Harriers also claimed the team prize. In the ladies race Fee Maycock finished third in 93:05 as Shona Crombie-Hicks (Tewkesbury) and Kate Krzywiec (North Cotswold) took the top two spots. Paul Barnes was the third over 55 athlete home with a time of 97:39. Elsewhere, Andrew van Kints finished third in the Guernsey Half Marathon in 75:06, Russell Forsbrook finished nineteenth in the Yeovil 5k in 17:32 and Gareth Edwards placed fourth in the Chelteham Challenge 10k multi-terrain race. At the Cirencester Park Summer Sizzler 10k Debbie Smith (47:34) and vet 70 athletes Martin Ford (48:09) and Ken Buckle (59:58) all had a run out whilst James Bingham placed second in the Cheltenham parkrun with a time of 17:40.

Distance Running News, 4-10 June

Dan Owen produced an excellent performance to win the 5000m at the Midland Championships in Nuneaton. With the strongest line up for the event for many years, it was unsurprising that the main protagonists in the 22 man field were looking at each other on the opening 75 second lap. This prompted Tipton’s Stuart Hawkes to take up the pace to lead the field through the opening kilometre in 3:05 as Owen and his Cheltenham teammate Alex Bampton sat towards the front of a large lead group. Fellow Tipton runner Peter Brookes was the next to hit the front after the pace dropped slightly before Birchfield’s sub 15 minute runner Ed Banks hit the front to take an eight man group through 3000m in 9:08 with Owen and Bampton still in contention. By the time that Joe Smith (Tipton) took the field to 4km in 12:12, Banks and Gloucestershire Champion Ben Robinson (Bristol) had fallen off the pace to leave a six man pack to battle it out for the medals. Sitting in second place as they approached the final lap together Owen kicked at the bell to put daylight between himself and the chasing group. However, Birchfield’s Jon Goringe started to reduce the deficit on the back straight before Owen decisively kicked again to pull away and claim the gold medal in 15:00.21 with Goringe (15:02.85) and Smith (15:04.44) completing the rostrum. Hawkes (15:05.71) followed before Bampton (15:09.04) impressed in fifth with a time of less than three seconds outside his personal best. Fellow Harrier Marcus England was racing at this level on the track for the first time and posted a solid 15:57.54 for fifteenth place. Owen’s victory added a fifth Midland title to his growing medal collection after claiming titles at 1500, 3000, 10000 and 3000m steeplechase last season.

In the 1500m Richard de-Camps was the sole Cheltenham athlete in action and he quickly settled into second place as Nene Valley’s James McCrae took the field through the opening laps in 63 and 2:06. By the third lap McCrae was clear of de-Camps, who in turn had a gap on the chasing pack. With the positions remained unchanged, de-Camps finished 4.68 seconds adrift by the finish as he crossed the line in 3:59.22 for a silver medal as Birchfield’s Alex Rutherford (4:03.66) took third place. In the 800m Jacob Pickering placed fifth in a time of 1:57.83. Also on the track Rhys Park recorded a season’s best time of 14:20.79 for fourteenth place in the 5000m B race at the Portland Track Festival in America.

Midweek action on the roads saw Alice Taylor make it three wins out of three at the Hereford 5k as she crossed the line in 18:01 for a 31 second victory over Chloe Wheeler (Forest of Dean). Taylor also claimed the series title for a second consecutive year whilst Fee Maycock ensured further Cheltenham success as she took third on the day as the leading veteran athlete in 19:19. In the men’s race Tipton’s Stuart Hawkes (15:25) again pulled clear of Alex Lee (15:36) in the final mile as the pair also claimed the top two series placings. In fifth place Charlie Jones (15:54) equalled his road personal best for the distance before Eliot Taylor (15:59) took sixth on the day to finish third in the overall series. Doug Wight was in fine form in eighth position as he lowered his PB to 16:03 to finish one position and twelve seconds clear of Dave Aubrey. Mark James (16:46) was the second veteran home before Alex Lindfield (17:07) showed good form and Scott Jones (17:14) ran a huge PB. Dan Minors (18:14) and Gareth Edwards (18:31) then completed the 12 strong Harriers squad as the club claimed the series title with three wins out of three. Back in his native North-East Phil Wylie was in fine form at the iconic Blaydon Races as he completed the 5.67 mile course from Newcastle to Blaydon in 27:18 for sixth place in a high class field. Closer to home Elliot Prince took fifth place at the 7.2 mile Stroud Beer race in a time of 45:05. At the Cheltenham parkrun Alex Lee (16:19) was the first across the line as Doug Wight (17:49) and James Bingham (17:58) finished fourth and fifth respectively. Hannah D’Ambrosio (21:16) was the third lady home whilst Matt Evans (19:52) also had a run out around the Pittville Park course.

Distance Running News, 30 May to 3 June

Cheltenham Harriers men’s distance running squad won three of the four races at their Midland League Division One fixture in Wolverhampton as Jacob Pickering, Dan Owen and Oli Mott claimed fine individual wins. Pickering employed bizarre tactics in the 800m A race as he went through the bell in 59 seconds in fourth place, some 3 seconds adrift of the leader. However, the Birmingham University student came to life on the back straight and gradually clawed back the deficit. Taking the lead with just 10 meters remaining Pickering crossed the line for maximum points in 1:57.6 for a 0.3 second victory over Birchfield’s Charlie Thurston. In the 3000m steeplechase Owen sat in the pack for the opening half of the race, before hitting the front after passing the 1500m mark in 5:08. Instantly moving clear of the field, the Midland Champion then ran huge negative splits to take a 19 second win in 9:39.9. Contesting the 3000m Mott sat in a seven man pack that went through the opening kilometre in around three minutes, before deciding to surge into the lead with 1700m remaining. The pack decided to let him go as he reached 2000m in 5:59 with a thirty metre lead over the group led by teammate Charlie Jones. A strong final thousand metres saw Mott maintain his advantage to take the win in 8:53.5 for a five second winning margin. Jones meanwhile lost out in the last lap sprint to finish fifth overall and as second B runner in a personal best of 9:02.1. Non-scorer Dave Aubrey also ran well to finish ninth with a new PB of 9:25.1. Bristol’s Ben Robinson denied the Harriers a clean sweep of the men’s distance events as he edged clear of Richard de-Camps in the final straight of the 1500m with the Cheltenham athlete clocking 4:00.2. Valuable B string race points were also gained through George Hawthorne (2:06.0) for third in the 800m, Pickering (4:13.2) for fourth in the 1500m and by Matt Evans (13:05.1) for third in the steeplechase.

In the ladies races Hilary Mott finishing third in the 3000m with 10:45.9 as Rachel See finished eighth and third B runner in 11:23.9. Both athletes then returned to the track in the 1500m where Mott (5:07.6) was sixth and third A runner and See (5:33.1) eleventh and fourth B runner. Ella Burfitt (2:39.7) finished sixth in the 800m A race shortly after her 400m hurdles race whilst Katerina Horrocks (2:33.8) placed fifth in the B race as the Harriers finished as sixth team on the day. Earlier in the week Alex Bampton was in fine form with a seven second personal best of 8:40.28 for thirteenth place in the 3000m A race at the Watford Open. Also impressing with an eight second PB was Rachel See who clocked 5:05.93 to win the 1500m L race.

At the Fairford 10k road race Alex Lee led the Harriers challenge and was content to sit off the typically fast early pace set by Cirencester’s Dave Bell. Catching his rival at around halfway, Lee moved clear in the second half of the undulating course to cross the line 18 seconds clear of second placed Bell. Mark James finished as third veteran in twelfth place overall with 36:40 whilst Alex Lindfield and Dave Rantell posted times of 37:01 and 39:25 respectively. Fee Maycock again won her LV50 age category as she finished fourth lady in 40:45 before Paul Barnes (43:46), Adrian Higgs (52:08) and V75 runner Ken Buckle (62:44) completed the Harriers contingent. Midweek action saw the Harriers host the Cleeve Cloud Cuckoo 5.5 mile multi-terrain race over a challenging course on Cleeve Hill. Doug Wight ensured a home win as he finished 1:42 clear of Evesham’s Marcus Mumford. With Andrew Kaighin and Gareth Edwards finishing sixth and seventh respectively the Harriers also took the team win whilst ninth placed Anthony Rossi finished as third veteran runner home. Further veteran success came At Severn AC’s Pilot Inn 5k road race in Gloucester where Mark James finished second overall and as the leading over 40 runner in a time of 16:50 that saw him finish 28 seconds adrift of Swindon’s Sergio Martinez-Goanzalez and 18 seconds clear of the host’s Chris Brown. Dave Tomlin meanwhile finished second in the Dartmoor Discovery 34 mile ultra-race where he averaged 7:21 per mile for a course that included 4000 feet of climbing as he recorded a time of 4:10:00. Weekend parkruns saw Dan King (17:18) cross the line first in Hereford, where Scott Jones (18:37) placed third and Alice Taylor (18:57) was the leading lady in fourth place overall. Gareth Edwards (19:33) also claimed a win at the Gloucester North event, whilst James Bingham (17:49) was the leading Harrier at the Cheltenham parkrun in fourth place.

Distance Running News, 22-27 May

Jacob Pickering produced his best ever performance to make a significant breakthrough with a win at the British Milers’ Club regional event in Tipton. The 20 year old had started his track season with a victory and a personal best of 4:08.8 over 1500m in April, but after a month long break from racing to focus on his exams, he started his track season in earnest with the 800m B race at the West Midlands event. Having only broken the two minute barrier on two occasions last season, and with a personal best of 1.57.6, the Birmingham University student was looking to set a new PB as he went through the bell in last place in around 57 seconds. With 300m to go Pickering made his move and starting moving through the field before taking the lead in the home straight. Stopping the clock at an impressive 1:54.80, the Cheltenham athlete finished 1.22 seconds clear of Stockport’s Grant Anderson in a time that was only bettered by one athlete in the A race. At the same meeting Richard de-Camps contested the 3000m A race and put in a good performance to finish just under 1.5 seconds outside his personal best with an 8:45.20 clocking that earned him fourth place in a race as Birchfield’s Jonathan Goringe took the win in 8:38.21.

Both Pickering and de-Camps then followed up their midweek outings by racing at the weekend BMC Grand Prix event in Watford, where de-Camps was joined by teammate Dan Owen in the 5000m B race. The pair were mid pack in the early stages with de-Camps just behind Owen who managed to stick to his 15 minute schedule for the first three kilometres. Whilst both athletes slowed in the final 2000m, Owen could still take heart from a respectable 15:06.79 for ninth place and de-Camps lowered his personal best to 15:20.82 for fourteenth position as Ryan Burling of Guernsey took the win in 14:45.58. Pickering was seeded in the 800m I race, but whilst he was finishing faster than any of his rivals in the home straight, he had timed his run too late. Just failing to make up the ground needed for the win, he crossed the line in third place in 1:56.14, a mere 0.2 seconds behind winner Beck Grover of Herts.

Eliot Taylor was in action in Hereford where he raced The Crocodile 8.8 miles multi-terrain race where torrential rain throughout the day made for horrific conditions on the off-road sections. Taylor was content to sit in a four man lead group through the opening road and field section of the course before they entered the woods for the infamous 97 steps. At the highest point of course and with around 4.5 miles left to go, the Dave Newport coached athlete made his move and quickly opened up a substantial gap throughout the descent before finishing back on the roads where he crossed the line 1:40 ahead of second placed Barry Reynolds of Hereford. Weekend parkruns again saw many Harriers enjoy a run out with first place finishes at four different venues. There was a double win in Tewkwsbury where James Bingham (18:27) and Kaitlyn Sheppard (20:07) were first man and lady home whilst Gareth Edwards (19:00) placed third. Similarly at the Cheltenham event Ollie Jones (17:26) and Hannah D’Ambrosio (21:06) claimed first places whilst Milly Foster (22:04) was third lady and Dan Minors (19:26) placed thirteenth. Marc Fallows (17:20) was first home in Cirencester where Simon Crew (18:21) and Tom Keylock (18:32) finished fourth and fifth respectively. Liam Roarty (18:55) meanwhile made a welcome return to action at the Riverside parkrun in Dublin where he claimed the win whilst Dave Aubrey (17:22) placed second at the Newport event.