Gloucester Athletic Club’s Joanne Willoughby continued her run of good form when winning the gold medal in both long and triple jumps at the British Masters Indoors Championships at Lee Valley in London at the weekend.
Although down on her personal best performances set at the previous weekend’s Inter-Area Match, she was still a class above the opposition and recorded best leaps of 4.60 and 10.25 metres respectively.
Afterwards, Joanne said “That was a very tiring weekend as I had to officiate other events as well as compete. I’ll be taking a few days’ rest before preparing for the European Masters Indoors in Madrid at the end of the month.”
A group of runners from the Gloucester club represented the County in the Inter-Counties Cross-Country Championships at Loughborough on Saturday in conditions that many described as a mud-bath after the heavy snow in the region had melted onto what was already a quagmire.
The senior men’s race saw Owen Parry gaining his first county vest, coming home in 265th place, just ahead of clubmate James Walters, in 274th place. Afterwards, Parry said that it was probably the most challenging and high-quality field he had raced in the winter.
The U17 Women’s race saw Natalie Ashley-Towell just finish outside the top 200 when placing 201st, while Tilly Ashley secured the highest position by a Club athlete in the meeting, when taking an excellent 95th place in the U15 Girls race. In the U13 Girls race, Emma Tillott placed 164th.
There were no such problems with the underfoot conditions, though the steep inclines made the going tough for the 470 runners at Sunday’s Minchinhampton 10K road race.
Simon Fortnam used his extensive knowledge of the local terrain to place 6th overall and first M40 in 39:08. Next Gloucester runner home was Anna Midgley who placed 33rd overall and first in the F35 category in 44:02, with Charlotte McGlone coming home in 43rd place and second in the senior ladies category in 45:37.
Tina Wickens took another age group prize when she crossed the line in 52nd place overall and third F45 in 46:23, with Amy Walker placing 54th overall and second F35 in 46:35 and Sue Higgins, who had run in the Berkeley 20-miler the previous day, placing 118th and third F55 in 51:56.
In Saturday’s 20:20 Fission Berkeley 20-mile road race, Sue Higgins placed 107th overall and 1st in the F55 category in 2:41:03 while Chris Davis placed 228th in a personal best 3:01:43.
Meanwhile, Nick Bishop took part in his first ever ultra-distance race, the Green Man Ultra race, a 45-mile event that follows the Community Forest Path in the woodlands around Bristol over a very muddy course that included tackling the River Frome that had burst its bank in places along the route. He completed the course in 10:23:00.
Gloucester Athletic Club’s Joanne Willoughby broke the British W50 Age Group record for the triple jump when competing for the Midlands team in the Inter-Area Indoors match at the Lea Valley Stadium on Sunday.
Before the competition, the record stood to Janice Pryce of the Royal Sutton Coldfield club at 10.31 metres, but Willoughby eclipsed that mark with a best leap of 10.37 metres in the first round.
Afterwards Joanne said “I’m delighted to finally get that record. I was close last year and jumped 10.24 metres at Cardiff in January so I knew that I was capable of getting it on the day. I had a good long jump competition earlier in the match, setting a new indoors best of 4.68 metres, so it was a good day all round.”
She is now aiming to better the record further when she competes in the European Masters Indoors Championships in Madrid later this month and regain the title she won in Poland three years ago.
Joanne’s husband Ian placed 3rd in the M60 400 metres and then anchored the Midlands team to victory in the 4 x 200 metres relay.
With the final Gloucestershire Cross-Country League race of the 2017-18 season falling victim to last week’s weather, the League results were based on the three races staged and saw several podium places for Gloucester club members.
Niamh Powell was the Club’s sole individual winner, taking the gold medal in the U17 Ladies category, despite missing several weeks of training and racing due to injury. She’s now back on a rehabilitation programme and hopes to be back to full fitness before too long.
Team-wise, the U15 Girls were dominant as they stormed to first and second places overall. Bethan Powell had an excellent season and took third place in the individual standings. She received excellent support throughout the season from Katherine Mills, Lucy Jeffery, Amber Spackman, Sophie Johnson, Millie Porter, Tilly Ashley and Scarlett Pegler.
There was further success in the U13 Girls category where Jessica Hill placed third overall. The team competition saw the City girls place second and featured Hill, Chloe Sheppard Emma Tillott, Amelia Newell, Sophie Izon with Ella-Grace Edwards and Emily Heron each making a valuable contribution.
In the senior ladies category, Anna Midgley concluded an excellent winter’s racing by placing 4th overall ahead of Beth Wells and Charlotte McGlone in 6th and 7th places. The LV45 age group saw Tina Wickens win the bronze medal and Liz Usedon take 4th place in their first full competitive winters for the Club.
Another athlete to stand out in their first full cross-country season was Owen Parry, who took an encouraging 6th place in the senior men’s section.
In the lower age groups, Sebastian Clarke placed 10th in the U17s category, Toby Scott placed 10th in the U15 Boys and there was a team bronze for the U13 Boys team which saw Ethan Hood take 7th place in the individual scorings.
Gloucester Athletic Club’s Millie Porter has been chosen to represent the South-West Counties team in the Mini Marathon event which precedes next month’s London Marathon. Her selection comes on the back of a string of excellent performances in recent cross-country events in which she has established herself as one of the top young distance runners in the region.
Bethan Moor and Millie Porter produced outstanding performances for Gloucester Athletic Club as both enjoyed their best-ever runs at Saturday’s ECCA Saucony English National Cross-Country Championships at Parliament Hill in London.
In glorious sunshine, but with a biting cold wind that chilled runners and spectators alike to the core, there were record entries for many of the races which are the highlight of the winter cross-country season and the pinnacle of many athletes’ careers.
Bethan made the trek from Plymouth University where she is currently studying medicine to compete in the Junior Womens race run over 6kms of challenging hills and mud. Starting off steadily, she made her way through the field to finish strongly in 47th place of the 146 finishers in 28:11, her best-ever finish in these Championships. Afterwards she said “I’m very pleased with that run as it was my best-ever National placing. It was great fun and I really enjoyed putting the Gloucester club vest on again.”
Millie has had an excellent 2018, placing 4th in the South-West Schools cross-country Championships and a best-ever 2nd place in last week’s Gloucestershire League race but these pale into comparison against her performance at Parliament Hill where, against the very best runners in the country, she came home in 56th place of the 464 finishers in the U15 Girls 4kms race in 15:59, just 20 seconds off a top 30 placing to give an idea of the competitive nature of the Championships.
A busy day’s racing had started with the U17 Women’s race run over 5kms, which saw Laura McPeake and Natalie Ashley-Towell lining up among the 280 starters. Both produced typically gutsy performances as Laura came in 167th place in 22:55 with Natalie crossing the line just six seconds behind in 175th place to give the Gloucester club a good start to the day.
The 8kms Senior Ladies race saw a quartet of City runners making their debut in the Championships. Beth Wells ran her best race of the winter to place 399th of the 1,113 finishers in 38:59, an excellent performance given that she had only returned to training in recent weeks after a spell out through injury. Kirsty Reid was next home, running strongly to place 595th in 41:56, Liz Usedon placed 732nd in 44:17 while Nicola Waters placed 796th in 45:25.
Harry Wells lined up in the Junior Mens’ race but found the going tough as he struggled to get a foothold in the conditions and trailed home in 125th place. He will be hoping for better luck at the English Schools event at Leeds in two weeks’ time.
The Senior Mens’ race, run over 12kms, saw a host of best performances from the Gloucester squad. James Walters continued his recent good form to lead the group home, while in his first National, Andrew de-Camps ran strongly to come home in 772nd place in 51:43. Owen Parry was also running in his first Championship and clocked 52:03 in 799th place with another first-timer, Scott Carpenter, coming home in 874th place in 52:46. Steve Haines was the next home, clocking 55:40, ahead of Dave Gresswell who placed 1398th in 57:46, Ian Summers 1746th in 61:55, Aaron Bennett 1814th in 63:03 and Chris O’Carroll who placed 2299th in 81:27.
After the event, Club spokesman Richard Blackwell said: “We know that we don’t currently have anyone in our ranks who is going to get among the medals at these Championships but by entering we are, at least, stating our intentions and giving our members the opportunity to pitch themselves against the very best in the country, and talking to them all afterwards, it is clear they all enjoyed this great experience.”
Jeremy Mower led the Gloucester contingent home in Sunday’s Bourton 10km road race which, like the previous day’s National Cross-country Championships, was run in sunny but very cold weather. Despite clocking his fastest 10km in over 14 years, 36:17, Mower failed by just three seconds to catch M50 category winner David Williamson of Tadworth AC, placing 27th place overall and 2nd M50.
Simon Fortnam was next runner home, placing 42nd overall and 3rd M45, with a 37:22 clocking. Simon Meadows made a cautious start but ran an evenly-paced race to finish in 50th spot in 37:46. Max Sheppard took 20 seconds off his personal best when clocking 38:05 in 55th place, with Matt Powell placing 72nd in 38:49, his fastest for two years and Gray Davis clocking a new personal best of 40:37 in 111th place.
There next followed three of the Club’s leading female distance runners, all vying for the honour of first Club lady home. That honour went to Kim Millward who followed up her fine run in the previous week’s Gloucestershire Cross-Country League race by placing 115th in 40:59, her fastest since 2010.
Just one second behind was Chrissie Horak who placed 116th in 41:00, with Anna Midgley a further place down in 41:06 to earn the ladies team third place in the team competition behind Cirencester and Bourton.
Arthur Daley had stayed with the ladies for the first six kilometres before fading over the latter stages to place 127th overall and first M65 in 41:33. Amy Walker was needlessly disappointed with her run, despite clocking her fastest time since the 2015 edition of this event, 43:22 in 157th place, while Tina Wickens finished in 161st place and 2nd W45 in a personal best 43:28.
Chris Davis placed 174th in 43:51 and Dave Spackman placed 350th and second M70 in 52:22.
Also on Sunday, Gloucester U17M Sebastian Clarke placed 17th in the Oulton Park 10K event in Staffordshire in 41:02.
This Sunday sees the final running of this season’s Gloucestershire Cross-Country League races at the Katherine Lady Berkeley School Sports Centre in Wotton-under-Edge. The first race, for U11 Boys, is scheduled to start at 11:00am.
Sunny, mild weather plus a course that was firm underfoot – apart from the infamous Pittville ditch – greeted the competitors at the latest round of the Gloucestershire Cross-Country League at Cheltenham’s Pittville Park on Saturday.
The perfect conditions brought out the best in the Gloucester Athletic Club runners with the ladies producing one of their best performances of the season.
Kim Millward has raced sparingly this winter but produced a well-judged run to come home in 15th place, her best League placing. Afterwards she said “I’m pleased with that run today. I gave it everything and had absolutely nothing left at the end.” Just how it should be.
Ladies team captain Anna Midgley had another good run, crossing the line in 21st place, her second-best League placing of the season, while Charlotte McGlone continued her return to racing with a solid 31st placing to bring the ‘A’ team back in 6th place overall.
Tina Wickens led the ‘B’ team home, placing 38th, a massive improvement on her previous runs this season and her best-ever League placing. Beth Wells, taking the first tentative steps following injury, placed 42nd while Charlotte Hall completed the ‘B’ team when coming home in 44th place.
After a strong start to the season, Niamh Powell has had a wretched time with injury, but she also made a cautious return to racing and while her lack of training and racing was evident, but she put in a typically gutsy performance to finish in 49th place, with no ill-effects. Liz Usedon came home in 74th place in her first-ever League race while Trudy Wells bettered her previous League best finish by some 40 places when coming home in 92nd place.
Owen Parry led a weakened men’s team home, producing his best run since returning to the sport following a 20-year break, to place 32nd while another athlete new to the Club this winter, Michael Jenkins, also enjoyed his best League outing when coming home in 55th place.
In his first League outing of the season, Dave Gresswell placed 80th, Steve Robbins had his best League run in a City vest to place 114th, as did Gary Fraser in 116th, while the team was completed by newcomer Peter Burton in his first Club race in 124th place.
The Senior Ladies race incorporated the men’s M65 category event which saw Arthur Daley take victory, despite setting up the course during the morning and over-seeing the Clubs’ youngsters race preparations.
If the performances of the runners in the U15 Girls race are anything to go by, the Club’s ladies team has a very bright future indeed. Millie Porter is emerging as a strong contender for the Club’s most improved young athlete of the year with strong performances in the South-West Schools and South-West Inter-Counties cross-country events last month and she followed up her third place in the previous League race with a fine second place. Excellent support from Tilly Ashley and Katherine Mills in 5th and 8th places ensured a convincing win for the ‘A’ team. Bethan Powell, still recovering from a virus, and Lucy Jeffery were breathing down the necks of their team-mates, coming home in 9th and 10th respectively, while Amber Spackman just held off the fast-finishing Sophie Johnson for 18th place to bring the ‘B’ team home in 3rd place overall.
There were equally encouraging performances in the U13 Girls race as Jessica Hill held off Emma Tillott as they placed third and fourth, while Chloe Shephard came home in a League-best 25th place as the team took second place overall. Emily Herron continued her endurance development when placing 34th, while in the youngest age group, the U11 Girls, youngster Ruth Brook came home in 23rd place.
There has been a dearth of young male runners in the Gloucester club in recent years but there are signs of shoots starting to appear.
Seb Clarke joined the Club in the autumn following a family move from Staffordshire and is settling into Paul de-Camps training squad at Blackbridge where he has been improving steadily. Unfortunately, he turned an ankle early into Saturday’s race but carried on and placed 10th in the U17 Men’s race. There were further encouraging signs in the lower age groups as debutant Dylan Mends in 14th, Ethan Hood in 17th and Ben Darlow in 20th all ran well to secure 4th place overall in the U13 Boys race. Behind them, William Roberts persevered to come home in 38th place. Finally, in the U11 Boys race Lucas Simpson and Finlay Roberts placed 22nd and 71st respectively.
Afterwards, Club spokesman Richard Blackwell said “There were some very encouraging signs for our Club today. The ladies continue to run well and we have some great young female talent coming through. It was good to see some newcomers come to the fore in the senior men’s race, as well as having some youngsters competing in the boys’ races which is something we haven’t managed in the past few years. There’s a long way to go, but I hope these lads will give distance running in our City the kick-start it needs.”
Elsewhere, Chris Davis placed 110th of the 600-plus finishers at Sunday’s ‘Chilly 10K’ race at Castle Combe in 44:35.
At their recent Annual General Meeting, Gloucester Athletic Club appointed the following officers for 2018-19:
Chair – Richard Blackwell; vice-Chair – Jo Willoughby; Secretary – Paul de-Camps; Treasurer – Andrew Beckett; Membership Secretary – Helen Hoy; Press Officer – Richard Blackwell; Coaching Co-ordinator – Garry Hunter; Officials Co-ordinator – Ian Willoughby; Volunteers Co-ordinator – Helen Hoy; Track & Field Rep – Steve Millward; Road Running Rep – Aaron Bennett; Cross-Country Rep – Kirsty Reid; Social Secretary – Hannah Bennett; Properties Member – Chris Stanfield; Webmaster – Andy McKenzie; Members without Portfolio – Tim Williams, Norman Wilson.
Gloucester Athletic Club’s senior men’s cross-country team faces an agonising wait to find out if they have retained their Birmingham Cross Country League Division Two status following their best league result for many years in the final race of the season at Ullenwood on Saturday.
The City club placed 6th of the 17 teams to haul themselves up to 15th place overall in the final league standings and would normally face relegation to Division Three as one of the bottom four Clubs. However, they may yet avoid the drop due to a League rule that says any team which finishes in a top four place may not be eligible for promotion as a result of not completing scoring teams in a match during the previous season, and as that is the case this year, the team may be safe. Team spokesman Aaron Bennett said “It’s all very confusing, but we’re clinging onto the very slim chance that the League applies the letter of their law and gives us a reprieve.”
The Club knew that they had to call on all of their available resources if they were to achieve the near-impossible and escape relegation and the athletes responded accordingly with 16 runners completing the new, challenging course made no easier by persistent rain throughout.
Saturday’s race saw Steve Millward confirm his position as the Club’s outstanding League performer by gaining his second podium finish of the winter when coming home in third place on the day and third overall in the League standings, following second and fourth place finishes in previous races.
Harry Wells continues his comeback following a winter of illness and injury and put in an encouraging performance to place 23rd overall and second junior man. James Walters produced another strong run to come home in a season’s best 56th place, while Owen Parry achieved a career-best 65th place. Glen Balmer just held off team mate Jeremy Mower as they came home in 72nd and 73rd places to complete a season’s best team score of 292 points.
Two of the Club’s leading distance of recent years led the ‘B’ team home. In his first cross-country race in three years and his first of any description in 18 months following injury, Andrew de-Camps placed 86th just ahead of 87th placed Simon Fortnam who was running his first league race in four years. Steve Haines has been a mainstay of a struggling team this year and he came home in 103rd place, ahead of squad newcomer Michael Jenkins in 104th. Mike Mansfield came home in 135th place with Dave Gresswell completing the reserve team in 137th place.
Matt Powell was the next City runner home, placing 160th, Ian Summers came in 177th, Steve Robbins 199th and Amar Patel 226th to complete the City squad.
Gloucester’s fate is now in the hands of the League’s committee to decide at their Annual General Meeting at the end of next month, but the squad certainly put up a long-overdue fight.
1st Worcester 87 pts; 2nd Cannock & Staffs 130; 3rd Telford 147; 6th Gloucester 292.
‘B’ team placings, Gloucester 3rd, 652 pts.
Final League positions:
1st Telford 416 pts; Worcester 504; 3rd Cannock & staffs 554, 15th Gloucester 2172.
Sprinter Ellie Wheeler-Smith was the Gloucester club’s star performer at Sunday’s Midlands Indoors Championships at the Alexander Stadium, securing the silver medal in the U17 Women’s 60 metres. Qualifying comfortably from her heat and then semi-final Ellie, who is a member of the talented sprint group at the Gloucester club, ran the race of her young life to place second in the final with a new personal best time of 7.97 seconds.
Sophie Rowe was strangely out of sorts in the Senior Women’s event, placing 6th in the final in 8.06 seconds after comfortably qualifying from her semi-final. The performance shouldn’t detract from an otherwise excellent indoor season, however.
In the U20 Men’s event, Rory Cawkwell improved on his one week-old personal best when placing 3rd in his heat in 7.24 seconds.
Other City results from the Championships were: U20W, Sophie Temple 6th heat 8.26 seconds; U17W, Malika Ouiles 6th heat, 9.04 secs; U15G, Tricia Stanfield 3rd semi-final, 8.58 secs (personal best); Isobelle Herbert 6th semi-final 8.88 secs; U15B, Sulaiman Ouiles 6th heat 9.04 and 4th heat 60m Hurdles 10.71 secs.
In Sunday’s Leicestershire Half Marathon held at Prestwold Hall in very wet and windy conditions, Gloucester veteran Dave Spackman placed 498th overall and 2nd in the M70 category in 1:56:00.
Nick Bishop led the Gloucester Athletic Club squad home in Sunday’s Dursley Dozen, a multi-terrain race over a challenging wet and very muddy course, placing 78th in 1:50:16. Kirsty Reid placed 266th in 2:16:52, Aaron Bennett 267th in 2:16:53, Colin Westbury 304th in 2:23:41, Amy Walker 322nd in 2:27:15 and Liz Usedon placed 343rd in 2:30:09.
Christina Horak travelled down to Melksham to compete in the Wiltsshire 10-mile road race and placed 83rd in 73:00.
Finally, in the South West Counties Schools cross-country Championships at Newton Abbott, Jessica Hill placed 25th overall and 7th Gloucestershire scorer in the Junior Girls race.
Gloucester Athletic Club members were in scintillating form at Sunday’s Welsh Athletics Indoors meeting at the Cardiff indoor arena, setting a series of personal best times on a successful afternoon for the Club.
For several years, Sophie Rowe has been the yardstick against whom the Club’s female sprinters have measured themselves; a supreme starter out of the blocks, she has been in consistently impressive form this winter and even though she was still suffering the after-effects of a bout of flu, Sophie still managed to dip under 8 seconds again in her 60 metres heat, placing 4th in 7.99 seconds.
The Gloucester flyer needs to keep a keen eye out for her younger Club mates and training partners, however, as U17 Ellie Wheeler-Smith and U20 Sophie Temple both enjoyed excellent days racing by lowering their personal bests, first in the 60 metres to 8.05 and 8.19 seconds, before setting new indoor best marks for 200 metres of 26.42 seconds and 27.12 seconds respectively.
Gloucester men’s sprinting has been in the doldrums since the heady days of the mid-1980s when the Club boasted one of the finest squads in the country, however youngster Rory Cawkwell is doing his best to single-handedly haul the standard of local sprinting back up to respectable levels. He enjoyed an excellent outdoor 2017 season and, judging by his performances in Cardiff, looks set to improve further this year as he set new personal bests of 7.31 seconds for 60 metres and 23.90 seconds for the 200 metres.
One of the members of that successful sprint squad of the 1980s, Richard Blackwell, has dusted his spikes off frequently over the past couple of seasons and here he made his first indoors appearance for 30 years to contest the Masters’ 60 metres event, where he won the M55 event in 8.35 seconds. Club-mate Ian Willoughby aggravated a hip injury mid-race, crossing the line in 8.96 seconds.
Joanne Willoughby made a rare appearance over 60 metres as part of her preparations for the long and triple jumps at next month’s European Masters’ Indoors Championships in Madrid, and set a new personal best time of 8.79 seconds.
Suzanne Harding clearly has a liking for the Cardiff track. Just weeks after running her fastest indoors 800 metres, she returned to run her fastest-ever 400 metres, 69.86 seconds.
In the field events, Oliver Keitley opened his 2018 competitive year in impressive style, when setting a new personal best distance in the triple jump of 11.97 metres, just 12 months after he first tried the event. A member of Joanne Willoughby’s talented jumps group at Blackbridge, he looks certain to go over 12.50 metres before too long.
At the Midland Counties Indoors Open meeting at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium, sprinter Ellie Luff lowered her personal best for 60 metres to 8.75 seconds.
Whilst their track & field colleagues were competing in the relative warmth and comfort of the Cardiff indoor arena, four Gloucester club members were tackling the May Hill Massacre, a challenging nine-miles multi-terrain event made all the more arduous by the incessant rain of the previous 24 hours.
Nick Bishop led the intrepid quartet home, completing the course in 1:22:20. Anna Midgley was the third lady to finish, crossing the line in 1:24:19, Tina Wickens clocked 1:29:53 and Adrian Fishpool 1:39:19.
In much warmer climes, Graham Davis clocked 1:37:13 in the Torremolinos Half Marathon, some 31 minutes faster than the time he set 12 months previously.
The previous day, several Gloucester Athletic Club youngsters were competing in the South West Schools Cross-Country Championships at Newton Abbott, hoping to secure a place in the Gloucestershire team that will head up to Leeds next month for the National Schools event.
In the Senior Girls race, Jade Gough produced her best run of the winter to cross the line as the third county runner with team mates Laura McPeake and Natalie Ashley-Towell, who soldiered on despite losing a shoe mid-race in the heavy mud, placing 5th and 9th county scorers respectively.
Millie Porter produced a strong run to place 4th in the Intermediate Girls race, while Tilly Ashley placed 17th overall and third county scorer in the Junior Girls race.
The Senior Boys race saw a welcome return to racing for Harry Wells following three months on the side-lines due to illness and injury. After missing so much of the season, the Gloucester youngster set himself a realistic aim of making the county squad for the Nationals and achieved this by finishing third county scorer to book himself a place on the bus to Leeds.
Gloucester Athletic Club members are minded that the Club’s Annual General Meeting takes place next Monday, 12th, at the Royal British Legion Club, Green Lane, Hardwicke, Gloucester, 7:30pm start.
Gloucester Athletic Club’s Jeremy Mower put his error at the previous week’s Linda Franks 10K road race behind him as he placed 15th overall and first in the M50 category at Sunday’s Staverton 10-mile road race. Mower had committed the cardinal sin of not paying sufficient attention to his nearest age group rivals in the 10K event but made sure he did his homework on his M50 rivals ahead of Sunday’s race.
Sunny conditions but with a biting wind greeted the 180 runners as they made their way around the lanes of Churchdown, with Mower keeping his closest M50 rivals, Dennis Walmsley (Bourton) and Ian Smith (Forest of Dean) in check and settling into a race-long battle with Rob Bowery of Black Pear Joggers who he only managed to pull away from in the final half mile to clock 61:11.32.
Simon Meadows was the next city runner home, placing 33rd in 64:54.5, while Steven Haines just crept into the top 50 by placing 49th in 67:53.55. Christina Horak led the City ladies home, placing 61st in 69:49.78, ahead of Graham Davis whose 70:48.85 in 64th place was a 17-minutes improvement on his previous best set two years ago.
Anna Midgley was the second City lady home, crossing the line in 70th place in 70:35.00, a personal best by some four minutes, while Chris Davis shaved two seconds off his previous best in 73rd place with 74:11.30. Just behind was Tina Wickens who, in her first 10-miler, placed 80th in 76:03.32, with Dave Spackman placing 84th overall and first M70 in 83:07.84. Laura Nicholson was also running her first 10-mile race and came home in 145th place in 94:26.38 to complete the City entry.
Meanwhile, a small group of the Club’s young sprinters were competing in the second Midland Counties Indoors Open Meeting at the Alexander Stadium. Ellie Wheeler-Smith placed second in her 60 metres heat, clocking a new personal best 8.12 seconds in the process. Tricia Stanfield clocked 8.64 seconds in her first run and followed this up with an 8.62 seconds run while younger brother Scott clocked 9.74 and 9.85 seconds.
Sulaiman Ouiles had an excellent afternoon at Sunday’s Midland counties Open Meeting, setting new personal best performances in the 60 metres (9.40 seconds), 60m Hurdles (10.59 seconds), high jump (1.40m) and the javelin (24.20m) which was held outdoors.
His sister Malika was just outside her 60m best time, with a 9.04 seconds clocking.
A biting cold wind and persistent rain put paid to fast times for the 230-plus runners who took part in Sunday’s 24th annual running of the Linda Franks 5-mile Road Race around the Reddings area of Cheltenham.
Gloucester Athletic Club’s Jeremy Mower was aiming for a top 10 finish and victory in the M50 category but a recent knee injury hampered his progress on the twisting course and he could only place 14th overall and 2nd in his age group in 29:34. A frustrated Mower said afterwards: “I did not recognise the runner who beat me in the M50 category as he was not from the area. Had I realised, I may have been able to close the 13 seconds gap at the end. I only have myself to blame.”
Simon Meadows produced a strong run, placing 25th in 30:36, while in his first race of the year, Graham Davis knocked 30 seconds off his personal best for the distance when placing 53rd in 32:44. Graham’s brother, Chris, placed 69th in 33:57, while Suzanne Harding continued her run of good form by placing 72nd in 34:22, her fastest time for over two years. Just behind, ultra-distance runner Paul Corderoy placed 73rd in 34:34.
Kirsty Reid set a personal best time of 37:12 when placing 113th, while Dave Spackman celebrated his 73rd birthday and win in the M70 category of last year’s county road Race series by placing 161st overall in 43:08.
Despite producing their strongest all-round performance of the winter so far in Saturday’s race at Cofton Park in Birmingham’s Kings Heath, Gloucester Athletic Club’s senior men still remain firmly entrenched in the relegation zone of Division Two of the Birmingham & District Cross-Country League.
The team placed 13th of the 17 competing clubs, their best position of the season, but it still leaves them in 16th place overall with one match remaining and relegation staring them in the face.
Saturday’s course included several long, drawn-out climbs and sharp descents and with firm underfoot conditions, fast racing was guaranteed and once the field down after the massed start, a leading group of around 10 runners including the City club’s Steve Millward began to exert their authority on the record field of 290 entrants.
Chris Perrin of Cannock & Stafford has been the dominant force in this season’s League and he gradually opened a lead that the rest of the pack were powerless to resist. Millward was working hard throughout, battling with Will Ferguson of CLC Striders for third place, but try as he might, the Gloucester runner just couldn’t overhaul his local rival as the Cheltenham-based Ferguson took third place with Millward placing fourth, just 13 seconds behind. Afterwards, the Gloucester runner said “I’m pretty satisfied with that race today. Will Ferguson ran a quick 10K last weekend so I knew he was in good form. My training at the early part of the season was geared towards the Masters International Cross-country event in November and I’ve gone off the boil slightly since then but I’m putting in the long training sessions and building up the mileage so I’ll be looking for a top three finish in the final race.”
The Gloucester squad welcomed back several runners who were unavoidably absent in the earlier races and it was three of those, James Walters, Glen Balmer and Mike Mansfield, who showed their worth to the team as they filled the next two scoring spots placing 66th, 84th and 108th respectively.
Next home for the team was newcomer Scott Carpenter. The Paul de-Camps coached youngster who only joined the Club in the autumn, started strongly before his lack of racing fitness caused him to fade over the latter stages, but he rallied to put in a strong finish to pip his team mate Steve Haines on the line as they placed 113th and 114th and complete the scoring ‘A’ team with a season’s best total of 489 points.
Lee Smith put in another consistent run to place 127th and lead the ‘B’ team home, while birthday boy Dave Gresswell celebrated his 52nd birthday by placing a season’s best 151st. Another newcomer making his League debut, Michael Jenkins, ran strongly to place 156th with Simon Meadows placing 178th. Matt Powell 200th and Arthur Daley 203rd to complete a ‘B’ team for the first time this season.
Additional back-up support for the team came in the form of Gary Fraser, who placed 235th, Chris Davis 239th, Aaron Bennett 245th and Steve Robbins who came home in 255th place.
The team will now re-group and prepare for the final fixture at the Star College in Ullenwood on 10th February knowing that a monumental effort is required if they are to make up the places and retain their Division Two status.
Club spokesman Richard Blackwell said “We welcomed several runners back today and had a few runners making their League debuts and they all played a big part in helping us achieve our best result of the season. We’ll be working hard to make sure we get a bigger turn-out for the Ullenwood race which just might be enough to keep us safe, but I fear we’ll rue that poor result in the opening round.”
Sprinter Sophie Rowe continued her excellent start to the indoor season by clocking the second-fastest 60 metres time of her career in the Grand Prix meeting at Cardiff on Sunday. The Gloucester speedster won her heat in a scintillating 7.92 seconds, just three 1/100th of a second outside her lifetime best set in 2011. She later placed 8th in a high-quality final in 7.95 seconds.
The Cardiff meeting incorporated part one of the Welsh and South-West England Masters Indoors Championships and saw further successes coming the way of the Gloucester club as Suzanne Harding ran her fastest time for two years to win the W40 800 metres gold medal in 2:37.32. Jo Willoughby had a busy afternoon, winning three golds in the W50 age group. She won the long jump with a best jump of 4.52 metres, followed this up with a win in the 200 metres in 30.45 seconds before producing the best triple jump of her career, a new masters best distance of 10.24 metres, seven cms further than her outdoor British record set in Denmark last summer. Afterwards, she said “I’m really pleased with the results, especially the triple jump as it was the first time that I had jumped off the 9m board and I haven’t done a huge amount of specific technical or speed work yet. I’m aiming for the European Indoors championships in Madrid in March and will be aiming for the UK indoors record of 10.32m.”
Jo’s husband, Ian, won the silver medal in the M60 200 metres in 29.37 seconds.
Gloucester youngsters Malika and Sulaiman also met with success at the Welsh and South West England Junior Championships at Cardiff. Malika set a new personal best and Club U17 ladies indoor record when winning the pole vault with 2.02 metres, while younger brother Sulaiman won the silver medal in the U15 Boys pole vault with a new personal best clearance of 2.22 metres. Both set new personal bests in the 60 metres, clocking 9.00 and 9.52 seconds respectively.
Gloucester Athletic Club’s Jeremy Mower continued his preparations for the Anglo Celtic Plate International 100K road race in March when placing 8th overall and first M50 in the Gloucester 50K event on Sunday. Mower’s time was 3:46:32.
Gloucester Athletic members were recipients of awards at last week’s annual Gloucestershire AAA Awards evening.
In the County Road Race Series awards, Jeremy Mower won the M50 age group category and placed second in the open category, while Dave Gresswell was third in the M50 category.
Pride of place for the evening went to Harry Wells who became the latest member of the Club to receive the Bob Hussey Memorial Award, which recognises the best track performance during the year by a County athlete.
Harry (17) who lives in Quedgeley and is currently studying for his “A” levels at the Crypt enjoyed a significant breakthrough season in 2017 as he set personal bests at 400m, 800m, 1500m and one mile. He broke 2 minutes for 800m, a major milestone for young athletes, for the first time with a time of 1:58.16 and lowered his 1500m time by 12 seconds to 4:02.7. As well as his achievements on the track, Harry is also prolific at cross country having represented both County Schools and County AAAs. In 2017 he also “toyed” with road running and was rewarded with a personal best of 17:30 over 5k in a race run in April 17 in near blizzard conditions.
He is the third athlete from Gloucester AC to be so honoured in recent years and the second coached by Paul de-Camps following the success of Alex George in 2013.
The Gloucester AC Annual General Meeting will take place on Monday 12th February at the Royal British Legion club in Green Lane, Hardwicke GL2 4QA, starting at 7:30pm.
Gloucester Athletic Club opened the 2018 calendar year with some strong performances in all of the age groups in last Saturday’s county cross-country Championships at the Old Down Country Park near Thornbury.
The combination of a tough, hilly course and heavy underfoot conditions from the snow and heavy rain of the previous two weeks meant that this was going to be an event for the cross-country purists and resulted in some excellent racing across the board.
James Walters made a welcome return to cross-country racing after concentrating on the New York Marathon during the autumn, and led the Club home in the senior men’s event, placing 18th just two places ahead of the improving Owen Parry. Jeremy Mower came home in 24th place and first M50, while there was another consistent run from Steven Haines in 28th place. George Daly placed 38th in his first cross-country race of the season while the ever-reliable Dave Gresswell completed the scoring ‘A’ team, crossing the line in 50th place.
Matt Powell was another to make a welcome return to cross-country racing. By his own admission, it’s not his favourite surface as he prefers the roads, but he worked hard to chase his old adversary Gresswell through to the line, placing 56th and first of the Club’s ‘B’ team. Arthur Daley ran strongly to place 65th, just ahead of Andrew McPeake in 67th while Gary Fraser came home in 75th place. Chris Davis and Amar Patel placed 87th and 88th respectively to complete the ‘B’ team.
Bethan Moor took advantage of being on a break from her studies at Plymouth University where she is studying medicine to lead the Gloucester club’s ladies home in the senior ladies race, taking second place behind her long-time rival and clear winner, Zoe Wassell of Stroud & District AC. Anna Midgely showed few ill-effects from a recent heavy racing programme as she placed 14th, ahead of Charlotte McGlone in 15th place to complete the Club’s scoring three ‘A’ team runners. Tina Wickens ran strongly to place 22nd overall for her best-ever cross-country result, while Michelle Stark placed 25th and Charlotte Hall 39th to complete the ‘B’ team.
The U17 Ladies race saw Natalie Ashley-Towell take a well-earned third place, finishing just four seconds ahead of 4th placer Laura McPeake, as both enjoyed their best races of the winter. Tilly Ashley led the U15 Girls to the team silver medal, placing 2nd overall with strong support from Bethan Powell in 5th and Emma Jeffery in 8th place. Katherine Mills placed 9th and Sophie Johnson 13th to complete a good day for the squad.
Emma Tillott ran a well-paced race in the U13 Girls event, gaining several places and seconds on her rivals up the steep hills in the second half of the race to take 3rd place. Jessica Hill was just outside a top 10 finish as she placed 11th, while Chloe Shephard placed 24th.
In U17 Men’s race, Sebastian Clark placed 10th in his first championship race since joining the Club from Telford AC, while the U13 Boys race saw Ben Darlow place 23rd ahead of club mates Ethan Hood in 25th and Ben Davis in 26th, all three boys competing against runners at least one school year older than themselves. Finally, Arnie Margretts ran a strong first half of the U11 Boys race before fading over the closing stages to place 5th.
Afterwards, Club spokesman Richard Blackwell said: “Although we were missing a few athletes today because of injury, this was a pleasing result for many sections of the Club and shows that we are starting to move in the right direction. The seniors turned out in numbers and paved the way for the younger members coming through. It will be interesting to see how they all perform in the various Club and schools Championship races in the coming weeks.”
Gloucester Athletic Club’s top lady sprinter, Sophie Rowe, opened up her 2018 indoor season with a win at Midland Counties Open Meeting at Birmingham’s High Performance Centre on Sunday. She won her first round of the senior ladies 60 metres in 8.05 seconds, her fastest indoors time for seven years. In round two, she went even faster, clocking 8.03 seconds when finishing in 4th place.
Training partner Sophie Temple dropped down from her normal 200 metres and showed a good turn of speed for this time of the year, clocking 8.48 seconds in her first round, before improving to 8.45 seconds in round two.
Youngster Tricia Stanfield, ran a personal best 8.60 seconds in her first round and again improved, to 8.59 seconds in her second round, while her younger brother Scott knocked half a second off his personal best when clocking 9.58 seconds in his first race. He followed that up with a 9.82 run in his second race.
Max Sheppard placed 5th in Severn AC’s New Year’s Day Four Mile Road Race, beating his previous course best with a 24:34 clocking. Dave Gresswell placed 6th in 25:59.
This Saturday (6th) sees the Gloucestershire County Cross-Country Championships taking place at Old Down Country Park in the south of the county. There are races for all ages from U11 upwards and the Gloucester club will be looking to set down a marker for the important races over the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, on Sunday several of the Gloucester club’s talented young sprinters will be competing in the first Midland Counties indoors open meetings at the High-Performance Centre at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium.