Whilst many sporting events may have fallen victim to Storm Dennis at the weekend, the Gloucestershire Cross-Country League defied the odds and went ahead on Sunday and even though the notorious Pittville Park ditch was deemed too dangerous to tackle, an adjusted course ensured some honest racing by several hundred competitors.
The Club’s policy again this season has been to use the League to develop its young athletes and prepare them for the challenges of senior level athletics and again the young talent in the Club was evident, no more so than in the Senior/U17 Women’s race where Millie Porter underlined her potential to place an excellent 6th overall and 2nd U17W. Another U17, Tilly Ashley, also coped well with the conditions to place 12th overall and 3rd in her category while seniors Charlotte McGlone, Kim Millward and Briony Bishop were not far behind as they placed 17th, 19th and 23rd respectively.
LU17s Lucy Jeffery and Amber Spackman recorded their best-ever placings in the League, coming home in 34th and 52nd places, while other club finishers in the race were Nicola Waters (68th), Charlotte Hall (76th) and Emma Jeffery (90th).
The race incorporated the M65 and M70 age groups and saw Arthur Daley place 36th overall and 1st M70 and Rowland Clegg 71st overall and 6th in the M65 group.
The U15 Girls race saw Keira Barry secure her first top 10 League placing, finishing 10th, with support from Anna Pollard in 14th and Jessica Stringer in 15th place.
Two U17 Men who are progressing nicely in their first season are Matthew Ward and Josh Collenette and they placed 4th and 5th in their category, while in the U15 Boys race, Jacob Barry placed 5th, Ben Darlow 15th and Ethan 19th.
Aliya Hawkins was the Club’s sole representative in the U13s age group and she placed 22nd in the Girls race, while the U11 Girls race saw Adelina Ducker finish in 20th place, just ahead of Olivia Postgate in 23rd, Matilda Farmer in 33rd and Bailey Ward in 36th place. In his first Club race, Levi Akane placed 44th in the U11 Boys event.
The Club’s senior men’s priority during the winter was to focus on the Birmingham Cross-Country League which they managed to great effect when winning the Division Two title last week, but they are taking this opportunity to blood new runners. Owen Parry has been a mainstay of the teams over the past three seasons, establishing himself as a regular in the ‘A’ team and he achieved his highest-ever League placing on Sunday when coming home in 22nd place. Newcomer Eugenio Diz, in his first Club race, impressed when placing 37th while U20 Sebastian Clark made a significant breakthrough when placing 41st.
Dave Gresswell secured another scoring place, coming home in 75th place, Lloyd Andrews crossed the line in 94th with Chris Davis making the scoring team for the first time in 133rd place.
A Club spokesman said afterwards “The number of young athletes we had out today demonstrated the talent coming through. We’ll be watching them all closely as they turn their attentions to the track during the summer months ahead of the challenges of next winter.”
A reminder to all Club members that the Club’s Annual General Meeting takes place next Monday (24th) at the Fountain Inn, Westgate Street, Gloucester, 7:30pm.
Gloucester Athletic Club’s senior men produced another dominant performance to win the final Birmingham Cross-Country League race of the season at the National Sports Centre at Lilleshall on Saturday and clinch the Division Two championship for their second successive divisional title.
The City outfit knew that, barring a disaster in this match, they were assured of promotion but captain Steve Millward was not allowing any complacency creep into his team and despite missing a couple of athletes due to injuries, it was another great effort from the whole squad as they stormed to their third victory in the four matches, beating their closest rivals Birmingham Tri and Running Team by 18 points.
James Denne has been the team’s most consistent performer this winter, having achieved two seconds and one third place going into Saturday’s race, and he again led the team home placing third on the day and second in the overall individual standings for the season.
Steve Millward saved his best run of the season to the last as he stormed through the take 7th place, while Harry Wells came home in 11th place to take third place in the overall standings and first Junior U20 Man.
Owen Parry and Jack Evans were next home. Running in the same group for most of the race, they pushed each other to their limits and placed 26th and 27th respectively. Despite having had two hard races in the previous three weeks, Jeremy Mower showed his commitment to the Club by producing another strong run to place 62nd and complete the successful ‘A’ team.
As has been a standard this campaign, there was another strong show of support from the reserves. Glen Balmer has had an injury-hit winter, only being able to compete in one previous race this season, but he showed he is on the way back to regaining fitness by placing 68th to lead the ‘B’ team home. Steve Haines was the next back, placing 104th, with Pete Haynes coming home in 130th place. The evergreen Dave Gresswell came home in 157th, Lloyd Andrews continued his improvement after a several year break from the sport in 168th while the ‘B’ team was completed by club stalwart Chris O’Carroll, who came home in 202nd place in this, his sixth decade of racing in the League.
Afterwards, team captain Steve Millward said: “The division title and promotion are the result of the massive commitment put in by every one of the runners who has competed and the back-up team who have supported and officiated during the season. Everyone got behind the effort and we are now reaping the reward. We’re all very pleased.”
‘A’ teams – 1st Gloucester AC 138 pts; 2nd BRAT 156; 3rd Newcastle (Staffs) AC 167.
‘B’ teams – 1st Newcastle (Staffs) 370 pts; 2nd BRAT 451; 6th Gloucester AC 829.
Final League standings:
1st Gloucester AC 518 pts; 2nd BRAT 601; 3rd Newcastle (Staffs) AC 714.
Final individual standings:
1st Ian Allen (Spa Striders); 2nd James Denne (Gloucester AC); 3rd (and 1st U20) Harry Wells (Gloucester AC).
While the seniors were performing their heroics, some of the stars of the future were representing Gloucestershire Schools in the South-West Schools Cross-Country Championships at Bournemouth.
Competing in the Senior Girls race, Millie Porter went with the leaders on the fast, flat course and at the half-way stage was still in contention for a top-three finish. However, the quick early pace took its toll as she faded to come home in 10th place and second County scorer. Another to find the flat course not to her liking was Tilly Ashley who still ran strongly in a crowded Inter Girls field to place 23rd.
In the Junior Girl's race, Millie Newell finished the twisting parkland course in 28th place and 5th Gloucestershire scorer in a closely packed finish whilst Elle Griffiths, in her first representative race, was unlucky to collide with an un-seen obstacle on the course but rallied to finish in 58th place.
In the Senior Boys race, Toby Scott placed 35th overall and 5th county scorer while Matt Ward, also in his first season of cross-country racing, was pleased with his result using the flat course to produce a fast first mile then easing back before finishing strongly to place 42nd and 4th county scorer.
Meanwhile, there was a strong contingent of Club members competing in the Midland Indoors Championships at the Hi Performance Centre at Birmingham.
Joel Townley led the way with gold medals in both the U20 long jump (6.50m) and triple jump (14.33m) and there were golds also for Julia Johnson (U20 triple jump, 10.13m personal best) and their coach Jo Willoughby (Senior Women’s triple jump, 10.06m). Julia and Jo followed their gold medals up with bronze medals in their respective long jump competitions with leaps of 4.95m and 4.72m.
New signing Piotr Rekas won the bronze medal in the senior men’s high jump with a 1.85m clearance.
Further evidence of the young talent coming through the ranks came in the sprints where WU17 Ella Julin set a new 60m personal best 8.37 seconds in her heat before reducing that again in her semi-final with an 8.29 clocking.
Members of the club’s growing junior multi-events group were also in action at Birmingham. Kyle Neal set a new personal best of 2.35m in the pole vault and a season’s best 1.40m in the high jump, Emily Herron set two new personal bests in the high jump (1.30m) and triple jump (9.42m) and there was a new triple jump personal best for Phoebe Jones (9.12m) who also set a season’s best 1.30m in the high jump.
Gloucester Athletic Club members were successful at last week’s Pomphrey 5K road race in Mangotsfield near Bristol, coming away with three age category wins.
Jeremy Mower is currently in a rich vein of form and with that extra confidence went off fast over the opening two kilometres before slowing so that he could pick up speed again over the closing stages. He finished strongly in 8th place overall and first M50 in 17:40. In her first 5K race, Tina Wickens tracked coach Arthur Daley for the first four kilometres before using her track speed to pull away over the final kilometre to clock 21:43 for 60th place overall and first place in the W50 category.
Daley completed the trio by placing 65th overall and first M70 in 22:00.
By his own admission Daley had held back in the Pomphrey race as he was using it as preparation for the Chichester 10k at Goodwood on Sunday where he placed 426th overall and second M70 in 43:07. Despite being disappointed with some aspects of his run there, he was able to gain some consolation by setting a new Club age group best by over four minutes and gaining selection for the England Athletics M70 team that will compete in the Bristol 10K in May.
Despite suffering with a heavy cold picked up on the eve of the race, Anna Midgley made it round the famous Goodwood Racecourse, clocking 41:32 in 357th place.
Sophie Hope competed in Sunday’s Mayhill Massacre, a nine-mile off-road race that starts and finishes with a tough climb up the famous county landmark made all the more challenging this year as the heavy rain in recent weeks had made the course muddier and more slippery than many regular competitors could remember. Sophie placed 21st overall and first lady in 1:25:51.
Meanwhile, in the far sunnier climes of Torremolinos on Spain’s Costa del Sol, Gray Davis clocked 1:31:17 and placed 115th in the town’s 31st annual Half Marathon. After the race he said “The temperature was 18 degrees when I crossed the line but breeze off the Mediterranean along the sea front made it seem much warmer. It’s definitely not a course for setting personal bests as it’s very undulating with a steady climb over the second half.”
The Gloucester club’s senior cross-country teams will be in action in their respective Birmingham Cross-Country League and Midland Women’s Cross-Country League races this Saturday, both with very different aims.
The men travel to the National Sports Centre at Lilleshall hoping that another top two placing will seal the Division Two championship for their second successive divisional title and a return to the top flight.
By contrast, the women will fighting for their Division One lives at Newbold Comyn near Leamington Spa following a difficult season which has seen an already small squad depleted at crucial times by injuries and non-availabilities. The team placed 15th of the 19 teams in the previous match and will be hoping for a similar placing to avoid the drop to Division Two.
Gloucester Athletic Club’s Jeremy Mower is showing no sign of slowing down, even though he is well into his 55th year!
He followed up his personal best 28:22 set the previous weekend’s Linda Franks 5-mile Road Race with a personal best-equalling time over 10 miles when he clocked 59:13 at Sunday’s Staverton 10-mile event to place 15th overall and 2nd in the M50 age category.
Although the course was not icy as it had been for the previous week’s race, the wind and rain didn’t help the runners though Linda Franks winner James Bellward certainly wasn’t affected as he stormed to another impressive win in a course record 49:29 to win by a clear two and a half minutes.
Mower headed a small group of City runners home. Pete Haynes knocked two minutes off his previous best when crossing the line in 23rd place in 62:35, Steve Haines placed 38th in 67:27 ahead of Graham Davis who knocked a massive three minutes off his best time when placing 43rd in 67:48. Helen Haines clocked 94:30 in 187th place while M70 Dave Spackman clocked 97:13 in 195th place, 228 runners finished.
Steve Millward produced an excellent run to place 45th overall in the Midland Cross-Country Championships at Prestwold Hall, Loughborough on Saturday. Millward has been gradually working his way back to fitness following a series of injuries over the past six months and this was his best run of the winter.
Jack Evans and Owen Parry’s own battle throughout the race went right down to the wire, with Evans prevailing as he came home in 70th place, a stride ahead of Parry in 71st. Jason Tilley, who is currently clocking up high mileage as part of his London Marathon preparations, was the next club runner home, crossing the line in 144th place, Dave Gresswell placed 238th while M75 athlete Chris O’Carroll placed 366th.
Briony Bishop ran strongly in the difficult conditions to place 16th in the U20 Women’s race Millie Porter took an excellent 8th place in the U17 Women’s event while Amelia Newell placed 18th in the U15 Girls race ahead of team-mate Keira Barry in 83rd.
In his first area championship, Josh Collenette acquitted himself well in the U17 Mens race, placing 76th, as did Jacob Barry and Ben Darlow when finishing in 57th and 102nd places respectively in the U15 Boys race.
Club Chairman Richard Blackwell said “It’s very encouraging to see our members competing at these Championships. I hope this has whet their appetites to challenge themselves in the years to come.”
A group of the club’s youngest members represented the Gloucestershire teams at the South-West Counties U11s Sportshall final in Bristol on Sunday.
The event comprises several athletics-based disciplines which form the basis of much of the youngsters’ winter training programme.
Amari Cambridge and Sienna Thomas both represented the County A team (girls) which retained their title from last year, while Piers Clutterbuck, Sebastian Keith and Theo Myles were in the Boys A team which placed second, an improvement of two places on last year’s result.
Other Gloucester club members in the County squad were Jasper Dyer, who competed for the Boys ‘B’ team, and Megan Hart and Heidi Wyman who were in the Girls ‘B’ team.
Owen Parry knocked over one minute off his previous best 10K time when he clocked 34:16 in 76th place at last week’s Speedway 10K road race near Chepstow, while at the latest Rogue Run 5- Miles night race at Beechenhurst in the Forest of Dean, Sophie Hope placed 44th, Gemma Collier 51st and Amy Walker 91st.
Gloucester Athletic Club’s 2020Annual General Meeting will take place on Monday 24th February at the Fountain Inn, Westgate Street, Gloucester. All members are asked to attend the meeting which starts at 7:30pm.
Gloucester Athletic Club members competed in a range of events over a busy weekend.
Sunday’s Linda Franks 5-mile road race around the lanes of Up Hatherley and The Reddings started early in the morning, meaning that much of the course was still covered by the heavy frost and ice that had engulfed the area overnight, but that did not prevent the City runners putting in some excellent performances and claim the men’s team prize.
Steve Kenyon was hoping to repeat his win from 2019 but despite running exactly the same time as when he stormed to victory then, he had not reckoned on an outstanding run by RAF’s James Bellward who stormed to a runaway victory in an impressive 24:10, with Kenyon a clear second in 27:04.
Not far behind Kenyon and producing a performance that belied his years and which included a sprint finish, was Jeremy Mower who, despite a less than ideal preparation, clocked a personal best 28:23 to place sixth overall and first M50.
Max Sheppard and Jason Tilley enjoyed another private battle with Sheppard prevailing on this occasion, clocking 28:30 in 9th place, with Tilley 11th in a personal best 29:05. Just behind was Tracy Hinxman who produced a strong run to place 13th overall and first LV45 with a 29:09 clocking, an improvement of over one minute on her previous best, while Mike Mansfield placed 15th in 29:22, his fastest time in nine years.
Further Gloucester AC placings were:
23rd Steve Haines 30:48; 38th Anna Midgley 32:41 (pb); 89th Chris Davis 36:34; 170th Dave Spackman 42:47.
Amy Walker had originally intended to use Sunday’s Gloucester Half Marathon as a training run as part of her spring marathon preparations but the best laid plans often go awry and she ran harder than planned. She was, therefore, more than happy with her 125th place in her second fastest-ever clocking of 1:36:01. Maryam Ouiles, one of the Club’s junior coaches, also ran and in her first event clocked 2:11:52.
Some of the Club’s members opened their indoor season over the weekend.
English Schools Triple Jump champion Joel Townley used the 60 metres event to sharpen his sprinting speed and came away with a personal best time of 7.38 seconds. He later recorded a long jump of 6.58 metres to take the silver medal in the South-West England championships that were incorporated in the meeting.
Jo Willoughby’s main target for the winter in the European Masters Indoor Championships in Portugal in March where she will be competing in the long and triple jumps. At Cardiff, however, she chose to compete in the 200 metres, placing 2nd in her heat in 30.12 seconds.
Tina Wickens found herself isolated in the 800 metres, but finished strongly to clock 2:34.46, some two seconds faster than her time in last year's opening race, to take the bronze medal in the SW senior women's championships. She later won her 400 metres heat in 66.47 seconds.
A group of the Club’s talented youngsters travelled to Birmingham’s Hi-Performance Centre to compete in the Midland Counties
Joshua Robinson produced the stand-out performance at the meeting when he cleared 2.60 metres in the U17 pole vault to set a new Club age group best.
Further results for the group were:
U17W: Emily Herron 1.25m high jump; 3.91m long jump;
Ella Julin 8.53 seconds 60m;
U15G Ella-Grace Edwards 1.20m high jump; 4.28m long jump;
U13G Ula Mohammed 1.25m high jump; 3.94m long jump;
U17M Kyle Neal 2.20m pole vault; 4.30m long jump;
Joshua Robinson 4.84m long jump;
U15B Tom Curneen 1.30m high jump; 4.73m long jump;
U13B Oscar Wilson 3.24m long jump.
Gloucester Athletic Club’s senior men’s team strengthened their grip at the top of Division Two of the Birmingham & District Men’s Cross-Country League with another fine all-round team performance at Coombe Abbey Park, Coventry on Saturday.
The team took second place on the day behind a very strong Birmingham Running & Triathlon Club to remain at the top of the table with only a disaster in the final race at Telford in four weeks’ time preventing their promotion to the top tier.
James Denne followed up his win at last week’s County Championships with another excellent run, coping with the very difficult conditions underfoot to take second place behind runaway winner Shaun Gray of Royal Sutton Coldfield and to consolidate his own position at the top of the individual overall placings.
Team-mate Harry Wells travelled back from Cardiff University to post another fine run, placing sixth overall to remain second in the individual standings, while team captain Steve Millward repeated his 11th place finish from round two. Owen Parry was the team’s fourth man home, placing 28th, with Jeremy Mower (62nd) and James Walters (66th) completing the scoring ‘A’ team with a total of 175 points, 35 behind BRAT.
The Club’s reserves were once again out in force, providing essential back-up to the ‘A’ team. Jason Tilley was first man home for the ‘B’ team, placing 82nd, Steve Haines came back in 107th, Pete Haynes placed 151st, Dave Gresswell 161st, Lloyd Andrews 187th and Arthur Daley 194th for a team score of 887 points and a 6th place finish on the day.
After the race, Steve Millward said: “This was a great result considering we were missing a couple of key runners on the day. We’re 65 points ahead of BRAT going into the final fixture, so it’s vital that we have all our runners there on the day if we are to win the title.”
1st Shaun Gray, RSC; 2nd James Denne, Gloucester AC; 3rd Ian Allen, Spa Striders.
1st BRAT 140 points; 2nd Gloucester AC 175; 3rd Kenilworth Runners 205.
League standings after three of four fixtures:
A teams 1st Gloucester AC 380 pts; 2nd BRAT 445; 3rd Newcastle (Staffs) AC 547.
B teams 1st BRAT 1428 pts; 2nd Kenilworth Runners 1499; 3rd Gloucester AC 1993.
The Club’s ladies team was decimated by illness, injuries and non-availabilities and were barely able to raise a complete team, however, those who made the trip to Trentham near Stoke-on-Trent battled gamely to ensure the team placed a credible 15th of the 19 teams in the division.
Briony Bishop, still only an Under-20 ran her best race of the season by far to take an excellent 39th place finish, with Anna Midgley (45th) and Bethan Moor (49th) hot on her heels. Trudy Wells completed the scoring team when placing 117th.
Team manager Paul de-Camps said “All credit to the ladies who ran today to make sure we completed a team. We always knew this League was going to be tough, but we will have to make sure we have a better turn out in the final match next month.”
Gloucester Athletic Club’s James Denne made the best possible start to the new year when he stormed to victory in the senior men’s race at Saturday’s Gloucestershire Cross-Country Championships at Rendcomb College.
Denne has been in impressive form throughout the current cross-country season, establishing himself at the top of the individual standings in the Birmingham Cross-country League and now this, his second county senior title following his win in 2018, as he held off the challenge of runner-up Ben Price of Cheltenham & County Harriers to win by twenty metres.
Owen Parry was the second Club runner home, his 13th place being his highest-ever championship finish, while Jeremy Mower came home in 27th place overall and first in the M50 category to secure his fifth consecutive title in this age group. James Walters placed 36th, Dave Gresswell 52nd (3rd M50) and Lloyd Andrews 66th to complete the scoring team for a fourth place. In his first cross-country race, Martin Brook placed 76th.
There was a bronze medal for the senior ladies’ team. Bethan Moor achieved her highest-ever Championship placing as a senior as she led the team home in 6th place, closely followed by youngster Tilly Ashley who placed 7th overall and 2nd U17, with Charlotte McGlone just holding off Briony Bishop as they came home in 11th and 12th place respectively. Anna Midgley showed a return to form as she placed 17th, ahead of Tina Wickens in 23rd overall and 2nd LV50. U17 Amber Spackman ran strongly to place 44th, Emma Jeffery placed 56th while Chris O’Carroll placed 65th overall and first in the M75 category for another age group medal for the City Club.
The combined U20/17 Men’s race saw Toby Scott place 5th and Seb Clarke 12th and there was a 10th place finish for Oliver Mitchell in the U13 Boys race. The U11 Boys race saw Sam Unsworth place 16th and brother Ryan 24th.
The U15 Girls team secured silver medals as Millie Newell placed 9th, Keira Barry 13th and Chloe Shephard 14th, while Ruth Brook continued her excellent run of form to place second in the U13 girls race ahead of team-mates Lydia Wang (16th) and Aliya Hankins in 18th.
The U11 Girls race saw Olivia Posgate lead a closely bunched group home in 16th place, ahead of Tilly Famer (17th) and Katie Blackwell (19th) as they placed 5th team. Adelina Ducker placed 24th and Bailey Ward 28th to complete the line-up.