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Reed roars back with startling performance in Cardiff Cross Challenge

IT has been around 10 years since Kate Reed last ran a competitive cross country race so her 11th place in the opening British Athletics Cross Challenge event in Cardiff was quite remarkable.

Persistent injury problems and illness have dogged Reed’s career before and in particular since she represented her country in the 10,000m at the Beijing Olympics.

But throughout all those troubles Reed has never given up on the sport that she so clearly loves.

Races have been few and far between and, indeed, her performance on Saturday was her first competitive outing since having run 73mins 43secs on her half marathon debut in Tallahassee, Florida, in February last year.

Above Kate in action and afterwards with her Bristol & West team-mates who were racing the Gwent League.

“Kate is quite remarkable,” said Bristol & West AC team manager and coach Mike Down, who was at the meeting.

Hopefully she can now enjoy a period of training and racing without any injury problems.

Reed beat clubmate Eleanor Davis (15th), who has been in terrific form this year, while Westbury Harriers’ Floren Scrafton finished 24th.

The leading local runner in the men’s challenge race was B&W’s Owain Jones in 13th. Westbury Harriers’ Richard Noble came 44th and was second veteran over 45 with clubmate Mike Mewse (pictured left) 47th and second M60.

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Meech gets cross country league season off to a flying start

CLEVEDON AC’s Jed Bartlett enjoyed one of his best ever performances in the opening fixture of the 2018/19 Gloucestershire Cross Country League campaign.

With a field of over 200 senior men runners and boasting a strong presence from defending champions Cheltenham Harriers Bartlett, who is also a member of Barrow & Furness and only occasionally turns out for the north Somerset club, got off to a great start by finishing fourth, just 14 seconds off making the podium.

Bartlett’s best result in the league was a third at Gloucester last year.

Bartlett was backed up by Steve Wood (43rd), Lee Southernwood (58th), Gary Lewis (68th), Ben Burns (69th) and Tom Abrahams as Clevedon AC finished eighth of 21 teams.

In a perfect symmetry clubmate Laura Meech (pictured)  finished fourth in the senior women’s race – and 15 seconds off the podium – in what was her best ever result in the league.

With Donna Davies 76th and Paula Hall 87th Clevedon took 17th of the 31 teams.

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Le Grice serves up a 5-star performance in the Jersey Marathon

NOT  content with a personal best in the Standard Chartered Jersey Marathon Pete Le Grice also notched up a lifetime best over the half distance on route last weekend.

Pete Le Grice (centre) with his trophy. Football fans may recognise ex-Liverpool defender Phil Babb on the extreme left.

The stats confirm that Le Grice, who runs for Bristol & West and lives near Penzance where he helps run the family hotel, finished runner-up in a time of 2hrs 21mins 08secs.

That sliced just over two minutes off his two-year-old previous best of 2:23.16 set in London and amazingly Le Grice also recorded a massive unofficial PB of 67:40 at the half way mark. His official PB for the distance is 70mins 15secs set in Valencia this year.

“That was a lot quicker than I had ever run before and that despite 300 feet climbing between miles two and five,” said Le Grice.

“But after five miles the course was flat or slightly downhill and I felt really comfortable. I led until just after halfway and was pushing the pace along. I’m not sure whether that first half was a bit too fast but I like to go out fast and I enjoyed it.”

Only two Kenyans went with Le Grice with eventual champion Dan Tanui (2:19.32) proving too strong in the closing stages.

“They probably pushed on ahead at 14 miles but I caught one (Jacob Yano, 2:22.51) on the sea front as he virtually came to a stop in the wind. I struggled to along the seafront but then got going again in the last few miles.”

The result certainly made up for the bitter disappointment at failing to finish the London Marathon when Le Grice paid the price for missing too much training due to injury.

“I went to Jersey to run a PB and I knew that despite the course profile I was in good enough shape to do that,” he added.

“It was a great event and an amazing experience.”


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Champion Sophie leads Westbury women to victory in Keynham

SOPHIE Voller emerged as a very satisfied double champion in the Kenysham 10k race staged on Sunday.

Voller not only scooped the first women’s prize but also led Westbury Harriers to the team prize with excellent support from Robyn Ellis in second and Judy Knights (49:16).


Team gold: The Wesbury Harriers squad of (L to R) Judy Knights, Sophie Voller and Roby Ellis received their prize from former Olympian Nick Rose

Leading Harrier in the men’s race, which was organised by Bitton Road Runners, was the fast improving Jack Derrick in ninth (39.18) just ahead of Ewan Paton (2nd V40 39.25).

Anthony Ballance followed up his fine run in the Bristol half marathon with 1st place in over 50s category while there were also good runs from Richard Noble (40.38 3rd MV40), Ian Gawinowski (41.06) and Mike Mewse (2nd MV60 45.20).

Westbury’s men relaxing after the race

Frome Running Club’s Peter Grist took the individual honours from the host club’s Robert Farley while Andrew Tarrant of Southville Running Club had a good on to come fourth.

In the women’s race Bristol & West’s Clare Jolliffe chased home the Westbury pair with Bitton’s Lauren Price fourth.

There were 470 finishers.

Men: 1 Peter Grist (Frome) 35:18; 2 Robert Farley (Bitton RR) 35:35; 3 Rhys Smith 36:21; 4 Andrew Tarrant (Southville RC) 36:52; 5 Brad Cox (Bitton RR) 37:14.

M40: Matt Langdon (Bitton RR) 37:71. M50: Anthony Balance (WH) 40:26.

Women: 1 Sophie Voller (WH, W35) 41:02; 2 Robyn Ellison (WH, W35) 41:09; 3 Clare Jolliffe (B&W, W45) 41:13; 4 Lauren Price (Bitton RR) 42:53.

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Dalis shines in the rain with sparkling relay time

WESTBURY Harriers under 15 girls’ squad produced the best performance on a wet autumnal day at the English National Young Athletes’ Road Relays in Birmingham.

The trio of  Dalis Jones (pictured left), Amelia Honor and Kate Howard finished 13th out of 59 teams with Jones clocking their best time of 13mins 55secs to finish fourth on the opening stage. Jones’ time was also the fifth fastest overall on the day from a total of 206 runners so very well done to her.

Honor dropped 11 places on stage two before Howard regained two on the final stage for a very creditable result.

In the under 17 women’s event the Westbury trio of Ellie Hobbs, Rhiannon Paton and Rosie Hamilton-James came in 14th place out of 41 teams in a time of 44mins 58secs – 11 seconds behind the Stroud AC squad of Annie Testar, Grave Tavner and Lydia Attwell.

Westbury also fielded and U15 boys’ team of Ceredig Jones, Benedict Bradwell and Finn Goodhew and they finished 65th.

There was also an incomplete U17 Boys team with Abdi Hassan, whose time of 12mins 5secs was the 14th fastest overall, and Johan Hobbs.

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Super vet Hutchison lifts the M65 prize in Chicago marathon

SIR Mo Farah may have dominated the headlines with his British and European record of 2:05.13 in winning the Chicago Marathon but further down the field a west runner can also claim his slice of glory.

Left: Tom Hutchison (centre) in Chicago with friends from the London club Queens Park Harriers.

And well deserved it is too as newly-turned 65-year-old Tom Hutchison of Team Bath AC won his age group prize by completing the 26.2 miles in a time of 3hrs 15mins 33secs.

“I am really pleased with this result,” said Hutchison.

“I am especially pleased to prove that athletes can train and get quality results into their older years.

“But also pleased that travelling to races and being part of a sport community is so rewarding.”

To further underline the quality of the performance the time puts Hutchison, who had been working hard with club coach Paul King, second in the UK M65 Rankings behind Poole Runners’ Dave Cartwright on 3hrs 13mins 25secs.

It was certainly more like Hutchison’s true form after the torment of the Boston Marathon in the Spring when terrible weather conditions saw him run his worst time ever of 3hrs 50mins.

It will certainly put Hutchison in a strong position to fulfil his ambition of earning an England Masters vest at the Vale of York marathon in October in 2019 with his next outing at the distance pencilled in for Manchester marathon next spring, which will incorporate the trials event.

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Bristol & West men struggle in National Six-Stage Road Relays

BRISTOL & West AC’s senior men slipped to their lowest place since 2005 as they finished 18th in the English National 6-Stage Road Relay Championships in Birmingham.

Team boss Mike Down (pictured left) had set the team a target of a top ten finish after finishing fifth in the Midland Counties over the same course two weeks previously but afterwards admitted that target may have been too high.

“To finish only 18th was a disappointing result in the light of our impressive record in this event

over the last 15 years – our lowest since 2005 when we were 14th in an  almost identical time and the only other occasion when the team failed to finish inside 1hr 50mins,” said Down.

This is not in any way to undermine the effort and commitment of our eight runners (there were only two in the B team), and it is true that the overall times at the front of the race indicate that the standard was perhaps higher than it has been in the past five years, with the three medallists Stockport, Leeds and Aldershot all clocking times well inside 1hr 46mins.

 “The time for instance that we clocked last year in 5th place would have been good enough for only 9th on Saturday. It suggests that my top ten target was perhaps over ambitious. 

“Yet we have to admit that the result was still well short of our expectations and suggests that maybe we are not keeping pace with the apparently ever rising standards of the competition.”

Jack Millar (pictured right) gave the club a sound start clocking 17mins 56secs to finish 25th on stage one but he was no more than three-quarters of a minute off the lead in what was a talent-packed opening stage.

That was set up nicely for Owain Jones (18:03) to carve through the field up 17th on the second leg, but that’s where the team’s progression stalled.

Next up Harry Allen (18:24) held his position without making further progress, while Jarlath McKenna (18:29), who was not expecting to be at his best due to the cold he had suffered since the Midlands, not only failed to make any further headway, but actually lost a place that a clearly undercooked Steve Mitchell (19:01) could not improve on the penultimate stage.

 That finally left Mike Wilsmore (18:23) with too big a gap ahead to make any further impression.

 “Whatever the excuses – and the biggest of all being the number of likely first choice runners unavailable – we need to face a reality check of what’s needed to recover the top six ranking we have established among the country’s leading clubs in recent years,” added Down.

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Top ten in National relays is our goal, says Bristol & West boss Down

TEAM manager Mike Down has set the Bristol & West AC senior men’s team a top ten target at the English National Six-Stage Road Relays in Birmingham today.

Only once in the previous 14 years since the club was re-formed have the men made the podium in this event which is highly competitive, winning a set of bronze medals in 2006.

Down admits that the team for today’s event looks unlikely to challenge that statistic but has enough abut it to aim for a top ten finish.

“This year’s race presents an even more daunting prospect for our team after having finished only fifth in the area championship that we had won in the three previous years,” said Down.

“Admittedly we were without a host of our normal first choice runners, including Steve Mitchell (pictured below right), Dan Studley, Rich Peters, Mike Wilsmore (pictured left) Will Christofi, Jack Bancroft, Luke Evans, Harry Allen, Ben Westhenry, Andy Chambers and Kurt Taylor – almost two complete teams in fact!

“But having said that only Steve, Mike and Harry of that number will be in our line-up on Saturday. The harsh reality is that to have any chance of a top six place you need to average 18 mins per stage.

“In the Midland event our average was half a minute slower than that, so we have a mountain to climb to match that sort of target.

“As a general rule of thumb one finds that most of one’s  runners, weather permitting, tend to better their Midland times by between 10 and 20 seconds. but even if our runners achieve that on Saturday it suggests a place in the top 10 is realistically the best we can hope for. That certainly must be our target.”



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Hutchison targets fast time in Chicago marathon

TOM Hutchison will line up for his first Chicago Marathon on Sunday with a real spring in his step and optimistic of giving himself a belated birthday present.

The Team Bath AC runner joined the M65 masters age group last week when he celebrated his 65th birthday and that more than anything gave him an extra incentive to make his mark in one of the world’s greatest marathons.

The presence of four-times Olympic champion Mo Farah will ensure plenty of British interest in the event this year but Hutchison’s Team Bath colleagues and friends will be watching closely how he fares after an excellent build-up.

“I have been working really hard for this race and have lost some weight as well,” said Hutchison.

“I also ran my fastest Parkrun for three years on Saturday when I ran 20mins 10secs in the Bath Skyline event and I was really pleased with that.

“It was an encouraging sign that my fitness is there and that makes you feel good.”

Hutchison has been working hard with club coach Paul King to take full advantage of moving into the new age group and has mapped out a clear plan for the next 12 months.

“I will run the Manchester marathon in the spring of 2019 because the top five finishers there will get an England Masters vest at the Vale of York marathon in October,” added Hutchison.

“I really want to win an England Masters vest in 2019.”

As for this weekend Hutchison firstly will be hoping the weather conditions are more benign than on his last marathon in America when he became hypothermic as the Boston Marathon in April suffered some of its worst weather in living memory with torrential rain at close to freezing temperature.

Doggedly Hutchison finished the race despite running into big problems but had to receive medical attention as he recorded a personal worst time of 3hrs 50mins.

He is far better prepared for Chicago so is confident of producing a performance that reflects that.

“I am looking for a reasonable time of around 3hrs 15mins and I would be very happy with that,” said Hutchison.

To put that into perspective the quickest marathon time this year by a British runner aged 65 is Poole Runners’ Dave Cartwright with 3hrs 13mins 25secs followed by John Woodnutt (3:18.48) and Ged Ruffle (3:19.08) so Hutchison is setting his sights high in America’s Windy City.

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Let’s hear it for the Yate & District club officials

EARLIER this week the blog reported on the success of local officials Colin Johnson and Mike Strange being recognised in the England Athletics South West Volunteer Awards.

Top helpers (L to R): Andy Mead, Charlotte Viner, Jo Nolan and Tony Jefferies.

So it was with interest that I read about Yate & District AC paying tribute to their own band of selfless volunteer officials, without whom the club would not function.

‘These guys have worked tirelessly all season at a variety of matches and add valuable points to our team scores,” said a statement issued by the club.

‘They encourage and organise the athletes, ensure a fair competition is had by all, and accurately note down and report results. We couldn’t enter a team into the various leagues without them. And they are all organised by the wonderful Pat Jefferies!’