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Cheltenham Harriers are still setting a fast pace, says Rachel See

All Areas > Sport > Athletics

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 09:00

Cheltenham Harriers’ senior women’s team at the national road relays, Petra Vymetalova, Rachel See, Sarah Sheppard and Kaitlyn Sheppard Cheltenham Harriers’ senior women’s team at the national road relays, Petra Vymetalova, Rachel See, Sarah Sheppard and Kaitlyn Sheppard

“We are doing really well,” says Cheltenham Harriers’ press officer Rachel See when asked about the club she has been running for since the age of 11.

And the evidence would suggest that’s very much the case.

The club have almost 500 members, which includes more than 300 juniors (under-17s), and they have all continued to produce some very good performances after challenging times.

Despite the disruption of Covid 19 and losing a number of their senior distance runners last year, the club continue to thrive.

With talented youngsters coming up through the ranks, long-term athletes leading by example and frequent new joiners to the club, See, who has been with her childhood club for close on 15 years, has been hugely encouraged by what she has seen over the past few months.

“We've a large junior membership, which is fantastic for the future success of the club and we’ve had quite a few athletes make Great Britain or England teams,” she said.

“Kaitlyn Sheppard was selected for the Great Britain under-20 team, she’s done amazing this year. She won the English Schools’ Championships and the England under-20 championships at 3,000 metres.

“Jess Duncton competed for England under-17s in the 80 metres hurdles and Kiya Dee won gold in the 1,500 metres steeplechase at the England under-17 championships.”

They are all very impressive results, but it’s not just the younger age groups who have tasted success.

“Quite a few of our masters athletes have won at over-40,” continued See, “we’ve had some really good performances across a variety of age groups and disciplines. We’ve had new seniors competing in track and field events and we’ve still got a good distance running group with new members joining all the time." 

Andrew Kaighin now leads the club’s senior endurance team, supported by Andy Beadle who looks after the younger age groups and Vickie Wilkinson assists more on the women’s side.

Beadle has played a big part in See’s own development – she runs cross-country and 5k on the track – but these days she has just as prominent a role behind the scenes.

“When the split happened, I offered to help out,” said the 25-year-old former Cotswold School pupil, reflecting on the formation of a new local club, Western Tempo, initially made up of many ex-Harriers. “Especially with lockdown I had a bit more time to help. I’m the youngest person on the club’s committee.”

She’s also the club’s social media manager so has plenty on her plate, but still finds time to run every week. “Running is still my number one priority,” she said.  

And there’s certainly plenty of opportunity to run for anyone who wants to join the club. Although of course, there are jumpers, throwers, hurdlers and para athletes as well as runners. The club is very diverse. 

“We meet most nights of the week at the Prince of Wales Stadium,” said See, who lives in Northleach and has just started a masters degree at the University of Gloucestershire. “We have different training groups every night and we also meet on the weekends in the morning.”

That’s been a big part of what Cheltenham & County Harriers have been offering for many years now, and despite the emergence of Western Tempo, which is not the first breakaway club to have formed in the area, the club has the same familiar, reassuring feel as always, due to its strong foundations. Incredibly, last year was the club’s 140th anniversary. 

“Carolyn Franks is still our president and Derrick Lord is still our secretary,” added See, “we’re still pretty strong and that’s what will take us forward as we focus on the future.”

Other Images

Kaitlyn Sheppard competing for Great Britain
Cheltenham Harriers’ senior man Andy Gore at the Midland Road Relays
Jess Duncton competing for England

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