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Western Tempo stars set to compete on world stage

All Areas > Sport > Athletics

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Thursday, 4th November 2021, 11:00

Western Tempo ladies’ team which competed in the Gloucestershire Cross-Country League at Cirencester Park - Brittany Teague, Hattie Jenkins, Izzy Axford, Naomi Eaton, Hannah D'Ambrosio and Fee Maycock. Western Tempo ladies’ team which competed in the Gloucestershire Cross-Country League at Cirencester Park - Brittany Teague, Hattie Jenkins, Izzy Axford, Naomi Eaton, Hannah D'Ambrosio and Fee Maycock.

Five members of senior endurance running club Western Tempo will be in Spain at the weekend to compete in the high-profile world duathlon championships.

That they have got that many taking part in a showpiece event shows how far the Cheltenham-based club has come after being officially launched only in July last year.

Head coach Dave Newport is the driving force behind the new set-up, which has attracted runners from Cheltenham and well beyond.

“We’re a West of England athletics club with its HQ in Cheltenham,” said Newport, who was head coach for the senior endurance group at Cheltenham Harriers for some 15 years.

“We’re a performance based club for endurance runners rather than track and field; anything from 3k to marathons, and we’ve also got a couple of ultra distance runners.”

The club also cater for multi-sport athletes as well, of course, and Newport is, like many others, looking forward to seeing how the club’s quintet fare in the world duathlon championships in Aviles in northern Spain on 6th and 7th November.

“We’ve got five selected which is great for the club,” said 51-year-old Newport. “Ben Price, Phil Wylie, Reece Ashfield, Henry James and Rachel Brown.”

And as you’d expect, they are all very good at what they do.

Price is a two-time winner of the Cheltenham Half Marathon, while Wylie is the third fastest 10k runner over the age of 40 ever in the UK. He ran 29.42 earlier this year which Newport said is “incredible for someone over 40”.

Wylie, from Exeter, comes up to train in Cheltenham once a month while Ashfield, from Wolverhampton, is another of the club’s long distance members.

James, meanwhile, is a junior elite athlete, while Brown is relatively new to duathlon but is described as “quite sharp” by Newport after running 16.30 for the 5k.

What makes everything all the more impressive is that the club is still very much a work in progress.

“I suppose you could say as a new club we’re still a little bit homeless, but we’re hoping to secure a permanent base in the next few months,” said Newport. “We meet at a variety of locations in Cheltenham with running sessions along the Honeybourne Line, around GCHQ and Swindon Village.

“In the spring and summer we meet at the playing fields in Swindon Village, all we need is a field with a bit of light.”

Tuesday is the main training evening but the club also meets up in smaller groups on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

And the club, which also has a smaller set-up in Hereford, must be doing something right because they already have some 90 members.

About half of those moved from Cheltenham Harriers some 16 months ago, something that surprised but at the same time delighted Newport.

“I was hoping four or five might come,” he said.

And there are big ambitions for the club.

“We want to win the Midlands Road Relay, either the 6-stage or 12-stage,” said Newport. “We medalled when we were running at Cheltenham Harriers so we think that is possible, you just need one or two Great Britain level runners in the group.

“We’ve just competed in the 6-stage National Road Relays and finished 19th out of 80, beating some really good clubs.”

And clearly Newport, who these days is a full-time running coach, sees this as just the start.

“In an ideal world we would want to become a South West club, hence our name,” he said. “We don’t just want to be a Cheltenham club, we don’t want to set geographic limits.

“Eventually we will set up our own junior section, definitely in the next two years. We’ve got a handful of juniors already but it’s too soon to set up a junior section.”

That’s a big commitment, of course, but when you consider how far the club has come already it’s certainly something that appears very realistic.

Newport, who lives near Yeovil, is already talking about establishing a satellite Western Tempo group in Somerset and said that Wylie may do the same in Exeter.

It would seem that Western Tempo is very definitely here to stay.

Other Images

Dom James, leading Ben Price to a comfortable 1-2 and leading the Western Tempo men's team to victory in the Gloucestershire Cross-Country League on Saturday. James is fresh from running a 29:36 club 10k record at Leeds last month

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