Chichester athletes go for glory in Sussex championships

Some of the Chichester women's team due in action at Bexhill

Some of the Chichester women's team due in action at Bexhill

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THE best cross-country runners from across Sussex compete in the county championships this Sunday (Jan 5) at Bexhill.

Moved from the original course in Stanmer Park in Brighton, the event will see runners faced with a new set of challenges on what’s certain to be a heavy course after all the recent rain.

There will be a triple incentive for Chichester Runners to do well - they will be fighting for individual and team medals on the day and for top-five placings which will bring automatic selection for the presigious national inter-counties in March.

The third goal for the club is to retain the overall Sussex team and junior shields they won last year.

Spearheading Chichester’s challenge are likely to be the two sets of under-17 teams who have been dominant in league races this season.

Rose Ellis hopes be at the forefront of the under-17 women’s race having recovered from illness since missing the last league match before Christmas.

But she will be aware the Hastings athletes will be a danger on the home course.

Harry Leleu has led Chichester’s men all season but will probably have to do battle with Brighton’s Stephen Ferroni, winner of the Brighton Boxing Day race, beating all his older rivals in the process.

Chichester’s under-13s and under-15s have a chance of getting among the team medals provided they can pack well, while the seniors will be up against some of the strongest competition for years in Sussex.

The best chance rests with the club’s women, who hope to have Rosie Hiles and veteran Jane Harrop leading the attack. Much will depend on the position of their last two scorers.

It is a few years since Chichester’s men came home with a team medal at these championships and a top-six placing would be a good result this year.

All the action starts from Bexhill Leisure Centre at 11.15am with an invitation under-11 race, not part of the championships. The under-13 girls kick off the main programme at 11.30am followed by the rest of the junior races, with the senior men tackling their gruelling 7½-mile course at 1.30pm and the senior women completing the programme at 2.25pm.

PHIL BAKER