Celebrating the 30th anniversary of their formation in 1984, Chichester Runners & AC started off a packed programme of activities with a large turnout at the newly-formed Parkrun in the glorious setting of Oaklands Park – the city venue for many of their training sessions over those three decades.
Epitomising the wide range of ages now associated with the club, a number of different age categories were represented among the first few finishers.
Now going into the under-20 ranks, Harry Leleu was on his own for the whole race but used the exercise as a time trial to run the 5,000m course in just outside 16min 30sec after three even laps of just over 5.30 each.
Next to cross the line was under-17 Harry Pink, who just outsprinted veteran Jim Garland to the line. Under-17 Rose Ellis was involved in a battle with a trio of the recent under 15-boys’ track team Lao Stallard, Ben Morton and Jack Blackman, who were closely followed by under-13s Ned Potter, Harry Sage and Jeremy Sharp.
The girls were represented by Florence Smith and Charlotte Bullard while at the other end of the scale, former member Joan Clarke was in action. She is now nationally-recognised as a top ultra-distance veteran runner and one of the very few athletes who has completed more than 100 marathons.
Meanwhile, the cross-country season starts next Saturday, September 27, with the traditional opening fixture, the Sussex cross-country relay championships held over the picturesque but challenging terrain of the Goodwood country park.
Featuring teams from across the county as well as invitation teams from Hampshire, including a strong Portsmouth contingent, the racing across the age groups is certain to be competitive.
The under-13 girls and boys start off proceedings at midday with a 2,800m loop and it will be interesting to see how Chichester’s newest members cope with the challenge.
The under-15s run the same course at 12.45pm with all eyes on the recent form of the track-and-field squad to see if they can perform equally as well over the longer distances of the winter season.
The under-17s run with the seniors and veterans over one four-kilometre loop of the senior course with the younger age group keen to repeat their winning performance of last year. The women’s race is at 1. 30pm with the men going at 2.30 pm.