England vest, 100-mile relay, records at Brighton - all in a fortnight's work for Chichester Runners

Proud Helen Dean in her England vest at Birmingham
Proud Helen Dean in her England vest at Birmingham

The past couple of weeks have been a busy time in the life of Chichester Runners & AC with athletes involved in activities as diverse as track running, field events, road running and a 100 mile relay over the South Downs.

Following her outstanding run in the Goodwood 10k in February, a race which served as a trial for veteran runners, Helen Dean lined up in the Birmngham 10k in the over-60s women’s race – donning her England vest for the first time.

The cream of English veteran runners were in action from over-35s through to a small number of over-80s.

In both the men’s and women’s categories, the over-60s are reckoned to be the most competitive ever and Dean found herself up against England record holders and some very experienced veteran athletes.

Even though it was her first time in such a high-class field, Dean stuck to her task over what proved a difficult Birmingham course, making fast times impossible.

After a gruelling switchback of a course, Dean was delighted to be rewarded with third place in her category, amply justifying her selection – and even though her time of more than 46 minutes did not come near her best of 44.11, Dean was delighted to have had her first taste of national honours.

She has no intention of resting on her laurels and will be rejoining the competitive training group at Chichester Runners, striving to keep up with her younger club-mates.

In the same open race in Birmingham, run in conjunction with the masters event, Chichester’s Jo Corbett was in the top ten in a 1500-strong field with a season’s best time of 32.18 while over-40 veteran John Peters placed just outside the top 50 with 36.06.

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U17 & U20 YDL match at Winchester

Fielding a weakened team over half-term, Chichester were able to give experience to a number of newcomers in round two of the Youth Development League under-17 and under-20 match at Winchester, while some of the more regular athletes were able to try new events.

In the sprints Bea Harmston and Amelia Bromell formed a new partnership with Bromell later joining up with Emily Weymouth over 1500m.

Nicole Boltwood ran a steady 800m before surprising herself with a good long jump for the first time for the club.

Maya Solly competed well over 300m, shot and discus while Elise Pullen equalled her personal best of 1.50m for the third time this season in the high jump.

Boltwood and Weymouth tackled the steeplechase for the first time and, after a cautious clearance of the water jump on the opening lap, gradually improved their fluency over the hurdles to finish with good times and near-maximum pints for the club.

Just three Chichester men were in action, DJ Barth and Toby Payne showing good speed in the sprints with Barth tackling the 100m hurdles for the first time finishing with a confident display in just over 17 seconds.

Under-20 Ned Potter used the match to try his hand at shorter distances to improve his speed over his favoured 3000m and 5000m. His efforts were amply rewarded with personal best times over 400m, 800m and the 2000m steeplechase.

Edinburgh and London success for Bognor runners
U15 Sussex League

Chichester took a smaller team than usual, just eight runners, to the first Sussex under-13 match of the season at the K2 at Crawley.

The Chichester contingent emerged with much to cheer from the event with four A string wins in the boys’ match including a virtual clean sweep in the throws.

The most successful athletes of the match among the six teams was Chichester’s Hugo Martell, who won the shot with a personal best of 10.15, took first in the hammer at 27m and was narrowly deprived of a hat-trick in finishing second in the discus.

Toby Greatorex was too good for the other javelin throwers with 26.63 and Joe McLarnon completed the quartet of victories with a fast time of 2.10.6 in the 800m after a strong second lap. Hal Edgar improved his personal best in the 1500m with 4.57.6.

For the girls Chloe Noble and Jaimie Gibb teamed up for the 100m before branching out into discus, hammer and high jump.

Cassie Bailey was on form in shot and discus while Gemma Appleton had perhaps the most varied evening with 800m, hurdles and long jump.

Brighton Phoenix open track meeting

There was a large field at the Withdean Stadium, Brighton, for one of the regional British Milers Club meetings featuring athletes from along the south coast and into Surrey and the Greater London area.

Four of Chichester’s under-17 and under-20 middle-distance group were in action with all four setting new personal best times.

Three of these were in the 1500m, with Liam Dunne producing a sparkling performance to add to his new club record over 800m set earlier in May.

Going through the 800m mark in a super-fast 2.04, Dunne still found the energy to push on lap three but jut faded on the final 200m – but was rewarded with a new club under 17 record and a personal best of 4.01.04, putting him inside the UK top ten for his age group.

Although in the middle of exams, Leo Stallard also had a great run in the same race to record 4.06.35 while Ned Potter was the third to beat his previous best by dipping under 4.10 with 4.09.05.

In the 800m, Alfie Spurle took advantage of the competition with a new best time of 2.13.08 capping a fine evening for all four athletes.

South Downs 100 mile relay

One of the most iconic races in the calendar, the South Downs 100-mile relay, took place on Saturday in humid but thankfully not sweltering conditions.

Starting at the east end of the long-distance footpath at Beachy Head, teams of six runners have to negotiate 18 stages varying in distance and difficulty from just under four miles to the longest stage of eight miles in the penultimate stage.

Teams can choose their start time between 6am and 9am with the aim of finishing in reasonably close proximity at the finish on the outskirts of Winchester.

While not challenging for top three places, as Chichester athletes have in the past, there was a first for the club in 2019 as both the A and B teams included men and women in their teams.

The A team included Lucy Thraves and Rebecca Moore, two of Chichester best female runners over the past three years, joined by Mike Houston, Seth Wise, Graham Wood ward and Justin Eggins.

The B team included Fay Cripps, twice Sussex masters over-35 cross country champion, who was joined by John Bullard, Keith Akerman, Jason Snow, Rick Pullen and Jason Boswell.

After a total of 200 miles between the dozen runners, showing great resolve to overcome injuries and a couple of minor detours, both teams were a credit to the club and kept up their proud tradition in this race.