It was mainly Chichester’s junior girls who were in action at the latest fixture of the Sussex Sportshall League at Tanbridge House School, Horsham.
Fresh from their appearance at the south of England indoor championships the previous weekend, the two in-form athletes of the afternoon were Sophie Dudman and Fleur Hollyer.
Dudman had the most impressive individual results of the day for Chichester with a 2.20m winning clearance in the under-13 standing long jump as well as a narrow second pace in the two-lap sprint.
Hollyer, meanwhile, had been involved in a near blanket finish in the under-15 two-lap and was once again just pipped in the speed bounce by Sussex record holder Ruby Anning from Brighton.
The pair are two of the best in this discipline in the 25 years the Sportshall League has been in operation but Hollyer had to settle for second place despite a score of 82 in the 30-second time limit, just two short of her rival.
Dudman joined Hollyer in the under-15 eight-lap paarlauf and kept pace with county standard teams from Crawley and Horsham, just to be pipped in the last few metres.
Also competing in the under-13 age group, Lucy Hollyer used her jumping ability well in the vertical and long jumps while Amelie McGurk used her long-distance stamina in the six-lap with the pair combining well in the eight-lap paarlauf.
Probably the best supported age group of the meeting are the under-11s, with Chichester able to field their strongest girls’ quartet of the season. With all four having competed in the two-lap sprint, standing long jump and speed bounce earlier in the competition, they combined well in a speedy relay at the end of the match to record Chichester’s fastest time of the season.
Also in the under-11 age group, Sam Cato, who has been on good form in cross country, gained useful experience in the shorter distances of a sportshall match and picked up useful points for the club.
2018 Corporate Challenge preview
After negotiations with district and county authorities, the organisers of the Chichester Corporate Challenge road-race series are delighted to announce they have the green light for this year’s event.
It will be the 27th year in succession that the races have been held around the streets of Chichester city centre.
The format will be unchanged with the first action on Wednesday, February 21, just after the schools’ half-term break.
The junior races will start with the primary races for Year 5 and 6 followed by the high-quality secondary age group where many future county and national standard runners have first made their mark.
Most recently, junior boys’ course record holder Lachlan Wellington from Portsmouth has become one of the youngest-ever members of the national cross country team.
Schools from a wide area have supported the series in the past few years and competition for both team and individual prizes is sure to be fierce.
As for the senior races, it is always a chance for middle-distance runners to test their speed in advance of the forthcoming track season, while for other less experienced competitors will be running for the sheer pleasure of completing the course and aiming to improve their times over the three-race series.
The senior course records are always there to be attacked by the elite runners although the men’s record from 2016 by American doctor Chris Zablocki in an incredible 12min 38sec for the 4,500m course.
The women’s record has stood since 1996 when ex-GB international Zara Hyde Peters clocked 14.15, a time which many in the men’s field would be more than happy to equal.
However, the majority of the seniors will be supporting their works, business or sports team and it is the team spirit of the athletes which gives the event its special flavour.
While there is over a month before the first race, judging by past years competitors are advised not to leave it until the last minute to enter. Forms are available on the Chichester Runners website – chichester-runners.org.uk – follow the link to the Corporate Challenge.
The three dates for the 2018 series are February 21, March 7 and March 21.
Sussex Masters Cross Country preview
This Saturday will see the Sussex Masters cross-country championship take place over the testing Lancing Manor course, where Chichester will be hoping to continue their recent haul of medals.
The age groups starts at over-35 for the women’s races and the over-45s and over-55s will have separate team events for the first time this year, such has been the surge in competitors competing in the age group.
The men’s race remain unchanged at over-40, over-50 and over-60 with individual medals for the first three over-70s who are brave enough to tackle the undulating Lancing course over the downs.