Chichester started their 20th season in senior-league athletics in fine style at Bracknell by finishing second to the home club and recording a club record of more than 200 points.
Despite missing a few key athletes, a well-balanced combination of youth and experience across the 38 events in nearly five hours of competition gave Chichester a good platform for the rest of the season.
The men’s squad included three over-30s in their ranks, but the women’s section were all under 19 with an average age of just 16 - showing a great deal of potential, not only for the remainder of this season but for the future of the club.
It was fitting that the outstanding performance of the day came from the one surviving member of the original squad in 1994, James Baker setting his second-best ever time for 5,000m, a 15.18.3 solo effort, just six seconds outside his personal best and full justification for deciding against running a spring marathon in 2013 to concentrate on his speed over shorter distances.
Fellow middle-distance runner Chris Bird also showed good early-season form with a double win over 800m and 1,500m with Baker supporting well with a B string 1,500m win.
In the sprints, Chichester University student Olly Stacey continued his form of last season with a battling 100m and 200m into quite a strong headwind with good support from Collins Alfred and Jake Emerson.
Also giving a good account of themselves were the club’s throwers, Tim Brown and Jedediah Ackah, the latter making his first appearance for the club.
Brown showed good form with a personal best in the shot putt and the pair amassed a string of second places to add more than 30 points to the club’s total, with Alfred adding strength in the javelin.
In the women’s section, Alex Fryday caught the eye with two fine sprints against strong opposition, supported well by Kezia Turner and Zoe Nunn.
Turner then picked up useful points in the 400m and 100m hurdles with Clare Fraser in the longer event and Jade Bailey in the sprint version.
Holly Beaton turned in a useful run in the 400m flat with Fraser in support while Charlotte Reading spearheaded the 800m and 1,500m with Hannah Crossley and Sophie Shergold scoring good points in the B strings.
In the throws, Charlotte Honour showed good early-season form in shot, discus and B string javelin with Shergold on form in the A string.
Alice James completed the line-up with a consistent day in the throws, with help from Nunn in the hammer.
The team’s next fixture is at Abingdon in May, when the club should be strengthened by appearances from 400m runner Ollie Smith and high jumper and heptathlete Izzie Brown, while top decathlete Charlie Roe returns to club duty after his university term for the final three matches later in the season.
* With the club’s senior team already competing, it is the turn of their junior counterparts to begin their season during the
next couple of weeks.
Many of the senior Bracknell team will be at Winchester this Sunday (April 28) for the first fixture in the senior section in the newly-formed National Youth Development League.
Combining last season’s under-20 league and the top age group of the National Young Athletes League, it will be a chance for developing older juniors to have their own competition in what promises to be a hard-fought division.
Host club Winchester will be joined by strong teams from Portsmouth, Havant, Isle of Wight, Woking and Fleet and Crookham.
The following Saturday, May 4, the juniors start their season, with the under-13s and under 15s in action at the Mountbatten Centre, Portsmouth - an opportunity for Chichester stars of the future to show what they can do.
Chichester Runners welcome new members, especially at this stage of the season, and are taking advantage of the refurbished clubhouse and new all-weather J track at the university’s Bishop Otter campus.
The main club evening sessions are on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6.30pm to 7.45pm but potential new members are asked to contact the club before coming along. Club secretary Phil baker can be contacted on 01243 533784 or e mail firstname.lastname@example.org