Chichester’s senior runners travelled to Bexhill for the rearranged Sussex Masters Championships - and were rewarded by a full set of medals and the regaining of the county shield which they lost to Brighton & Hove a year ago.
First to go were the over-35 and over-45 women over one of the most challenging courses of recent years as a result of the recent heavy rain.
With the race starting at a cracking pace the field was led up the first hill by in-form Camilla Neale from Steyning who had already established a clear lead after the first mile.
Jane Harrop employed her usual tactics to come through the field in the latter stages of the race while Fay Cripps was
settling nicely into the chasing pack.
As the race unfolded, Cripps started to look the strongest of all and timed her effort to perfection to go straight past the leader on the final lap with less than a mile to go to come home a clear winner by 15 seconds - followed by Harrop in third overall, an equally-clear winner of the over-45 race.
Teamwise, Linda Roberts finished 21st and Sue Barty 28th for the over-35s for a well-deserved fifth team place and crucial points towards the overall Sussex shield.
In the over-45 age group Persephone Hagan and Tracy Jayant packed well for 11th and 15th places respectively to give a team total of 27 points with Harrop and win unexpected silver medals behind race favourites and reigning champions Arena 80.
To complete a fine women’s race for the club, Sue Baker picked up individual bronze in the over-55 category.
With just the final championship race of the season to go, the men’s masters race, the overall position was a virtual
three-way tie between Chichester and the two Brighton clubs, Brighton & Hove and Brighton Phoenix.
With three age groups running together but scoring separately, it needed a sharp eye from team managers to keep track of
proceedings - but it soon became clear Chichester were giving a good account of themselves in all three groups.
Chris Jack had shown fine form in the Chichester 10k a week earlier and was in touch with the leading pack in the over-40 race but such was the standard this year, he could only just squeeze inside the top ten in ninth place.
Behind him there was good packing from Andy Maynard in 31st, Stephen Davy 38th and John Bullard 41st to give the club a respectable seventh team place.
It was a question of attrition at this stage for all the men - the course was becoming a quagmire in places - but the over-50s battled well, led home by Dave Worcester in ninth place in his last-ever race in this age group before going up into the over-60s next month.
With Tom Blaylock 23rd and Dave Barty 26th, the team total of 58 points was good enough for fifth place.
The over-60s who left to round things off and in the absence of Dave Dorning, unavailable for the rearranged fixture, an inspired run from Rob Wiggins resulted in an individual silver, finishing just 14 seconds behind pre-race favourite Peter Witcomb of Brighton & Hove.
Martin Miller was next home for Chichester in 12th while John Betts and Peter Shaw were 18th and 19th to give the team 32 points for fine bronze medals.
After the nine races at Stanmer Park in early January for the juniors and senior men and women, together with
the five team races on Saturday, the officials calculated the overall team standings and Chichester were on top with a total of 100 points, just 11 in front of reigning champions Brighton & Hove.
1 Chichester Runners & AC 100
2 Brighton & Hove 89
3 Brighton Phoenix 85
4 Lewes AC 71
5 Hastings AC 58
6 Horsham Blue Star 52
by PHIL BAKER