Chichester's super six enjoy cross-country trip to Oxford

Eva and Isobel Buckler / Picture by Kate Shemilt
Eva and Isobel Buckler / Picture by Kate Shemilt

Six members of Chichester Runners & AC travelled to Oxford for the first representative match of the cross-country season, the South of England inter-counties.

Although the event is only one of a number of regional events from around the UK, the south east is generally recognised as the strongest overall with many of the front runners of next year’s national event in action at Oxford among the 14 counties on show.

Chichester’s contingent all performed with credit and put in performances which will stand them in good stead for the rest of the season.

The highest-placed finisher was Liam Dunne in a fine 38th place in his first year in the under-17 age group and second Sussex man to finish.

An unlucky accident on the evening before the race meant Ned Potter could not take his place on the starting line and could not show his good form of late in league fixtures in the same age group.

Maggie King was delighted to be another member of the Sussex scoring quartet in the under-17 women’s race in 45th position, a race which saw Seaford College pupil Olivia Macdonald finish in eighth place for her Surrey team.

Two of Chichester’s under-13 boys made the Sussex team and but for a clerical mishap, a third should have joined them.

Harvey McGuiness was the unlucky athlete to miss out but he will have a chance to gain selection for the Sussex team in the national inter-counties at the county championships in early January.

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The two in action opted for different race strategies with Hal Edgar ploughing his way through the field after a steady start to finish 49th in a quality field in his first race at this level.

Fionn O’Murchu was a few seconds adrift in 55th and such was the closeness of the field that both Chichester boys finished less than a minute behind the winner.

Both Isobel and Eva Buckler were in the under-15 girls’ squad in a race won by Beth Cook from the Eastbourne-based Bodyworks club. They finished 61st and 69th respectively, a good result for the pair who will have another year in the age group.

Another unlucky Chichester athlete was sidelined by injury with Olivia Toms unable to take her place in the Sussex team.

But with a full month before the next competitive fixture, it is hoped that Toms, like others who missed the fixture, will have time to recuperate before the Sussex championships on January 5 at Bexhill.

Victory 5 road race

The Victory 5 road race holds a special place in the history of Chichester Runners & AC – it was their first competitive race as a club after their formation in October 1984.

This year’s race was the 35th occasion that runners in the green and white Chichester vest have lined up for the event, which has seen many famous names over the years including legendary Bruce Tulloh from the 1960s and more recently ex-Commonwealth Games champion Michael East from the promoting club Portsmouth AC.

Probably the most recognisable face of all will be former 10,000m world record holder Dave Bedford who surprised the organisers with an appearance in 1969.

With his droopy moustache, long socks and long hair, the future inspiration for the 118-118 ad campaign was unequalled in British and world distance running in the late 60s and early 70s.

In 1984, Chichester Runners as a club was in its very early stages and from a total membership of a dozen members, nine lined up for the race.

Gary Wright was just over 26 minutes in a very similar time to Chichester’s first runner home this year with another five breaking the 30-minute mark – Phil Baker, Paul Froud, Alan Mayhew, Nigel Brooks and John Irwin.

The other three to finish were Dave Rang, Roger Swaffield and Alan Beale. Although the size of the field was smaller in the 1980s, just over 300 as opposed to 700 today, the standard was still high with 132 of the 300 finishers breaking 30 minutes as opposed to 70 in this year’s race.

Fast forward to 2018 and it was Aldershot pairing of Adam Clarke and Josh Grace who finished almost a minute clear of the rest with the two athletes on either side of the 14-minute barrier.

Even though he had raced the previous day, at the tough Sussex Cross Country League, prolific James Baker was rewarded with 15th place overall in a quality field and first over-40 veteran home in 26min 21sec.

Justin Eggins just failed to make the top 100 but was 101st in 30.54 while top veteran Helen Dean knocked another 20 seconds off her previous best to cross the line in 36.07, putting her in the top third of the whole field and once again scooping the over-60 women’s prize in the process.

Junior Sportshall at Horsham

Chichester’s juniors travel to Horsham on Sunday for the second round of the winter indoor Sussex Sportshall League at the Tanbridge House School.

With a weakened and incomplete team in the first fixture, the club were no match for the Sussex top three clubs of Crawley, Brighton and Horsham. But with more strength this time, the match should be a real test of winter fitness.

Doors open at 1.30pm with the match starting at 2pm.

Parkrun

The rain finally spared Chichester’s latest Saturday morning parkrun and the ground was almost solid.

A total of 157 ran, jogged and walked the 5k course of whom 17 were first-timers.

Representatives from 18 different clubs took part, including Chichester Runners & AC, Horsham Joggers, Midhurst Milers and Victory AC.

There were visitors tourists from the Isle of Sheppey, Bristol and Huntingdon.

First male to finish was James Baker in 17min 09sec, with Michael Neville in 18:54 and Tom Prichard in 19:02 also doing well.

First female was Sarah Loy in 21:31, followed by Claudia Milburn 23:15 and Lucie West 23:49.

Chichester parkrun started in August 2014. Since then 5,780 participants have completed 33,626 Chi parkruns covering a total distance of 168,130km, including 5,964 new personal bests.