A remarkable number of more than 800 finishers braved atrocious conditions at Goodwood for the annual Hampshire Cross Country League fixture.
With athletes and clubs competing from five counties from across the south, it was a chance for Chichester’s runners of all ages to compete against some of the best athletes in England.
With some of the footpaths at Goodwood Country Park resembling streams by the end of the day, it was a true test of strength and endurance for all concerned.
Top Chichester team of the day were the women’s under-17s, who took the opportunity of running in the senior women’s race over a longer 6,000m course.
Competing in the under-20 group they finished as second team, beaten only by reigning national champions Aldershot, Farnham & District.
First home for Chichester was in-form Rose Ellis, who crossed the line eighth in the whole senior race and fourth under-20. She was well backed by Hannah Croad in 28th (17th under-20) and Charlotte Reading 37th (18th under-20).
Equally impressive were the club’s second team of Nicola Mead in 50th (20th under-20), Georgina Warner 58th (22nd under-20) and Lucy Ellis 74th (25th under-20).
Not to be outdone were Chichester’s three veterans, who were led home by Jane Harrop in 21st overall and top in her over-50 category. Linda Roberts and Helen Dean completed the team in 71st and 108th respectively for 21st and 40th veteran spots while senior Fadia Batiki completed the Chichester squad in 70th.
Chichester’s other form team of the season so far has been the under-17 men and on this occasion Harry Leleu was not afraid of reputations and decided to give the top Southampton and Aldershot athletes a run for their money.
With Southampton fielding their winning South of England relay squad from earlier in the season, the pace was relentless over the 5,000m course. Leleu was still in contention as they entered the woodland lap and was a clear fourth when they emerged for the final 800m of undulating grassland.
The positions stayed the same until the finish with just over 30 seconds separating the four after more than 16 minutes of intense running. With Josh James having to retire through illness, Harry Lyne had his best run of the season to finish 37th followed closely by Ed Gerwat in 40th and Harry Pink 42nd, all three separated by just nine seconds.
There were no GB internationals in action in the senior men’s race as in previous years but that did not stop the 9,000m event providing some great action.
With James Baker away on half-marathon duty, under-20 James McKenzie led Chichester home in 44th place overall and 12th in his age group.
Next was Aaron Hancock in 72nd, just pipping veteran Andy Nicholson, making one of his infrequent visits back to the UK while working abroad. Nicholson’s 75th overall position made him 15th veteran and put him first in his over-50 age group by just three seconds. Improving Steve Davy also made the top 100 in 84th to put Chichester’s men in first place in their division.
There was good packing behind with Chris Benham 134th, Tom Blaylock 155th, Nick Palmer 158th, Mike Moorcroft 169th, Mark Jennings 179th, Colin Harley 185th, Dave Reading 191st and two of the club’s over-60s Martin Miller in 193rd and John Betts 203rd.
Top finisher in the junior races for Chichester was Ben Collins, who ran a great race for tenth in the under-13 boys 3,000m - despite having had to reduce his training recently to recover from injury. Harry Sage was next home in 45th with Finn Buckingham-Ryder in 72nd.
Charlotte Bullard led Chichester home in the girls’ under-13 race in 23rd with Chloe Croad 49th and Eloise Lane and Caitlin Brown 68th and 69th. Alyssa White had to retire after a fall in the wet conditions.
There was good packing from Chichester’s under-15 boys with Sam Pink and Brodie Keates in 34th and 36th with Adam Croad not far behind in 40th.
There was a similar good tussle for the B team with Sam Reading in 57th just edging in front of Kai Terry in 61st, with Harry Carter competing the scoring in 72nd.
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