Sussex cross-country set gather for finale

Jane Harrop is a champ for Chichester
Jane Harrop is a champ for Chichester

THE Sussex Cross Country League’s final league fixture of the season on Saturday will see all eyes on individuals and teams as they battle for coveted county medals.

Racing will take place on a new course at Hickstead Showground. The courses are expected to be quite fast and runners will be relieved to learn they will not be expected to tackle the near-vertical bank on the showground itself.

Both Ben Collins and Jane Harrop from Chichester assured of gold medals after a perfect record of wins so far in the under-15 boys and over-55 women respectively.

The league programme started at Goodwood in October and since then athletes have had to negotiate the mud of Bexhill and the hills of Lancing Manor.

With individuals able to count their best three results from four fixtures, some county champions have already been crowned with both Ben Collins and Jane Harrop from Chichester assured of gold medals after a perfect record of wins so far in the under-15 boys and over-55 women respectively.

Many more age groups hang on a knife-edge and all will depend on the end-of-season form shown by those in contention.

Team-wise things are always much tighter, with all to play for in the final race. Currently Chichester hold a commanding lead in the under-17 women’s team rankings and top the under-15 boys’ table although they will expect a strong challenge from rivals including an improving Brighton & Hove squad.

As far as the seniors are concerned, Chichester’s women are again putting up the stronger performance and lie second in division one behind reigning champions Lewes AC.

The B team are in with a chance of promotion to division one which would give Chichester two teams in the top flight for the first time in their history.

With a strong season from their under-20s and under-17s, assisted by the clubs seniors and veterans, it will be a question of whether good packing can finish the season off in fine style.

Chichester’s men, newly promoted to division one, are in danger of making a swift return to division two unless they can put up a much-improved team showing on Saturday.

Talisman James Baker will lead from the front but South of England championship silver medallist Chris Zablocki will be absent as he will be contesting the United States marathon trials in Los Angeles for the Rio Olympics.

Saturday’s programme starts with an inter-regional primary schools championship with teams from the Chichester and Bognor areas lining up after the recent West Sussex West championships at Bishop Luffa School.

The action begins with the two primary races at 11.4 am and midday with the main league programme commencing at 12.30pm with the under-13 girls’ race.

Corporate Challenge Preview

Junior and senior teams and individuals are reminded there are less than two weeks before the first races in this year’s Corporate Challenge series on Wednesday, February 24.

In what looks another well-supported event, the numbers in the 25th running of the event are expected to match last year when nearly 800 runners of all ages raced through Chichester city centre.

The other two dates for 2016 are March 9 and 23. For those who have not already downloaded entry forms, there are available from the Chichester Runners website, or printed forms can be obtained from the club noticeboard in the foyer of Westgate Leisure.

Any queries can be sent to race director Phil Baker on philbaker5@btinternet.com

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