Chichester athletes enjoy fine day of cross-country at Stanmer
A squad of more than 40 Chichester athletes returned to Stanmer Park, Brighton, where conditions could not have been more different from the previous Sussex Cross Country League fixture at the beginning of the month.
Instead of driving wind and rain, runners were greeted by a crisp, dry day with underfoot conditions perfect for racing.
The day was mixed for Chichester with the juniors continuing to make the steady progress they have shown all season while the two senior teams had wildly different results.
Senior men and women
Both the club’s senior teams are in the top division at present but after Saturday, it looks as though, barring miracles, the women are certain to slide into division two for next season.
The senior men’s race was strengthened by athletes who had competed in the UK trials for the forthcoming European Championships.
It was therefore credit to the last fixture’s winner, Chichester’s under-20 Ned Potter, that he took the initiative and led the pack on the first of the three laps. Last time’s third-placer James Baker had a more cautious start but at two-thirds distance he had jumped up into the top ten and was hot on the heels of Potter in fifth.
These two held on to their places until the finish and were just half a minute adrift of the winner after 8k of gruelling running. Behind the club’s leading pair was consistent Will Boutwood in 19th while John Peters got the better of Conrad Meagher, the pair 39th and 47th.
Another of the club’s under-20s, Brodie Keates, was the sixth scorer for the A team in 86th enabling them to claim fifth place, still giving them an outside chance of a team medal at the final fixture in Bexhill in February.
The B team was led home by veteran Jon Edgar in 114th, 48th veteran, with the remaining three places occupied by another three under-20s, Harry Sage in 125th, Fred Austin 127th and David Bisatt 136th.
It was a matter of veteran dominance for the C team with Tim Brown in 140th, Paul Stallard 146th, Mike Moorcroft 151st and Peter Dunne 173rd. Tom Blaylock was 174th, Peter Anderson 187th and Peter Shaw was the second over-70 to finish.
Chichester’s women, in contrast, were severely depleted with none of their A team available. But brave runs from two under-17s and three veterans at least cave the club a team score in all three categories, under-17, veteran and senior.
While the under-17s still have an outside chance of team medals in the final fixture, the writing is on the wall for the seniors and their eight-year stay in the top division with a 150-point gap to safety almost impossible to bridge with just one match left.
Veteran Aleksandra Vargin led the way in 60th followed by two under-17s, Amelia Bromell in 76th and Rose Potter 94th, 15th and 17th in their age group.
Sue Baker completed the scoring in 101st with reserve Wendy Whelan 115th, the pair occupying the top two places in the over-65 age group.
Both the club’s under-13 teams had solid team performances with the boys achieving a well-deserved second place.
Josh Dunne put the disappointment of a severe stitch in the previous fixture behind him with a well-controlled performance. He opted for a steady start and allowed the leaders to open up a gap on the first lap and gradually closed on their advantage to finish third, just five seconds behind the winner.
With Alessandro Schmitt in 13th and Will Bailey 17th, their team total of 33 points brought them closer to the medal positions.
There was incredibly close packing from the B team with Josh Eaton 42nd, Sam Cato 45th and Digby Fulford 46th and just nine seconds separating the three.
The under-13 girls packed well to finish fourth with Carrie Anelay in 16th just a few strides ahead of Anya Barrett in 17th and Florence Ingram 21st, with reserve Millie Isitt in 32nd.
Shortly to move up to the under-13s is Grace Howarth, who was a good 14th in the under-11 race.
Matching their younger team-mates, Chichester’s under-15 showed great team packing and nowhere was this more evident than in the girls’ race, with the Chichester quartet occupying four consecutive places for the first time ever.
With the fight to be first home for the club changing hands throughout, Issy Isitt led the club home on 20th place, followed by Amelie McGurk 21st, Tamsin Anelay 22nd and Gemma Appleton 23rd, separated by just ten seconds after four kilometres of running.
For the boys Joe McLarnon kept pace with the leading group of ten for the first lap but just lost a bit of ground at the end but still was under a minute behind the winner at the finish.
Hal Edgar and Gabe White battled all the way for next club spot and finished in 30th and 31st respectively.
New member James Davies did himself justice in his first race for the club to finish a creditable 42nd, well in touch with the main pack.
* Chichester’s cross-country squad are next in action will be in the Sussex county championships in Bexhill on Saturday, January 4, when team and individual medals will be up for grabs as well as places in the Sussex teams for the national inter-county championships in March.