Chichester cross-country crew do battle with south's finest

The cross country championship season made its usual start at Oxford with the Southern Inter-Counties event - with Chichester athletes rubbing shoulders with some of the best running in the UK in the various age groups.

Monday, 16th December 2019, 11:00 am
Josh Dunne shone for Chichester in the southern inter-counties / Picture by Kate Shemilt

With all the naturally strong home counties in action including Surrey, Middlesex and Kent, Sussex athletes had a taste of what is to come over the next few months.

It was under-13 Josh Dunne who recorded the highest position in the junior age groups with 27th place and the third Sussex runner over the line.

Thankfully Dunne is fully recovered from his stitch in a league race in early November and will be all set for a top placing in the Sussex championships in January.

In the under-13 girls race both Laila Hellyer and Carrie Anelay did well to gain selection for the Sussex B team as both have another year in the age group. They finished 69th and 76th respectively at Oxford.

Cerys Dickinson fully justified her selection for the under 15 girls team and notched up a 49th place while the highest finishing position of all was from Alice Cox-Rusbridge who came home in 20th in the under 20 women’s race, albeit in a smaller field than in the junior races but helped her Sussex team to a fine fourth place.

Valencia Marathon

Seven Chichester Runners took advantage of the early winter sunshine to take part in the Valencia Marathon and 10K on December 1.

In an increasingly popular event it was Justin Eggins who led the club home in the marathon in a new personal best time of 2 hours 52 minutes and 36 seconds, a fine time but well outside the top 1,000 finishers, such was the standard of the race.

Following Eggins was veteran over 60 John McElhill who also smashed his PB with 3 hours 21 minutes 13 which ranks him just outside the UK top 50 in his age group.

Simon Castry was next in 3.44.06 followed by another PB from Amanda Godfrey with 3.44.06 and Marcus Hammerton with 5.15 23.

In the 10K, run for the final time in conjunction with the marathon, Chichester’s two runners were involved in a world record race.

Jeremy and Joanna Harrison finished in 56.49 and 1.16 22 respectively but at the head of the field, Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei was taking full advantage of the fast course with a blistering run of 26 minutes 38 seconds, knocking six seconds off the previous world best time.

The 23-year-old had already won the World Cross Country Championships in March and the World track 10,000 metres championships in Doha and the latest run brought him a very rare ‘Triple Crown’ of athletics.

Victory 5 and Goodwood Festival of Running

Closer to home, three Chichester Runners made the journey to Portsmouth for the 72nd annual 5 miles road race with James Baker scooping the over 40 veterans prize just a day after posting another top 10 finish in the Sussex Cross Country League.

His time of 26 minutes 21 seconds was also good enough for 11th in a high quality field and brings the Chichester runner into the UK top ten for 2019 in ninth.

The club’s top woman in the over 60 age group Helen Dean was also in fine form and broke her previous best to be timed at 35 minutes 41 seconds but such was the quality of the file in this age group that it Dean’s rival Lynne Whitaker from Winchester who scooped the over 60 prize but both athletes find themselves in the UK top ten in fourth and fifth places respectively. Sue Baker was delighted with her time of 41.44, her best for over six years and good enough for 35th in her age group in the UK.