Chichester cross-country teams out to prove they are masters of Sussex
Chichester’s veteran cross country runners return to Coombe Farm near Lancing today (Jan 18) for the Sussex masters championships.
With the event having moved from nearby Lancing Manor, the undulating course over the South Downs proved popular with athletes and spectators in its inaugural fixture in 2019.
The course is certain to provide a fair test to athletes from over-35 women right through to over-70s with both the men and women competing over the same 8k distance this year.
Spearheading the Chichester men’s team is likely to be John Peters in the over-40 category – he will be looking to improve on his fine fifth place last year.
One athlete missing from this age group will be James Baker who had such an excellent run in the main senior championships a couple of weeks ago at Bexhill.
Baker has since followed this up by winning the over-40 veterans’ prize at Sunday’s Stubbington 10k road race in Hampshire, finishing fifth overall out of more than 1,700 runners.
For the women, Jane Harrop will be missing from the start line – she is still recovering from a horse-riding injury sustained before Christmas.
Harrop was the club’s fastest woman last year despite being in the over-55 age group and spearheaded the team of Helen Dean and Amanda Godfrey to silver medals behind champions Arena 80.
Chichester’s juniors return to Tanbridge House School on Sunday for the third match of the Sussex Sportshall League campaign.
The standard has been particularly high this season with two all-time records falling in the December match in a league which has been going for more than 30 years. As usual the action starts at 2pm with warm-ups from 1.30pm.
Chichester Corporate Challenge
Entries are already coming in for the 29th Chichester Corporate Challenge series, the iconic series of road races around Chichester city centre.
As usual the three race series will take place on alternate Wednesday evenings – with the opening races on February 26 followed by events on March 11 and March 25.
Attracting athletes from along the south coast with especially a strong Hampshire contingent, the standard of the senior A race looks certain to be of a high quality. Whether there will be any man or women to challenge either of the two course records is a moot point.
American doctor Chris Zablocki shaved a single second from Commonwealth Games 1500m champion Michael East’s time with a stunning 12min 38sec in 2016 while the women’s record of 14.15 from ex-international Zara Hyde dates back to 1996.
The event is not all about the elite runners as many beginners and part-time runners help their teams out to score in various categories and are happy to run in the mass B race, but have an eye on improving their times over the three evenings.
Preceding the main senior races on each evening will be the schools races, beginning with the primary age groups for Years 5 and 6, which are always some of the most competitive spectacles of the whole evening.
The secondary school races come next with a number of future international athletes having graced the streets of Chichester over the past quarter of a century.
Entry forms are available from the Chichester Runners website while race director Phil Baker is able to answer queries at philbaker5 @btinternet.com