Cross country makes fantastic return to Goodwood

Cross-country running returned to Goodwood when 400 of the top Sussex runners of all ages battled for honours in the Sussex relays.

Friday, 1st October 2021, 12:00 pm
Who's that coming over the hill? Cross-country action at Goodwood, with the white and green of Chi Runners to the fore / Picture: Lee Hollyer

After the cancellation of last year’s event, clubs from across the county unanimously said it was good to be back.

There was fierce competition across all seven age groups in both men’s and women’s categories.

Chichester scooped a fine haul of seven team medals to finish second in the medal table, one behind formidable Brighton & Hove. Ten of the 60-plus Chichester athletes in action came away with top three fastest lap times in their age groups.

Under-13s and under-15s

The under 13 races had slightly smaller fields than in previous years as a result of restrictions over the past 18 months, during which clubs have been unable to pursue their usual recruiting initiatives.

However those in action produced some fast times on their 2800m undulating lap.

Chichester’s girls – Grace Howarth, Elodie Hill and Iona Sherwood – finished in a creditable fourth place.

The Chichester under-13 boys were led off by Stanley Wilkes in second place with the third best time of the day. Harry Dunne hung on to the silver medal position but were short of a third team member so joined up with a Worthing reserve and came home in second place overall. The trio are not eligible for a Sussex team award, but will still receive medals in the open race.

In the under-15 races Chichester’s boys were given a fine start by Josh Dunne who stormed into the lead on the opening lap to give his team a ten-second advantage.

Having his best run of the year, Alessandro Schmitt slipped into second behind eventual winners Brighton Phoenix but established a clear lead over the rest.

Promoted into the club’s A team, Digby Fulford had to off strong runners from Haywards Heath and Brighton & Hove and stuck to his task, even though his lead over his two older rivals was being eroded. All three runners made a dash for the line but it was a tremendous burst of finishing speed which brought Chichester home for the silver medals in the most exciting finish of the day.

The club’s under-15 girls finished a respectable fifth with Ela Pemberton, Anya Barrett and Grace Bishop in action and Pemberton notching the third fastest time of the day.

Under-17s

Both Chichester’s men’s and women’s squads were rewarded for recent efforts in training with both winning medals.

Running in the same race as the seniors but scoring separately, Harvey McGuinness made the most of this competition on the opening lap and had only four seniors in front of him to bring the under-17s into a clear lead, running the fastest lap at the same time.

He was the only under-17 to break the 13-minute barrier. Joe McLarnon, who has excelled over the shorter distances during the summer on the track, coped with the terrain very well and extended Chichester’s lead over the chasing pack.

On the final lap Fin Roberson made no mistake with a time only bettered by McGuinness and gave Chichester the gold medals by a margin of nearly two minutes.

For the B team Zac Ferris and Dougal Rattray ran well in their first race over the course.

The more unexpected medals for Chichester were in the women’s race with Amy Peters, Marcie Faggeter and Issy Isitt picking up bronze with steady running throughout as well as reserve Gemma Appleton setting a useful time for the B team.

Senior and veteran women

Both Chichester’s senior teams were well below strength with their talented group of under-20s and under-23s either back at university or on international duty in Europe.

Charlotte Reading was Chichester’s fastest women with a fine last lap following Fay Cripps and newcomer Isabella Thomson for a well-earned sixth place. Cripps was also rewarded with a third fastest time in the over-35 age group overall.

The B team finished in 13th with Sophie Hamnett, Amelia Bromell and Josie Faggeter all giving a good account of themselves. The women’s over-45s just missed out on a medal with Jo Prosser, Sue Barty and Emma Wickens finishing less than half a minute behind the bronze medallists.

However the stars of the women’s squad were the over-55s who came home nearly five minutes ahead of their nearest rivals, the biggest margin of any winning team. Helen Dean handed over with a healthy gap after leg one which was increased by Nadia Anderson and Kim Nelson with Dean and Anderson being rewarded by second and third fastest legs in their age group.

Senior and veteran men at Goodwood

Chichester’s men had a clutch of talented athletes back at university or on GB international duty in Valencia, so Chichester knew they were up against it in challenging for a team medal.

Will Boutwood gave his team a fine start with the third fastest time of the day. Chris West took over with another good run with Ben Garfitt and Wim Amir bringing the team home in seventh.

In the over-40s age group Mike Houston and Jon Peters were clear in second after the opening two legs with only pre-race favourites Brighton & Hove in front.

Veteran over-50 Jim Garland clawed back some of the gap on leg three and depite of James Baker running the fastest over 40 lap of the day on the final leg, they had to settle for a well-deserved silver.

The B team of Kevin Williams, Andrew Wands, Matt Isitt and Phil Carr combined well for seventh place.

Chichester fielded two complete teams in the over-50 category with sixth for the A team of Paul Stallard, Tim Brown, Colin Hancock and Robin Charnock while two places lower were the B team of Tony Mitman, Luke Leleu, Peter Anderson ad Winston Bond.

The over-60 men deserved their bronze medals with Dave Reading leading home Peter Dunne and Richard Ayling.