Gold times four! Chichester athletes pick up Sussex cross-country honours
The Sussex Cross Country League season came to a successful end for Chichester Runners at Bexhill as they picked up four individual gold medals for top overall athletes across the age groups.
Especially pleasing was the range of the winners – from under-13s through to over-65s.
Goodwood was the venue for the opening fixture in October, followed by two in Stanmer Park, Brighton – with Saturday’s final races held on the same course as that used for the county championships in January.
The last venue was the most testing underfoot with significant overnight rain making conditions very heavy. Most of the county’s top runners were in action.
Senior and veteran men
The senior men’s race had its usual high standard, albeit with a few top runners not competing. Chichester were without their top two from earlier in the season, James Baker and Ned Potter.
Both the pair’s closest rivals were also missing and they had done enough in the first three fixtures to secure their individual titles, Baker winning the over-40 age group and Potter the under-20s. This marked a fine improvement for Potter, who was third in the under-17 age group last season and has adjusted superbly to the increase in distance from 5k to 8k.
Tom le Lievre led the club home on Saturday in an excellent sixth place, his highest finish at this level. Leo Stallard was tenth overall and second under-20 over the line.
Three more of the club’s under-20 runners occupied the next three places with Ben Collins 29th, sixth under-20, Brodie Keates 48th (seventh U20) and Harry Sage 54th (eighth U20).
The last scoring place was filled by over-50 veteran Jon Edgar close behind in 57th with reserve Peter Anderson 112th (27th V50).
The respectable points total of 204 was good enough for a solid fifth place which keeps Chichester in the top flight for another season.
But for one poor showing in November, they could have been challenging for team medals.
Senior and veteran women
There was a welcome return to action from Jane Harrop, recovered from a riding accident which had put her out of competitive action since mid-November.
Having won her age-group races at in the opening two league fixtures, Harrop knew it would be a battle between her and Caroline Wood of Arena 80 for the league title as the pair have been well ahead of their rivals throughout the season.
As the race progressed the pair were separated only by a few seconds but it was the Chichester athlete who prevailed with 30th place in the race and an eight-second gap to Wood to secure the title.
Regarding the rest of the women’s squad in action, it was an all-veteran showing with fellow over-55s Amanda Godfrey and Nadia Anderson 51st and 52nd, fourth and fifth in the age group.
Sue Baker followed in 63rd, second over-65 to finish, but it was Wendy Whelan who unexpectedly won the league over-65 title having competed in all four races.
Whelan’s feat must be considered all the more praiseworthy as she is in the over-70 age group when it comes to road running.
Sadly for the club, this showing was not enough to stave off relegation for the women from division one, the damage having been caused with a very weakened team in Brighton in November.
Juniors – under-17, under-15, under-13 and under-11
The star of the day for Chichester’s juniors was under-13 Josh Dunne who snatched second place to secure the overall title by a single point from rival Arun Khursheed of Haywards Heath Harriers.
After winning the opening fixture at Goodwood, Dunne had a mixed season with a shoulder problem in round three and a sprained ankle in the county championships when well placed, being forced to walk to the finish.
With four points from his best two league races, the same as Khursheed, it was down to who could come in first on Saturday.
The county champion from Hastings, new to the Sussex scene since Christmas, was again in front but Dunne was clear in second with the finish in sight and was ten seconds ahead by the time he crossed the line, meaning his points from his best three races was a point lower than that of his rival.
In the same race, Josh Eaton was next home for Chichester in 26th with Sam Cato in 36th just pipping Digby Fulford in 37th for the final scoring place for a team sixth place.
Will Bailey was unlucky to suffer an injury during the race and bravely came home in 42nd but had the satisfaction of fine results in previous matches.
For the girls under 13s, Anya Barrett in 14th just got the better of Florence Ingram in 19th with Carrie Anelay 24th and Millie Isitt 30th. Their fourth place on the day clinched fourth team place overall and things look good for next season with all but one of their team in the same under-13 age group for another year.
For the girls under-15s, Cerys Dickinson had a creditable eighth place supported well by Isabel Isitt in 20th and Tamsin Anelay 22nd. Their overall fifth place was another good all-round effort.
There were a couple of individual athletes on duty with Archie Sadler making good progress this season in the under-17 age group with 13th place while Grace Godfrey had her best result of the season with fifth place in the under-11 girls’ race.