Chichester’s juniors gave a good account of themselves at the South of England road relays at Aldershot - reckoned to be one of the most competitive fixtures in the calendar.
With a catchment area from East Anglia through the home counties and down to Cornwall, well over 100 of the top junior clubs were in action.
It is to Chichester’s credit that three out of the four teams in action were placed in the top ten at some point in their races, with top honours going to the under-17 women who achieved a splendid ninth overall.
Rose Ellis was given the responsibility of leading the team off on the opening leg over a challenging 3,000m undulating lap of the Rushmoor Arena.
She did not disappoint with eighth place at the end of the leg in a time of exactly 11 minutes, 17th fastest of the day.
Hannah Croad and Emma Maynard kept in touch with the leading pack with times of 11.49 and 11.45 respectively and it was only in the last 200m that they had to give way to Hastings, who finished one place in front and top Sussex club.
These two clubs have been battling it out for Sussex honours over the past few years in the girls’ events and look forward to this weekend’s cross country relays at Goodwood, where county medals will be up for grabs.
Chichester’s strength in the age group was shown at Aldershot with the B team of Lucy Ellis. Nicola Mead and Holly Beaton finishing 34th overall and in the top five of B teams.
As with the women, Chichester’s men are strong in the under-17 age group.
Harry Leleu ran the first leg over a longer 3,850m course. With a time of 12.19min, Leleu was up to the task and finished in ninth place, just 15 seconds outside the top three and 14th fastest overall.
His time ranks as the second fastest by a Chichester runner in the history of the event, bettered only by Tom Bilham’s 11.44 in the year he went on to be inter-counties cross-country champion.
Josh James ran well, just outside 13 minutes, to keep the top ten in his sights while Harry Pink and Harry Lyne fought every inch of the way to finish inside the top 30 - they were 27th and third Sussex team behind Brighton Phoenix and Brighton & Hove.
Chichester’s under-13 boys also emerged as third Sussex team to finish in 17th with great team packing. Ben Collins was just outside the top ten after the first 3,000m in 11.08 with Leo Stallard just one second slower but managing to pick up six places to finish leg two in eighth place.
Jeremy Sharp and Ned Potter had been given their places in the team thanks to recent good form despite just coming into the under-13 ranks, and the pair did not disappoint with times of 11.49 and 11.50 respectively which kept them in touch with many of their more experienced rivals.
Chichester’s under-15s had probably the most difficult task of the day in a competition where the top three teams averaged under ten minutes per lap - which would be impressive for 3,000m on the track, let alone undulating terrain.
Brodie Keates, Adam Croad, Sam Pink and Ben Morton stuck to their task well to finish 42nd and as third Sussex club, just one place in front of Worthing. For the girls’ under-13s and under 15s, Chloe Croad and Saskia Gardam both ran well as individuals on their respective first legs.
The best athletes in Sussex will be in action over the popular Goodwood course on Saturday in the first cross-country event of the year, the county relay championships.
With races from under-13s and under-15s through to under-17s, seniors and veterans, Chichester will be hoping to be among the medals - although competition has been getting harder over recent years.
Racing gets under way at midday. The two younger age groups run a lap of 2,800m for each runner while the senior and veteran men and women and the under-17s,will test themselves over 4,000m.
One athlete missing will be James Baker, who will be concentrating on the Barns Green half marathon. Fresh from yet another race win in the Butser Hill Challenge last Sunday where he crossed the line more than a minute clear of the runner-up, Baker is aiming to notch up yet another top-three placing from the 2,000 starters.