Chichester runners are out in force at Goodwood

The under-13 girls' race at Goodwood / Picture by Kate Shemilt
The under-13 girls' race at Goodwood / Picture by Kate Shemilt
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Three weeks after hosting the Sussex Cross Country Relay Championships, Goodwood again saw the cream of the county’s middle-distance athletes line up –this time for the opening fixture in the Sussex League.

Nearly 600 runners, from under-11s to veterans, faced the challenges of the firm but undulating course, with the later runners also battling against a strong north-easterly wind on the more exposed parts of the course.

For host club Chichester Runners & AC, it was a day of records with more than 80 runners taking part in a single event for the first time in their 31-year history.

For host club Chichester Runners & AC, it was a day of records with more than 80 runners taking part in a single event for the first time in their 31-year history.

The day was capped by individual wins from Ben Collins and Olivia Wiseman in the two under-15 races and a senior men’s victory from the club’s newest recruit Chris Zablocki.

The under-15 boys and under-17 women lead the county team rankings with most of Chichester’s other teams in line for a top-three placing based on early-season form.

Senior men

In the absence of James Baker and Peter Concannon, Chichester were concerned that their return to division one would prove a difficult step.

But up stepped Zablocki, who allowed talented Chris Smith, running for Haywards Heath, to make the pace over the first lap. He then joined Brighton’ under-20 star Stephen Ferroni to overhaul the early leader and pull clear on the second half of the final lap to win in 24 minutes, a new course record for the Sussex League.

Ferroni, in second, was also inside the previous record while Jo Corbett had a fine run in seventh place to post 25.38 for the five-mile course, one of Chichester fastest-ever times.

Needing six to score, there were good runs from Conrad Meagher in 23rd and Mike Houston in 35th with under-20 Harry Lyne 55th and Mikey Neville sixth scorer in 86th for a team total of 207 points, which earned fifth place.

Reigning champions Brighton & Hove continued their dominance with a low score of well under 100 points.

Chichester had better strength in depth than at any time over the previous decade with veteran John Bullard leading the B team home in 90th followed by Derry Lozano-Hoyland 91st, Justin Eggins 96th and Chris Tucker 120th for sixth place in division three.

Gary Wiliams led the thirds in 122nd with support from Jason Boswell 123rd, Tom Blaylock 128th and Philip Carr 132nd. For the first time there was a complete D team with Alan Rowley 134th, Tony Cooley 141st, Mike Moorcroft 143rd and Dave Reading 157th with reserve Paddy Clarke in 165th, one of four over-70 runners to finish.

Senior women’s race (including under-17s)

Team manager Sara Ellis had high hopes before the race of a good team result in all three categories in the senior women’s 8k race and was not disappointed.

The squad of 12 produced two runners-up spots in the senior and veteran races while Chichester’s high-flying under-17s romped away, with their team taking the lowest team total of the day – just nine points from the three athletes.

The race was won by a dominant display from Worthing’s Emma Macready, with Izzy Coomber from Haywards Heath and Chichester’s Rose Ellis side by side early on.

Ellis was forced to let her rivals go clear feeling slightly under the weather but bravely finished 14th behind club-mate Grace Wills, who had her first Sussex senior top-ten finish with ninth overall and second under-17.

Veteran Jane Harrop made her usual steady start but soon scythed through the field to finish in 16th and well clear in her veteran over-55 category.

The team was closed in by Karina Bennett, another under-17, who is showing great form in her first year in club athletics in 21st place for a total of 60 points, just 13 points off leaders and last year’s champions Lewes.

With the club’s third and fourth under-17s Saskia Gardam and Amber Westron 24th and 27th, veteran Anne Sydenham was the final member to score B team for 86 points and second place in division two.

Charlotte Reading led the C team in 53rd with support from Becky Neal in 54th and veteran Linda Roberts in 60th with reserves Nicky Hill in 67th and highly-placed over-60 Helen Dean in 72nd.

Junior Boys

As reigning Sussex cross-country relay champions, the under-15 boys were confident before the start and did not disappoint. They were led home by another confident run from Ben Collins, who led from start to finish and strode home with over 20 seconds to spare over a fast-finishing Crawley athlete with Chichester’s Will Broom an impressive third.

Callum Crook also made the top ten in eighth place for a team score of just 12 points, comfortably ahead of nearest rivals Brighton & Hove on 25 and Lewes on 31.

Harry Sage led home the B team in 19th supported well by Leo Stallard in 23rd and Ned Potter 25th for 67 points and sixth place. Jeremy Sharp led the C team in 29th followed by Luke Kearns 37th and David Bissatt in 44th for 13th team place.

In the under-17 race over 5k of the senior course, Benedict Robinson produced his best form of the season with a fine eighth place, his first time in a Sussex top ten. There was good packing from Luke Campbell in 14th, Sam Reading 15th and Sam Pink 17th and the team finished just outside the medals in fourth.

There was strength in depth for Chichester’s under-13 boys with three full teams completing the course. Once again James Gardam led the club home in 12th with Seamus NcCormack 26th and Owen Thomas 36th for a team placing of seventh but well in touch with the top five.

William Wells led the B team home in 38th followed by Johnny Lye in 40th and George Ashby 44th for 13th team place while the C team comprised Jake Farquhar in 45th, Charlie Sharp 47th and Tom Cohen 49th with reserve Eden Murphy in 52nd.

Junior Girls

There was a fine display of tactical running from Olivia Wiseman in the under-15 girls’ race as the Chichester athlete had two of her Hastings rivals for company in the early stages before turning on the pressure over the last 1,000m of the 4k course to win with a clear ten-second margin to spare.

Hampshire-based second-claim runner Mia Billings had a good run to finish in 12th in her first race for Chichester with Chloe Broad close behind in 16th for a team score of 29 points just good enough to get the better of Haywards Heath, Brighton & Hove and Lewes with defending champions Hastings well out in front on 13.

As with their counterparts in the boys’ race, the under-13 girls performed well, mainly down to good packing.

Charlotte Bullard was always in the leading bunch from the start and kept her form to finish in ninth place in a tighly-packed sprint to the line with four girls covered by a few inches at the line.

Close packing by Maggie King in 20th and Nina Moranne in 23rd gave them a total of 52 points for fifth place while the B team of Gracie Bradley-Roberts 31st, Rose Potter 43rd and Nicole Boltwood 44th finished in 14th place with reserve Hannah Carmichael 46th.

Under-11s

An invitation under-11 race was held before the main programme and saw a large field of 64 athletes take part over a 2k course.

Chichester fielded 12 runners in the race with the squad led home by Conor McCormack in eighth followed by Morgan Glen 14th, Thomas Beasley 18th, Logan Cooper 24th, James Bullard 27th, Oscar Reynolds 36th, Robert Moore 46th,Max Sydenham 47th. For the girls, Lucy Hollyer was 11th, Megan Thomas 16th, Charlotte Butlin 20th and Sophie Sharpe 21st.

The next fixture in the Sussex League is at Bexhill on Saturday, November 21 – a change of venue as the regular Plumpton College location is unavailable this season.

Chichester’s top three marathon runners have not rested on their laurels after their exploits in Potznan, Berlin and Bournemouth.

Chris Zablocki who recorded stunning 2hr 18min in Poland and won his Sussex Cross Country League race at Goodwood, lined up at the Brighton ten-miler the day after and ran a very quick 50.49min for third place behind African duo Ben Sima and Philip Koech who were both just outside 47 minutes for the distance.

In the same race there was a fine performance from Tone Zone’s Simon Gill who finished ninth out of over 1,700 runners in 55.15.

Meanwhile James Baker was in Minehead trying to defend his Exmoor Stagger title. Over a course of 15.1 miles comprising a total ascent of 3,627ft to the top of Dunkery Beacon, the highest point on Exmoor, Baker showed similar dominance to the previous Sunday in the Chichester Half Marathon by sweeping away his rivals to stride home in 1hr 47min – more than seven minutes clear of the runner-up.

Zablocki and Baker, having trained together on the Friday, were spotted at the Chichester Parkrun at 9am on Saturday as a gentle warm-up before going on to conquer the fields in their respective races.

PHIL BAKER

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