Grand finals and Goodwood test ahead for Chichester athletes

The women's race at last year's Goodwood cross-country relays    Picture by Kate Shemilt C131353-3

The women's race at last year's Goodwood cross-country relays Picture by Kate Shemilt C131353-3

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Chichester’s juniors teams will be involved in their grand Sussex finals next weekend.

The top ten teams in the county will compete for the Sussex shield – the highlight of the two Sussex leagues where the west divisions and east divisions meet.

The under-15s will be at the Withdean Stadium, Brighton, on Friday, September 5, with the match starting at 6pm. They know they will be in for a tough fight as the competition in their west-division matches at Horsham has been of the highest standard, especially from the Crawley squad who will have no fewer than six Sussex record holders in their ranks.

On Sunday, September 7, the under-13s travel to Crawley and expect to be equally tested with Brighton, Horsham, Crawley and Lewes expected to provide the main opposition.

The match on Sunday starts at 12.30pm at the K2 Stadium, Crawley.

With the first all-Sussex final in its present format held in 2000, this will be the 15th year of the competition and Chichester stand proudly at the top of the overall standings, having emerged as winners four times and never having finished lower than fifth.

With a fairly-inexperienced squad and in view of the strength of the other teams, another top-five placing would be a fine achievement.

Meanwhile, as the track and field season draws to a close, thoughts are already turning to the packed winter programme of road and cross-country events with two of the best relay events of the year starting things off at the end of September.

The south of England road relay championships will be at their usual venue of the Rushmoor Arena, Aldershot, on September 20 and 21 with the young athletes and senior women in action on the Saturday and the senior and veteran men doing battle on the Sunday.

The whole weekend promises to be a festival of running of the highest standard with the likes of Andy Vernon, Jessica Judd and Steff Twell likely to be in action, fresh from their exploits in the Commonwealth Games and European Championships.

A certain Mo Farah cut his teeth at this event as a junior although he is likely to be back at his American training base by then after lining up in the Great North Run.

A week later, the best Sussex cross-country runners, plus a number of Hampshire clubs, will be lining up at Goodwood for the first cross-country event of the season – the cross-country relays incorporating the Sussex championships.

With the juniors running over a 2,800m lap and the seniors a 4,000m lap, the event is always a test of early-season fitness and a chance for athletes to win county medals and to put down an early marker for the year ahead. Racing will start at Goodwood at midday.

* Next month will see the 30th anniversary of Chichester Runners & Athletics Club – and all present and past members are invited to join in the celebrations.

Starting as a small group of middle-distance runners in 1984 with an initial membership of just eight, the club have now expanded to around 400 members, split evenly between seniors and juniors.

As well as the original activities of road and cross-country running, there is now a wide range of events in which the club compete, including multi-terrain and the whole spectrum of track and field from hurdles and steeplechase to hammer, triple jump and pole vault.

In the past year, representative honours have been gained in disciplines as varied as cross country, 400m, high jump and decathlon.

The present members will be delighted to catch up with many of the ex-juniors who have competed for many of the young athletes teams who have been a part of the national league structure since 1998.

The anniversary will be marked over the weekend of September 13 and 14, which will start with the Chichester Parkrun at 9am on Saturday in Oaklands Park – runners need to have registered in advance.

There will be a come-and-try-athletics session at Chichester University in the afternoon from 2pm to 4pm including 60m, 100m, high jump, long jump, shot and javelin, with coaches on hand to give advice and instruction.

Saturday evening will see the main social event of the weekend, a hog roast and entertainment at Lavant Village Hall.

On Sunday there will be a run/walk/cycle over the Downs starting at Lavant Hall at 10am followed by a picnic lunch, games on the green and afternoon tea.

Anyone interested in attending – whatever their connection with the club – is asked to get in touch with club secretary Phil Baker on 01243 533784 or by email at philbaker5@btinternet.com