Record numbers - and times - as Chichester Runners host cross-country relays

The start of the womens event at Goodwood Photo Louise Adams
The start of the womens event at Goodwood Photo Louise Adams

A record number of 400 of the county’s best cross-country runners were in action in the Sussex relay championships at Goodwood.

Perfect conditions and strong fields resulted in a number of course records being set.

Nowhere was this more evident than in the final race of the day when the times of the fastest five senior men mean they now occupy five of the top seven places in the history of the event. The individual lap record and the course record were smashed to conclude the event with a flourish.

Among the fastest times was that of Chichester stalwart James Baker, who set a new personal best time by five seconds – having run every year since the first race in 1992.

Once again Chichester’s juniors set the ball rolling by winning no fewer than four team medals in the four races.

Fresh from their top-ten finish in the South of England championships, the under-15 boys showed the way with a dominant display of front-running, leading from start to finish to win gold in the second fastest time ever, two seconds shy of the course record – full details are in the panel on the right.

Showing Chichester’s strength in depth, the club’s B team snatched the bronze medals, having been given a great start by George Dempster with the fourth fastest time of the day and with Ed Gerwat and Harry Lyne holding off a fast-finishing Horsham team.

Casey Keates and Harry Pink were in a non-scoring third team with Keates the seventh Chichester athlete to make the top 20 times of the day.

In the girls’ under-15 event, pre-race favourites Hastings justified their billing with an emphatic win, breaking the Sussex record in the process.

Consistent running from Chichester secured a well-deserved silver with Charlotte Reading, Hannah Croad and Rose Ellis separated by just 24 seconds after Reading posted the fourth fastest time of the day. The club’s second team ran consistently to finish seventh with Tara Bage, Emma Maynard and Holly Beaton in action followed by Lucy Ellis and Nicola Mead for a non-scoring C team.

Mead has shown the most dramatic improvement in the past year by slicing a staggering 1min 43sec from last year’s time.

In the under-13s, the boys finished with two teams in the top four with Zac Hurst, Brodie Keates and Sam Pink holding off the B team of Josh Eeles, Adam Croad and Ollie Poole for bronze.

Sam Reading, Tim Mead and Harry Carter brought the C team home 11th while Oliver Finnear and Ben Collins ran for non-scoring teams. Chichester’s fastest lap was run by Eeles with a 10min 30sec clocking.

In the girls’ race, Caitlin Paul gave the team a good start in the leading pack, a position maintained by Emily Morley and Maddie Smith to bring them home fifth. Molly Whatmore ran well for an incomplete B team.

With complete teams in all five categories in the senior men’s race, Chichester scooped two more team golds with wins in both the over-50 and over-60 categories, both new events – see panel on the right.

Chichester’s other three teams were just outside the medals.

Ollie Pickersgill, Callum Adams and Greg Smith were a close fourth in the under-17 race. For the over 40s, Tony Roddis, Chris Tucker, Andy Maynard and Tony Cooley were fifth while the senior quartet of Baker, Joe Corbett, Martin Barwood and Ed Porter came up against the best men’s field of all time and finished sixth in a time which would normally have given them bronze.

In the senior women’s race, Chichester looked in with a chance after the second lap after fine runs from Fay Cripps and Nicky Upton put the team second but Maria Wright was up against most of the day’s fastest runners on lap three and wasn’t able to hang on to a medal position. But sixth was their best result for several years.

The over-35 team of Eva Mikuska, Rachel Austin and Jill Renson battled to finish sixth while the two over-40 teams were fourth and fifth at the end of their race.

Katie Michael, Persephone Hagan and Jane Leonard finished one place outside the medals while Amanda Godfrey, Tracy Jayant and Sue Baker were a further two minutes back. Leonard was the fastest over-55 in the race to win the fastest lap prize while in the same race Georgina showed a speedy turn of pace for the under-17 team with the fourth fastest time in her age group.

This weekend (Oct 8) Chichester Runners go to Farley Mount near Winchester for the first Hampshire League race of the season.

PHIL BAKER