Sussex cross-country crew make final bid for honours

Individual and team medals will be up for grabs on Saturday when the best cross-country runners in the county do battle in the final Sussex League fixture of the season at Lancing Manor.

With the season starting at Goodwood in October, runners had to master the mud and rain at the second fixture at Plumpton College in November and a tricky undulating course at Bexhill in December.

Over the past two months there has been plenty of activity in the cross-country scene with the Sussex championships, Sussex schools and masters and the South of England championships coming in quick succession.

But the two-month gap between the third and final league races will provide an interesting insight into the progression that teams and individuals have made over the season.

This will be particularly interesting in the under-15 girls, where Chichester have overtaken Hastings, who were dominant in the early part of the season, with Rose Ellis in with a chance of an individual medal.

Likewise the boys’ under-15s have made good progress and lie only six points behind Lewes in the team race.

If the club’s under-17 men’s trio of Harry Leleu, James McKenzie and Josh James, they should confirm a team medal although other teams have also shown good form in recent weeks.

The under-17 women have been an integral part of the club’s senior women’s success this season with Georgina Warner in contention for an individual top-three placing.

With top veterans Jane Harrop and Fay Cripps also on fine form, Chichester may gain a team medal in their first year in the

top division of the league for the first time in their history.

The men’s team look certain to drop into the third division for the first time having been unable to field anything like their strongest team in any fixtures so far.

Early in the programme the two under-13 races will feature improving Chichester teams although they are not in top-three contention.

To show the interest this season in the primary schools’ age group, the meeting will start at midday with an invitation 1,500m race for under-11s.

Following this innovation at Goodwood in the autumn, other clubs have decided to offer the opportunity to runners who are too young for the league teams and entries will be accepted on the day whether runners are members of a club or not.

PHIL BAKER

Don’t miss next week’s Observer for a report, pictures and results from the opening races in the Chichester Corporate Challenge series.