Chichester’s veteran cross-country runners had to endure the worst conditions in living memory at the Sussex masters cross-country championships at Lancing Manor.
Recent heavy rain plus a torrential downpour just before the start turned what is a testing course at the best of times into a trial of strength.
One athlete who did not let the conditions get the better of her was Fay Cripps, who was content to stay in the leading bunch in the early stages of the over-35 women’s race before using her strength on the first of the two steep hills to gradually pull away.
She had a comfortable 24 seconds to spare at the end of the four-mile course and claim a hat-trick of victories in this event, a first for the Chichester club in any championships in the club’s 30-year history.
In the same race there were fine showings from Chichester’s over-45s and over-55s.
Kim Nelson was 12th in the over-45 group while Jane Leonard, just eight places further back, was seventh out of the over-55s, with Helen Dean ninth, Sandra Nemorin-Noel 15th and Sue Baker 16th.
Their team were fifth overall, although if a separate over-55 team event is introduced fnext year, the club have high hopes of team success.
For the men, the over-50s and over-60s were in the same race although scored separately and it was the multi-medal-winning over-60s who were first to show.
Rob Wiggins led the charge although he had to settle for fourth place overall to miss out on the medals. Ever-reliable Dave Dorning was just behind in sixth and all eyes were on the third member of the team as both Chichester and rivals Crawley were equal on ten points after their top two runners came in.
Tom Blaylock was next to appear but crucially there was a Crawley vest just ahead and Blaylock could not quite close the gap and Chichester had to settle for silver by just a single point, at least maintaining their record of a team medal in this age group every year for more than a decade.
There was a good showing from Tony Cooley in 15th, John Betts 20th and Peter Shaw 24th to claim sixth spot in the same age group.
Dave Pike was 27th in the over-50 race followed by Andrew Wingham 35th and Dave Reading 36th for a team placing of ninth.
There were three good performances in the separate over-40 race from Charles Rodmell in 14th, John Bullard 24th and Gary Williams 29th although the lack of a fourth runner prevented them from having a placing.