Chichester athletes fare well at Butser, Barns Green and beyond

They're off at Barns Green / Picture by Phil Westlake - PW Sporting Photography
They're off at Barns Green / Picture by Phil Westlake - PW Sporting Photography

Chichester Runners had a clean sweep in all three age groups in this year’s Butser Hill Race, run over the steep terrain near the Queen Elizabeth Country Park.

Joe McLarnon showed a clean pair of heels to the rest in the under-14 race. This follows on from his fine form on the track this summer when he broke the club under-13 1,500m record with a time just outside 4min 40sec to put him high up in the national rankings.

Those who were at the Chichester Parkrun on Saturday were treated to a sight which is virtually unparalled in UK parkrun history.

Harry Sage, part of the club’s under 17 squad, to win the older junior race at Butser, also showing good early form for the cross-country season which gets under way at Goodwood this Saturday (Sep 30).

To complete the Chi success in East Hampshire, there was the familiar sight of James Baker racking up another race win over a terrain which he has made his trademark over the past 20 years.

Virtually unbeatable over the hills of the South Downs in that time, Baker shows little sign of slowing up now he has entered the veteran ranks and will be another to watch out for at Goodwood on Saturday.

Those who were at the Chichester Parkrun on Saturday were treated to a sight which is virtually unparalled in UK parkrun history.

In an event which allows seniors and juniors to run together over the 5k course, spectators witnessed a 13-year-old girl striding out at the front of the field in front of senior men and women alike.

Olivia Toms has been showing fine track form this summer over 1,500m in Chichester’s track and field team but it is probably over the undulating grass of the parkrun at Oaklands Park where she is most at home.

Her time on Saturday was 19.08, which is not even her fastest – which stands at 19.00. This time has been beaten at Chichester by only two other women, GB international Rebecca Moore, who holds the course record at 17.20, and a visiting Loughborough triathlete at 18.39.

Toms will be heading Chichester’s girls’ under-15 team at Goodwood on Saturday and will aim to set down an early marker for the Sussex selectors to try to make the county team later in the season.

Virtually all the best distance runners in Sussex lined up for the Barns Green Half Marathon on Sunday in one of the best fields assembled for a number of years.

In this company, Chichester were delighted to have two runners in the top ten finishers with James Baker coming home fifth overall and as runner-up in the over-40 category.

His time of 1hr 14min 3sec was a fair way off his fastest ever at just over 68 minutes but the Barns Green course is known as a very testing 13.1 miles as it winds around the undulating country lanes to the south of Horsham.

Still very competitive as a senior, Baker has opted to run in the club’s senior A team at Goodwood.

Also making the top ten at Barns Green was Chris Bird, who crossed the line in ninth place in 1.18.48, a great result in a field of 1,000-plus runners.

PHIL BAKER