Chichester athletes have great new to relay

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In the last team event of the winter season, Chichester maintained their fine form in the Sussex Road Relay Championships at Christ’s Hospital School, Horsham.

There were county medals at stake both for teams and individual fastest laps, and Chichester scored heavily in both categories.

The best team results of the day came with a clean sweep in the under-15 age group. The girls were led off by Georgina Warner who posted the second fastest time of the day in handing over to Hannah Croad. She established a 20-second lead over the chasing pack but crucially just over a minute on junior international Grace Baker, running for Hastings.

Emma Maynard kept the distance on her closest pursuers and was able to hold the Hastings runner at bay to win gold for Chichester by six seconds.

Nicola Mead, Lucy Ellis and Clare Fraser ran well for the B team to finish eighth while Ellie Humphreys gained valuable experience for an incomplete C team.

In the boys, it was even more nailbiting with Harry Leleu setting the team off in fine form with a speedy 5min 44sec for the 1,850m course which proved the fourth fastest leg of the day.

George Dempster lost a little ground to leaders Eastbourne, who had put their big guns out early, but kept the rest of the field behind him to give Dan Eeles the narrowest of margins going into the final leg with just three seconds separating Chichester, Bodyworks and Brighton – and with Crawley, Horsham and Hastings all within half a minute.

Eeles overtook the leader but was joined at the front by the third Bodyworks runner who threatened a break for home with half-a-mile left. The Chichester athlete refused to let the gap grow to more than a few metres and was able to unleash an impressive sprint finish over the last 200m to bring Chichester home for gold by two seconds from Bodyworks and a fast-finishing Crawley runner.

Toby Hindmarsh and Jamie Woolnough ran well for the B team with Leleu running his second leg of the day for unofficial seventh.

In the under-13s there were bronze medals for Charlotte Reading, Holly Beaton and Rose Ellis while Sophie-Anne Haigh showed promise for the future with a good effort for the B team.

In a competitive U13 boys’ race, less than a minute separated third to tenth after the final leg with Chichester having two teams in the mix, both within 30 seconds of a bronze.

Harry Lyne, Casey Keates and Sam Reading were just pipped for seventh place by younger trio Ben Collins, Josh Eeles and Brodie Keates, the latter three having two more years in the age group, with Sam Pink not far behind for the C team.

In the senior and veterans categories there were two all-time records set, both in the over-50 women’s race.

With the standard improving all the time the first three teams broke the course record, including Chichester trio Jane Harrop, Amanda Godfrey and Sue Baker. Harrop also broke the individual lap record with an impressive 12min 39sec for the two-mile, 100-yard circuit, her time knocking just under 30 seconds off the previous best.

Persephone Hagan, Trudy Cunningham and Tracy Jayant finished a good fifth for the over-40s’ A team while Sarah Richardson, Debbie Lord and Monica Jervis were ninth for the B team and Lynn Harley ran for an incomplete over-50 B team.

The veteran men took silver team medals in the over-40s and over-50s and it would have been a clean sweep from the over-60s but for a mix-up over running order.

Tony Roddis reinforced his form of recent weeks with the fastest lap of the day and an individual gold medal in the over-40s with a 10min 49sec clocking.

Chris Jack and Lee Neumann kept Chichester in contention for a medal behind Crawley, currently the dominant force in Sussex.

Jim Garland produced his best form on the final stage for the third fastest of the day and ensure team silver for Chichester.

A superb team performance in the over-50s continued their unbroken run of medals with Rob Wiggins, Dave Worcester and Dave Dorning separated by a mere 11 seconds.

Chris Benham, Colin Harley and Tom Blaylock finished seventh for the B team.

The squad are looking forward to the 2012 race to see if they can complete an amazing feat of winning a team medal for ten years in succession in the over-50s.

For the over-60s fastest man Don Faircloth ran a double leg for an incomplete A team with the B team of Dave Betts, Peter Shaw and Alistair Kennaugh eighth place for the B team.

Finally there was a seventh place for the senior men with fastest man James Baker opting to run the final leg after a 5km run earlier in the morning.

Nevertheless he managed to pull Chichester up inside the top ten after solid runs from Jamie Moore, Chris Bird, Ed Porter and Sam Bryan plus a second run of the day from veteran Dave Dorning.

PHIL BAKER