Chichester athletes run for it – inside and out

Chichester in Sportshall League action at Horsham a year ago   Picture by Lee Hollyer
Chichester in Sportshall League action at Horsham a year ago Picture by Lee Hollyer
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IT’S a big weekend for Chichester’s athletes.

There’s a major cross-country fixture at Goodwood on Saturday and the first Sussex Sportshall match for juniors on Sunday – in addition to the regular variety of road and multi-terrain races across the south.

This third of this year’s Goodwood cross-country events staged by Chichester Runners is a Hampshire League fixture held over a challenging and picturesque course.

After the Sussex relays at the end of September and the opening Sussex League fixture in October, the Hampshire League meeting will involve clubs from across five counties.

The standard is certain to be high with Chichester’s athletes having the opportunity to test themselves against some of the best runners in the country.

Past winners of the women’s race have included internationals Steff Twell and Louise Damon while in more recent years Commonwealth Games runner Emilia Gorecka has dominated proceedings.

The men, too, have witnessed their fair share of GB stars although past winner Andy Vernon, double medallist behind Mo Farah at this summer’s European track and field championships, has indicated the fixture does not fit into his current plans.

With roughly 700 runners across ten races expected to take part, there is certain to be exciting action among the five age groups.

Racing starts with the under-11s, who will tackle a 2,000m circuit at 11.30am. At midday the under-13s get under way, followed by under-15s, under-17s, senior women and finally, a gruelling 9,000m race for the senior men starting at 2.30pm.

Some of Chichester’s athletes will have a double dose of the Goodwood countryside this weekend – on Sunday, the Sussex endurance squad will use the perfect running terrain for one of their regular training days.

Sunday also sees Chichester’s juniors travel to Tanbridge House School, Broadbridge Heath, for the first fixture in the Sussex Indoor Sportshall League.

In the 20 years since its introduction into the winter athletics scene, sportshall has developed from being a minority activity to being a major part of junior athletics after the end of the outdoor track season.

There will be three age groups in Sunday’s fixture – under-11 (school Years 5 and 6), under-13 (Years 7 and 8) and under-15 (Years 9 and 10).

The format will include track races using the turning boards at each end of the sportshall, enabling runners to turn at speed over a two-lap sprint, four laps and six laps. In addition there are relays and eight-lap paarlauf races where two runners take it in turns to complete the distance, a test of both string speed and endurance.

For the field events, the vertical jump, standing long jump and triple jump will be augmented by the speed bounce, a true agility test, and the shot putt where the exact weights of the outdoor event will be used.

After gaining two fine third places in the Sussex finals at the end of the summer at under-13 and under-15 level, Chichester know they have talented athletes in their squad. However, the top two teams from the summer, Crawley and Brighton, will also feature so competition is sure to be of a high standard. The action starts at 2pm.

See the Observer over the next two weeks for full reports and pictures from all this weekend’s action.

PHIL BAKER