Winter’s over for athletes – and Chichester end it with medals

Chichester medal winners shelter from the weather as winter ends

Chichester medal winners shelter from the weather as winter ends

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WINTER officially ended for Sussex athletes when the Sussex road relay championships were held –and Chichester Runners were very well represented.

Over the grounds of Christs Hospital School near Horsham, Chichester fielded 15 teams in the 11 age groups and, while not repeating the widescale success of some previous years, they still came away with three team and four individual medals.

It was the turn of the veterans and seniors to gain the majority of the club’s success.

It was the turn of the veterans and seniors to gain the majority of the club’s success.

Seniors and veterans

In the oldest of the 11 age groups the club’s over-60 men’s A team kept up their remarkable run of well over a decade of county success with a team silver, just deprived of outright success by a fast-finishing Brighton Phoenix team. Phoenix edged past them on the last lap to win by just 17 seconds after nearly 40 minutes of running.

The trio of Rob Wiggins, Dave Worcester and Dave Dorning have achieved multiple successes, first as an over-50 squad and in the past couple of years in the over-60 group, and have secured county medals every season.

Opening leg runner Rob Wiggins recorded the third fastest time of the day, 12min 33sec, for individual bronze.

In the women’s categories the over-50s are the most senior age group and Chichester’s Jane Harrop, Helen Dean and Amanda Godfrey equalled their male counterparts with team silver highlighting another scintillating run from Harrop in a time of 12.40 for the senior loop which is over 100m more than two miles.

Chichester’s B team of Sue Baker, Jill Renson and Sandra Nemorin-Noel finished a hard-earned sixth.

There was another great individual run from Jim Garland with an 11.10 clocking in the over-50 race as he led the race on the first lap running comfortably the fastest time by an over-50 by a margin of 16 seconds.

Fighting performances from Colin Harley and Dave Reading couldn’t quite keep Chichester in the medals and they had to settle for a close fifth.

One place lower were the over-40s in sixth with Gary Williams, Keith Akerman, Steve Davy and John Bullard all well inside 13 minutes.

In a very competitive senior women’s race, Chichester’s A team of under-17 runners were just outside the top half of the field in 13th place with Amber Westron, Holly Beaton and Saskia Gardam putting their cross-country form to good effect.

The B team followed in 19th with Lin Roberts, Rebecca Brown and another run from Sue Baker after leading off for the over-50s earlier in the race.

The men’s senior team produced one of their best displays for more than a decade and were in silver-medal position under the last mile of the sixth and final stage but just could not hang on and were relegated to fourth after being passed by Brighton & Hove and deprived of bronze just in the final 100m.

Now well into his 30s, former county junior runner Jo Corbett was given the task of sticking to the leaders on the opening lap and did not disappoint with the club’s fastest senior lap of the day of 10.03. He was second at the end of the lap and James Baker had a brief spell in the lead before being overhauled by junior international Adam Clarke (Hastings AC), but was delighted with a 10.13 clocking to hand over to Harry Leleu almost on a par with eventual winners Brighton Phoenix.

Leleu was not overawed by facing former South of England champion Jon Pepper and ran 10.12 to overtake Hastings and give Chichester clear daylight in second place.

Chris Bird is another athlete returning to form and ate into the leader’s advantage with a 10.33 effort. On leg five Conrad Meagher was pitted up against Chi Corporate Challenge winner Josh Guilmant for the leaders.

Only losing a minute to his rival kept Chichester well clear of the rest and Harry Pink, still an under-17, had the task of holding off his rivals with four teams saving their best runners for this leg.

Pink stuck to his task but just failed to hold off his more experienced rivals. The club can be encouraged, however, as there was more back-up from four more under-17s who performed well for the B team – Adam Croad, Will Kallaway, Harry Lyne and Sam Reading.

Juniors

With many Chichester juniors unavailable, there was only one team medal to savour, won by the under-15 boys’ trio of Brodie Keates, Brandon Bell and Ben Collins.

In a close race, Keates led with a solid 6.17 clocking for the 1,850m course. Bell, normally a sprinter, produced a fine 6.30 effort to put the club eighth.

It was left to Ben Collins to see if he could track down the leaders, and running a finely-judged race, he gradually moved into the top three and closed fast on the leaders.

The finishing line came too early for him to win the race but a split time of 5.36 proved good enough to secure team bronze medals and was the fastest by any athlete over the junior course.

The girls’ under-15 team just lost out on medals in the last 100m. Good runs from Rachel Laurie and Grace Wills had put the club third after two legs but fast finishes from Hastings and Brighton Phoenix prevented Chloe Croad from hanging on to a medal placing.

The B team of Heidi King, Florence Smith and Isobel Loveridge finished 13th.

There were a number of new faces in the under-13 ranks with the boys never quite able to get into medal contention. Good runs from James Gardam, Harry Sage and Jeremy Sharp resulted in sixth with the B team, of Jack Dean, Marcus Bugge and George Cooley 14th. Non-scorers George Moore from the under-15s and Teddy Phillippo from the under-13s ran good individual legs.

The final Chichester team in action were the under-13 girls who finished 11th in a race in which the winners broke the all-time course record.

Charlotte Bullard, Maggie King and Gracie Roberts, the latter in her first race for the club, finished 11th.

by PHIL BAKER