Chichester are top Sussex athletics dogs - for second time this winter

The women's race under way at Horsham  Picture by Sara Ellis
The women's race under way at Horsham Picture by Sara Ellis

A record turnout of 73 athletes enabled Chichester to emerge top of the tree in the overall standings in the Sussex Road Relay Championships at Christ’s Hospital School.

It rounded off one of the club’s best seasons in Sussex competitions after they also won the overall cross-country shield earlier in the winter.

The road relays day’s racing brought four team medals and six individual awards for fastest individual laps with many other runners showing great end-of-season form in the bitter cold.

There was a Chichester vest at the head of the field in the opening race which combined the boys’ and girls’ under-13s as Ben Collins continued his fine form of the Corporate Challenge to hand over in a clear lead with a time of 6.19 for the 1,850m circuit, which proved equal second fastest time of the day.

Leo Stallard and Kai Terry continued on the second and third laps, failing by just a few seconds to hold a medal position, eventually finishing fifth.

Not far behind in eighth were the club’s B team of Jack Dean, Luke Kearns and Ned Potter while Chichester’s strength in depth was shown by the C team coming in less than a minute further back with Tom Davy, Benedict Robinson and Noah Chisam and Harry Carter posting a good time for a combined team.

There was a similar good showing from the under-13 girls with Grace Wills, Katie Haines and Emily Guiry finishing sixth but within 11 seconds of third place. Anna Haines, Eloise Lane and Florence Smith were less than a minute further back in tenth for the B team.

With the under-15s running over the same relatively-short circuit, the pace was fierce from the outset with Saskia Gardam and Ed Gerwat shouldering the responsibility of the opening lap to keep Chichester in touch with the leaders and Gardam rewarded with the day’s third fastest time.

Jake and Sam Pillans brought the boys home in third, 15 seconds behind the gold medalists and cross-country champions Lewes. The girls’ squad had been battling a strong Hastings team all season - Chichester lost out in the cross-country relays in September then turned the tables on their rivals by winning the cross-country championships in January.

On this occasion, battling runs from Charlotte Reading and Rose Ellis were just not enough to keep their rivals at bay and Chichester had to settle for well-deserved silver medals.

With the under-17s running in the senior teams, Chichester had high hopes in the men’s and women’s races with the women showing great strength in depth with three full teams in action.

Aiming to repeat their bronze team medal of 2012, the A team of Rosie Hiles, Fay Cripps and Beth Garland had consistent runs but finished sixth place in a time which would have put them third in 2012.

For the B team of all under-17s, Emma Maynard, Georgina Warner and Nicola Mead did well for tenth while Hannah Croad and Lucy Ellis were joined by senior Julia Hammond for 17th place for the C team.

In the same race, the club’s over-40s, Maria Wright, Angela Carpenter and Persephone Hagan, finished fifth while the over-50s gained a team bronze thanks to the run of the day from Jane Harrop, who equalled her own course record of 12.27 for the 2.1-mile course, Amanda Godfrey and Sue Baker ensuring a medal was never in doubt.

It was good to see Gary Wright back in action after a long injury lay-off and posting Chichester’s fastest time

in the over-50s with Dave Reading and Colin Harley supporting well to bring the A team home in tenth.

Tom Blaylock, Robert Sawers and Andrew Harrop finished 14th for the B team.

A record number of eight scoring teams completed the over-60 age group with Chichester doing themselves justice in second and sixth.

The A team fielded two newcomers to the age group with Dave Dorning and Dave Worcester rewarded with the second and third fastest times of the day and John Betts proving his worth as the third member of the team. In spite of a spirited last lap by Worcester, Brighton and Hove just clung on to win by 14 seconds.

For the B team Don Faircloth led, followed by Alastair Kennaugh and Martin Miller who did well in sixth.

Chichester were looking to the final event of the day as their combination of seniors and under-17s represented

their strongest six runners for several years.

James Baker ran a good first leg of 10.11 to keep the club in touch with the leaders, with Harry Leleu under 11 minutes in his first run as a senior. James Teuton just slipped back a couple of places on leg three with Chris Bird restoring the club’s fortunes with his best run for several years.

He handed over to under-17 Josh James, who was just a couple of seconds outside the 11-minute barrier with Aaron Hancock bringing the club home in a fine seventh place.

For the B team, James Woodward, Nick Palmer, Conrad Meagher and John Leonard were also on form while the over-40 men narrowly missed out on medals in fourth.

Chris Jack gave a good start with an 11.20 clocking while Steve Davy, Lee Neumann and Jim Garland were all within 30 seconds of each other, with Andy Maynard and Keith Akerman running well for the B team.