A MIXTURE of Chichester’s junior and senior athletes travelled to Aldershot for the South of England road relay championships – considered to be the start of the winter club season.
Featuring athletes from as far afield as East Anglia and Cornwall, these championships are considered to provide one of the severest challenges of the whole year and have witnessed the likes of Mo Farah, Andy Vernon, Steff Twell and Paula Radcliffe turning out for their clubs.
In such high-class company Chichester were delighted to come away with their first-ever medals in the event when their talented over-60 veterans’ quartet finished in a fine third place.
The multi-award winning squad have been at the top of the tree in county events over the past decade since coming to prominence as an over-50 team in 2004, with three members in particular ever present in that time – Rob Wiggins, Dave Worcester and Dave Dorning.
They were joined at Aldershot by present club chairman and ultra-distance expert Tom Blaylock and all four ran times in the top 20 overall for their age group.
Wiggins led off on the opening leg with a 24.02 clocking for the 6k undulating, testing circuit, a time which proved the fifth fastest of the day overall. Blaylock followed with t respectable 27.02 followed by Worcester with a time of 25.09 on leg three.
By this stage eventual winners and multiple national champions Oxford City, were away, followed by a strong Barnet & District team with Chichester holding off South London Harriers for a place on the podium.
Dorning ran the final leg and did not disappoint with a 24.48 clocking, the tenth fastest of the day, giving Chichester a clear margin over their challengers.
Chichester featured in all three boys’ races with the under-13s achieving the highest finish with a top-20 placing, a fine reward for good team packing with all four athletes running within 50 seconds of each other.
Harry Sage was given the job of lining up on the opening leg, always noted for its fast pace over the first part of the 3,000m circuit. Sage did well to finish in a big pack in the mid-20s with Jeremy Sharp and Ned Potter gradually making inroads into the other teams to place Chichester well inside the top 20.
Harry Smith bravely held on to 18th place over the final stage despite a leg injury over the final 800m to give the team a fine overall placing and good reason to look forward to the season ahead.
For the under-15s Ben Collins produced one of Chichester’s best-ever times in their history with a 9.53 clocking over the same course to battle for sixth place after the opening leg and produce the 15th fastest time of the day in his age group – a staggering 1min 15sec improvement over his time last year as an under-13 over the same distance.
The other three members of the team – Leo Stallard, Jack Blackman and Ben Morton – all ran well to finish in 23rd place, well in touch with the other Sussex teams to give them confidence for their battles in the forthcoming league races.
Running over a slightly-longer lap, the under-17s also laid down a solid marker for the season ahead. Harry Pink started things off over the 3,850ms course with Casey Keates making up ground on leg two with the team’s fastest leg of the day, 13.20.
Sam Pink and Sam Reading both ran well under 15 minutes to bring Chichester home in 28th place, meaning all three Chichester junior teams finished inside the top 30.
Goodwood Cross Country Relays
Athletes from across the south coast will be at Goodwood Country Park on Saturday to contest the Sussex cross country relay championships with over 150 teams already entered in the various age groups.
The meeting will start at midday with the under-13s running a 2,800m lap with the under-15s following at 12.45pm.
The senior women will run over the longer senior lap at 1.30pm and will be joined by the under-17s and veterans and the day will finish with the senior men’s race at 2.30pm, with an entry of more than 50 teams due to line up.
As well as teams from across Sussex, a strong Portsmouth contingent will be doing battle to add extra spice to the proceedings and ensure some competitive racing across all the age groups. Entry to the course is free and spectators are welcome.
No stopping Baker
Although well into his 30s, there seems to be no stopping James Baker in his domination of the local running scene.
In early September Baker made headlines in Athletics Weekly by winning two races in a single day. First he left the other 1,000 runners in his wake in the Chestnut Tree 10k before going on to Fittleworth for their five-miler and notching another race win for an aggregate winning margin of three minutes-plus for the two events.
Then following his win in the Valley Challenge last Saturday, the Chichester runner travelled along the coast for the Hove Prom 10k on Sunday to leave the rest of the field trailing by nearly three minutes to record a fast time of 32.30 – just six seconds outside his best for the year.
Baker will be spearheading Chichester’s senior team at the cross country relays this Saturday before going to Barns Green for their half marathon the following day.