Chichester athletes bid for first medals of 2020
The first fixture of a busy new year of athletics arrives on Saturday with all age groups doing battle in the Sussex Cross Country Championships at Little Common, Bexhill.
The event is an important one for several reasons – individual and team medals are up for grabs and the first five home in each race will gain automatic selection for the National Inter-Counties in Loughborough at the beginning of March.
Chichester are one of very few clubs in the county who have entered teams in all ten races, from under-13 right up to seniors.
The younger members of the 54-athlete squad will be running from 11.30am, with the senior women bringing the programme to a close at 2.15pm.
What will be of interest as far as the seniors are concerned is how the women fare with the increase in distance from 6.4k to 10k while the men’s distance has been reduced from 12k to 10k to enable there to be parity between the races.
Some men may be at a disadvantage by running the shorter distance, notably James Baker who is at home up to 15 miles and beyond over multi-terrain.
However his form has remained strong in the past few weeks with most recently a win by almost five minutes in the annual 7.4-mile pub to pub race at Horndean, with previous winner Julian Manning from Denmead left training in his wake by nearly a mile together with the rest of the field.
Harry Leleu, club record holder over 10k on the road, is also on form with a first-place finish at the Chichester parkrun on Christmas Day.
Chichester under-20s are also set to perform well with Ned Potter having had a Sussex League senior win in his first year in the age group.
He will be joined by university students Will Broom and Leo Stallard, who are both over injury and should give a good account of themselves.
The under-20 women are another age group with a change to their distance this year and will run alongside the under-17s over 5k but score separately.
Alice Cox-Rusbridge and Rachel Laurie, another two back from university, will lead Chichester’s challenge.
In the younger age groups, brothers Liam and Josh Dunne have a chance of individual medals in the under-17 and under-13 races respectively.
However the standard of Sussex cross-country running has been strong all season and the fight for any top-five placing is sure to mean athletes needing to be on their best form to nab a county vest.