Chichester athletes prove they are Masters of the Sussex cross country scene
Chichester had their most successful day for many years and one of their best ever at the Sussex Masters Cross Country Championships at Lancing.
The squad of 36 athletes, the largest by any club on the day, picked up three team medals from the six races and were the only Sussex club to notch up a top-five placing or better in every age group.
It was the second year the championships had been held at the challenging Coombe Valley course which provided spectacular views over the South Downs at the highest part of each lap.
While there were no individual medals for Chichester, good team packing ensured they were more than a match for the 14 other clubs who scored in the team league table.
Overall teams standings
(10pts for a winning team down to one point for 10th)
1 Chichester Runners & AC 54
2 Arena 80 48
3 Brighton Phoenix 30
4 Brighton & Hove AC 26
5 Haywards Heath Harriers 24
6 Lewes AC 19
7 Hailsham Harriers 14
8 Brighton & Hove Women 12
9 Eastbourne Rovers 10
Jt 10 Horsham Joggers 9
Jt 10 Worthing Striders 9
12 Crawley AC 7
13 Burgess Hill Runners 6
Jt 14 Horsham Blue Star 5
Jt 14 Crawley Saints & Sinners 5
In a very competitive age group, Chichester’s over-60 men produced the club’s only winning team performance of the day, albeit by the narrowest possible margin.
As last year, Richard Miles led the team home in a fine fifth place with Dee Caldwell ninth. At this stage pre-race favourites Haywards Heath were three points better off than Chichester with each club having their first two runners home, and all eyes were on the crucial third scorer.
John McElhill was soon in sight to finish 11th for a team total of 25 points and he had managed to gain a gap of four places on his rival for the Haywards Heath man to follow in 15th for 26 points and a win for Chichester.
Chichester were only club with a B team in this age group and John Miles in 24th, Peter Dunne 28th and Tom Blaylock 30th scored 82 points for sixth team place, with reserves Jan Hill in 32nd and John Betts 35th.
A former track star in his younger days, Jim Garland showed his prowess over the cross-country course with eighth place in the men’s over-50 race.
That was followed by a storming run from Jon Edgar in 11th and at this stage any one of half a dozen clubs had a chance of winning the team race.
In the end, Chichester’s third scorer Tim Brown was not quite able to match the others despite a fine run in 37th, leaving Chichester with 56 points in fifth place and just outside the medals.
Close behind was Mike Moorcroft in 38th leading the B team home, backed up by Ashley Hiom in 43rd and Geoff Dixon in 50th and a team total of 131 points for 12th place.
As with the club’s over-60s Chichester had strength in depth with reserves Wim Amir abd Peter Anderson 53rd and 54th.
The fastest Chichester athlete of the day was John Peters in the men’s over-40 race with an excellent fifth place, repeating his top-ten run of the previous year.
While the club had to wait until 19th for the next scorer, another example of great team packing secured bronze team medals.
Nick Fenmor Collins was 19th closely followed by Jason Snow in 22nd and Graham Woodward in 23rd to give a total of 69 points, just seven adrift of silver medal winners Brighton Phoenix on 69.
Making a full B team were the quartet of Steve Davy in 25th, Richard Holder 30th, Jeremy Bullen 41st and Mustafa Saoud in 48th for 144 points in seventh place.
Chichester thought they had no chance of team medals because of the absence of the club’s top two in this age group, Jane Harrop and Helen Dean.
However, with only Arena 80’s two teams ahead, they picked up most unexpected team medals. Amanda Godfrey set the standard with a great fifth place followed by Sue Baker in 14th and Sue Barty close behind in 17th for a team total of 36 points and well-deserved bronze medals.
Next home for the club was Wendy Whelan in 21st, a fine achievement for an over-70 athlete, with new club member Ruth Cahill 22nd.
Kim Nelson led the over-45s home in 16th place closely followed by Elizabeth Robinson in 18th. Good backing up from Tracy Lockyear in 23rd gave Chichester 57 points for another team fifth place.
Sussex clubs had learned the lesson from the previous year in the over-35 age group where only a single club had managed to field a scoring team, meaning that county medals for silver and bronze were not awarded.
This year five clubs brought a scoring team to the event, making it a much more competitive race.
Sarah Fenmor Collins and Aleksandra Vargin led Chichester home in 12th and 13th respectively with Vicky Balandis bringing the team home in 20th and reserve Stacey Killon in 24th.
Despite their best efforts, they were eight points away from the medals in fifth place with 45 points.