Chichester athletes shine among south's cross-country best at Parliament Hill Fields

More than 4,000 of the south’s best cross-country runners descended on Parliament Hill Field and Hampstead Heath – and provided a compelling day’s racing enjoyed by the many Chichester athletes who took part.

Friday, 31st January 2020, 4:00 pm
Chichester's under-20 men / Picture: Jackie Sage

With clubs as far afield as Norwich and Cornwall taking part and competitors flying over from the Channel Isles, the standard of competition was of high quality and any position in the top 100 in any race was something to be valued.

Under-20 men

In a smaller field than most of the other races, Chichester’s under-20 men provided the best individual position of the day and equalled the highest team placing in the club’s history at the event.

After his third place in the Sussex Championships at the beginning of January, Ned Potter was in confident form and did not disappoint.

Settling into the second pack at the start of the tough, undulating 8k course, Potter always looked in control and was well inside the top 50. Once the pace started to pick up, Potter was able to pick other runners off and established himself in the top 30.

Crossing the line in 27th, Potter set a marker for the rest of Chichester’s quartet and was followed by Leo Stallard in 69th a couple of minutes further back with Harry Sage and David Bisatt completing the scoring in 108th and 118th for a team total of 322 points and fifth place.

Only four of the top southern clubs finished ahead – Bedford, Aldershot, Invicta and Tonbridge.

Under-13s and under-15s

The two girls’ junior age groups provided complete teams with the under-13s just getting the better of their under-15 counterparts.

Close packing was the order of the day for the under-13s with Anya Barrett in 120th just getting the better of Carrie Anelay, six seconds back in 130th.

Another ten seconds back was Florence Ingram in 154th while Millie Isitt was fourth scorer in 231st, making a team total of 635 points for 30th place, just behind Lewes and Brighton & Hove.

For the under-15s Cerys Dickinson led Chichester home in 122nd followed by Isabel Isitt 212th, Gemma Appleton 221st and Tamsin Anelay 280th. The team total of 835 put them 32nd.

For the boys Alessandro Schmitt was best placed for the under-13s in 151st with Digby Fulford 255th and Ethan Hill 271st. In the under-15 boys’ race at the start of the programme Fin Roberson ran well in 239th place in his first race at this standard.

Senior men and women

The massed start of the senior men’s race is one of the great sights of the English athletics scene and the field of well over 1,000 did not disappoint as they charged up the first hill at the start of their nine miles of mud, ditches and hills.

The southern men’s championships is the only surviving race over this distance and incredibly the leaders seem to float over the surface with this year’s winner international Adam Hickey covering the distance in an amazing 47min 21sec, just over 5.15 for each mile.

With most of Chichester’s first team not in action Tom Le Lievre led the club home in a very respectable 250th place in 57.57, one of less than a quarter of the field to break the hour.

Veterans occupied the next three places with Paul Stallard 978th, Tim Brown 1036th and Mike Moorcroft 1071st with senior Wim Amir 1166th.

It was virtually an all-veteran affair for the club’s women in the senior race with just short of 700 finishers.

Emma Wickens had a great run in 286th over the five-mile course followed by Kim Nelson in 382nd, Jo Prosser 492nd and Amanda Godfrey 509th for a team total of 1,669 and 58th position. Reserves Sue Baker and Jayne Macdonald ran well in 574th and 673rd.

Mention must go to both Godfrey and Baker, both members of Chichester’s bronze medal-winning over-55 team at the recent Sussex Masters, with both giving more than 30 years to many of their rivals at Parliament Hill.

The club are already making plans for next year, when the national championships will be held over the same course at the end of February and the southern championships return to Stanmer Park, Brighton.