Two weeks after the Sussex cross-country championships, it was the turn of the top veteran athletes to vie for county team and individual medals at a new venue, Coombe near Lancing.
With a strong turnout of 30 runners, Chichester finished a commendable fourth club overall and cemented their place in the top three across the junior and senior age groups, beaten only by Brighton & Hove and Crawley in the overall standings.
Chichester’s women took the medals, with the over-55 trio of Jane Harrop, Helen Dean and Amanda Godfrey running holders Arena 80 very close to win silver team medals, just five points behind their rivals but nearly 30 points ahead of third place.
It was an inspired run from Harrop which set things in motion by winning her over-55 age category by nearly two minutes beaten only by eight other athletes from the younger over-35 and over-45 age groups. Next home was Dean in sixth, with Godfrey in 12th giving the team 19 points.
With great strength in depth the B team nearly snatched bronze thanks to Sue Barty in 15th, Sue Baker in 17th and Sandra Nemorin-Noel in 18th for 50 points, just three behind third place.
In the over-45 race led home by internationals Caroline Hoyte and Julie Briggs, both of Arena 80, Emma Wickens had a great run to lead the squad home in 20th place, closely followed by Nadia Anderson in 22nd and Elizabeth Robinson in 24th for 66 points and sixth in the team standings, with reserves Tracy Lockyear in 28th and Nicky Stallard 33rd.
The men’s combined over-50 and over-60 race saw fewer 16 Chichester runners line up in a good field of nearly 90.
It was the over-60s who came closest to a medal, led home by Richard Miles in a fine fourth place, just missing out on an individual bronze.
John Miles – no relation – finished next in 21st with Kevin Lockyear 24th for a team total of 49 points in fifth place just ten behind bronze.
Over a strenuous but fair Downland course, the over 60B team stuck to their task well with Jan Hill 25th, John Betts 29th and Peter Shaw 30th for 84 points and seventh team slot.
For the over-50s Jason Boswell showed fine form to finish in 23rd place in a competitive age group where the winner would have been just outside the medals in the over-40s.
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Following Boswell home were Richard Pullen in 28th and John Bullard in 33rd for 84 points and eighth team place.
The B team packed well with Simon Thraves 34th, Paul Stallard 37th and Matt de Lacy 38th for tenth team while the C team also fared well thanks to Tim Brown 41st, Richard Ayling 45th and Will Sisted 54th plus reserve Jeremy Harrison 56th.
The one disappointment team-wise was in the final race, for the over-40 men, when talisman James Baker was forced to pull out with a strain on the morning of the race, leaving the remaining trio to run for individual honours without having a fourth scorer for the team awards, where a certain bronze would have been theirs.
John Peters had his best run for the club in fifth place followed by Justin Eggins in 23rd and Martin Hill in 24th to complete one of the club’s most successful overall Masters days in their history.
* There was a fine turnout of more than 50 cross-country runners from the West Sussex West area at the Sussex cchools championships at Waterhall, Brighton. They were among record fields totalling nearly 550.
Some 35 of the local contingent were from Bishop Luffa School, who turned out complete teams in five out of six races, coming away with one team gold, one bronze, two fourth places and a seventh. They can be regarded as one of the dominant schools in the county across the age groups.
In the senior girls’ race they showed amazing strength in depth with a team win by the largest margin of the day in any age group.
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The race was won by Olivia Macdonald, the only representative from Seaford College near Petworth, who pulled away from Ellie Farrow of Bishop Luffa.
There was almost a local clean sweep with Alice Cox-Rusbridge continuing her recent good form in fourth, ensuring these three will have automatic selection for the English schools championships in Leeds in March.
Four more Luffa pupils packed well to finish inside the top 16 with Olivia Wiseman 11th, Rachel Laurie 12th, Alice Ward 15th and Beth Brown 16th.
In the senior boys’ race Leo Stallard gained Sussex selection in fifth place followed by Luffa team-mate Ned Potter in eighth with Oliver Shergold in 22nd and Harry Sage in 24th, giving the team a total of 57 points and third place but agonisingly just 6 behind winning the gold medals. Alfie Spurle of the Regis School finished in 21st place.
There was another near-miss for Bishop Luffa in the intermediate girls’ race, with Olivia Toms and Maggie King both having fine top-ten runs in sixth and ninth respectively. They were supported well by Rose Potter in 44th and Amelia Bromell in 67th for 126 points and fourth place, with the winning team just 13 points ahead.
In the same race Nicole Boltwood finished 26th for Felpham and Emily Weymouth 40th for St Philip Howard.
There were two more top-ten placings in the intermediate boys’ race with James Gardam from Bishop Luffa having his best run of the season in fifth while Felpham’s Ethan Ward had a fine ninth in his first year in the age group.
Good backing from Luffa trio of Angus Matthews, Sam Weller 64th and Toby Payne 68th enabled them to match the girls’ efforts with a well-deserved fourth place.
In the junior races at the start of the programme, there were some good individual performances but team wise they could not match the older age groups.
The highest placings were from Harvey McGuiness of Bishop Luffa and Fionn O’Murchuof St Philip Howard in 12th and 13th in the Junior Boys race in the biggest field of the day with 146 finishers. The pair, usually Chichester club-mates, both have another year in the age group and show much promise.
Bishop Luffa managed seventh place thanks to Gabe White in 32nd, Max Sydenham 66th and Oli Fuller in 80th for 190 points while Jude Raza finished 44th for Felpham CC.
There were not complete local school teams in the junior girls’ race but three runners from different schools finished inside the top 50 out of a field of 140 finishers with Cerys Dickinson from St Philip Howard in 21st, Amelie McGurk from Bishop Luffa in 39th and Izzy Isitt from Felpham CC in 41st.
In the Hampshire equivalent of the event, in Southampton, Chichester Runners duo Liam Dunne and Joe McLarnon were in action. Dunne secured his place in the county intermediate team with an excellent third place, while McLarnon ran well to finish 17th in a competitive junior boys’ race.
Chichester Runners & AC athletes fared well at the South of England Championships at the Lee Valley Athletics Centre in London.
Rachel Laurie (under-20), competing in her first indoor 400m, found herself in a good position after the break from lanes at 150m, but got boxed in around the 300m mark, but still managed to come third in a respectable time of 63.28sec.
Fleur Hollyer (under-17) was in the 200m and continued where she left off the previous weekend at the London games, recording a new indoor personal best of 27.66.