Athletics: Striders have strong presence at Heathfield 10k

Junior Harry Strong
Junior Harry Strong

Seaford Striders had a strong presence at the latest event on the Sussex Grand Prix circuit, the Heathfield 10K which is held on quiet country lanes around the villages of Cross In Hand and Waldron.

A well organised, tough but enjoyable race, the talk on the start line at the Heathfield and Waldron Rugby Club was of the notable final climb and the typical british summer weather. The race is normally held in hot conditions which on this course can really sap the strength, but the mixture of sunshine, cloud and a cool breeze made for a pleasant change. Starting with a downhill sprint, there follows a 4 kilometres stretch ending at the lowest part of the route, although you’d never believe it due to the constant undulations. The last 5k is an uphill slog, with the brutal final kilometre guaranteeing to empty anything left in the tank and being payback for the initial downhill at the start. Perhaps spurred on by thoughts of the bar at the finish, the race ends with a lap of the rugby pitch.

In a field of 212 runners the winner was David Bradford of Lewes AC in 34 mins 23 secs.

First for the Striders and one who relishes the hills was Colin Hannant in 41.05 and 20th overall. There was an excellent performance by relative newcomer Billy Moakes 42.29 28th along with Adam Mansbridge 43.05 and Phil Robinson 44.27. Only just over a minute separated Alan Hards 50.49, Bob Ward 50.54, Chris Wrathall 51.24 and Rob Webber 52.06. There was a welcome return for Claire Keith, easing herself back from injury with 54.00 followed by Terry Ward 58.03.

Congratulations to Annie Line who won the Junior category in 1.02.05. Finally Carol Hards 1.07.58 and Richard Kimber 1.12.10 both found the going tough but will improve appreciably when back to full fitness.

On the previous day, The Downland School in Hassocks linked up with the Burgess Hill Runners Club to host the annual Downland Dash. Although flat, the course is 4.8 miles through fields and woodland over varied terrain.

The day began with a one-mile Junior race which attracted two young Striders, sisters Alessia and Christina Manco. Alessia clocked 6 mins 28 secs finishing 1st Girl and 8th overall and Christina 8 mins 7 secs finishing 35th. These were good times in a line up of nearly 70 which was won by Simeon Cousins of Haywards Heath Harriers in 5 mins 42 secs.

In the senior race first past the post in a field of 250 was Timmy Gedin of Arena 80 AC in a time of 29.16. Junior Harry Strong, still leg-weary from his impressive run in the Seaford Half Marathon of two weeks ago still clocked 34.48, being the 1st Strider to finish and 30th overall. Adam Mansbridge and Claire Keith used the event as a training race for the following days’ Heathfield 10K. Having plumped for road shoes Adam struggled in the muddy, wooded part of the course but still finished in 36.06. After being blighted by injury, this was Claire’s first race of the year and despite very little training was pleased to come home in 43.44.

Runners are always looking at ways to improve their personal best times and cross training by Swimming, cycling and core-strength exercises can be of real benefit. Ladies Captain Jackie Webber put this theory to the test by taking the plunge in the recent Great North Swim at Lake Windermere. Donning the compulsory wetsuit Jackie faced the choppy conditions which were gradually dragging swimmers back on shore. It wasn’t all bad news as the water was, by comparison a tropical 15.4 degrees compared to the current sea temperature of 9 degrees!

Swallowing fresh rather than sea water was a pleasant change and out of well over 1000 competitors Jackie recorded a marvellous 41 mins 46 secs, resulting in her finishing in the top 10 per cent in her age category for both sexes

Above: Junior Harry Strong. Credit: Sussex Sport Photography.