Chichester play part in record Sussex cross-country turnout

Record numbers of runners turned out for the second fixture of the Sussex Cross Country League – and Chichester Runners played a full part.

Chichester's women at the Stanmer Park fixture
Chichester's women at the Stanmer Park fixture

With good conditions underfoot, nearly 800 runners of all ages converged on Stanmer Park, Brighton, in nine races over a three hour programme.

The year’s break from inter-club competition has not deterred clubs from resuming their training programmes when they were allowed to, and the standard of competition was one of the highest in recent years.

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Under 11, 13, 15

As usual the races started with the under-11s with both Daisy Hillyer and Max Gayle both acquitting themselves well with top 10 placings of 6th and 9th respectively.

With both Chichester teams having notched up top three placings at Goodwood in the under-13 age group, there was disappointment for the girls as illness and recovery from injury robbed Chichester of a number of key runners.

The result was that, even though Grace Howarth and Iona Sherwood ran well in 23rd and 28th respectively, the team incurred a penalty for a lack of a third scoring member.

In the boys’ race there was another strong run from Stanley Wilkes who was up with the leaders for much of the race and was just pipped into 7th at the end of the 3000m course.

Harry Dunne again showed his consistency in 15th while Kai Lendrum brought the team home in 37th.

The under-15 age group in Sussex this season looks to be particularly strong but Chichester competed well with a number of good squads from all over Sussex.

Anya Barrett led the girls’ team home in a very respectable 17th place, backed up well by Milly Isitt in 32nd and Florence Ingram in 34th.

In the boys’ race, all four Chichester runners were well packed with Ben Ward first over the line in 16th, closely followed by Alessandro Schmitt and Josh Dunne in 19th and 20th.

Dunne ran one of the fastest laps at the Goodwood relays at the end of September, but was content to run with training partner Schmitt in his first race after illness.

Senior women including under-17s and veterans

In this race Chichester had perhaps the greatest span of ages in its 37 years of the club.

The senior women’s field in this league includes the under-17 age group for athletes aged 16 or 17 and the oldest age group currently is the over-75s with Chichester fielding athletes in both categories, giving a 60-year gap between oldest and youngest. First home for the under-17s was Cerys Dickinson in her first race back from long-term injury, who did well to finish 10th in the under-17 age group and 46th in the record overall field of 175 finishers.

Next for the under-17s was Issy Isitt in 14th (97th overall) followed by Gemma Appleton in 16th (107th).

The under-17 team have had a great start to the season in occupying a top three team placing in the league, after winning bronze medals at the Goodwood relays in September.

There was a mixture of ages in the rest of the Chichester squad with Fay Cripps leading the club home in 34th and in third place in the over-35 category. Charlotte Reading was 36th with under-17 Dickinson 46 and veteran Nadia Anderson bringing home the team in 82nd, sixth over-55 to finish.

Reserves were AnnMarie Dodds in 136th and Sue Baker in 147th and second over-65 to cross the line.

Special mention must go to Wendy Whelan in 172nd place who graces the over-75 group. Whelan scooped the top award at Goodwood in her age group, but on this occasion she was just pipped by one of her rivals.

Senior men

It was a question of Chichester’s veteran men saving the day for the club as illness, injury and unavailability had robbed the club of its younger senior element bar one runner.

In the absence of perennial James Baker, it was in-form Conrad Meagher who led the club home in a fine 26th place and confirmed form shown in the first fixture.

Next for the club was improving under-20 Callum Lorimer but an untimely sprain in one of the wooded sections put paid to his race.

The remaining team places were filled by four over-50 and one over-60 runner with an over-70 acting as reserve.

Robin Charnock finished 136th in the record field of 208 and was followed by fellow over 50s Paul Stallard in 159th and Tim Brown in 165th.

Over 60 Dave Reading was 185th with over-50 Peter Anderson scoring as sixth man in 202nd.

Over-70 Ian Stevens in 207th and third in his age category.