Chichester Runners show fighting spirit at Ardingly
Heavy overnight rain meant conditions were challenging for the third Sussex Cross Country League fixture on the new course of Ardingly Showground near Haywards Heath.
In contrast to the first two at Goodwood and Stanmer Park, Brighton, the latest fixture was more of a test of strength and endurance rather than pure speed. The two dozen Chichester runners in action all showed great fighting spirit to master the terrain.
In the under-11 boys’ race as the beginning of the programme of nine races, Max Gayle showed a consistent improvement in notching up a top ten place in eighth.
In the under-13 age group, Stanley Wilkes ran well to finish tenth in the boys’ race while Elodie Hill and Grace Howarth were 13th and 28th in a very competitive girls’ race.
There was good packing from the under-15 girls with Anya Barrett leading the way in 15th with Florence Ingram, looking stronger with every race, in 19th and Millie Isiit completing the scoring in 32nd. Alessandro Schmitt just made it inside the top 20 with a 19th placing in the under-15 boys’ race.
Under-17s and seniors
Teamwise, Chichester’s most consistent team have been the under-17 girls, coming in the top three Sussex teams at the Goodwood relays back in September as well as both previous league fixtures.
They kept up their record at Ardingly with another third place and look set for team medals at the end of the season.
Coming back from a long lay-off, Cerys Dickinson again showed her improving form to finish 24th in the whole senior women’s field and ninth in the under-17 age group.
Isabel Isitt was next in 55th (14th under-17 with Gemma Appleton 75th (19th under-17).
There were also four veterans in action with Nadia Anderson leading the way in 57th and not only 20th in the over-45 ranks but also making the overall senior team with the three under-17s.
Elaine Cruttenden was home in 101st (35th over-45) while the remaining two finishers were Sue Baker and Wendy Whelan, both over-65s, in 103rd and 114th respectively and second and fourth in their age groups.
What is amazing about the latter two is that they shook off the effects of their cross country and lined for the Victory five-mile road race at Portsmouth less than 24 hours later.
In the men’s races, Harvey McGuinness made a welcome return after illness and finished an impressive sixth in the under-17 race while under-20 Callum Lorimer led the senior men home for Chichester in 65th, tenth in his age group.
It was a battle of the veterans for the remaining half-dozen Chichester members in action with Robin Charnock continuing his good season’s form with 86th overall and 12th in the over-50 age group.
Not far behind was Paul Stallard in 116th (21st v50), followed by Tim Brown in 129th (28th v50), Dave Reading 138th (12th V60), Peter Anderson 152nd (33rd v50) and Peter Shaw, 164th and third in the over-70 age group.
There will be no let-up for Chichester Runners in training over the Christmas and New Year period as there are two events to look forward to on the first two Saturdays of 2022.
First is the aptly named Hangover 5 at Goring which will mark a very welcome return of the West Sussex Fun Run League after a complete absence of competition in 2021.
The league hopes to resume its programme of around 17 races through the year over a variety of distances and terrains.
On Saturday, January 8, athletes of all ages will make their way to the popular Little Common course at Bexhill for the main Sussex Championships for under-11s through to seniors.
Chichester will aim to field teams in all ten age groups and be vying for individual and team Sussex medals. There will be an extra incentive of selection for the National Inter-Counties championships at Loughborough later in the season.