Record cross-country field go great guns at Goodwood

For the second time in three weeks conditions were favourable for Sussex cross country runners at Goodwood.

Following the county relay championships at the end of September, the country park hosted the first Sussex League fixture of the season.

A record field of nearly 500 athletes competed across the seven races ranging from under-13s to seniors and veterans - and for the first time a primary schools’ race was held before the main league programme.

In terms of consistency of performance the under-15 girls stood out for Chichester by having five in the top 11 finishers.

Saskia Gardam led the club home in fourth, closely followed by Rose Ellis in fifth and Tara Bage sixth for a team total of 15 points, beaten only by last year’s county champions Hastings AC, who were on form in all age groups at Goodwood and look the team to beat over the season.

Charlotte Reading in ninth and Holly Beaton (11th) backed up well and would have ended as third-placed team with another runner.

In the boys’ under-15 race Casey Keates was up with the leading pack in the early stages and did well to finish fifth, well supported by Harry Lyne in 14th and Harry Pink 17th to finish as fifth team - only seven points behind second-placed Lewes.

Adam Croad and Sam Reading were capable reserves in 18th and 31st places.

In the under-13s, while Chichester missed out on a top-ten individual placing, the strength of the squad showed much promise for the rest of the season.

There was great packing in the boys’ race with Jack Stubbings in 16th just edging out Ben Collins in 18th and Brodie Keates in 19th, the three separated by a mere ten seconds at the end of their 3,000m with Leo Stallard in 26th and Benedict Robinson 39th good reserves.

Maddie Smith led home the girls in 14th with promising Olivia Hoare just five seconds back in 16th and third scorer Katie Hains 19th for a close fifth team placing.

Chloe Croad in 22nd was followed by Anna Hains and Alyssa White to bring the second team in ninth while Hanako Finn, Megan Courtman and Megan McCulloch gave Chichester their third team in the top ten.

Earlier the new primary schools event took place over a shorter 2,000m course with Jonathan McGeogh from West Dean emerging as the first winner of the boys’ race in front of Central School pairing of Ryan Thorn and Ethan Brown who led their team to a one-point victory over West Dean.

Lily Delacy and Bethany Stonefrost led their Jessie Younghusband team to a convincing win in the girls’ race with first and third respectively, with Amber Dodd from Bosham splitting them in second place.

First in action over the longer woodland senior course were the under-17 men, who made light of the heavy conditions.

The winner from Brighton Phoenix covered the distance, just short of 5,000 metres, in an impressive time of under 16 minutes.

For Chichester, Harry Leleu and James McKenzie set off with the leading pack and finished in a fine third and fifth respectively but with an injured Josh James on the sidelines had to be content with fourth place in the team standings.

With the under-17 women running in the senior race, it was a chance to see how Chichester’s crop of those who have just left the under-15 ranks would fare over the longer and tougher senior course.

While in-form veteran Jane Harrop led Chichester home in a fine eighth place, it was two of the under-17s, Georgina Warner and Nicola Mead, in 21st and 25th, who finished either side of veteran Angela Carpenter in 22nd.

That gave the team an excellent fourth place in their first match in the top division after their promotion at the end of last season.

Two more under-17s, Emma Maynard and Lucy Ellis, led the B team home in 34th and 53rd followed by veteran Katie Michael in 68th for sixth team spot in division two.

With their best turn-out for a number of seasons, Chichester’s third team finished 20th with Jill Renson 85th, Sophie Walker 86th and Rachel Austin 96th, with Rebecca Charnley 97th.

With top senior men James Baker and Jo Corbett unavailable it was left to in-form veteran Chris Jack to bring the squad home in a fine 30th overall - sixth veteran out of a record field of 180 finishers.

He was followed by two more veterans - Chris Tucker in 63rd and Andy Maynard 82nd - with under-20 Greg Smith in 69th.

Aiming for a swift return to division one after last season’s relegation, Chichester lie third with 244 points, just outside the top two promotion places.

The club’s B team finished 11th in division three thanks to Nick Palmer in 95th, Tom Blaylock 108th, Alan Rowley 125th and Angus Farrelly 158th.