Running for Neil puts Sportsmanship First where they want to be

Sportsmanship First (SF) continues to make an impression – with its latest success a local one.

James Pennicott (left), Nick Casburn (second from right) and Neil McAlpine (right) were part of the Running for Neil team
James Pennicott (left), Nick Casburn (second from right) and Neil McAlpine (right) were part of the Running for Neil team

The organisation was set up in Chichester several years ago with the aim of teaching young people all about the importance of good sportmanship within competitive sport.

Members have taken their message far and wide and to prove that you can still be out to win as well as being good sports, members often take part in racing.

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The group’s running coach and committee member Neil McAlpine was honoured recently when, in recognition of his commitment to the sport and its positive values, a team of SF runners named their team ‘Running For Neil’ and achieved a fantastic win at the annual Chichester Corporate Challenge three-race series.

The team comprised James Pennicott, Nick Casburn, Fay Cripps, Paul Heath and Simon Gill.

McApline ran in one race but missed the other two through injury.

The event, covered extensively in the Chichester Observer, is open to sport and corporate teams and organisers actively encourage people to participate, regardless of their ability – be it a very competitive athlete or someone simply wanting to enjoy the atmosphere.

All ages are welcome and indeed encouraged to participate so it captures the spirit of SF.

Running for Neil were well represented at each of the three races and finished high up the rankings in each one.

Heath and Gill consistently finished in the top 20 and the team were undeterred by strong opposition in the sport category and were relentless in their pursuit of finishing in the top three.

That determination and resilience paid off when, after all results had been collated, it was revealed Running for Neil finished as first sport team and fastest team overall. The runners-up were a total of four minutes behind.

The win was all the more remarkable given that one of the team had just returned from a long-term injury and another from illness.

Stephen Crossley, ultra-marathon runner and founder of SF, was first male in the over-50s age group and 19th overall in the Centurion South Downs Way 50-mile ultra marathon in 2013 and is now attempting the 100-mile alternative.

“I always try my best and having great running partners and a dedicated coach like Neil in support makes a difference,” he said.

Sportsmanship First is an educational voluntary organisation that has coached thousands of local children. SF promotes competition as a fact of life and coaches essential and transferable life skills to young people, empowering them with understanding and the confidence to encourage each other.

They have been invited to present their work to the Department for Education and are aiming to raise funds so that every school in the country can be offered their life skills programme.

The SF committee are applying to the TV programme Dragon’s Den in the hope of raising funds and awareness. In the last few days a major company in Texas, USA has expressed an interest in collaborating with SF.

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