Goodwood Relays

Chichester’s Cross-Country season got off to a flying start at Goodwood Country Park on Saturday 30th September 2017. 

For the 16th year, Chichester Runners & AC hosted the Sussex Cross Country relays in conjunction with their open event. The race has seen some illustrious names take part over the years including internationals Charlie Grice, Steff Twell and Andy Vernon.


The event has grown over the years from its modest beginnings in 2002 when just over 40 teams took part. This year there were more than 200 teams registered and the picturesque South Downs course saw 600 of the best athletes from Sussex and Hampshire tackle the undulating terrain. As well as there being a record number of athletes overall, Chichester Runners topped 80 athletes at a single event for the first time in their 33-year history.


Amongst all this, the club’s teams brought home a fine tally of Sussex medals and were placed in the top six teams in ten out of the 14 age groups including two team golds from the outstanding girls U13’s and U17 women. Overall Chichester emerged in 2nd place overall in the aggregate points score out of the 20 clubs taking part.


U13 Girls and Boys

The programme got under way with the U13 race with each runner doing a leg of roughly 2800 metres over the testing course. Eva Buckler was given the responsibility of taking the opening leg and ran well to hand over in the top 5 teams with the field closely bunched at this stage of the race. Cerys Dickinson then cemented Chichester’s place and finished leg 2 with only Worthing in front by a small margin of 3 seconds. Isobel Buckler soon overtook her rival and it became obvious that Worthing had used up their best two runners on the opening legs. There was danger behind as the Brighton & Hove runner was eating into Chichester’s lead. Isobel had enough in reserve at the end to summon up a sprint over the last 100 metres to bring the club home in first place by just 4 seconds. Both the “Buckler” girls also had the satisfaction of recording lap times among the 5 fastest of the day, just outside 11 minutes.  In an incomplete “B” team Amelie McGurk and Skye Sadler gained good experience and show promise for the future.


In the boy’s race, Chichester decided to keep their fastest runner until leg 2 so it was Fionn O’Murchu who had the responsibility of tackling the mad rush of the opening leg. He did this well coming to the handover of just outside the top 10 and well in touch with the leading pack. Joe McLarnon then took over and gradually overhauled most of his rivals to run a storming leg in 10.10, the third fastest of the day to hand over in third place with only eventual winners, Hastings, having a clear lead. Logan Cooper than race a fine last leg but was unable to hold off Brighton & Hove who had saved their best runner until last and whose time of 9.50 proved to be the fastest of the day leaving Chichester just outside the medals in 4th place. With a good depth in the age group there was a good showing from the “B” team of Ollie Fuller, Roman Watson and Sam Corbett who were just 10 seconds faster than the club’s “C” team of Arthur Dearlove, Barney McLarnon and Marcus Bone.


U15 Girls and Boys

While neither of the U15 “A” teams gained medals, there were encouraging performances from the whole of the 15- athlete squad in this age group. For the boys, the “A” team of Niall Mears, Liam Dunne and Douglas Smith were in contention all the way to finish 6th, just a minute outside the top three. Chichester chose to put Liam Dunne on leg 2 and he responded well to cut through the field with the equal second-best time of the day at 9.13, all three fastest boys inside the all-time 15 times. For the “B” team, Archie Sadler led off in convincing style and was well supported by Joe Broad and Oscar Hares for 19th place with Eden Murphy and Kyle Chapman supporting well as reserves.


Olivia Toms led off well for the girl’s “A” team and was only headed after leg 1 by national XC champion Bethany Cook from the Eastbourne Bodyworks Tri club and former county champion Maya Ramnarine from Hastings. As was seen in the summer athletics league, this vintage of U15’s are the strongest in the county for many years and Nicole Boltwood and Maggi King fought well to finish in the top 10 in 8th place but only a minute outside the top three clubs. Charlotte Bullard led off for the “B” team and was well supported by Hannah Carmichael and Rose Potter with Lucy Ward a capable reserve.


U17 Men and Women

Chichester’s U17 squad have more strength in depth this coming season than in any other year in the club’s history. If the athletes can stay injury free, they have the potential to gain honours both at county level and further afield. The Goodwood Relays were the first occasion to put this to the test and only a superb last leg from the Brighton men’s “A” team prevented Chichester from gaining a clean sweep.


Alice Cox-Rusbridge made a good start for the girl’s team, running in conjunction with the senior field and was soon up with the leading pack to hand over in 10th place in all the age group but just behind the U17 leaders, Hastings AC. Imogen Matthews then proceeded to scythe her way through the field on leg 2 to give Chichester a 90 second lead over Hastings with only a strong Arena 80 senior team ahead of them. Olivia Wiseman on the anchor leg made no mistake and came home in splendid isolation to win team gold by well over a minute. Equally as impressive were the “B” team of Beth Brown, Florence Smith and Millie Hopkins in 5th place with Rachel Laurie and Alice Ward running good times as reserves.


The U17 men also had 8 runners, more than any other club and were pipped for gold by Brighton & Hove for whom Tom Eames ran a superb last leg to leave the team of Leo Stallard, Ned Potter and Ben Collins having to be content with silver, their consistent times separated by just 20 seconds. Charlie Benson and Alfie Spurle gave the “B” team a good start with Harry Sage bringing them home in 7th place with Jack Dean and David Bisatt giving good back-up in the “C” team.

Senior & Veteran Men

Chichester were faced with a difficult selection problem before the senior and veterans’ races as James Baker was eligible for both teams. It was James himself who opted for the seniors, a decision which paid off handsomely as the 4-man team gained Chichester’s first senior men’s medals for several years by finishing third overall and second in the Sussex Championships.


It was lucky for the club that Harry Leleu was home from University for the weekend and available to run as he led the whole field on the opening lap right from the gun and clocked the 2nd fastest ever by a Chichester athlete at 12 minutes 10 seconds for the tough 4k course, bettered only by James Baker himself with a club record 12.06. Another University student, Will Boutwood, kept the club in contention on lap 2 to hand over Conrad Meagher who finished leg 3 still in second place with only Brighton’s non-Sussex qualified team ahead of them. However, Lewes were keeping pace in third and had saved their best runner until last so it was no surprise that Chichester had to settle for the runners-up Sussex spot by a mere 27 seconds after just over 50 minutes of running.


With the emphasis on youth, Chichester’s “B” team with an average age of just 18 years finished in 13th place thanks to some consistent running from Joe Godwood, Brodie Keates, Ben Morton and Ethan Hartley. For the “C” team Mikey Neville was joined by a trio of students, thanks to the club’s links with Chichester University, John Coates, James Haley and Emmanuel Obine. For the veterans, even without the services of James Baker, the over 40 “A” team managed a very creditable third place for county bronze medals. Thanks to Charles Rodmell and Nick Fenmor Collins, Chichester were in the lead after the opening two legs but eventual winners Haywards Heath and runner-up Brighton & Hove had saved their best runners until the end and Keith Akerman and Justin Eggins had to let them pass but were clean in third place at the finish. Solid runs from Mark Jennings, Mike Moorcroft, Gary Williams and Phil Carr brought the “B” team home in 7th place. The over 50’s had Jim Garland on leg 1 setting one of the fastest times of the day with a 14 23 clocking and finished in 6th place thanks to Winston Bond, John Bullard, and Peter Anderson. Just outside the medals were the over 60 trio of Jan Hill, Martin Miller and Tom Blaylock who all had consistent times to finish in 4th place.


Senior and Veteran Women

Chichester knew that their chances of finishing high in the senior and veteran women’s races were lessened by the absence of several key members of their strongest squad. However, the 9 athletes in action enabled the club to finish three of the age categories with over half the runners making their first appearance at this level of competition.


Fastest of all was Fay Cripps with a 15.39 clocking for the same 4k lap as the men. This time led the over 35 teams after the first leg and together with Annabel Parker and Victoria Balandis, they finished in a creditable 5th place. One place higher were the over 45’s thanks to Nadia Anderson, Jenette Whitfield and Lorna Cowan. The senior team had two runners making their first appearance in this event with Vikki Bennett and Sara Wareham running the first two legs with veteran Sandra Nemorin-Noel bringing the team home.