National XC Championships

The 2018 English National Championships returned to Parliament Hill Fields, London on Saturday 24th January 2018 for the first time in three years and witnessed record fields over the 10 races with nearly 6500 runners completing the various courses, over 1000 more than the previous record when the event was last held in London in 2015. The sport of Cross Country running is currently booming both at club and county levels with the recent South of England Championships at Brighton in January giving further proof of its popularity.


A squad of 36 of Chichester best runners headed to the iconic setting of Hampstead Heath with the start of each race having the impressive backdrop of the central London skyline. Against the best runners in the country there were fine individual performances, notably a 21st place from Will Broom in the U17 men’s race and a club record 33rd place by Beth Garland in the senior women’s race where over 1000 runners finished for the first time.


As for Chichester’s teams, the highlight of the day was a stunning 12th place from the U17 men while the senior men were pleased to finish 81st just inside the top half of the 182 teams who completed six runners and 65th in the nine to score category.


Juniors – U13 & U15

The highest finishing places in the U13 races came from Eva and Isobel Buckler who crossed the line in 58th and 87th places respectively out of a field of nearly 500 runners. Such is the quality and depth of opposition at these championships that the twins were two of just 8 Chichester Runners who made the top 100 in any of the races. Next home in the U13 girls race was Cerys Dickinson who finished 257th but barely a minute outside the top 100 giving an impression of how closely bunched the runners are at this level. The lack of a 4th runner prevented the team scoring inside the top 30.


The U13 boys did indeed field a full team and had the luxury of a reserve. Fast improving Fionn O’Murchu was first home in 118th place followed just 12 seconds later by Joe McLarnon in 156th with Harvey McGuiness in 223th and 4th scorer Ollie Fuller in 456th and reserve Barney McLarnon in 467th. They were rewarded with a team position of 37th out of the 56 clubs to complete a team.


Another top 100 placing was from Liam Dunne in the U15 boys race although he was disappointed not to have reproduced the form which saw him finish 5th in the South of England Championships and where 10 of the top 20 in the National were Southern based athletes with Liam having beaten three of the top 11 at Brighton in January. Having one slightly below par race cannot take away from the fantastic season that Liam has had since September. In his first serious season at cross country he has beaten some of the best in the country and become county champion in the process.


In the U15 girls race, Chichester two representatives acquitted themselves with credit with Nina Moranne finishing 339th followed two seconds later by clubmate Nicole Boltwood.


U17 & U20

Chichester’s U17 men had already achieved a club record 5th place in the South of England Championships but were without 4th scorer Ben Collins in London. In the event there were three fine runs from the club’s top runners with the reserve’s stepping up to the plate to give the club a finishing place of 12th team, just behind the strongly fancied Portsmouth in 10th but well in front of other Sussex rivals. 


It was Will Broom who had one of the runs of the day for Chichester by improving his 29th place at the South of England event to a fine 21st in the National, barely a minute behind Portsmouth’s runner-up Lachlan Wellington. Next home for Chichester were the pairing of Leo Stallard and Ned Potter in 74th and 75th respectively with just a single second separating the pair at the finish. In the absence of Ben Collins, all eyes were on JJ Staples and Harry Sage to see which of them would be the crucial 4th scorer for the team and at the finish it was JJ who came home in front in 246th just ahead of Harry in 275th and giving Chichester their highest team placing of the day.


In the U17 women’s race, injury robbed the club a chance of a good team placing but Alice Cox-Rusbridge continued her fine season with a top 100 placing in 98th with teammate Beth Brown battling hard to finish 256th. There was just one Chichester athlete in the U20’s with Ben Morton another athlete to maintain his high standard this season finishing in a creditable 112th place.

Senior Men & Women

An unfortunate hold-up due to a traffic incident prevented most of Chichester’s women’s team from having time to collect their chip timing straps before the start and although they were able to run in the race, no official positions were able to be given. One runner who arrived from the opposite end of the country did score, however, and produced the best senior women’s National performance in the club’s history.


Medical student Beth Garland travelled down from Leeds where she is currently based and ran the race of her life to finish 33rd out of 1100 of the best women cross country runners in England. Beth had already made a breakthrough by winning a bronze medal at the Sussex Championships in the New Year at Bexhill and had followed this up with a good showing for her University in the British Colleges Championships in early February but the run at Parliament Hill eclipsed what she had done before and left many illustrious names of English middle distance running in her wake.


Chichester’s senior men were able to field a full team of a dozen runners and this in spite of not being able to call on the services of three of their leading six runners. Leading Chichester home once again was James Baker who, in spite of being currently in the middle of marathon training, finished a creditable 188th out of the record field of more than 2300 runners. Of local interest at the head of the field was runner-up Andy Maud of Highgate Harriers, runner-up in this year’s Chichester 10K and gaining revenge on 10K winner Richard Allen of Aldershot down in 13th.


Another Chichester athlete who has been improving hand over fist this winter is Mike Houston who was next home in 358th followed by Tom Pritchard in 695th. Making it a family double in the National was Jim Garland, now in the over 50 ranks but still fit enough to finish 4th scorer in 1036th. Close packing from John Bullard in 1538th and Jason Boswell in 1576th closed in the top six to give the club a creditable placing of 81st, just inside the top half of the 162 clubs to complete a team. There is also a nine to score ranking in the national for the senior men in which the club finished 65th thanks to Gary Williams in 1719th, Richard Miles 1875th and Mike Moorcroft 2051st. Then to complete Chichester’s scoring after 5 hours of the most competitive running, the final four men all completed the tough hilly London course to bring the full 12 home with Tom Blaylock 2139th, Mark Jennings 2177th, Kevin Batt 2235th and Peter Anderson 2287th.