Sussex Masters XC Championships

Running in testing conditions on one of the hardest courses in the county, Chichester’s squad of 27 veteran athletes produced some fine performances and returned with medals from the Sussex Masters’ Championships at Lancing Manor on Saturday 20th January 2018.


With the standard of veteran’s athletics improving year on year, it is becoming increasingly difficult to vie for honours but battling efforts from the Chichester squad ensured that they were top team club in the men’s events and second overall with the combined men’s and women’s score, only beaten by the all-conquering Arena 80 women’s squad who notched up a clean sweep in all three women’s age groups.


Man’s Races

For the first time for many years, Chichester turned out in force in the O40 men’s race. In spite of the late withdrawal of 2017 runner-up James Baker who still has not fully recovered from a fall while training before Christmas, the 8 man Chichester squad were confident of putting in some solid performances and packing well.


A fine run from Charles Rodmell led the club home in 5th position followed by improving Simon Dunne in 14th and Justin Eggins in 26th. With 4 to score there was a battle to the line between Keith Akerman and Stephen Davy with Keith just getting the final “A” team spot in 29th with both athletes awarded the same time. Their points score of 74 was just five behind Haywards heath in third and a mere eight behind Lewes in silver medal position. Stephen 30th led the “B” team with support from Jason Boswell 33rd, Matt de Lacy 35th and Gary Williams 36th for a team total of 134 points in 5th place.


With the club’s top O50 Jim Garland deciding to give the rough steep terrain of Lancing a miss to avoid aggravating a previous injury, it was left to John Bullard to bring the club home in the O50 men’s race in 21st place. Dee Caldwell followed next in 26th with Tim Brown closing in the three-man team in 37th with reserves Andrew Wingham 40th and Peter Anderson 44th. Proving to be the most competitive age group of the day, 10 clubs fielded at least one team and Chichester’s total of 84 points put them in 8th place.


As with the O40’s, Chichester’s O60s’ were out in force. Once again, all six runners packed well and ran to form but the club was agonisingly three points outside a team medal. With an inspired run, Richard Miles finished in third place among the O60’s relegating a host of previous medallists to positions outside the top three. In fact, Richard would have also been Chichester’s top scorer in the O50 race run at the same time. Following Richard home were Tom Blaylock in 12th and Jan Hill 15th for a team total of 30 just behind Brighton Phoenix on 27 points in bronze and Crawley in silver on 25. Just losing out to Jan Hill for third spot in the “A” team, John Miles led the “B” team in 16th followed by John Betts in 21st and Peter Shaw 23rd, with special mention to John who bravely kept going after becoming one of a number of athletes to fall on the tricky downhill section of the course, which was becoming increasingly difficult to navigate as the day went on and after previous races had churned up the surface.


Women’s Races

All three women’s age groups ran at the same time although there were separate O35, O45 and O55 races taking place. The overall race was won by multiple previous winner, Caroline Hoyte of Arena 80, an O45 runner, who beat all the younger age group athletes home.


There was a similar story for Chichester with O60 Helen Dean leading the club home and gaining a well-deserved individual bronze medal in the O55 age group. She was followed home by O45’s Nadia Anderson in 17th and Elizabeth Robinson 19th in their age group but without a third scorer the pair were unable to gain an almost certain top five team placing. Sandwiched between these two was Julia Hammond, the club’s first O35 home in 27th followed by Catherine Betts in 37th although once again the lack of a third counter meant no team placing.


Mention must also go the Betts’ family as father and daughter John and Catherine emulated Sue and James Baker from last year by becoming only the club’s second pair of two generations in the same event. Team wise, there was great news from the O55 age group with Sandra Nemorin-Noel and Sue Baker making it across the line in 15th and 18th respectively with the team having the luxury of reserve Liz Wingham as back-up in 20th. The team total of 36 points was a mere three points off silver but after all the trials and tribulations of the day, the Chichester O55’s were delighted to be coming home with county medals round their necks.