Sussex Road Relays

In the final fixture of the winter season, Chichester had one of their best day’s competition ever in the Sussex Road Relay Championships held at Christ’s Hospital School on Saturday 6th April.


Not only did the club come away with a fine haul of team and individual medals but they were almost alone among Sussex clubs in being able to field teams in all 11 age groups from U13’s right through to seniors and veterans. Over four hours of competition, the 60 plus squad surpassed the expectations of the club’s team managers in every single race.


Senior Men

In terms of sheer excitement, the final event of the day was one which Chichester’s men’s squad will remember for a long time. The team was without their top two on current form, Harry Leleu on Duathlon duty for the GB squad and Jo Corbett having a fantastic run the following day to record 2 hours 26 minutes time in the Manchester Marathon and third place out of 13,000 competitors.


However, the club’s strength in depth came to the rescue with the emphasis on youth with half the six-man “A” team U20 and only one over 25. The responsibility of the lead off leg was given to the youngest member of the team, U17 Liam Dunne, who repaid the faith of his team manager with a 10.03 clocking for the redesigned lap of exactly two miles which proved to be the fastest by any U17 on the day. Student Will Boutwood kept the club inside the top 10 in a very fast race at the front with 10 minutes exactly, Chichester’s fastest leg of the day. Consistent times by U20 Leo Stallard and seniors Mike Houston and Tom Le Lievre saw the club move up into the top six with just the final runner to go. It was Ben Collins who set off in pursuit and steadily closed the gap, soon overtaking Crawley and Lewes to move into fourth with only the Hastings athlete between Chichester and a medal. At halfway round the circuit the gap had close to less than 15 seconds and Ben was still closing. Then after just over an hour’s running of this race the two athletes moved into sight of the finish with Chichester within touching distance of Hastings. Ben Collins made his move and surged past to quickly open up a 20 metres gap, which his rival was unable to close and strode away to the finish among cheering crowds and one of the best team performances by the young Chichester squad.


Not too far behind was the club’s “B” team with an average age of just 20 with the six runners separated by just one minute with a team of Joe Godwood, U17 James Gardham, Conrad Meagher, newcomer to the team Will Grace and two U20’s Ollie Shergold and Brodie Keates. Two of the club’s graduates from the Foundation Group, Matt Fentrell and Paul Ford, showed promise running for an incomplete “C” team.


Senior Women

Almost an exact parallel of the Senior Men, the women’s “A” and “B” team had youthful look to it with an average age of just 20. Student Alice Wright gave the “A” team a fine start with a 11.56 clocking, the 5th fastest senior of the day putting Chichester well inside the top 10. U17 Maggie King made her way up through the file to 5th on leg 2 with 12.27, the fourth fastest in her age group to hand over on the final leg to U20 Alice Cox-Rusbridge who powered round in 12.08, the best time by an U20 but Chichester agonisingly having to settle for fourth, a mere 15 seconds outside the medals. Sophie Wright and Jenny Jakeman ran well for the “B” team with Alice Wright having her second run of the day to bring them home in an unofficial 11th place.


Veteran Men and Women

There were two great silver medal winning performances from Chichester’s strong squad of veteran runners with the over 50 women and over 40 men both on fine form. After Jane Harrop (second fastest V50 lap of the day) had given the women a fine start by leading on the opening leg, Helen Dean maintained the pressure with the fastest over 60 time of the day, 13.41 and a full minute faster than anyone else in her age group. Nadia Anderson had a brave run on the final leg but was not quite able to hold off a fast finishing Arena 80 athlete in having to settle for second place. However, the margin of just 14 seconds was the smallest for the dominant Brighton based club in the past decade.


Kim Nelson, Nicky Stallard and over 60 Sue Baker ran well for the “B” team for 9th place. The same position was gained by the club’s over 40 team of Emma Wickens, Vicky Balandis and V50 Amanda Godfrey while the “B” team of Elaine Cruttenden, Clare Snow and another run for Emma Wickens brought the “B” team home in 14th.


One of the more unexpected medals of the day came in the men’s over 40-race, with John Peters giving then a great start with a time of 10.38, the fourth fastest of the day. Solid running from Justin Eggins, Jason Snow and Keith Akerman saw them keep all the rest at bay apart from a fast Brighton & Hove quartet gaining them team silver by nearly a minute.


In the over 50 race Jon Edgar had the fastest Chichester time of 12.11 to lead Paul Stallard and Tim Brown to 10th place while the “B” team of Wim Amir, Jeremy Harrison and Peter Anderson finished 17th.  Another fast opening lap 12.58 saw Richard Miles lead the over 60’s on lap 1 with Tony Cooley and Andy Harrop putting in good runs to give the team a top five finish.


Junior U13’s and U15’s

With the start of the Easter holidays affecting all four age groups in the junior races, Chichester were nevertheless delighted to come away with two fifth places, one fourth and a very unexpected silver team medal including a new club record.


It was the U13 boys who surpassed expectations with Hal Edgar running a well-judged opening lap to put the club in touch with the leaders. Harvey McGuiness soon scythed his way through the pack on leg 2 to hand over to Josh Dunne in the lead after a 6.01 leg, the second fastest of the day. Josh drafted in as a reserve, was still leading at the half way stage of the final lap with a fast finishing Lewes athlete closing fast but still way ahead of the rest. In the event it was a course record run from Lewes that deprived Chichester of their win, but they had ample consolation in recording the second fastest time in the event’s history and a new club record with reserve Josh Eaton running well in the “B” team.


The U13 girls’ race was equally keenly fought with Chichester’s “A” team the youngest ever seen at this event with all three girls still in Primary School. Lillie Hellyer, Florence Ingram and Laila Hellyer did themselves and the club proud to finish a fine fifth place and with all three girls available to run in the same age group for two more years, the future of the girls’ squad looks very promising. There were also good runs from the “B” team of Isabelle Isitt, Grace Eminson and Marcie Faggetter, while Millie Isiit ran well for the “C” team.


Both U15 teams achieved a top five placing with Olivia Toms, Nicole Boltwood and Amelia Bromell fourth in the girls race while the trio of Joe McLarnon, Archie Sadler and Gabryel White a close fifth in the boys’ race with Bradley Holder an able reserve in the “B” team.