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Sussex XC Championships

Chichester’s XC runners started their 2019 campaign in fine style at Bexhill on Saturday 5th January 2019 with a tally of both team and individual medals as well as a host of runners inline for Sussex selection for the National Inter-Counties at Loughborough in March.

 

On the normally boggy Little Common course at Bexhill, conditions this year were the driest in living memory making the races a test of speed as well as stamina. Chichester’s squad of over 40 runners kept up the club’s fine tradition in this event and finished the day in third place overall based on team positions across the nine races during the day. Only Brighton & Hove and Crawley were ahead, and Chichester cemented their place as third club in the county ahead of rivals, Horsham, Hastings, Eastbourne, Brighton Phoenix and Worthing, as well as a dozen other clubs in action at Bexhill.

 

Under 13’s

After the day had started with the two U11 non-championship race in which Millie Isitt flew the flag for Chichester, it was the U13’s who got the championships underway. For the girls, three of the club’s U11’s during the autumn were able to run for the U13’s for the first time and took their opportunity in style with the trio all scoring for the club’s A team and were rewarded with a 5th place in the team standings. A fine achievement as all three girls will have two more years in the same age group. Laila Hellyer had the run of the day to finish 8th followed by Florence Ingram in 20th and Lillie Hellyer 22nd. Just behind in 25th Izzy Isitt led home Amelie McGurk in 31st and Gemma Appleton in 46th for 8th place team wise and the second B team behind Brighton.

 

For the boys, Harvey McGuiness continued his good recent form to finish in 5th place and the first Chichester athlete of the day to secure automatic Sussex selection with the top five on the day certain to don the Sussex vest and the remaining three places left open to be decided on form nearer the race date. Harvey was always up with the leading group and finished just 7 seconds behind the winner in a race where the top 20 were separated by less than a minute. Fionn O’Murchu was also in the mix for much of the race and was just edged out of the top 10 to finish 13th. Logan Cooper also ran well in 25th giving the team 4th place out of a record 19 teams. Reserves Josh Dunne and Samuel Tonks showed promise for the future in 40th and 41st respectively as both boys will be in the same age group next year.

 

U15

Chichester’s U15 girls were only able to field three athletes for this race but did well to finish 6th team. Olivia Toms was the only runner brave enough to follow the fast start of national champion Beth Cook in the early stages and was rewarded with a top five place and Sussex selection. Nicole Boltwood had her best run of the season in 17th while Emily Weymouth battled well for 36th.

 

The club’s quartet in the boys U15 race packed well to be separated by only a minute with Archie Sadler first home in 20th place followed by Gabryel White in 27th and Toby Payne 31st with reserve Angus Matthews a place behind in his first race for the club.

 

U17’s and U20’s

 

Chichester ‘s U17’s and U20’s came home with success in all four races, but with the women it was more a question of individual honours while the men picked up team awards. Maggie King was the club’s only runner able to make this race for the U17 women, breaking a run of six consecutive years of team success in this age group. Maggie, however, justified her decision to run by clinching a Sussex call-up in 5th place. Alice Cox-Rusbridge, meanwhile, had double cause to compete as she was not only running for an individual place in her U20 age group but also being a vital part of the club’s senior team. Always in the top 20 overall in the senior race, Alice was delighted to achieve the club’s top position of the day in finishing runner-up to schools international Almi Nerurkar in the U20 category.

 

Chichester’s men were delighted to emerge with team medals in both the U17 and U20 races, with both age groups of a high standard. Ned Potter led the U17’s home in 6th place closely followed by Liam Dunne, last year’s U15 champion, in 8th, both runners less than half a minute outside the top three. Harry Sage battled well in 22nd and was rewarded by clinching team bronze for the club, edging Brighton into 4th place. Both Ned and Liam will be in the frame for Sussex selection but will have to wait until later in the season to see if they have made the cut.

It was a similar scenario for Chichester in the U20 race where the runners compete alongside the senior men but finish after 8K rather than the 12K for the seniors. Leo Stallard, Ben Morton and Ben Collins all started in the top 10 U20’s with Brodie Keates running a more conservative race in the next pack. With only the Brighton winner running clear, the rest of the U20’s were tightly bunched with Leo keeping his form well to finish 7th and Ben a place further back in 8th with Ben in 11th and Brodie 16th. The team total for the top three of 26 points was good enough for 3rd, just 8 points behind winners Brighton.

 

Senior Men and Senior Women

For the Sussex championships, the senior men run before the women to aid the officials to help with the prizegiving and Chichester’s squad of nine athletes all performed with credit in a very competitive field resulting in a well-deserved 6th team place. James Baker took advantage of the extra distance from a normal 8K league fixture and ran a well-judged race to steadily make his way through the field to finish just outside the top 10 in 12th place and add to his remarkable record of being the club’s first man home. Will Boutwood was pleased to be back competing after injury and battled well in 21st and the club’s second scorer.

 

Chichester were then indebted to their veteran ranks to enable them to finish as high as they did with Simon Dunne, the third member of his family in action, in 50th, Justin Eggins 54th, Jim Garland 59th and Stephen Davy in 70th completing the six-man scoring for 266 points. The club’s three reserves all performed with credit with Jason Boswell 72nd, Richard Pullen 82nd and Paul Stallard 89th.

 

The final race of the day, the combined senior and U20 women’s race, started with high hopes for a team medal but these were dashed within a couple of minutes of the start. Leeds University student Beth Garland had finished 3rd last year and was looking to go one better with only Nicole Taylor, a Sussex based Tonbridge athlete, having shown better winter form. Alas Beth was one of a handful of athletes to fall victim to a narrow heavily rooted section of the course and badly turned her ankle of the opening lap and was unable to continue. It was left to Alice Cox-Rusbridge to lead the team home in a fine 18th place overall while still an U20 with veteran Jane Harrop still able to keep up with the seniors in an excellent 26th and Birmingham University student Rose Ellis a brave 38th after having her training interrupted by injury.  Chichester’s only other athlete in the race, veteran Sue Baker, had only intended to run as reserve but after Beth’s injury was called into the team scores and justified her decision to run by bringing the team home in 8th place, not as high as they had hoped for but a top 10 placing all the same.

 

 

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