Sussex XC League Match 3 at Lancing Manor

Chichester sent a squad of 51 athletes to the third round of the Sussex Cross Country League held over the testing Lancing Manor course last Saturday 2nd December 2017.


Fortunately for the athletes, the harsh windy conditions from earlier in the week had abated and with firm ground underfoot, it resulted in another great day’s racing in all the nine races on the programme. Chichester’s primary concern was to consolidate the high positions of the teams who are in contention for end-of –season honours but there was the bonus of even better results than expected in some of the age groups plus a stunning individual victory in the boys’ U15 race.


U17 Men and Women

One of the features of the club’s junior sections over the past few years has been the consistency of the U17’s who have ranked among the top three clubs in Sussex over the past decade. The season is proving to be no exception with both the men’s and women’s teams showing great form on Saturday. The women always run with the men in league races, although they will be separated for the Sussex Championships in January when the senior extend their distance to 6K while the U17 remain with their usual 5K distance.


On Saturday Imogen Matthews and Alice Cox-Rusbridge both decided to make a fast start with the seniors and quickly established themselves inside the top 20 in the race and well inside the top 10 U17’s. They kept their pace to the end of the race including a second lap up to the downs and finished 6th and 7th respectively while Beth Brown, running a sensible race in mid-field came in 11th for a team total of 24 points, just behind Horsham on the day but extending their lead at the top of the table to a clear 37 points over Hastings with Horsham in 3rd.


Chichester’s U17 men welcomed Will Broom back into the team having missed the first two fixtures and recorded their first team win of the year with Will a fine second place followed by Leo Stallard 6th and Ned Potter 9th for a team total of 17 points, well in front of league leaders Brighton & Hove on 26. This brings Chichester up into the top three overall and with just the final race to come they look to be certain of team medals with the possibility of upgrading their current bronze prospects to silver at the final fixture. Notable runs also from the "B" team consisting of JJ Staples, Archie Spurle and David Bisatt.


U15’s, U13’s & U11’s

The club’s juniors once again gave a good account of themselves with U15 Liam Dunne the star of the day in recording his first ever XC league victory. Having been just pipped in the previous fixture at Bexhill and having to settle for second place, Liam made no mistake on Saturday and had his speed over the last 400m to thank for his success. Never outside the leading group, Liam and the top Lewes runner had pulled well clear of the rest of the field over the second half of the race with Liam just allowing a gap of a few yards to develop with the finish in sight. His final burst saw him swoop past his rival to win by a single second, a result which should see him full of confidence when putting on his Sussex vest in this weekend’s Southern Inter-Counties match at Oxford. Liam was followed by Archie Sadler in 38th place although yet again Chichester were deprived of a team placing without a third scoring runner.


In the U15 girls race it was Maggie King who continued her good winter form with a top 10-finish with just a minute separating her from the race winner. Olivia Toms decided not to risk aggravating an injury before the Oxford match and, so it was Nina Moranne in 22nd and Rose Potter in 26th who made up the scoring team with Nicole Boltwood reserve in 32nd.


The U13 girls once again had their top trio in action with Isobel leading twin sister Eva home in 12th and 13th respectively closely followed by Cerys Dickinson in 15th and just 13 seconds separating the three runners. Another solid team showing put them up into the medal positions and a 30-point margin over 4th placed Eastbourne with just a single race to go. Maisie Sadler was a good reserve in 42nd place in a very competitive age group.


For the boys, Joe McLarnon once again led Chichester home in a good 4th place with Fionn O’Murchu having his best cross country run just behind in 6th with Oli Fuller providing a capable replacement for Harvey McGuinness in 19th and giving Chichester a top 3 team placing with 30 points leaving them just outside the medals after three matches. There was a good showing from the “B” team in the same race with Gabryel White 36th, Logan Cooper 40th and Marcus Bone 60th for a team placing of 14th.


The U11 races are a development initiative over the last 2 years and although there are no team prizes, the competition gives league athletes of the future a chance to gain experience at club level. Florence Ingram led the girls home in 15th closely followed by Lillie Hellyer 16th, Carrie Annelay 17th, Leila Hellyer 19th and Grace Emison 28th. For the boys Seb Fenmor-Collins just pipped Sam Cato on the line for 28th and 29th respectively.


Senior Men and Senior Women

For the third race in succession, Chichester Senior Women’s “A” team were indebted to the U17’s Imogen Matthews and Alice Cox-Rusbridge to keep them in the hunt for team medals in Division 1 of the Women’s League. Finishing 20th and 23rd respectively in the open senior field, these two were followed by Sarah Fenmor-Collins in 31st and Sophie Wright 45th for a total of 166 points to leave them in third place in the overall team standings behind Arena 80 and Lewes but with a 40-point cushion over Hailsham with just the final fixture left. University student Emma Hughes led the “B” team home in 52nd followed by Beth Brown 71st and Jenny Jakeman 74th while the “C” team also put up a good showing with Nadia Anderson 81st, Sue Barty 98th and Elizabeth Robinson 103rd and reserve Rebecca Brown 109th.


In was in the corresponding fixture last season when Chichester’s Men’s promotion challenge became unstuck and the club was determined not to make the same mistake this time. Even having to make do without several of the club’s leading runners, those who stepped in did the club proud with Ben Morton, still an U20, given the chance to lead the club senior team home for the first time in his running career. After battling stride for stride for much of the 5 miles course with team mate, University student Joe Godwood, Ben just pulled away at the end to finish in 25th overall and 2nd U20 with Joe in 28th. Simon Dunne led fellow veteran Nick Fenmor-Collins in 53rd and 60th for a team aggregate total of 166 points to win the Second Division again on the day and extend their overall lead at the top of the table to more than 100 points. Barring an improbable complete collapse in the final fixture in February, Chichester’s men should emulate their women and find themselves in Division 1 for next season. There was good packing for the “B” team with newcomer to the club Mark Taylor leading home in 83rd followed by Keith Akerman 84th, Graham Woodward 100th and Them Phulphan 114th. John Bullard in 117th, Andrew Wingham 141st and Peter Anderson scored for an incomplete “C” team.