Club Report for AGM

It has been another successful and productive year for the club. Your committee has met six times in the reporting year under the guidance of our chairman as well as deciding some urgent issues through email dialogue. Whilst this report does not mention anyone by name the club owes a large debt of gratitude to all those, including parents of the juniors, who have volunteered throughout the year in a wide variety of duties to name a few being leaders and helpers at training, managing and helping at the Beginner Groups, organising and helping at events, team managers for events, administrating the WSFRL, website administration, planning and laying the Summer Trail runs, drafting reports for the Chichester Observer.   


The Committee’s main objectives for the year were


  • increase membership
  • maintain the club’s close relationship with Chichester College
  • maintain the club’s close relationship with Chichester parkrun and Junior parkrun
  • Increase participation in cross-country and West Sussex Fun Run League events
  • Increase participation in the summer track league meetings

It is hoped that the members consider these objectives, albeit ongoing, have been met and this report refers accordingly.


At the latest count, membership stood at 561, including Life Members. This is the highest number in the club’s history. 

Cake Run Group                                                                                                                                                                             The Cake Run Group continues to be an excellent format for new runners who enjoy running but are unsure about making that big jump into all-out competitive running. They currently have 75 active members, including some families, with at least 30 attending either or both of their Monday and Thursday training nights. This includes a recent influx of beginners who have completed their introductory course. Despite claims that they are only interested in eating cake, with a bit of running on the side, several the group have entered various races including the Cotswold 24-hour relay, Chichester half marathon and relay and West Sussex Fun Run League events.

Wednesday Summer Trail Runs

During 2017 there were nineteen trails, mostly on the South Downs, during the period from April to mid-September, excellently laid by volunteers. They attracted 1037 separate attendees (average 55 per trail, maximum 77) involving 172 individuals. One member had 100% attendance. The Committee wishes to thank Peter Shaw for organising these trails and to all those who volunteered to mark a course. Next year we are proposing to increase by at least three the number of trails with the programme starting on the 28th March 2018.


West Sussex Fun Run League

The West Sussex Fun Run League offers seventeen races a year, from Easter to 1 January, allowing members to get competitive at county level. These are generally quite short, but usually meet the chairman’s approval by including at least one decent hill. At the time of writing one event remains to be run namely the Hangover 5 at Hill Barn on 1 January. As last year, the club is lying mid-table in 10th place. Once again, we had an impressive turnout of 20 runners at each of the delightfully-named Steyning Roundhill Romp, the Littlehampton Beach Run and the Highdown Hike, and 32 runners at The Trundle. If we could get numbers like these out for the other races we would be in contention for the top spot.


As the title suggests, the emphasis is very much on fun, so if you feel a little daunted by the prospect of more “serious” events, do come along and enjoy yourself. You will not only collect points for the club, you may well end up winning a trophy as “points mean prizes”! One of the club’s objectives for 2017 was to get a larger turn-out to these events that are so cheap (still only £3) and easy to enter compared to the high cost of many events. This year a grand total of 221 runners took part, well down on the 2016 total of 278, so the club still needs to work on convincing more of our members that the Fun Run League really is a lot of fun.


Chichester parkrun

The club continues to enjoy a close relationship with Chichester parkrun. These free 5k runs (not races) every Saturday morning at Oaklands Park are enjoyed by many members with several assisting regularly as volunteers. We do urge those who run regularly to volunteer from time to time (some duties still allow someone to run) as without such help these runs cannot take place.


Chichester Junior parkrun

Chichester Junior parkrun was set up last year. It is run on Sunday mornings over a 2k course round Priory Park.

Here are the thoughts of Co-Event Director Jenette Whitfield:

“Chichester junior parkrun continues to go from strength to strength with 64 events under our belts. Our average attendance is 83 and our record so far is 134 – that was a busy morning! Even when the weather is cold and wet, the children still come along and seem to enjoy splashing through the mud and puddles (hopefully that means we are nurturing some future cross-country runners!). To date we have had 18 juniors from Chichester Runners run with us and our regular first male and female finishers are both with Chichester Runners juniors.

We have a good team of regular volunteers, many of who are from Chichester Runners but we always welcome new faces to come and give us a hand.

It has been a real pleasure to see so many youngsters taking part and for many of them, it is their first experience of running an event away from school PE lessons. Our main priority is that the children have fun and enjoy taking part. Hopefully, by providing a fun, free and regular event, we can help the children to develop a love for physical activity and running and for it to become a natural part of their everyday lives.

Thank you to everyone at Chichester Runners for your continued support, whether it be as participants, volunteers or cheering on the children on a Sunday morning. We couldn’t do it without you!” 


Cross Country

Once again, the County Championships were held at the classic course of Little Common, Bexhill with perhaps unsurprisingly the going being soft. The big highlight of the day was the under 17 men taking team gold (William Broom 2nd, Leo Stallard 5th and Luke Campbell 6th). Another fine performance was the under 17 women taking team silver (Grace Wills 6th, Alice Cox-Rusbridge 7th and Imogen Matthews 8th).


A strong contingent of the club’s most seasoned campaigners made the trip to the Sussex Masters at Lancing Manor. With James Baker finally coming of age and competing in the M40 race, and his mum Sue running in the W55 category, we had the unique situation of two generations competing at the same Masters. James took the individual silver, while Sue came in 14th. In the M60 race, super-vets Rob Wiggins and Dave Worcester were running what could be their last cross-country race. With 3rd finisher Tom Blaylock also in decline medal prospects were poor, but they stuck to their task and were delighted to take the bronze.  The supporting cast of John Miles, Martin Miller, Jan Hill and Peter Shaw played their part in keeping other medal contenders at bay, thus underlining the importance of the whole team giving their best.


In the Sussex Cross Country League, Chichester were overall winners in the U17 women. Chichester also won overall victory in the U17 men, with Will Broom taking individual bronze. Chichester Vet Women came third overall, with Jane Harrop, still dominant in the O55s, taking individual gold.


The Southern Cross-Country Championships at Parliament Hill was not quite the usual mud-bath but 15K of a hilly cross country is never easy. For the first time in 16 years the Senior Men took the Sussex Cup. This is awarded to the first Sussex club to get 12 men over the finishing line, a measure of the strength in depth within the club.


In reflecting on another fine cross-country season for the club, it must be emphasised that behind this splendid array of medals lies a strong base. It cannot be stressed enough that everyone’s result counts in maintaining our strong position in the league and at championships. As an ageing backmarker our chairman appreciates more and more that, in this most individual of sports, the feeling of being part of a team and doing your bit for the club is very special.


At the time of writing, the new cross-country season is already upon us and again the club has played host to the Sussex Cross-Country Relays and Sussex League meeting. As usual a big thank-you goes the tent team, course setters, marshals and officials, without whose excellent work events like these could not happen. Also, once again a big thank you to the tea tent staff for their excellent service and superb refreshments.


Besides cross-country events, the club also organises the Trundle Hill Race, the Midsummer 5 and the ever more successful Corporate Challenge Series. A big thank you goes to the organisers and helpers.


Trail Races

The James Baker legend goes on. For the 6th consecutive year he won the 16-mile Category “A” Fell Race known as the Exmoor Stagger. Hearts must sink among the Devon fell-running fraternity when they see him coming.

The 54-mile Race to the King, Slindon to Winchester via the South Downs Way, attracted a large field of seasoned endurance runners. For Chichester, the ever-improving Andy Wingham worked steadily through the field to finish 112nd out of 583 finishers in a time of 11 hours 3 minutes, a cool 38 minutes faster than last year.


The 100-mile South Downs Way Relay is the big team event of the year and Chichester fielded Men’s “A” and “B” teams. The “A” Team reversed the recent decline by finishing in 11 hours 51 minutes and 55 seconds, our fastest time since 2010. The “B” team were a little slower but still enjoyed a grand day out on the Downs. To get some idea of how enjoyable this event is look at the SDW Relay 2017 gallery on the club website.


Track and Field

Our juniors had another fine season which included several medal-winning performances at the Sussex Track and Field Championships. There were double wins for Sophie-Anne Haigh over 100 and 200 metres as well as Grace Wills over 800 and 1500 metres, both girls in the under 20 age group. Second claimers Alyssa White and Olivia Wiseman won gold in the under 17’s while there were also medals for Rachel Laurie, Will Broom, Leo Stallard and Brodie Keates.


In the Seniors, we consolidated our mid-table position in the Southern Mixed Athletics League.

Once again, however, we struggled to field complete teams at all five meetings. Ordinary members may consider track and field to be “too serious” for them. You can be assured that track meetings are a great day out where everyone’s contribution counts. All track and field events are covered, so if there are any throwers or jumpers out there, either with experience from school or maybe possessing some undiscovered talent, possibly as a hammer thrower, hurdler or steeplechaser, you are urged you to come along and have some fun. It is a continuing objective of the club to kindle an improved interest in this series of events.



The big club event in the spring calendar was the Sussex Road Relays at Christ’s Hospital. This is a great day out, which even the ever-slower chairman enjoys. Senior runners each do a short, sharp lap of two miles 93 yards with plenty of support from the sidelines to enhance the enjoyment. In the U15 girls race, our team of Olivia Wiseman, Maggie King and Caitlin Brown just missed out on bronze by an agonising 5 seconds. In the U15 boys race the silver medal winning Chichester team was Liam Dunne, Ned Potter and Alex Mani.  In the men’s Senior Race Chichester “A” were 4th, the outstanding run of the day coming from Leo Stallard and Will Broom who posted the first and second fastest U17 times of the day. In the O50 men’s race Jim Garland clocked the fastest lap of the day, a staggering 11 minutes 4 seconds. Chichester took silver in the Senior women’s race thanks to fine performances by Rebecca Moore, Grace Wills and Emily Moore. In the O50 Women, Chichester (Jane Harrop, Helen Dean and Nadia Anderson) took silver, helped by another outstanding individual performance from Jane Harrop with a fastest time of the day of 12:49.



Our junior section continues to flourish with currently 203 active juniors from Year 5 upwards on the books. In the winter months the training is based around the Chichester College Sports Pavilion with the younger ones on a Wednesday evening doing their session indoors. This group participates in the Sussex Sports Hall League that is a great way to start competitive athletics. During the summer the action takes place at the university with facilities for throwing and jumping, as well as running.        


Here are some observations by Junior Coach Helen Dean:


“Every Monday and Wednesday evening, whatever the weather, an intrepid band of athletes have met during the past year, either at the University during the summer or currently at the Pavilion.  We have welcomed many new members, some of whom were already performing well, others who were just starting out.  But they all have one thing in common - dedication, commitment to improving and an ability to follow Phil Baker's training plans for the evening! 


I have the privilege of coaching with Phil every Monday and duties have ranged from chatting to the youngsters, supporting, encouraging, admonishing (occasionally!), administering First Aid and looking for things in the dark!  But most of all I have enjoyed working with so many talented young people who have made so much progress over the year.”   


Partnership with Chichester College

Following the signing of a ten-year agreement of use with Chichester College, the club has access to a room on training nights between October and March, as well as free use of the changing rooms (all year round) and secure storage (24/7 access) for club equipment. The College continues to give Chichester Runners & AC members preferential joining deals to their gym. There is also a weekly 30-minute Stretch class most Mondays during the winter, cost per session being around £1. There is a bar facility for members to meet after training and for parents to use whilst waiting during junior training. The club has use of a room for stretching, committee meetings and social evenings such as quiz nights.


The club is working with the College on the construction of a training track round the Rugby field. This is currently at the planning stage.



Tom Blaylock is standing down as Chairman this year after eight happy years. He has found it an absolute pleasure to work with an enthusiastic and hard-working committee and hopes to spend many more years as an “ordinary member” enjoying and sharing his passion for this wonderful sport.


From Chichester Runners & AC Committee                   Dated 20th November 2017.