THERE were wet conditions underfoot but brightening weather gave excellent conditions for cross-country running in the second fixture of the season for the Sussex League at Plumpton.
Chichester’s contingent of more than 40 athletes produced stunning team and individual performances, emerging as the most successful club of the day.
After a popular invitation race for under-11s, where Douglas Smith finished eighth, Nina Moranne 55th and Rose Potter 58th out of the 84 finishers, the under-13 girls’ race saw Chichester off to the best possible start.
Olivia Wiseman has been showing great form and hung on to the leading Hastings athlete as the pair pulled away from the pack – then had the strength over the last 800m to stride away for an impressive victory.
Cheyenna James went one better than in the previous fixture at Goodwood, finishing a clear third, and with Xenia Truman making up several places over the final uphill run to the line in 13th, Chichester finished the day on 17 points to tie for first place with Hastings.
Good packing enabled Coco Smythe to finish 17th and Charlotte Bullard 19th, making Chichester the only club with five runners in the top 20.
In the boys’ under-13 race Chichester’s top three of Harry Sage, Ned Potter and Jeremy Sharp all went for a fast start and were in the leading pack at halfway.
The top two from the Goodwood run pulled clear in the colours of Hastings and Worthing but Chichester’s trio stuck to their task with Sage leading them home in fifth, followed by Potter in 7th and Sharp slipping back over the final few metres for 14th.
Their efforts were rewarded with a narrow team victory just a single point in front of Brighton & Hove. Again there were good efforts from reserves Tom Davy (27th) and JJ Staples (40th).
In the under-15 races, Chloe Croad flew the flag in the girls’ race with a good run in 12th while the boys once again produced fine packing to score a convincing victory and consolidate their position at the head of the league.
Ben Collins found a good position in the leading pack but with 800m remaining, his Lewes rival had made a break leaving him to claim runners-up spot for the second time in a row.
Close behind, Luke Campbell had another impressive run to finish fifth and Brodie Keates won the battle to be third A team scorer in ninth.
Just behind were Leo Stallard in tenth and Jack Blackman in 13th, and the team were competed by Benedict Robinson in 29th for a total of 52 points and fifth place, well in front of any other B team.
That gave Chichester three winning teams from four junior races, their best-ever result.
The winner at Goodwood, Casey Keates, again led from the front for the under-17 men over a gruelling 5.5k course and was in contention for much of the race, just giving way to his rivals over the last lap to finish fourth.
Harry Lyne was eighth with Harry Pink completing the scoring for the A team in 15th for second place behind previous winners Lewes, a result which keeps them second.
For the B team Will Kallaway and Adam Croad were 18th and 19th with Sam Reading completing the scoring in 24th for sixth place on the day, bringing them up to fifth overall.
Running with the seniors, the under-17 women had to battle without injured Rose Ellis so it was left to Charlotte Reading to produce her best result of the season to – seventh overall in the women’s field and second under-17.
Equally as impressive was Amber Westron – 20th overall and seventh under-17, enabling Chichester to cling to a narrow leads at the top of the table after two fixtures with 63 points with Hastings, Brighton & Hove and Crawley close behind.
With under-17s Reading and Westron scoring for the seniors as well, the rest of the Chichester women’s A team total of 59 points was thanks to another fine run from top over-45 runner Jane Harrop, an amazing sixth overall, and Anneliese Shaw, who was 26th. Emma Maynard provided good back up in 47th.
The senior men’s field was nearly 200-strong and James Baker established himself in the leading pack at the end of the first of three laps covering 8.2k.
Baker led a much smaller group next time round and started to break up the chasing pack. The 37-year-old gradually pulled away to notch his first Sussex League win since 2012.
Next home for Chichester was Harry Leleu in eighth overall, a clear winner of the under-20 age group, all the more impressive as this is Leleu’s first year running with the seniors.
Veterans Steve Davy and John Bullard were 53rd and 87th to give Chichester 149 points and put them top of their division.
The next three runners home were part of the club’s over-60 medal winning team in the South of England road relays, with Rob Wiggins 90th overall and second over-60 to finish, followed by Dave Dorning in 111th (fourth over-60) and Tom Blaylock in 142nd. Andrew Wingham was 161st, Paddy Clark 163rd, John Betts 166th and Peter Shaw 177th.