Parkrun perfection... race to the pub... having fun on the run

Cross-country action at Goodwood earlier in the season  / Picture by Sara Ellis
Cross-country action at Goodwood earlier in the season / Picture by Sara Ellis

As well as the regular Saturday-morning parkruns in Chichester, Bognor and elsewhere, many venues hosted Christmas Day and New Year’s Day events so runners could test their fitness in four of the 5k runs in nine days.

Perhaps the most noteworthy performance in Chichester was from Rebecca Moore, first runner home outright on New Year’s Day and beating all the men in the process.

Mike Houston, the Chichester event’s founder, has recaptured some of his own form in recent weeks to finish in the top three in his home race.

Not far behind that achievement came James Baker, who travelled to the Lakeside, Portsmouth, on Christmas Eve and was delighted to set a new course record of 15min 56sec – that coming 25 years after deciding to join his local running club and take athletics seriously.

Two other members of Chichester Runners have notched wins in the past couple of weeks with Sophie Wright first home at Bognor and Moore first female to finish, while Sarah Loy notched up another first place at Chichester to add to her growing tally.

Not content with local success, Baker went to the Alice Holt venue near Farnham and was too good for the local runners.

Meanwhile Mike Houston, the Chichester event’s founder, has recaptured some of his own form in recent weeks to finish in the top three in his home race.

West Sussex Fun Run League

The traditional opener of the West Sussex Fun Run league fixture of the season took place over the usual Hill Barn course near Worthing and 14 members of Chichester Runners gave a good account of themselves among an impressive field of more than 400 finishers.

Keith Akerman led the club home in 30th place, followed by Justin Eggins in 33rd, both athletes gaining a near-maximum nine bonus points for their efforts.

Also making the top 50 was Simon Ludlam in 45th while there was a family battle for the next two home with Dave Reading in 74th just beating daughter Charlotte in 78th.

Charlotte did have the satisfaction of collecting Chichester’s only maximum ten-point bonus of the day finishing as ninth lady.

Club chairman Tom Blaylock was 90th while there was a battle for the line with Tony Cooley in 123rd just getting the better of Kevin Lockyear one place and three seconds behind.

Close packing from Annabel Jeffries in 135th and Tracy Lockyear 143rd gave both athletes nine bonus points with Amanda Godfrey close behind in 147th. Just outside the top 200 was Gary Tompsett in 213rd while Jill Renson in 225th and Sue Baker 264th completed the scoring.

Horndean Pub to Pub

Two Chichester runners travelled to Horndean on the Tuesday after Christmas for the popular Pub to Pub race with the serious runners covering the out-and-back distance of 7.4 miles of fairly undulating terrain over country roads.

James Baker outclassed the field and was the only runner to break the 40-minute barrier with a time of 39min 23sec, working out at under 5.30 for each mile, an impressive feat.

Baker’s arch local rival, Julian Manning from Denmead Striders, was second in 40.41, while Chichester’s Keith Akerman finished a creditable 14th in 49.32.

Sussex Cross Country Championship

The cream of the county’s middle-distance athletes of all ages will be travelling to Bexhill this Saturday for the Sussex Cross Country Championships.

Much will be at stake with team and individual medals to be won on the day as well as the overall senior, junior and overall shield for the top club in the county across all age groups, from under-13 through to senior.

In addition the top five in each race will be given automatic selection for the National Inter-Counties race, which takes place this year in early March at Loughborough.

From their league form earlier in the season, Chichester’s under-17 and women look to be the club’s strongest hopes for team medals although the under-15s have been improving all season and are in with a shout of a top-three placing.

Last year it was a question of so-near-so-far for the senior women who came agonisingly close to a medal position with the top four clubs separated by just a handful of points.

Much will depend this year on the strength of the other clubs and, more importantly, which clubs can field four athletes who can pack closely together.

Chichester’s men’a team will have a mixture of youth and experience although the strength in depth of the two Brighton clubs, Crawley and Lewes will make a top-three finish a tall order.

Realistically Chichester could have a dozen in the Sussex squad for the nationals but it would mean the majority of their top athletes run to form.

The action starts from Bexhill Leisure Centre at 11am with two non-championship invitation races for under-11s. The main programme starts at 11.30am with the under-13 girls while the final race, for senior women, is off at 2.25pm.

PHIL BAKER

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