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Cross country action last month at Goodwood / Picture by Kate Shemilt
Cross country action last month at Goodwood / Picture by Kate Shemilt

Cross-country action returns to Goodwood Country Park on Saturday (Oct 14) with Chichester Runners hosting the first round of the Sussex Cross Country League.

The organisers are anticipating a record turnout judging by the number of Sussex competitors in the cross-country relay championships at the same venue at the end of September.

Seven age groups from under-11 through to seniors and veterans will be contested, with runners contributing to their club team totals and having an early chance to impress the Sussex selectors who are already eyeing up teams for the Southern Inter-Counties at Oxford in December.

Chichester Runners are full of optimism at this early stage of the season, especially having featured strongly in every one of the recent relay races.

For the senior men, the fastest runner at Goodwood, Harry Leleu, is back at university so it will be James Baker and Will Boutwood, top two home in last weekend’s Chichester Half Marathon, who will lead the team.

The club are still in division two of the men’s league and are hoping that, unlike last season, their promotion charge will not falter later in the season.

The strong showing from a clutch of under-20s and first-year seniors should see them mount a strong challenge.

For the women, it may well be that Chichester’s strong under-17s occupy the majority of the senior places as well but the form of veteran Fay Cripps – women’s runner-up in the Chi Half – and the hoped-for return of Jane Harrop should bolster the squad.

For the juniors, top under-15 Liam Dunne will be missing but in-form Olivia Toms will lead an improving girls’ team.

The Buckler twins should be near the front of the under-13 girls’ field while the under-13 boys, led by Joe Mclarnon, are probably the club’s fastest-growing age group and should feature strongly.

The action begins at midday with the under-11s in action for the first time this season and spectators are welcome to go and watch.

PHIL BAKER