Chichester all set for Sussex's cross-country season opener

Cross-country action at Goodwood last year / Picture by Kate Shemilt
Cross-country action at Goodwood last year / Picture by Kate Shemilt

The 2019-20 cross-country season starts in its usual fashion with clubs from along the south coast vying for honours in the Goodwood cross-country relays this Saturday.

The Sussex Championships are held in conjunction with the event and Chichester Runners will be attempting to start the season off with another impressive medal haul. However, they will have to contend with a change of personnel in many of the age groups.

This is most evident in the senior men’s race, where none of last year’s bronze medal winning Chi team are available with Harry Leleu, Leo Stallard, Mike Houston and Jo Godwood all unavailable.

Luckily the club have good depth to call on so Ned Potter, Ben Morton and Conrad Meagher have come into the team – with an average age of just 20 – and they will be joined by veteran James Baker, whose recent form fully justifies a place in the club’s A team, some 20 years after first taking part in the event.

In fact Baker has just won the tough Butser Hill race for the 12th time and had nearly a minute and a half to spare at the finish over his nearest rival, himself a sub 32-minute 10k runner.

In the veteran team races Chichester have good depth in all six categories, with perhaps their best chance of glory coming in the over-55 women’s trio of Helen Dean, Amanda Godfrey and Jane Harrop – although perennial rivals Arena 80 will be hard to beat.

In the junior age groups Liam Dunne will be looking to continue his superb summer track form over the undulating 4000m senior loop in the under-17 men’s race, while younger brother Josh will be leading the under-13 boys over the 2800m junior circuit.

For the girls, Olivia Toms and Maggie King will form a good pairing in the under-17 women’s race while Cerys Dickinson leads off the under-15s and the Hellyer twins have an opportunity to show their summer form in the under-13 race.

The programme starts at midday with the under-13s while the proceedings will be concluded with the senior and veteran men who go off at 2.30pm.

Entry is free to the spectator friendly course, which can be cceesed from the road that runs parallel with Goodwood racecourse, and a great day’s athletics is in prospect.