Appalling Conditions For League at Stanmer Park

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The final Sussex Cross-country League match was held in almost battle ground conditions at Stanmer Park on Saturday. In the bitter cold, wet and wind, it was the poorest underfoot conditions I have seen, apart from snow, at Stanmer Park since it was first used for cross-country racing in 1954.

The ground had not recovered from the South of England Championships, two weeks back, and it would not be wise to schedule another match so close to such a major event in the future though the Sussex League date was fixed before the area championship.

The U13 girls were the first of the League races to enter and again it was Eleanor Strevens from Eastbourne, who still has another year in the age group, who lightly skipped and slid over the muddy parts and romped away to a convincing win in 13.00. Even more precocious was the second runner to finish, Dulcie Yelling (Brighton & Hove), who only became old enough to compete when she reached her eleventh birthday last month, and she clocked 13.15 in second place a position that her elder sister Eadie would have expected to finish had she been well enough to compete.

Lauren Wormley (Crawley), who had won the season’s first race at Goodwood in October placed third in 13:22.

In the U13 boy’s Nicholas Hollan-Ellidge from Crawley completed a clean sweep of the four races by turning in another convincing victory in 11.48 ahead of Jonas Judah (Hastings), 12.15, who had a fine battle with Brighton & Hove’s Henry Yelling who clocked 12:21.

Rebecca Losh (Brighton & Hove) ran her best race of the season in these very difficult conditions to handsomely win the U15 race clocking 16:56 ahead of Hastings’s Maya Ramnarine in 17:21, with Pia Lewis (Brighton & Hove) also running her best of the season taking third place in 17:25.

The U15 boy’s race has been a pretty topsy turvey group all season but Crawley’s Calum Stone made no mistake on Saturday, leading virtually from the start and managing to hold Horsham’s Ashley Williams at bay clocking 16:23 to 16:28 with Tom Roberts (Brighton & Hove) taking third place in 16:50.

Thomas Eames (Brighton & Hove) swept aside the field in the U17 men’s event dominating the race from the start and cruising to a comfortable win in 17:44 with Chichester’s Will Broom clocking 18:11 and Eames’ club mate, Tomer Tarragano, clocking 18:18 in third place.

The final races in these League Matches are always the poorest supported of the four events and the senior races seemed to suffer more than usual with many of the leading senior runner choosing to give the event a miss.

The women’s race, which has not been a particularly strong group this year, saw a sparking run from Lizzie Clarke (Hastings) who is still in the U17 age group and they race with the senior women. Clarke was away fast and raced to a convincing win although, unfortunately times were not recorded but she probably had one hundred metres in hand of W45 athlete Sue Fry from Hailsham while another U17 runner Alex Richer (Horsham) was third across the line.

It was much the same in the senior men’s event where Haywards Heath’s Chris Smith stretched his lead to nearly one minute by the finish clocking 28:49 to Brighton & Hove’s William Cork’s 29:36 and another Haywards Heath runner, James Collins, taking third place in 29:42.

In the teams events the home club took the lion’s share of the team races on the day winning both the U13 races and the U15 races plus the U17 event, the U13 girls from Crawley who held on to their led to take the league title and it was the same in the U15 boys. Brighton & Hove however took the U13 boys from Crawley and took the league title and the U15 girl’s from Hastings as well as the league title and Brighton & Hove completed a nap hand winning by winning the U17 boy’s race and also took the League title.

Chichester took both Saturday’s U17 girl’s race and the League title while Lewes took the final senior women’s team race from Arena 80 and retained their League title but Haywards Heath won the senior men’s race from Lewes but lost out by one point to Lewes who won their first event Senior men’s League title.

In the veterans race Arena 80 won the final women’s race and the League from Hailsham while Haywards Heath took the final race from Brighton Phoenix and also won the League title.