It was a case of deja vu for half of the ten races at the Sussex Cross-country championships at Bexhill Down on Saturday with five of the ten individual titles being retained by the reigning champions.
Underfoot conditions at this notorious muddy course were the driest experienced since the course was first used by Sussex for championship or League races some sixty year ago. There was a chill North West wind that made it very cold for the officials who do not have the opportunity to move about much for the four hours plus duration of the Championships.
It is unusual to have runners retaining their titles in the Under 13 championships but that is just what Eastbourne’s Eleanor Strevens did and in great style. Leading from the gun Strevens never looked like being headed clocking 12:06 as she crossed the winning line one hundred yards clear of Brighton & Hove’s Dulcie Yelling, 12:27 and Dulcie’s club mate Rosie Gasson 12:51 and with Macy Brooking, 12:53, closing in the scoring three in fourth place the Brighton & Hove team became the first team champions of 2019 with nine points to Crawley’s 29 the same as third place Eastbourne squad and just one point ahead of the Brighton & Hove “B” team.
As anticipated Crawley’s Miles Waterworth became the Under 13 Boys champion but this was a closest battle of the afternoon with just three seconds covering the first three runners to finish. Waterworth clocked 11:32 to Gabriel Penrose (Lewes) on 11:34 and Alexander Riley (Brighton & Hove) 11:35.
Crawley scored 11 points to win the team event from Lewes 25 and Brighton & Hove 28.
Bethany Cook (Bodyworks) won her fourth successive Sussex cross-country title when she romped away from the Under 15 field in 15:53 from club mate Eloise Keys 16:40 and Poppy Palmer-Malins (Brighton & Hove) 16:55 and she led her club to another team victory with 14 points to Bodyworks 17 and the Brighton & Hove “B” team’s 30 points.
Carlos Nieto-Parr (Hastings) continued his fine form this season by breaking clear of Worthing’s Ethan Ward to win the Under 15 title in 14:50 to 14.56 with Archie Rowles (Brighton & Hove) 15:17.
The team title went to Worthing with 20 points to Crawley’s 23 and Brighton & Hove’s 27.
In the Under 17 girl’s age group Alex Richer led the race from start to finish comfortably taking the title in 19:30 to Lois Dooley (Brighton & Hove) 20:09 and Hailsham’s Harriet Bloor’s 20:20 while Brighton & Hove took a clean sweep of the Girl’s team titles with 22 point to Crawley’s 27 and Brighton & Hove “B” 48 points.
Another expected win came for the Hastings Club in the Men’s Under 17 race where George Pool moved clear of the field on the second of three laps to finish well clear of Brighton Phoenix’s Leo Brewer clocking 16:44 to 17:05 with Hugo Hewitt (Crawley) 17:09 and Hastings taking the team title with 16 points to Crawley’s 29 and Chichester’s 36.
The Under 20 men saw Tomer Tarragano (Brighton & Hove) move clear of Joseph Brody (Hastings) for a comfortable victory in 23:31 to 24;15 and Reuben Hoyte (Phoenix) 24:41 and last year’s Brighton & Hove winning U17 team repeated the medicine one year on with 18 points to Horsham’s 20 and Chichester’s 26.
This was Brighton & Hove’s fourth team victory, of the nine at stake, of the afternoon.
The Under 20 women run with the seniors but there are individual medals for the U20s.
There was never any doubt who the winner would be from the start as Nicole Taylor (Tonbridge), the reigning champion, sprinted into the lead accompanied by Almi Nerurkar (Phoenix), who is Under 20, and Worthing’s Leah Harris in the early stages but within the first lap Taylor had established a good lead ahead of the U20 runner with Harris a little off the pace. While Taylor stretched her lead Harris joined company with Nerurkar well clear of Arena 80 master and oft times former champion Caroline Hoyte.
At the finish Taylor clocked 23:48 with Harris pulling clear of Nerurkar to finish one minute adrift in 24:47 and Nerurkar took the U20 title in 25:05 and Hoyte taking the bronze medal in the senior race in 25:31.
Arena 80 took the team title with 36 points to Brighton Phoenix 55 and Hastings 62.
The senior men’s promising battle faded as there were several no shows and Tom Evans (Lewes) strode clear from the start and never came under any pressure eventually winning by well over one minute in 37:49.
Ross Skelton (Phoenix) and Ben Savill (Lewes) had a good battle for the silver medal with Skelton sprinting clear at the finish just two seconds clear in 39:05.
As in the senior women’s race a master athlete filled fourth place with Crawley’s Neil Boniface break clear of a pack to record 37:27 ahead of Kevin Moore (Brighton & Hove) 39:33 and Jack Leitch (Worthing) 39:37.
In one of the closest team battles ever Phoenix retained Mercury with 89 points to Lewes, who were third last year, who scored 91 points and Brighton & Hove 99.
The championships were preceded by races for Under 11s with Finlay Goodman (HRU) winning the boys race and Emily Carman (Worthing) the girl’s race.