The slightly less cold temperatures for the Sussex Cross-country League races and the firm underfoot conditions made it almost perfect for an afternoon of Cross-country running at Lancing Manor on Saturday.
Total numbers were a little down on the Goodwood and Bexhill events particularly in the Young Athletes races but some may well be saving themselves for next weekend’s Inter-county races.
In the senior event Johanna Spannagl from Horsham, who had won the season’s first race returned to her winning ways with a dominating run that saw her finish nearly a minute clear of the rest of the field.
Spannagl had led the race from the start in 17:58s with Izzy Coomber (Lewes), the reigning League champion regaining some of her last season’s form to clock 18:54s in second place.
Annabel Morton, another Horsham runner had a fine run to take third place, just four seconds adrift, and she was also the first U17 runner to finish.
In the senior men’s race Brighton & Hove’s Jamie Knapp, who had won both of this season’s previous races, and Steven Ferroni pulled well clear of the rest of the field on the opening two small laps.
As they set out for the second long lap up the hill and around the pond Knapp broke away to almost cruise to an easy victory in 28:24s. Ferroni faded a little and Brighton Phoenix’s Max Dumbrell closed him down as they entered the finishing field but the Brighton & Hove runner still had enough in his legs to hold his position as they raced down the final sprint to the finish to clock 29:12s for second place with Dumbrell’s 29:14s ensuring third position.
Making his cross-country debut for this season, road runner, Kevin Rojas (Brighton & Hove) started tentatively but came though strongly to finish fourth in 29:30s.
Knapp’s third victory of the season means he cannot be beaten for the League title whatever happens at the final race in February.
Another athlete who confirmed that he will be declared League champion in February was Crawley’s Nicholas Hollan-Ellidge who, as he had done in the previous events, led from start to finish in the U13 Boys.
Further details on the Young Athletes age group races will appear tomorrow.