Hastings Athletic Club enjoyed a day to savour at the Sussex Cross-Country Championships.
Not only did the club do an excellent job of hosting the event at Bexhill Down on Saturday, but its runners were also in superb form, achieving a host of lofty finishes.
Hastings AC recorded three individual race wins and four other top three placings, as well as winning the senior men's team title and clinching five other top three team results.
Hastings AC chairman and event organiser Terry Skelton said: "Each year I say it can't get any better, but once again we have surpassed ourselves.
"The comments from other clubs and Sussex officials were nothing but praise about the happy and very supportive marshals, so a big pat on the back to everyone that got up at stupid o'clock to make the day what it was."
The senior men won team gold for the first time ever after having their six scoring athletes in the top 27 and four in the first 14 of the 12,000m race. Their combined placings added up to 95 - four fewer than runners-up Brighton & Hove A.
James Mountford led the way with a very good eighth place in 37:45, while Rhys Boorman ran very well to come 11th in 38:22, and was closely followed by Jeff Pyrah (13th, 38:32) and Gary Foster (14th, 38:34). Daniel Anderson was 22nd in 39.31 and Kieron Booker 27th in 40:03.
"Us winning that rounded everything off," continued Skelton, who wished to praise the great work being done by club coaches Peter Baker, Pete Standen and Darrin Botting. "I think that surpasses any year we've ever done because that's a massive achievement."
Hastings AC began the day with a one-two in the 1,600m under-11 boys' race, nine-year-old talent Ziggy Henry (5:53) leading home Isiah Wilson (5:57) by four seconds. Aidan Collins (6:31) was 12th.
The club then came third and fourth in the 3,000m under-13 girls' race, with Erica Body (11:42) finishing six seconds before Shannon Hopkins-Parry (11:48). Along with Nancy Barlow (14:05), they helped clinch third place in the team standings.
Hastings AC had two top six finishers in the under-13 boys' race over the same distance. Carlos Nieto (10:55) was third - only five seconds behind the winner and two adrift of the runner-up - and Jonas Judah (11:08) sixth. With Noah Judah (11:32) 13th, Hastings AC came second in the team standings - only two behind winners Worthing Harriers.
Although at the lower end of the age group, the outstanding Maya Ramnarine powered to a dominant victory in the 4,000m under-15 girls' race, finishing 23 seconds clear of her nearest rival in a time of 13:33. Evie Clements (14:45) was sixth and with Hannah Blomfield (16:14) 16th, Hastings AC A were runners-up in the team event.
The club also came second in the under-15 boys' team standings. Isaac Elam (14:51), who is still only 13, ran exceptionally well to finish second in the 4,500m race - 10 seconds behind the winner - with James Crombie (15:23) ninth and Dylan Bolton (16:24) 20th.
Hastings AC's third individual race winner of the day came in the 5,000m under-17 men's event, where Jess Magorrian, who has been out injured for quite a while, proved the strongest on the final lap to win by three seconds in 16:43.
Joe Body (17:03) also ran well to come fourth and with Alec Goldstone (17.55) ninth, the club notched up another second place in the team competition.
Riz Maslen (26:43) was the leading Hastings AC competitor in the 6,400m combined under-20 and senior women's race, which brought proceedings to a close. She was a very good 26th overall, while Lorna Watts (27:47, 37th) and Kim Brown (27:55, 39th) made the top 40.
In marked contrast to past years when the ground has often been very wet and muddy, the course was remarkably dry and fast for the time of year (other than the inevitably slightly squelchy wooded areas). And the mild, calm and cloudy conditions were absolutely perfect for running.
The top six finishers in the various age groups will automatically qualify to represent Sussex at the UK Inter-Counties Championships.
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