Hastings Athletic Club stages ‘best ever’ Sussex Championships

Under-17 men's race winner George Pool. Pictures by Simon Newstead
Under-17 men's race winner George Pool. Pictures by Simon Newstead

Hastings Athletic Club hosted what’s been described by some as the best Sussex Cross-Country Championships ever on Saturday.

The finest adult and junior runners from clubs around the county battled it out across the various age groups at the long-standing venue of Bexhill Down.

The field sets off in the under-17 men's race

The field sets off in the under-17 men's race

Hastings AC chairman Terry Skelton said: “Going by what other people from Sussex were telling me, it was the best Sussex Champs ever, which really pleased me.

“Last year was good even though we had a hitch, but this year I changed the course slightly to rectify that and it was fantastic. I couldn’t have asked for any more really.”

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Skelton had feared the event might be called-off after there was a sewage leak on the Downs, albeit not on the course, the previous day, but the problem was fairly swiftly resolved and there was some great racing.

Underfoot conditions at this notorious muddy course were the driest experienced since it was first used for championship or league races some 60 years ago.

The leading group on the first lap of the under-17 men's race

The leading group on the first lap of the under-17 men's race

On a dry but fairly chilly day, the host club enjoyed a fair bit of success, winning three individual and two team medals.

The under-17 men’s race was particularly fruitful. George Pool, who only returned from holiday on the morning of the event, moved clear of the field on the second of three laps to win by 19 seconds in a time of 16:46.

Isaac Elam was fifth in 17:18 and with James Crombie 10th in 17:50, Hastings AC claimed the team prize. Lewis Courtnage was 16th in 18:32 and Dylan Bolton 21st in 19:45.

Carlos Nieto-Parr continued his fine form this season by breaking clear of Worthing’s Ethan Ward to win the under-15 boys’ title by six seconds in 14:50. Adam Morrissy was 39th in 18:29.

The under-17 women's race gets underway

The under-17 women's race gets underway

Joe Body was the runner-up in the under-20 men’s event in 24:15, with Ethan Hodges 10th in 25:41 and Ryan Morrissy 19th in 27:43.

Although Caitlin Millar pulled out after about a mile due to breathing difficulties caused by a heavy cold, Hastings AC won a bronze medal in the senior women’s team event.

Stacey Clusker (11th, 26:28), Rachael Mulvey (12th, 26:29), Sophie Markwick (17th, 26:58) and Jenna French (22nd, 27:45) made up the successful quartet.

The club also fielded B, C and D teams in the senior women’s race.

Riz Maslen (28th, 28:19), Karen Murdoch (29th, 28:25), Amy Moore (35th, 29:05) and Becky Smart (36th, 29:21) formed the B team, the C team comprised Becky Mabon (37th, 39:28), Sophie McGoldrick (39th, 29:49), Laura Vickers (49th, 32:10) and Suzi Frost (56th, 33:45), and the D team was made up of Joanna Body (57th, 33:56), Rosy Clements (58th, 34:00), Kate Barlow (59th, 34:03) and Maria Mitchell (60th, 34:07). Abby Kirsopp (63rd, 35:51) and Fiona Norman-Brown (70th, 38:51) also ran.

Hastings AC was also well represented in the senior men’s race, fielding an A and a B team.

The A team consisted of Gary Foster (17th, 41:06), Rhys Boorman (19th, 41:34), James Mountford (31st, 44:01), Ben McCallion (46th, 46:23) and Paul Bennett (48th, 47:00), while Russ Keen (65th, 49:56), Mark Dobbs (71st, 50:42), Andrew Edmonds (76th, 51:16), Dan Isted (79th, 51:37), Chris Brandt (81st. 52:41) and Ross Garnett (85th, 53:57) completed the B team. Terry Puxty (88th, 55:16) also ran.

St Leonards-based Ross Skelton, representing the Brighton Phoenix club, finished second in the senior men’s race after beating Ben Savill (Lewes) in a sprint for the line.

Shannon Hopkins-Parry made the top six in the under-15 girls’ race in 17:41. Erika Body was 16th in 18:35 and Maddie Brandt 32nd in 20:30.

Isiah Wilson was 36th in the under-13 boys’ race in 13:12, while in the girls’ equivalent, Rae Le Fay came 12th in 13:24 and Nancy Barlow 21st in 13:53.

The championships were preceded by races for under-11s. Molly Banks was 11th in 5:06, Elena Nieto-Parr 19th in 5:21 and Megan Hopkins-Parry 23rd in 5:21 in the girls’ race, while in the boys’ equivalent, Minkah Okojie was seventh in 4:31 and Cody Hart 37th in 5:21.

* HASTINGS Athletic Club teenage talent Lizzie Clarke performed very well to come second in a very strong under-20 women’s field at the Kent Cross-Country Championships at Brands Hatch.