Hastings Athletic Club stepped in to host the Sussex Cross-Country Championships and was rewarded with some fine results.
The prestigious event was very much in the balance when problems with the planned venue at Stanmer Park in Brighton arose.
Hastings AC rose to the occasion and thanks to a team headed by Terry Skelton, rescued the event by hosting it at Bexhill Down on Sunday. A superb course both for runners and spectators was laid thanks to an army of volunteers who started work early in the morning.
It was also a successful day for the local club in terms of performance with two gold, two silver and three bronze medals being won.
Grace Baker became the youngest ever person to win the senior women’s race with the 17-year-old Bexhill College student completing the 6.4km mudbath in 26.22.
Also winning gold was Jess Margorrian, who had an epic battle with clubmate Dylan Leisinger in the under-15 boys’ race. Margorrian crossed the line in 16.12, 16 seconds ahead of runner-up Leisinger. At one point it looked as if a local 1-2-3 was on the cards, but Mat Herring faded in the latter part of the race to finish sixth and ensure team gold for Hastings.
Adam Clarke made a rare appearance in a Hastings vest, winning bronze in the 12km senior men’s event. His performance along with James Mountford (11th), Sean Parker-Harding (24th), Barry Buchanan (26th), Stuart Piper (28th) and Paul Bennett (41st) was enough to win team bronze. On a shortened 8km course, Ryan Higgs was an impressive fifth in the under-20 men’s race.
In the under 17 women’s race, Sophie Markwick - one of the pre-race favourites - had to be content with a bronze medal. Rebecca Elphick was eighth. Ellen Brooker had her race of the season thus far to come away with silver in the under-15 girls’ race, and along with Jazmin Clark (10th) and Becky Smart (14th), helped Hastings win team silver.
George Pool won bronze in the under-13 boys’ race, and team silver alongside Liam Coleman (11th) and Ryan Morrisey (24th). Olivia White (4th), Harmony Cooper (5th) and Kiera Aslett (12th) won team silver in the under-13 girls’ event. Luke Cooper finished eighth in the under-17 men’s race.
Clarke, Baker, Higgs, Markwick, Margorrian, Leisinger, Brooker, Poole, White and Harmony Cooper are all automatically selected for the National Inter-Counties in Birmingham during March, while Elphick, Herring and Luke Cooper will have to await the decision of the team managers.