There were some fabulous runs from Hastings Athletic Club members at the Sussex Cross-Country Championships, sponsored by Dynamic Scaffolding.
The local club achieved a number of individual and team prizes in an event which it hosted at an extremely muddy Bexhill Down on Saturday.
The Hastings AC A quartet scooped a splendid team silver in the senior women’s race. Stacey Clusker (26.25) led the way by finishing fourth in the individual standings - a cracking run in her first cross-country race for years.
Clusker, whose performance will earn her a place in the Sussex squad for the National Inter-Counties Championships, was supported by the ever-improving Rachael Grass (28.24) in a good 14th, Sophie Markwick (29.17) in 21st and Lorna Watts (31.21) in 38th.
Hot prospect George Pool comfortably struck individual gold in the under-17 men’s event with a time of 17:44 - 16 seconds clear of runner-up Tomer Tarragano (Brighton & Hove). Ryan Morrissy also ran.
Hastings AC provided two of the top three in a terrific under-17 women’s race. Lizzie Clarke was the runner-up in 20:59 - her highest position this season. The back-to-form Harmony Cooper crossed the line 11 seconds behind Clarke in third.
Maya Ramnarine claimed individual bronze and led Hastings AC to under-15 girls’ team gold, receiving strong support from Erika Body in eighth and Shannon Hopkins-Parry in 10th. Ramnarine’s time of 15.58 was only three seconds slower than runner-up Olivia Toms (Chichester).
Hastings AC’s under-15 boys’ A squad also bagged team gold after Isaac Elam (16.55), Carlos Nieto-Parr (16.58) and James Crombie (17.14) finished fifth, sixth and seventh respectively in the individual standings.
Elam was only five seconds behind the third-placed runner, while Nieto-Parr produced a brilliant run and was ahead of Elam with 100 metres to go. Although not one of the three scoring athletes for the team results, Lewis Courtnage finished 12th.
Rae Le Fay (5.03) was third in the under-11 girls’ race and only three seconds adrift of runner-up Anna Fox (Crawley).
Also finishing third was Joe Body (41.39) in the junior (under-20) men’s event, which was run alongside the senior men’s race. Body and the first two under-20 men were incorrectly sent on an additional lap on the instruction of the championships referee.
Hastings AC were unable to repeat their superb senior men’s team triumph of last year, finishing fourth on this occasion.
Gary Foster (42.48) led the way in a good 10th place, with James Mountford (43.46) 17th, Rhys Boorman (43.47) 19th, Dan Anderson (44.06) 22nd, Kieron Booker (45.50) 32nd and James Climpson (49.28) 61st. Foster has a good chance of appearing at the National Inter-Counties.
St Leonards-based Ross Skelton (41.12), son of Hastings AC chairman Terry Skelton, came third in the individual race and led Brighton Phoenix to team gold.
Skelton was one of three runners who broke away from the field on the opening lap, but was dropped on the third circuit by winner Tom Evans (Lewes - 40.16) and runner-up James Westlake (Crawley - 40.33).
In the under-13 age group, Jonas Judah (12.51) was the seventh boy and Nancy Barlow (14.37) was the 12th-placed girl.
In all some 500 runners from various clubs across the county battled it out in the first major cross-country event of the new year.
Hastings AC will be represented at the fourth East Sussex Sunday Cross-Country League match of the season at Blackcap Lewes next weekend.