In the men’s event former champion Jon Pepper (Phoenix), who has not been seen on the Sussex scene this season but has won a Surrey League event, will probably start as favourite as neither Chris Smith (Haywards Heath) nor Jamie Knapp (Brighton & Hove) who have won Sussex League races this season are eligible to compete in Sussex championships events.
The medal places however seems wide open as Crawley’s Paul Navesey, Tom Evans (Lewes) last year’s bronze medallist Max Dumbrell (Phoenix) or Brighton & Hove’s Howard Bristow and James Turner could all challenge.
The absence of Macready from the women’s field throws the senior women championship wide open with League winner Izzy Coomber from Lewes having to hold off a rejuvenated Caroline Hoyte (Arena 80) but both could find Brighton & Hove’s Emma Dixon and Nicole Taylor (Tonbridge) who led the Sussex team home in the Southern Inter-counties last month breathing down their necks.
The battle for Mercury looks like being a much closer affair than is generally experienced for the senior men’s team event. Reigning championships Brighton & Hove, who were surprise winners last year when capturing the trophy from reigning champions Brighton Phoenix, will be without two of their top performers while Phoenix will also be minus reigning champion Finn McNally and Josh Guilmant as well asMcNally but should still have sufficient strength to recapture their title particularly as last year’s bronze medallist Dumbrell has switched allegiance from Brighton & Hove to Phoenix during the year.
Although there have been some unusual team results in the Sussex League this season it is unlikely that any other club will cause an upset though both Lewes or Haywards Heath could battle with Crawley for the bronze medals.The women’s team event is, on paper, wide open, with Arena 80 the most likely winners if at full strength but Lewes likely to challenge.
The Young athletes events have produced so many different winners in the League events this season to be too confident of predicting winners in each age group but Bethany Cook (Bodyworks) and Dylan Hanslow (Crawley) look likely contenders in the U13 races Joe Smith (Crawley) in the U15 Boy’s and Almi Nerurkar (Phoenix) U17 women’s events.
The first race starts at 11.10 while the senior men start at 1.30 and senior women at 2.25.Although we have had a comparatively dry autumn the Bexhill Down course will still provide plenty of mud which is a great leveller at these events.
Not all Sussex athletic activity will be happening at Bexhill Down. A group of pentathletes will be travelling to Sheffield for the National Indoor Combined Events championships and it is the indoor U15 and U17 South of England Championships at Lee Valley.