Sussex Cross Country Relays – When is a win not a win?

October 5, 2008

Senior Men 

The Men’s 2008 Sussex Cross Country relay championships proved to be eventful even before the race had started. James McCarthy had been involved in a car accident on the way to the course, fortunately he escaped with only cuts and bruises. With James who was due to run second leg unavailable, the Brighton team had to make a decison about who to replace him with in the team. It was decided that rather than compromise the U17 and Vets teams chances of medals by taking one of their runners, Andy Donno would run two legs. This would mean that the Brighton team weren’t eligilble for the Sussex Championships but did at least mean they could be competitive.

On the first leg Andy Donno set off at a relaxed pace as the some of the less experienced youngsters pushed the pace at the front. Going into the long descent through the woods Andy was outside the top ten, but by the time the athletes re-appeared up the steep hill from the woods he was third. At this stage the gap to Robbie James of Lewes and James Baker of Chichester was about 15 seconds. Andy set to work on closing the gap around the final field and a perfectly judged leg meant he passed James in the final 100m and cut the defecit to Robbie to two seconds to record 12:27.

Chris took over from Andy on second leg and immediately dropped back to third as Harry Richardson of Chichester set about catching Josh Burgess of Lewes. The gap was growing as the runners descended into the woods but Chris was running relaxed and keeping his head. When the Chris came back up the hill there was no sign of the Lewes and Chichester runners and he extended his lead over Chichester to 48 seconds to finish in 12:46. The gap to Finn McNally of Phoenix at this stage was over a minute.

Dan Titheradge took over on the third leg and as the runners re-appeared from the woods it was Dan Stepney of Phoenix who was in pursuit. The gap at one stage was down to about 25 seconds but over the final field Dan pulled away again to hand over to Andy Donno with a 48 second lead.

Andy was having one of those days where you just run fast for fun and he set off calmly as everyone wondered how much that 12.27 first leg had taken out of his legs. It seemed a long time before the runners came back into the view having descended into the woods. Josh Guilmant of Phoenix had taken a chunk out of the Brighton lead which was now 15 seconds. Thankfully Andy had enough energy left and was able to maintain the gap to the finish clocking another good time of 12.53.

It was an exciting race in the end and the Brighton team left feeling like they had won, albeit without the Sussex medals!