City stars ready to shine in Hampshire Cross-Country Championships
It promises to be a bright start to 2019 for the athletes competing in the Hampshire Cross Country Championships on Saturday.
City of Portsmouth could be in the running for some medals with many of their top individual endurance racers in action.
It is always a good way to start the year with the chance to step up the pace ahead of the big competitions to come.
Many will beÂ targeting the nationals in Leeds next month,Â or the southern championships later this month at Parliament Hill, in London.
City coach Vince Stamp is looking forward to watching the county event at Fairthorne Manor, Curdridge,Â and expects to see some good racing.
He said: '˜It's good to have the event after the festive season and there will be some very, very good competitive races.
'˜This is the start of a hectic schedule. Some of the athletes will have seven races in eight weeks.
'˜The majority of my group will be running in the county championships. They trained on Thursday night and are looking good.'
The first race is the under-11 boys' event at 10.15am over a course of approximately 2k.
It's a busy schedule throughout, finishing with the senior and veteran men's race over 12kÂ at 1.55pm, after theÂ senior and veteran ladies' event at 1.05pm
Conditions will be pretty benign this year after the recent dry weather, although that is all relative with Fairthorne Manor generally providingÂ a tough, muddy course.
The cross-country specialists revel in the tougher conditions so it will be interesting to see how the racing unfolds.
Stamp added: '˜It's going to be quite firm ground, although that area does retain moisture quite well.
'˜Last year wasn't too bad but two years ago it was a mud bath.'
Rhiannon Dunlop has been running superbly well and will be hoping to impress in the senior women's race.Â
Coach Alex Budd said: '˜Rhiannon is going very well and has run 5k, 10k and 5-mile personal bests this seasonÂ already.
'˜Last year she finished fourth so I think she would like to consolidate her performance, or even go one better and medal.
'˜We are anticipating a strong women's field this year, so it will be a challenge.'
City have plenty of top young talents making strides forward, including 800m star Samuel Charig and Saffron Moore, who is getting back in her stride and has exceptional cross-country pedigree.Â
TheyÂ could both run very wellÂ at under-17 level having recently impressed the coach with their formÂ during training.
After racing the Victory 5 in December, Lachlan Wellington and Jacob O'HaraÂ could face Southampton'sÂ Zak Mahamed in a classy under-20 men's race.
Callum Crook has been running so well and he goes in the under-17 men's race, while talented duo Ellie Farrow and Mia Billins will be aiming to run strongly in the under-17 women's race.
They could be joined by Nicole Ainsworth if she is fit enough to compete after anÂ injury, or if not she will be looking to come back strongly for the races ahead.
In the senior men's race Matt Gordon and Toby Roe could lead the City charge along with Zack Lahlal if he can recover in time from some post-Christmas illness.
Sisters Holly and Daisy Wilkinson are both making great strides, training well and recording some superb parkrun times in recent weeks.
There will be lots of other good City athletes competing on the day and wearing the club vest with pride.
The likes of Ollie Purser, Eddie Purser, William Campbell, Cameron Walker-Powell and Natalya Smith are among those who have been running well and will be hoping for good results.
It's going to be a very high-standard event again with so many strong clubs across the county.