1,800 get on their marks for Chichester 10k

Emma Taylor-Gooby (Worthing) and Stephanie Twell were the first two women in the 2013 race  Photo by Louise Adams C130158-8
Emma Taylor-Gooby (Worthing) and Stephanie Twell were the first two women in the 2013 race Photo by Louise Adams C130158-8
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The Chichester Priory 10k has proved more popular than ever in its 23rd year - and entries from top athletes mean the course record could be under threat.

The race takes place on Sunday morning and around 1,800 runners are expected to line up for the start in College Lane.

It’s evolved into one of the major road races in the English road-running calendar and runners from all over England are expected to compete. Entries had to close well in advance of the closing date.

The fast, flat course always lends itself to an exciting race and 2014 should be no different.

This year the field includes a number of male runners capable of or having run a time around the magical 30-minute mark, which will make once again for a very fast and competitive race.

Many of them have very high rankings or the 10k distance last year.

Spearheading the glory bid will be last year’s first three home - 2013 winner Chris Powner of Winchester and District AC, runner-up Jon Pepper of Brighton Pheonix and third-placed Phil Wicks of Belgrave Harriers - a road and cross-country international since 2007 and a medallist in national road championships at 10k, ten miles and half-marathon distances.

They will be joined by Irish international Daniel Mulhare of Belgrave Harriers, who has had considerable success on the European circuit over the past four years. In December he was 20th at the SPAR European cross-country championships in Belgrade, completing 10k in 30.07.

Also hoping to make his debut at Chichester is Muhammed Hassen of Ethiopia, who on his day is capable of breaking 30 minutes.

Others well ranked nationally at present include Peter Huck, Russell Bentley of Kent AC, Adam Clarke and Paul Rodgers of Aldershot, Farnham & District, Paolo Natali, Andy Greenleaf of Winchester & District, Paul Whittaker of Southend AC and Ian Leitch of Pheonix. Greenleaf was the highest-placed entry from the field in the recent South of England championships.

James Baker is again expected to be the first of the Chichester Runners home.

The women’s race again is looking to be of a very high standard with plenty of contenders for the medals.

Back to defend her title and perhaps break the course record is last year’s winner Charlotte Purdue of the Aldershot club, currently the English ten-mile road champion from the Great South Run as well as being a former junior European champion at cross country.

Also returning is previous winner Caroline Hoyte of Brighton-based Arena 80 AC along with a number of other well-ranked runners including Rebecca Moore and Emma Taylor-Gooby of Worthing Harriers and Fiona Clark of Arena 80.

Julie Briggs of Arena 80, Kathy Bailey of Winchester - another previous winner, who is in great form following success recently at Parliament Hill – Helena Tobin (Brighton & Hove) and Rosie Hiles (Guildford & Godalming) should all feature in the top ten. Hiles is another athlete coming to Chichester after a successful outing in the recent southern cross-country championships

A number of these female athletes will also feature among the veteran prizewinners.

The race will see an army of local runners take on athletes from farther afield.

For the second year running, one of the biggest club entries is from Tone Zone in Bognor.

Arena 80, Arunners, Hailsham Harriers, Haywards Heath Harriers, Horsham Joggers and Lewes AC have large contingent of runners - and of course Chichester Runners have their usual excellent turnout.

There are a number of athletes from such well-known clubs as Aldershot, Farnham &District AC, Blackheath & Bromley Harriers, Brighton & Hove AC, Chelmsford AC, Coventry Godiva, Hercules Wimbledon, Swansea AC, Winchester AC, Herne Hill Harriers, Kent AC and Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers.

There is a comprehensive prize list for the different categories of runners. A special prize is available again this year for any runners who break the course records - 29.02 for men and 32.07 for women.

There are three special prizes for local runners.

The Chichester Observer is again sponsoring the Ben Steppel memorial prize to the first under-23 local man home and organisers will present the Colin Thorne memorial prize to the first under-23 local woman finisher.

A new prize in 2014 is to be awarded in memory of Henry Adams, a former race director and stalwart supporter of the race since its inception, who died in 2013. This is to be given to any runner who has a special story or a memorable reason for running. It is very fitting that Henry’s son David is running again this year.

The leading women’s team in contention for the podium with their wealth of running talent once again looks to be Arena 80, who have nine runners entered also including Gemma Sharp, Emily Proto and Sharon Elder, all being in the top 20 in previous years.

The men’s race appears to be far more open with strong competition from a number of Sussex and Hampshire clubs and those farther afield like Swansea Harriers and Belgrave Harriers have a good chance of taking one of the prizes.

The event is organised by the Rotary Club of Chichester Priory, who will have some 170 marshals and stewards working.

For the eighth year running, it has the same sponsors - Peter Cooper, the local Volkswagen dealership and Brooks, the international sports equipment company.

The race has also attracted continued interest from clubs in the Sussex Grand Prix.

Organisers wish all participants an enjoyable and successful run.

GRAHAM JESSOP

Don’t miss coverage of the race on this website on the day - including a video of the start in which you can try to spot yourself among the massed ranks of runners - and in next week’s Observer (Feb 13 edition), which will include a picture special plus a full list of finishers.