Baker and Harley fly Chichester flag in Portsmouth pub race

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Chichester Runners ace James Baker came second in the Fuller’s Portsmouth Joggers’ Pub to Pub race.

Chichester Runners ace James Baker came second in the Fuller’s Portsmouth Joggers’ Pub to Pub race.

And club-mate Jennifer Harley achieved the same result in the women’s race.

The event beat the icy weather to deliver a festive treat for runners and Baker and Belgrave Harrier Richard Ward battled it out around a reduced course.

The race so nearly did not take place at all, with ice on the country roads around Chalton.

But organisers agreed on a reduced two-lap course around Blendworth, which saw the race distance cut from 7.5 to 4.9 miles.

A field of 158 runners took on the challenge of completing the event in tricky conditions, with athletes travelling from as afar afield as Lancaster, London, Wells and Sandhurst to take part.

And there was plenty of class and excitement at the head of the field as a showdown developed between Baker and Ward.

The pair quickly broke away from the rest of the pack and were neck and neck for the first lap.

But Ward eventually started to edge away from his rival and took the victory in a time of 25min 03sec – nine seconds clear of Baker.

Stubbington’s Mark Le Gassick crossed the line in third place (26.50), with Denmead Strider Julian Manning fourth (27.04).

In the women’s race, former winner Nicci Blandford returned to take the 2010 title.

The Southampton AC runner was clear of her opponents as she claimed success with a time of 31.47.

Chichester star Harley finished second in 33.12, with unattached athlete Beth Richards third in 35.35.

The race again proved to be a charity moneyspinner, with £1,500 raised for Portsmouth Hospitals’ Rocky Appeal.