Chichester half marathon set for 1,000-strong field

Last year's Chichester Half Marathon   Pictures by Spencer Gale
Last year's Chichester Half Marathon Pictures by Spencer Gale

The newest big event in the local running calendar takes place on Sunday.

After a break of some 25 years after the first Chichester Observer Centenary Half Marathon, last year saw a new half marathon but with a completely different course and under new management.

The race is now multi-terrain, not a road race, and is managed by Chichester District Council in conjunction with the locally-based charity Children on the Edge (COTE).

For the council, the race is one of many initiatives to encourage more participation in health, sporting and recreational activities to enhance the well-being of the community.

The race will support Children on the Edge, a Chichester-based charity that helps some of the most vulnerable children in the world.

Cllr Eileen Lintill, cabinet member for leisure, wellbeing and community Services at Chichester District Council, said: “We’re very pleased a wide spectrum of the community will be taking part, not just elite runners but people taking part in their first half marathon too.

“The council are delighted to be delivering this event in partnership with Children on the Edge. This is a truly inspiring cause to be running for and by entering and taking part runners will be helping a charity where a little really can go a long way.”

The event is sponsored by Montezuma’s and Store Property. It will be started at 9am by BBC South Today’s Sally Taylor. Its base is at Chichester College and the route will take in the city centre and surrounding Lavant and Goodwood countryside.

The race has a good mixture of road, footpaths, cycle tracks and bridleways over chalk, flint, downland grass, fields with heavy mud – real cross country. It is challenging both because of the varying terrains and the steep ascents and descents. The race limit of 1,000 runners has virtually been reached and it is unlikely it will possible to enter on the day. Safety rules mean the limit on numbers can go no higher.

Many of the runners are from well-known local clubs from Brighton through to Southampton but just as many are unattached. Sussex and Hampshire are well represented but Dorset, Surrey, south and east London and Kent will all have people pounding the course. There’s even one entrant from Wallasey AC in Cheshire.

The largest club contingents come from Chichester Runners and the Bognor-based Tone Zone Runners, who each have 30 entrants. The event has an international flavour with foreign nationals or non-UK based runners from Australia, France and Spain.

James Baker of Chichester Runners will be back to defend his title. He has been the first local man home in the Chichester Priory 10k for many years as well as in many other local races. It will be interesting to see whether the time of 1hr 15min 32sec he set for the course record in 2012 will be beaten - either by Baker or another runner. It is likely the women’s event will have a new champion as Laura Allen, who won last year in a time of 1.36.22, has yet to enter.

Children on the Edge and the sponsors are represented in the race. Ben Wilkes is the head of Children on the Edge in the UK and recently has become a local celebrity on account of his barefoot running.

Helen Pattinson, a director of Montezuma’s Chocolates, will be competing again this year and is really looking forward to the race.

It is hoped that the people of Chichester will, as ever, support the event by taking to the streets, lanes and by-ways along the route to encourage the runners on their way

You can view more information at www.chichesterhalfmarathon.co.uk where the latest training advice and guidance on preparation for the event is also available. Full coverage of the event and the race results will be contained in next Thursday’s Chichester Observer.

GRAHAM JESSOP