Chichester’s perfect 10k means organisers can look forward with confidence

International athlete Liz Yelling was one of the biggest names in the 20th Chichester Priory 10k   Picture by Bill Shimmin

International athlete Liz Yelling was one of the biggest names in the 20th Chichester Priory 10k Picture by Bill Shimmin

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Strong winds couldn’t blow the Chichester Priory 10k off course as a record number of runners took it to a new level of success.

The 20th anniversary was a huge success - now organisers of the Chichester Priory 10k are willing: Roll on our 21st birthday.

Strong winds couldn’t blow the Chichester Priory 10k off course as a record number of runners took it to a new level of success.

The cold conditions didn’t deter more than 1,600 athletes - a record number - from taking their places on the start line as the event’s 20th anniversary was marked by a keenly-fought and well-organised race.

Race boss Graham Jessop is already thinking of next year, with Sunday, February 5 pencilled in as the date, and while he doesn’t see it being able to take any larger number of runners this year, he is confident it can going on building on its popularity.

This year, the wind especially took its toll on runners along the exposed Lavant Straight but many athletes – whether elite, club or recreational runners – were delighted to achieve personal bests.

Despite the wind, some running for the first time commented on how much they had enjoyed the course and the scenery.

The 1,600 runners were an impressive sight as in dry but overcast conditions they streamed along Oaklands Way.

The starting party included representatives of the two sponsors, international shoe company Brooks and local Volkswagen dealer Peter Cooper, and the President of Chichester Priory Rotary Club Doug Minto. It was quite a spectacle as the runners wound their way along Spitalfield Lane away from the start.

The race began with a number of runners capable of going close to the 30-minute mark. It got off to a cracking pace and at the 3k mark there was a large breakaway group of 11 runners. They went through 5k in 15.03 and set the pattern for the rest of the run home, with little changing of places among the leading group.

After 6k, the front two were Ben Noad of Highgate Harriers and Adam Hickey of Southend-on-Sea AC.

Noad pulled away and started to pick up the pace in East Lavant and it looked like he was still on for a sub 30-minute run. He slowed between 7k and 8k to 3.05 for the kilometre.

New Zealander Paul Martelletti (Victoria Park and Tower Hamlet AC) had caught Hickey and they worked hard to try to catch Noad. For a while they ran shoulder to shoulder but in the last kilometre there was a resurgence from Noad.

He kicked again to win by 12 secs in a time of 30.04. Second was Martelletti in 30.16 and Hickey in the same time.

A delighted Noad recalled how he had raced in the 2008 Chichester race and finished just outside the top ten – before a self-imposed retirement from running.

“It feels good to have come back and won,” he beamed.

“I came in the hope of winning and that’s what I’ve done. It was pretty heavy-going in places but I’m getting stronger and I feel fine.”

There was little to choose between the next three home – Michael Johnson (Bristol & West AC), Christopher Busaileh (Herne Hill Harriers) and Paulo Natali.

The women’s race was of a high standard, but was something of a one-woman race with international runner Liz Yelling (Bedford & County AC) taking the lead from the off.

She’s clearly over her injuries and looks set for a good run in the London Marathon in April. She was at the halfway mark in 16.40 and finished in 34.04, which considering the wind was a very good time.

Yelling told the Observer: “I’m pleased with that. I was hoping for 34 minutes and it was very windy in places.

“It’s the first time I’ve done Chichester and it’s certainly a race I’d consider coming back to again.”

Caroline Hoyte of Arena 80 AC maintained second place for the whole race. She passed the post in 34.45.

The real battle was for third place, with Clare Elms (Dulwich Runners), last year’s runner-up, Elaine Murty (Blackheath & Bromley AC) and Lucy Elliott (Winchester & District AC) all involved.

Elms took third in 35.28 followed by Murty in 35.39 and Elliott in 35.42. Meanwhile, the male40-plus vet title went to Ben Pochee of Highgate Harriers, followed by Andy Morgan-Lee, who has run many times in Chichester, and third was Spencer Hempstead.

The vet 60-plus crown went to Mark Hargreaves (Bournemouth AC) and the 70-plus prize to Anthony Boxall (Fittleworth Flyers).

In a competitive field it was good to see Chichester’s James Baker 17th in a creditable time of 31.55.

The Observer again sponsored the Ben Steppel memorial prize for the first local under-23 man home, won by Edward Porter (Chichester Runners).

The men’s team event was won by Brighton and Hove AC’s team of David Benton, Matthew Bristow and David Boyce ahead of Ilford AC’s Malcolm Muir, Spencer Hemstead and Ben Jones. Third were Pheonix AC’s Josh Guilmant, James Miles and Bruce Faulkner.

Tenth were Chichester Runners, who in addition to Baker had James Pennicott and Porter in the scoring team.

The female vet 40-plus race was won again by Julie Briggs (Arena 80), while the 50-plus prize went to Jane Harrop (Southern Counties Veterans AC).

In the team stakes, the girls from Arena 80 – Caroline Hoyte, Julie Briggs and Holly Wheeler – dominated. They were followed by Dulwich Runners’ team of Clare Elms, Charlie Wood and Kim Hainsworth ahead of Brighton and Hove AC’s Katy Moore, Fiona Powell and Jeanette Kenneally in third .

Chichester Runners’ team of Maria Wright, Trudi Cunningham and Tracy Jayant came ninth.

The Colin Thorne memorial prize for the first local under-23 woman finisher went to Rebecca Shepherd.

Dulwich Runners made the 10k their club championship race and notched some fine performances.

All the awards were made at the prizegiving event at Chichester Hockey Club.

The presentation party included representatives of the sponsors and the Rotary president.

There were many accolades about the organisation of the day and all the athletes, spectators Rotarians and officials went home pleased to have been part of another successful race.

See a full list of finishers and their chip times, plus lots more 10k pictures, in the Observer - out now. View and order pictures at www.chichester.co.uk - go to ‘how to order a photo’ and search C110210