Field of 1,600 on their marks for 22nd Chichester 10k

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Sunday (Feb 3) brings the 22nd running of the Chichester Priory 10k.

In 1991, fewer than 1,000 runners took part in the inaugural event, organised by Chichester Priory Rotary Club, establishing what has become a prestigious athletics race and a vehicle for raising considerable funds for many deserving charitable causes.

The Chichester 10k is one of the major road races in the English road-running calendar and the success of the 21 previous years’ events has ensured this year’s is extremely popular, with runners from all over England expected to compete. For the seventh year running, it has the same sponsors - Peter Cooper, the local Volkswagen dealership and Brooks, the International Sports Equipment Company.

The 2012 event saw a number of changes from previous years – an earlier start time, a new start position and a revised route for the first 2km and these changes remain in place.

The 10.30am start is in College Lane and the runners go north before turning into Graylingwell Park and then joining the previous route at Barnfield Drive.

The 2013 race has attracted interest from clubs in the Sussex Grand Prix, especially a number of clubs in the east of the county, including Arena 80, Seaford Striders, Portslade Hedgehoppers, Hailsham Harriers, Heathfield Runners, Horsham Joggers and Worthing Harriers.

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

Chichester Runners have their usual excellent turn out with nearly 50 runners entered.

A number of athletes from such well-known athletic clubs as Aldershot, Farnham & District AC, Blackheath and Bromley Harriers, Brighton and Hove AC, Chelmsford AC, Coventry Godiva, Hercules Wimbledon. Winchester AC, Herne Hill Harriers, Kent AC and Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers. Dulwich Runners, who often use the race as their club championship, have nearly 40 runners competing.

The event has more than doubled in entries since the early days but it remains a very varied race in terms of competitors. There will be runners representing their clubs, running for charity, looking for personal bests or some turning out for the first time.

Many runners use it as a pre-London or Brighton Marathon warm-up or as a gauge of early-season fitness after the Christmas festivities.

There is a comprehensive prize list. There is a special prize available again this year for any male or female runner who breaks the course records - 29.02 for men and 32.07 for women.

There are three special prizes for local runners. The Chichester Observer is putting up the Ben Steppel Memorial Prize to the first under-23 local man home and the organisers will present the Colin Thorne Memorial Prize to the first under-23 local woman finisher. The Nuffield Health Prize will go to the first local team home.

A number of runners have hardly missed an event since 1991.

The fast, flat course lends itself to an exciting race. This year there are a number of male runners who have run or are targeting a time around the 30-minute mark, which will make for a very competitive race.

James Baker is usually the first Chichester Runner home.

The women’s race also looking to be of a very high standard. Back to defend he title and perhaps break the course record is last year’s winner, Charlotte Purdue, from Aldershot, Farnham & District, an English national ten-mile road champion as well as being a former junior European champion at cross-country.

The leading women’s team in contention for the podium with their wealth of talent again looks to be Arena 80.

The men’s team contest appears far more open with competition from a number of Sussex clubs and those farther afield.

Spectators are always welcome to come and watch the race and line the course.

The start and finish are centred in Chichester’s Northgate car park and the route comprises one lap of the north-east segment of the city and beyond - going out to Westhampnett roundabout, round the Goodwood airfield to Pook Lane, and back down the Lavant Road.

Organisers are apologising to motorists for traffic delays but they’re sure the public will appreciate the event takes place only once a year and is a very worthwhile event.

Motorists are advised to avoid these areas between 10.30 and 11.30am and advice on alternative routes will be given before the race.

Organisers say there will be no entries accepted on the day.

Full coverage of the race including reports, photographs and list of finishers will be published in the Observer on February 7. We’ll have a same-day report on this website, plus a web gallery the next day.

- Graham Jessop