New features will boost Chichester Half Marathon

The start of the Chi Half Marathon in 2015 / Picture by Kate Shemilt
The start of the Chi Half Marathon in 2015 / Picture by Kate Shemilt

The 2016 Chichester Half Marathon gets its launch next Tuesday - and it has some new features to help keep it fresh.

The city-based charity Children on the Edge in conjunction with Chichester District Council are hopeful the fifth event since the multi-terrain race was revived in 2012 will be more popular than ever.

It takes place on Sunday, October 9 and organisers are expecting a huge response from those returning and new runners alike.

Last year the event hosted nearly 1,000 runners but this year the organisers have been able to increase the entry limit to 1,500 runners on account of their experience from previous years and some minor tweaks in the course cutting out pinch points.

The half marathon takes in the major city centre sights and landmarks as well as spectacular rural scenery in the Lavant and Goodwood countryside. The terrain is a good mixture of road, paths, cycle tracks and cross-country.

The race will start at 9am near event HQ at Chichester College, where a race village will be set up. It starts in Westgate and the field run along West and East Street to Eastgate Square, where it follows the City walls round towards Priory Park.

There will be, for the first time, the possibility of starting and finishing with the half-marathon race but cutting out three miles to make a multi-terrain ten-miler.

The runners make their way across Oaklands Park, towards the Rugby Club and then out through Summersdale and Fordwater into East Lavant Village. Stunning downland scenery provides the backdrop for the runners to tackle Chalkpit Lane before climbing up to the Trundle from Seven Ways where runners have stunning views of the Solent and beyond.

The next two miles is a steady downhill descent into West Dean from where it picks up the Lavant Valley, returning to Chichester along the Centurion way, finishing in the rear college car park.

The event is suitable for people of all abilities over the age of 17. A full training programme will be provided on the event’s website.

There are two new special additional opportunities for 2016.

There will be, for the first time, the possibility of starting and finishing with the half-marathon race but cutting out three miles to make a multi-terrain ten-miler.

This will give the runners the benefits of running through the city and climbing two thirds of the Trundle, with all the splendid views of the Solent, but without the challenge of the final climb to the summit. There will also be a shorter route back to the Lavant Valley.

Organisers are also introducing a three-person team relay. This event will have the same start and finish as the half marathon and be run over the same course but the route will be completed by a team of three different runners.

There will be three categories – three male runners from an athletic club; three female runners from an athletic club; three runners of either sex representing a works team, a bona-fide club or family and friends.

The course will be divided into three legs and each runner takes a different leg. Leg one is from the start to the Royal Oak at East Lavant – a distance of about 3.6 miles; leg two is from the Royal Oak to the Dean at West Dean – a distance of around 3.8 miles; leg three is from the Dean to the finish – a distance of about 5.9 miles.

To be eligible to compete all runners must be 15 on October 1, 2016, and if under 18 have the consent of a parent or guardian. To qualify as a finishing team all three runners must cover the full distance of their leg.

Ben Wilkes, head of Children on the Edge in the UK, said: “The Chichester Half has been going from strength to strength each year since we revived it in 2012.

“We’re really excited for this year because there are some new competitions and prizes, lots of local business support and a real buzz in the community about race day.

“Money raised makes a huge difference to the vulnerable children we work with.”

Cllr Eileen Lintill of Chichester District Council said: “The Chichester Half Marathon is an excellent opportunity for residents and businesses to set themselves a challenge and raise money for a wonderful local cause.

“The organisers are always trying to make the event more accessible to a broader range of people and we hope these shorter distances will encourage even more people to get their running shoes on.”

Local sponsors Montezuma’s and Store Property are again backing the event. Both organisations have directors who are keen athletes.

The works trophy proved very popular when it was introduced for the first time in 2014 and features again. Early indications are that many more businesses are considering entering this year’s event.  

Any organisation or business can enter as many people as they wish to compete for the Trophy. But it is the first three finishers on race day who will make up the scoring team. 

Each workplace registering five or more runners is eligible to receive a complimentary training workshop from the organisers and any business signing up more than ten runners will have the tenth place free. 

Once the Works Trophy team members are registered all the team manager needs to do is e-mail chihalf@childrenontheedge.org with the team name and a list of competitors who have entered.

Helen Pattinson, co-founder of Montezumas, said of the Works Trophy: “There’s nothing like the prospect of your work colleagues watching you run a race to motivate you to get out training. We have ten people in the business who are a lot fitter than they were!”

Prizes will also be awarded for the usual team awards.

Also back after its successful introduction in 2015 is the King and Queen of the Hill competition. Male and females will compete with each other to see who is the quickest climber of the Trundle between two points – Seven Ways Car Park and the end of the flint track at the point where the course starts to go round the summit.

Chip timing mats will be placed at the beginning and end of the Hill section which will be marked with beach flags and bunting. To be eligible runners must enter the half marathon, start the race in Westgate, complete the Hill climb section and also be a recorded as a finisher in the Chichester College car park.

Prospective runners are advised to get their entries in early to ensure a place. On the grounds of health and safety and in fairness to runners who do enter on time, organisers regret the race limit cannot be exceeded.

You can sign up at www.chichesterhalfmarathon.co.uk and training advice and guidance on preparation for the event is also available on the half marathon website – as is further information at www.chichester.gov.uk.

Coverage before and after the event will be contained in the Observer.

GRAHAM JESSOP

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