VIDEO: Records fall in Corporate Challenge’s thrilling finale

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The 25th year of the Chichester Corporate Challenge Road Race series finished in grand style with one junior record and the senior record falling by the narrowest of margins.

Conditions were ideal for fast times and many personal bests were set over the flat city centre course...

The start of the secondary girls' race / Picture by Kate Shemilt

The start of the secondary girls' race / Picture by Kate Shemilt

See today’s Chichester Observer for a report, pictures and a full list of finishers and their times.

Primary schools

Repeating their good form in previous races Joe McLarnon from North Mundham and Cameron Walker-Powell from Mayville High led home the Year 6 runners with the two fastest times this year – 4.38 and 4.39 – with Sam Corbett of Jessie Younghusband a few seconds back.

A well-paced run from Fionn O’Murchu from Bishop Tufnell made him a clear winner of the Year 5 race leading his school to third team place behind winners North Mundham and Jessie Younghusband, who were separated by a single second.

An official time of 12.38 was recorded to give the American medic the course record by one second.

Overall series winners, individual and teams, will be announced in next week’s Observer.

There was a new winner in the primary girls’ age group where a familiar surname was in action in the form of Hampshire-based Olivia East, daughter of previous double course record holder and Commonwealth Games star Michael.

East junior posted a fast 4.56 for the 1,400m course to get the better of previous winner Cerys Dickinson from Rose Green and Ailsa Newton from Camelsdale.

Good packing from the leading Jessie Younghusband trio gave them a 30-second lead in the team standings ahead of Central and North Mundham.

Secondary girls

Once again Hampshire-based athletes dominated the secondary schools’ individual races with only Charlotte Bullard from Chichester High School in the Year 8 race preventing all four victories going across the border.

Eloise O’Neill was again dominant in the Year 7 race with Anya Pigden again too good for the Year 10 runners.

In the Year 9 race Ellie Farrow from Warblington turned the tables on Mia Billins from Portsmouth High to set the fastest time of the day, 7.02 for the 2,100m course.

The fastest team came from Midhurst Rother’s Year 8s – fine packing from Lily de Lacy, Ella Howard and Ella-Jane Creasy gave them more than a minute advantage over the Bishop Luffa Years 9/10 winning team of Holly Heffron, Amber Dodd and Tahlia Juggins.

In a competitive Year 7 age group, Bishop Luffa made it a double win with Nina Moranne, Ruby Cousins and Rose Potter turning the tables on Midhurst Rother.

Secondary boys

Anticipation was high before the secondary boys’ race where previous winner and current UK No3 Lachlan Wellington made his first appearance in this year’s event.

With record holder from race one Ben Collins on the best form of his life and Bishop Luffa’s Will Broom also on the line, the four-lap race for the age group started at a blistering pace with Collins taking the fight to Wellington and the rest of the field forced to let the pair forge ahead.

At the halfway mark, Wellington had a narrow lead which he gradually increased to finish in 8.03, knocking nine seconds from what was already an impressive course record. Broom joined Collins and set a personal best of 8.25 with Collins third to give the leading trio three of the four best times in 20 years of junior races.

Collins led his Chichester High School team to victory while Ethan Fincham from Angmering was impressive in winning the Year 9 boys’ race.

Surrey’s Blamey twins from Rodborough School repeated their success in the Year 8 race with Liam Dunne a fine third while Josh Fawcett just pipped Douglas Smith in the Year 7 race, with both boys given the time of 7.16 for the three laps.

Fawcett also led his Portsmouth Grammar team to a two-second win over Midhurst Rother led home by Oban Cunningham while good packing from Tom Davy, Joe Careswell and Elliott Millman gave them a convincing win in the Year 8 race.

Seniors

There’s been new interest this year in the A race, such has been the quality of the fields.

On this occasion Chris Zablocki raced clear from the gun, not content to wait with the pack as he had done a fortnight earlier.

A first 1,125m lap of just over three minutes and a halfway mark of 6.12 meant the 2008 course record – East’s 12.39 – was under threat.

With one lap remaining Zablocki’s time of 9.25 kept the record in sight and by this time the crowd were as loud as anything witnessed in the 25 years of the event.

Zablocki gave a final push, having to lap other runners and even weaving past a stray motorist on the traffic-free course.

An official time of 12.38 was recorded to give the American medic the course record by one second.

Behind him Chichester’s Peter Concannon had broken clear from the pack and all the first seven runners were under the coveted 14-minute barrier.

Emma Monteil made it a clean sweep in the women’s race and two of Chichester’s cross-country team, Rose Ellis and Karina Bennett, occupied the next two places in the women’s standings.

Teamwise the Russell Giles Partnership got the better of Westgate Leisure Staff on the night in the corporate category while the Portsmouth AC Oddbins squad were in front of Chichester College for the sports rankings.

DSTL and Havant Angels occupied the leading positions in the women’s event.

PHIL BAKER

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