Chichester Priory 10k preview: Course records under threat

A high-class field is set to line up as the Chichester Priory 10k marks its third year on a new route on Sunday.

It is one of the major road races in the English road-running calendar and has gone from strength to strength since switching from the city centre to Goodwood and surrounding villages in 2017.

The start of the 2018 Chi Priory 10k / Picture by Derek Martin

The start of the 2018 Chi Priory 10k / Picture by Derek Martin

Although the first year at the new venue was beset by congestion and parking problems, it ran much more smoothly last year and organisers are looking forward to an even stronger event this year – with plenty of high-quality athletes set to line up.

The event starts at 9.30am at the Goodwood motor circuit and takes runners south along Claypit Lane, up Madgwick Lane, then east along Stane Street to Strettington, across to New Road and westwards back to the circuit. It finishes with a complete lap of the circuit.

The success of the race’s 27 previous runnings has ensured this year’s race is extremely popular, with runners from all over England and Wales expected to compete. Organisers are obviously hoping there's not too much snow or ice in the area over the weekend.

There is continued interest from clubs all over the south of England and added interest for Sussex runners as the race again features the Sussex county 10k road-race championships.

The men’s event could have one of the strongest fields ever seen in Chichester with last year’s sub-30-minute winner and runner-up - Richard Allen (Aldershot) and Andy Maud (Highgate) – returning. But they will need to be on top form to beat some of the other competitors.

Dougie Musson (Notts AC) looks a potential winner, having the best 10k performance in 2018. Expected in the leading group will be Joshua Grace (Aldershot), Peter le Grice (Bristol and West), and Paul Whittaker (Road Runners Club).

Also returning is Scott Overall (Blackheath & Bromley), a former Olympian, and he is also capable of being home in under 30 minutes.

The entry list is peppered with current and aspiring internationals. Musson and Tom Evans are using the event as a warm-up for their international appearance at a half marathon in Spain at the end of the month.

Chichester athletes rule on Parliament Hill
The 2018 Chi 10k race in pictures
Evans is current Sussex cross-country champion and will be challenged by Paul Navesey of Crawley for the county 10k road championships.

In the veterans’ categories for the county championships Ian Leitch of Brighton Phoenix will take some beating.

The women’s race in Chichester looks equally promising with UK champion and Scottish international Steph Twell (Aldershot), who recorded the fastest time of any UK woman in 2018 in a road 10k, having entered.

She will face competition from Emelia Gorecka (Aldershot), who’s coming back to form following illness and injury, and from Kate Maltby (Bristol and West), who was runner-up in 2018.

Gorecka is a former European junior and British university champion as well as achieving multiple national and regional victories on the road.

There has been a late entry from Louise Damen (Winchester), an English international and former national cross-country champion and winner of the 2016 Chi 10k.

Also up with the leaders could be Maisie Trafford of Arena 80, Sarah Astin from Norwich and Leah Harris from Worthing.

There could be a different women’s team on the podium in 2019 as Twell and Gorecka will be joined by their Aldershot team-mate Lauren Hall, a highly ranked Hampshire runner.

The leading veteran could be Sarah Davis (Rugby) with the ever-present Kath Bailey (Winchester) and Elspeth Turner (Horsham Blue Star) in contention. Trafford is favourite for the 10k county championships and Turner could be favourite for one of the veteran prizes.

The event has more than trebled in entries from the inaugural Chi Priory 10k 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 turning out for the first time.

Many use it as a pre-London or Brighton Marathon warm-up.

For the second year running the 10k is one of three qualifying opportunities for the Age Groups Masters England 10k. This demonstrates how highly the race is regarded nationally within the sport.

Organisers are working in partnership with England Athletics to provide an opportunity that recognises the achievements of dedicated club runners of all veteran categories. The leading masters’ athletes at Goodwood will don a specially designed England Masters vest at the Great Birmingham 10k in May.

Although most entrants run for pure enjoyment, there is a comprehensive prize list for the different categories of runners.

Such is the strength of the entrants in both the men and women’s categories, the course records of 29.45 and 33.23 are likely to be under threat, and if they are beaten those who do it will be awarded bonus prizes. In addition there are new prizes for recreational runners as well as spot prizes.

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

The race is organised by the Rotary Club of Chichester Priory and through the annual event they raise money for many deserving causes. Over 27 years, well over £400,000 has been raised for a variety of charities, this in addition to personal sums raised by individual runners for their own chosen charities.

The Rotary Club have a number of major sponsors returning again this year including The Run Company, Chichester’s specialist running retailers, and Henry Adams, the well-established firm of estate agents and agricultural land valuers. Other aspects of the race are sponsored by local businesses, including Natures Way and Harwoods.

Spectators are welcome to come and watch the race and line the course. The main vantage points will be around Goodwood, especially the start and finish at the motor circuit.

Spectators are advised to get there in good time as road closures will be in place in the area from 9am. Motorists are advised to avoid the Goodwood, Westerton and Halnaker areas between 9.15am and 10.30am.

Organisers apologise to motorists for any delays but hope the public appreciate this event is only once a year and is a very worthwhile fundraiser as well as a major athletics event.

The 2019 event has reached its maximum number of entries and closed well before the deadline. There will be no entries on the day.

Organisers wish all participants an enjoyable and successful run.There will be full coverage of the race on this webiste from race day itself, and reports, photos and a list of finishers in the Observer next Thursday.