Olympic runner gives Chichester race seal of approval

Stephanie Twell crosses the line / Picture by Derek Martin
Stephanie Twell crosses the line / Picture by Derek Martin

The Chichester Priory 10k has won an Olympian’s seal of approval.

Stephanie Twell, who has twice run for GB at the Olympics, broke the women’s course record in a fabulous renewal of the race on Sunday - then urged other runners at her level to give it a try.

The Hampshire-based middle and long-distance runner, who competed at the 2008 Games in Beijing and in 2016 in Rio, was one of two winners celebrating new course records amid lovely scenes at the 10k finish at Goodwood motor circuit.

Men’s winner Will Mycroft shaved 13 seconds off the previous course best of 29min 45sec – and led home a group of seven who all crossed the line inside the magic 10k time of 30 minutes.

On a sunny but cold day – pretty much perfect for fast running – the third year of the race being based at Goodwood, after its switch from Chichester College, and the 28th Priory 10k in all, ended in 1,468 passing the finish line.

Twell said she was over the moon to break the women’s course record with her 33.17 finish. “They called it as I came over the line. It was a close shave. The energy on this course at the end was brilliant so I really ploughed home for it,” she said.

“It’s always hard after Christmas and in January, it’s tough to get out there and do the miles. But this was a building block for me. I’m really happy and hopefully throughout the year I can build on that.

“I’ve been to Chichester before but it was when the race was in the city centre. This is a great course. You get the joys of the countryside and get to finish here at the motor circuit is such a spectacle.

Victory is just swell for Twell
Oh My! Mycroft can't believe victory
See the sprint finish that thrilled the 10k crowd
Did you take part? See yourself in our video of the start
The 10k in pictures
10k organiser reflects on a great day
“The depth of the field was amazing. There were so many local runners, I saw lots of Chichester vests and it was really nice to latch on to just running next to someone.

“It was a little bit lonely in the middle – everyone feels that is the hardest but then you start coming alive again coming into the arena. That’s when you start moving your legs again. It was a great field.”

Organisers of the 10k were delighted to attract runners of Twell’s calibre this year but she was humble when told that. She said she’d ‘absolutely’ recommend the race to others who compete at her level.

“This is my second time in the event and I think it’s a great way to spend the new year. I live in Hampshire and this is on the (Hants-West Sussex) border. I had a day out in Chichester after the race and was really looking forward to that. What better way to start the motivation for 2019?”

Twell is hopeful of returning to Chichester next February to defend her title. “I definitely enjoyed it so I hope to be back.”

Men’s winnier Mycroft, who smashed the course record by 13 seconds when he crossed the line in 29min 32sec, said: “It was fantastic. I was running along thinking ‘why does this feel so easy?’ I broke my personal best by a minute. I kept thinking I was going to wake up!

“Conditions were perfect. It was sunny but not too warm, a pancake-flat course and no wind.

“I sat in the leading group and was a bit naughty because I did no work and then just sprinted the last mile and managed to win.

“The group at the front were fantastic and I think this is the best 10k I’ve ever done.

“This was the first time I had done this race. I saw it advertised on Facebook and thought ‘that looks good, I’ll go down and do that’ and I’m so glad I came.

“I didn’t come down before the day to look at the course. We stayed nearby and I just jogged over and had a look in the morning.

“I was really impressed, it was really well-organised.

“I ran 30min 34sec in a 10k about a year ago so this was a minute quicker, which I’m delighted with. I’ll definitely be back next year.”Priory 10k organisers were buoyant over the success of the day.

Graham Jessop, director for elite athletes and start and finish director, said: “It was probably the best race of the 28 – the sight of those ten-plus athletes entering the motor circuit together will take some beating.

“It was one of the strongest male fields ever assembled for Chichester. It was a huge success. The winners praised the course, the organisation and the great support and said they planned to return to defend their titles next year.”