10k contenders head for Chichester in tip-top form

FINAL preparations are being made for Sunday’s 20th-anniversary running of the Chichester Priory 10k.

Fewer than 1,000 runners took part in the inaugural race in 1991, organised by Chichester Priory Rotary Club.

It’s become a prestigious athletic event and a vehicle for runners to raise funds for many charitable causes. It’s one of the major road races in the English calendar and the success of previous events means this year’s is again popular with athletes from all over England as well as locally.

This year sees the largest number of entries and organisers say there’ll be no entries on the day.

Some of the biggest names in the field are in great form. New Zealander Paul Martelletti smashed his personal best in the recent Brass Monkey Half Marathon in York and won by well over a kilometre.

Some of the top finishers from the recent Stubbington 10k have entered: Emily Alden, Caroline Hoyte and Kathy Bailey.

Liz Yelling is one of the best-known names in the field. After a year of injuries, she is building up for the London marathon.

Clare Elms of Dulwich comfortably won the Telford 10k 11 days ago in 35min 17sec.

For the fifth year running the race has the same sponsors, Volkswagen dealership Peter Cooper and Brooks, the international shoe company. Both will have teams competing.

There will be runners representing clubs, running for charity, looking for personal bests or turning out for the first time. Many use it as a pre-London Marathon warm-up or as a gauge of early-season fitness.

This year has seen a new initiative involving Chichester Priory Rotary Club, the district council and the University of Chichester.

A group of first-time runners plus some returning from injury have attended training sessions run by Lucy Boynton, Ben Polhill and Graham Jessop. They have had advice on training, clothing and diet and small-group training runs.

There is a big prize list for different categories.

There is a special prize available again this year for any male and female runner who breaks the course record – 29.02 for men and 32.07 for women.

There are two special prizes for local runners. The Observer will put up the Ben Steppel Memorial Prize to the first under-23 local man home, named after an Observer sports editor who died in 2007.

Organisers will present the Colin Thorne Memorial Prize to the first under-23 local woman finisher.

Spectators are welcome to line the course. The start and finish are centred on the Northgate car park and there’s one lap of the north-east part of the city and beyond out to Westhampnett roundabout, round Goodwood Airfield to Pook Lane and back down the Lavant Road.

Organisers apologise for traffic delays but believe people appreciate the event is worthwhile.

Organisers wish runners a successful run.

Full coverage, including a full list of finishers, in the Observer next week.