More than 20,000 runners converged on Southsea for the start of the Great South Run, held in almost ideal running conditions – and there were 46 Chichester Runners among them.
While Aldershot duo of Chris Thompson and Andy Vernon were posting some of the fastest times ever seen at the front of the elite race, Chichester were having one of their best mass participation races for many years.
Chris Bird lowered his personal best for the second time this autumn with a time of 54min 03sec for the ten-mile course and finished well inside the top 50 with 33rd spot.
While Bird was the only Chichester man inside the top 100, there were a quartet of runners packed at just over the hour mark.
Mikey Neville led them home in 60.46 for 103rd place and was followed by Tom Pritchard in 128th at 61.35, Justin Eggins in 133rd at 61.48 and Seth Wise in 154th at 62.20.
There followed a gap before Keith Akerman crossed the line 356th in a time of 66.58 with the next three Chichester runners all achieving high positions in the women’s race.
Alice Cox-Rusbridge, one of the club’s medal-winning team in the Goodwood relays the previous weekend, finished in 69.05 in 530th overall and 51st woman in a field including a number of internationals in the elite race.
Next was Helen Dean, both a team and an individual medallist at Goodwood, in a new ten-mile personal best time of 74.36 – good enough for 1178th overall and a fine second in her over-60 age category. This ranks Dean in the top six UK performances for 2018 in her age group with the Winchester runner, who beat her on Sunday ranked as the UK number three.
Polly Neville was next to cross the line in an excellent 75.33. Fourteen more club members finished under the 90-minute barrier: Simon Ludlam 75.58, John Miles 77.11, Nadia Anderson 77.45, David Nunn 78.12, Matt Irwin 78.12, Kevin Williams 69.44, David Knowles 81.01, Andrew Whitfield 82.26, Clare Snow 84.16, Peter Carver 86.22, Mark Ring 87.12, Jo Prosser 87.15, Jeremy Harrison 89.12, Nicola Jolley 89.17.
In the 5k race the previous day, there was an outstanding run from Olivia Toms, also one of the club medal winners at Goodwood.
Toms, who was competing against seniors and good juniors, set a new best time of 18.58 for the distance and was delighted to finish less than 30 seconds behind Sian Heslop, who was national cross-country champion in Toms’ age group earlier this year.
Two of Chichester’s juniors and one veteran made their mark on the parkrun scene on Saturday.
Leo Stallard, 17, left the rest of the Chichester field training by two minutes in posting a new PB of 17.26 at Oaklands Park.
Alex Mani, a year younger than Stallard, was first home at the Bognor parkrun in 18.45 and veteran James Baker travelled to Upton House in Dorset and added yet another course record to his tally by becoming the first sub 16-minute runner on the course with 15.56.
This came just six days after Baker won a half marathon at Goodwood motor racing circuit in 74.15, three minutes in front of club mate Chris Bird.
West Sussex Fun Run League
Amid the plethora of autumn races, the West Sussex Fun Run League programme is continuing to attract field of 300-plus runners testing their fitness on all types of terrain.
The latest race was a new event on the calendar at Windlesham School organised by Worthing Harriers and held over a picturesque course in the West Sussex countryside.
Invictus Games golds for Mike
Great South Run live
Not for the first time it was one of Chichester’s ladies who led the men home, with Emma Hughes in 50th place overall and seventh woman over the line gaining a maximum ten bonus points for the club.
Sarah Morris was another ten-point athlete in 63th overall and ninth woman while Nadia Anderson made it a clean sweep for the girls in terms of bonus points with 19th and a nine-point bonus.
Marcus Hammerton was an eight-point scorer just in front of Tim Brown who added seven points to the club’s tally, enabling the 13-athlete squad to finish in mid-table out of the league’s 17 clubs.
Under-11 race at Goodwood
Just before the Goodwood cross-country relays, Sussex under-11s had a chance to show their fitness with Chichester athletes to the fore in both the girls and boys’ races over 2000m.
There was a strong run from Florence Ingram in second place behind the Crawley winner. With Laila Hellyer next home in third, Lillie Hellyer in sixth and Carrie Anelay in eighth, the future looks promising.
There were also good runs from Martha Eminson in 20th, Isabella Boniface and Harriet Coomber in 20th.
For the boys Will Bailey produced a fine run to give Chichester another second place with Stanley Wilkes 11th, Ethan Hill 14th, Sam Cato 15th, Henry Court 16th, Digby Fulford 19th, Alex Sydenham 21st and Finley Holder 28th.