James Baker is out to win the Chichester Half Marathon TEN years in a row after making it seven from seven.
The consistent Chichester Runners ace was more than two minutes ahead of his closest rival to win Sunday’s race in 1hr 13min 30sec. He has won it every year since it was revived in 2012.
Baker’s dominance comes amid praise for the race from many runners – including Midhurst’s Emily Iredale, who took the women’s title, and Chichester parkrun founder Mike Houston, who was second to Baker.
Baker told the Observer: “I’m proud to have won it seven years out of seven. My aim is to keep going and try to win it ten years in a row.
“I’ve been winning a lot of races recently and just want to keep that record going.”
Baker said his motivation in continuing to enter so many races was simply his desire to win and equal or better his own best times.
He said the Chi Half was one of his favourites in the calendar.
“It’s on routes I’ve trained on since I was 16 so I’ve been running them for more than 20 years.”
Baker said his time this year, about a minute and a half off his course record of 1.11.52, was wind-affected.
“Mike Houston went off quite hard and was quite close behind me til three or four miles. I broke away and the distance grew and grew, especially downhill.
“My time was fairly good, a bit slower than last year because it was a lot windier this year and the rain overnight made the course a little bit slippery in place.
“It was a well-organised race and it was nice to see Mike come in second.”
Women’s champion Iredale said she had not entered the half marathon with thoughts of winning it. “I was hoping for maybe top five but I’m really pleased. I haven’t run ther race before and I loved it – brilliant. It was tough – hard on the way up. But the marshals were really good.”
“My time (1.31.45) was pretty good. My road PB for half marathon is 1hr 27 last November.”
Iredale said she had been with Midhurst Milers about eight years and was pleased if her win raised their profile.
Houston was beaming after finishing second in a chip time of 1.15.58. “I’ve got to be happy with that. It’s a personal best for a half marathon and for this course. I was hoping for it. I’ve been trying a bit harder in the past year or two.”
* Our photographer Derek Martin was there to capture all the pre-race, race and post-race action and you can see 34 of his pictures in the gallery above.
The half marathon was won by local favourite James Baker, while Emily Iredale of Midhurst Milers took the women's crown.
You can see a full list of finishers and their times in the Observer on Thursday.