Delay fails to dampen new-look 10k event

Racers begin their assault on the Chichester Priory 10k, which started                                                                            and finished at Goodwood motor circuit for the first time on Sunday. Picture: Derek Martin DM1724869
Racers begin their assault on the Chichester Priory 10k, which started and finished at Goodwood motor circuit for the first time on Sunday. Picture: Derek Martin DM1724869

Chichester Priory 10k race director Bob Syme was pleased with how things went as the event embarked on a new era on Sunday.

Following a 25-year stint based in the city, runners were forced to venture out with the start and finish taking place at Goodwood motor circuit in 2017.

Finny McNally breaks the tape at the Chichester 10k on Sunday. Picture: Derek Martin DM1725131

Finny McNally breaks the tape at the Chichester 10k on Sunday. Picture: Derek Martin DM1725131

Congestion in the build-up on surrounding roads meant a 30-minute delay to the scheduled start - but as a whole Syme was pleased with the new course.

He said: “The course was fine and I think the race part of things went very well. We ended up with around 500 more cars than we were expecting, we did our best to estimate, but it’s something that we’ll sort for next year’s race.

“The winning time was just over 30 minutes but on the old course the record was just under the half-hour. We weren’t expecting it to be quicker than the old course because of the downhill in Broyle Road. I think it’s a lot better than a lot of people were expecting it to be.

“The thing that I was very pleased about was - despite the delay - all runners went off very enthusiastic and several came to me after saying what a great race and course this was .”

Runners get going on the new-look 10k course on Sunday. Picture: Derek Martin DM1725011

Runners get going on the new-look 10k course on Sunday. Picture: Derek Martin DM1725011

This year’s edition - number 26 - saw 1,717 racers complete the new course; the highest ever in the history of the race.

Expectations were high that the Chichester 10k was going to be special and - at a new venue - organisers, athletes and spectators were not disappointed by both weather conditions and facilities as they arrived at the motor circuit for the first time.

The scheduled start of 10am was delayed by 30 minutes because of heavy congestion around Goodwood. Once it was practical and the safety of this year’s runners was ensured, the Rotary Club of Chichester Priory started proceedings.

Racers were an extremely impressive sight as they streamed out of the Goodwood motor circuit, then along Claypit Lane in the Chichester direction.

Izzy Coomber was the first female to finish the Chi 10k in 2017. Picture: Derek Martin DM1725199

Izzy Coomber was the first female to finish the Chi 10k in 2017. Picture: Derek Martin DM1725199

Runners tackled public roads for the opening 6k of the race, passing the entrance to the Rolls-Royce assembly point, along Madwick Lane to the historic Stane Street, through Strettington and back along New Road, before the course was completed with a lap of the motor circuit.

Likely podium-placers Finn McNally of Brighton Phoenix, Southampton Athletics Club’s Alex Wall-Clarke and Harry Leleu of Chichester Runners soon broke away from the field.

They were together for the opening 3k, before Leleu began to fall back into the main field.

Over the course of the next 3k, Wall-Clark and McNally were exchanging places on the front, with only Southport’s Ben Johnson showing any signs of preventing either of those winning.

As the first few racers entered the motor circuit, McNally made his final break and continued to push to the finish.

In the end, Brighton Phoenix runner McNally took the 2017 title coming home in a time of 30min 46sec, 16 seconds ahead of nearest rival Wall-Clarke.

Johnson (31:16) then completed the top three, before Crawley’s James Westlake (31:43) and Brighton & Hove’s Kevin Moore (31:52) made up the top five.

There was some success for Chichester Runners with James Baker - on his debut as a veteran athlete - took the male vet-40 title.

The female competition was of a good standard with a number of pre-race favourites acquitting themselves well and battling it out for the podium places.

Home racer Rebecca Moore was the early leader, with eventual winner Izzy Coomber following closely behind.

Caroline Hoyte, a previous Chichester 10k female champion, remained in close pursuit up until being dropped at the 5k marker.

Moore stayed in the lead but Coomber was closing the gap, and by the time both entered the motor circuit, she took the front.

There was no stopping Coomber as she surged home 12 seconds ahead of Moore with a winning time of 35:14.

The Lewes Athletics Club racer is going going through a purple patch, with her winning time snipping over 30 seconds of her personal best over this distance.

Moore, in second position, clocked 35:26 just a few seconds off her efforts from last year, while Hoyte was third (36:06) helping her claim the female vet-40 title on the new-look course.

With the race potentially taking place at the Goodwood motor circuit next year once more, Syme wants it to continue to be a success.

He said: “Signs are good for the course but there are some lessons to be learnt from what we’ve experienced this year.

“We’ve booked to come back again next year but that is not a decision that will be made finally by us until about April or May time. We’ll have discussions to see how we felt this event went.”

Full results list available in Thursday's Observer series.

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