Runners rise to the challenge superbly in Chichester

The top secondary boys' finishers in the latest Corporate Challenge races Picture by Kate Shemilt
The top secondary boys' finishers in the latest Corporate Challenge races Picture by Kate Shemilt

Another perfect evening greeted the 650 runners who thundered round the streets of Chichester for the second of the Corporate Challenge road races.

As well as many achieving best times over both the junior and senior courses, there were again two individual lap records and excellent battles at the front of all six races.

Pride of place goes to the juniors, who accounted for both course records for the second time in succession.

In the first race of the evening, Ben Collins from East Wittering shaved one second from the long-standing mark of 4min 36secs first set by Kingsham’s Daniel Cowtan as far back as 1999 and equalled twice since.

Collins’ victory came after a thrilling tussle with William Broom, who set his fastest time ever of 4.40 and led his Central School friends to a team win over Plaistow & Kirdford.

In the primary girls’ race, Josie Czura again produced a dominant display of front-running to record the second fastest time ever at 4.43, just three seconds outside her own lap record of a fortnight earlier.

The primary girls team positions could not be closer with no fewer than seven teams within one minute of The March School in 17.14, led home by a strong run from Emily Guiry with East Wittering nine seconds behind.

The highlight of the secondary races came again from Harry Leleu of Seaford College, who shaved another five seconds from his own record of 8.28 despite a blistering opening lap of well under two minutes.

There was a fine scrap behind Leleu with Midhurst’s Dan Eeles just getting the better of Worthing’s Jack Woods and Josh James, with James leading Chichester High School to first place in the team event.

Midhurst emerged with a win in the Year 7 race with Josh Eeles again in command while it was a one-two for Churchers College with Tom Verney and Edward Williams at the head of proceedings, while Casey Keates from Felpham was again too strong for the rest in the Year 9 age group.

Bishop Luffa dominated the team standings in all three years, a feat they repeated in Years 7 and 8 of the girls’ races led by Abbie Turner and Saskia Gardam respectively.

The Year 9 and 10 pace was set by Chichester Girls’ High School with Charlotte Reading and Nicola Mead leading them home.

Individually only Gardam prevailed for the local schools with sisters Maisie and Evie Grice taking the spoils for Years 7 and 9, while Worthing’s Leah Harris took the Year 10 race.

The senior contest lived up to expectations with Portsmouth’s Harry Carter winning in a fine time of 13.13 for the 4.5k senior course. James Bellward from Crawley, Chichester’s James Baker and Ed O’Brien from Worthing all pushed him hard.

Team-wise, favourites DSTL Naval Systems, consistently led by Colin Dixon with yet another 14-minute finish, had a five-minute gap over Midhurst Rother Staff, led home by Aaron Hancock with the Cawley Crawlers Medical Centre third.

For the women Susan Scott from Worthing, making her first appearance in the event, crossed the line in 15.17, one of the fastest times ever, in front of the Team North Portsmouth’s pairing of Natalie Wettler and Emma Montiel, just over a minute back.

Team North were too strong for Chichester’s veterans and under-17s, who filled the next two spots, while Midbourne Springers led the women’s corporate rankings.

The final race of the series takes place next Wednesday (March 28) from 6.30pm, when team and individual series winners will be decided.