SPRING in Bognor wouldn’t be the same without the Prom 10k – and the 10k wouldn’t be the same without the sun beating down.
The weather, once again, could hardly have been better for the 21st running of a race which is getting close to attracting as many entries as organisers could accommodate on the current and popular course.
Okay, so the athletes will be quick to point out the wind was a little stronger than they’d have liked as they made their way back along the seafront towards the finish just outside West Park.
But never mind the runners – the large number of spectators who turned out to cheer on the mix of serious athletes and fun and charity runners ewere quite happy with the conditions.
And given that a number of days before and after the big event were affected by rain, the organisers from the Rotary Club of Bognor Hotham were pretty happy too – not just with the weather but with how smoothly the race went, winning praise from many who ran it and watched it.
After a clean getaway in Silverston Avenue, the large field of 1,513 taking a full five minutes all to cross the start line, it was a trio of Sussex-based runners who were first to come back just over half an hour later.
Chichester’s Jo Corbett won the Bognor 10k for the second year in a row – despite hardly having run a competitive race in the meantime.
In his Chichester Runners vest, Corbett, who often runs as an unattached athlete, crossed the line in 32min 57sec – six seconds in front of Chichester Runner James Baker, who he also beat into second place in 2014.
Brighton’s Graham Godden was a third, though was a minute and a second behind Baker.
Corbett told the Observer it was a tough race: “We had a tail-wind behind us on the way out which was nice, but when we turned on the way back it was windy. It was windier than last year so coming back in was very hard work.
The Bognor weather played its normal sunny role although the wind along the seafront put paid to any course record-breaking attempts.Gavin Oclee-Brown
“Graham (Godden) was leading for the first half, then James (Baker) pushed it on the way back, and a few times he was close to breaking me. He made me work hard.
“We did 16 minutes for the first half and 17 for the second half but we were playing around a bit on the second half. It was good fun but harder than it could have been.
“I don’t race very often – this is my first proper face in a year. This time last year was the last time I’d raced seriously. I keep a low profile so no-one expects anything of me. It’s nice to come in under the radar.”
Corbett explained what draws him to this race when he does not take part in many others.
“I’m local to Shripney and Chichester and when I was growing up it was one of the big local races – I tend to make my annual appearance here!”
Asked whether he’d be back next year to try to make it three wins in a row, the 34-year-old said: “Maybe – it all depends on my body. I’m getting older.”
Runner-up Baker said: “I put in loads of efforts into the wind to break clear but lost over the final 300m.”
The women’s race was won by Shona Crombie-Hicks of Cotswolds club Bourton Runners. She was an impressive 16th overall in 38.19, 23 seconds of her nearest challenger Sophie Grant of Serpentine.
As ever, it wasn’t just about the winners – everyone who got round the course deserved their own praise and could talk of their own achievement, many raising valuable funds for worthy charities.
The official party who started the race and greeted finishers included GB distance runner Chris Thompson, who won European 10,000m silver in 2010 behind Mo Farah and has run in Olympic and Commonwealth Games.
Afterwards Thompson said on Twitter: “What an amazing event and amazing people. Thanks to all that make it happen – proud to be part of it.”
Organisers’ spokesman Gavin Oclee-Brown said it was a successful day.
“We will have a wash-up meeting to get feedback from all organisers and marshals and so on, but from the brief discussions I had with the team there, the feeling was it went very well. There were no injuries we know of, which is always a main concern.
“Talking to a few runners all seemed to enjoy it – the joy seemed greater having finished than at the start.
“The Bognor weather played its normal sunny role although the wind along the seafront put paid to any course record-breaking attempts.
“So we think it was a success, but the organisation team are always interested in comments from the runners, residents and spectators, so if anyone has any comments, good or bad, we would be gratefully to receive them through the Observer.
“The number of finishers was 1,513 which is about 30 less than last year so it was not a record number of runners, but it was no less an achievement for those whose determination, effort and pain you could see.”
Oclee-Brown said the race felt about as big as it needed to be.
“It can’t grow much bigger - 2,000 entrants is the maximum we set on it, as the car parking will not take any more,” he said. “But we have not yet hit the 2,000 entrants number yet so perhaps it’s a good size for the town.
“If numbers do increase, we would hate to turn people away, so we would then look at at changing the layout or location. But it is, I think, a great run right along our wonderful seafront and I think most visitors and residents also enjoy cheering the runners along. So it would be a big decision to change the route.”
There was some talk afterwards that Thompson was so impressed by the race he is thinking of taking part himself in 2016.
Oclee-Brown joked: “It would be great if he did enter next year - we could probably save money by engraving the winner’s trophy now - unless the local runners know better.”
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