A new winner of the Bognor Prom 10k showed it is as popular as ever and still capable of attracting new blood.
London athlete Adam Kirk-Smith took the honours in the 22nd year of the event as he came home first in 33min 12sec under sunny skies.
It was not particularly close to the course record of 30.31 set by Tadele Geremew in 2013, but that was partly because of a stiff breeze that worked against their field as they made their way back along the seafront towards the Silverston Avenue finish.
Kirk-Smith, who runs for London Heathfield, was delighted with his win, having come sixth in 34.08 two years ago and 30th in this year’s Chichester Priory 10k in 32.54.
The other two podium places went to Chichester Runners duo James Baker and Harry Leleu, both regulars among the top placings in Sussex races, with Baker second in 33.53 and Leleu third in 34.11.
The top trio plus Brighton’s Grham Godden, who was the leading over-40 as he came in fourth in 34.34, were out on their own for much of the race and the winner was only ever likely to come from that group.
Women’s winner was Emma Montiel, 12th overall and home in a creditable 38.10, just getting the better of Shone Crombie-Hicks, who had led her at one time and passed the post six seconds later – before a gap of more than three minutes back to the third-fastest female.
After the elite finishers, there was a steady flow of athletes crossing the line for the next hour or so – many having chalked up personal bests, others having completed the distance for the first time, but all 1,397 to finish the course were cheered on in equal measure by a decent-sized crowd along much of the route.
Chichester Runners took the men’s team prize while Bognor’s own Tone Zone Runners - who fielded a huge number of runners - won the women’s prize.
Gavin Oclee-Brown, one of the main organisers with Bognor Hotham Rotary Club, was delighted by the success of the day.
He said: “We were the grateful beneficiaries of another sunny morning for this year’s 10k. The number of finishers, although down on the record of 1,549 set in 2014, is still a really good number,
“The vast majority were local people running for what is important to them. Some run for charitable causes, some for the challenge, some because they were not paying attention when their other half asked “shall we will do it?” – and some even run to try to win it.
“You can see from the expressions on the runners’ faces during the race it is hard work, but you can then see the smiles of joy and achievement on the their faces when they have finished. We say to them ‘well done and wear your medal with pride’.”
Don’t miss the Bognor Observer - out on Thursday - for full coverage including a list of finishers and their chip times
Oclee-Brown praised the helpers and marshals without whom it could not take place and added: “A big thank-you goes to Tone Zone Runners, who not only entered the biggest team but around 40 from the club acted as marshals, gave assistance on the field and shadowed several activities of the race committee.
“It is the plan that the Rotary Club of Bognor Hotham, who started this event 22 years ago, will hand over this event to Tone Zone in the next couple of years – though the flow of funds for charities and local good causes and the top-up sponsorship scheme will stay with the Rotary Club.”
Tone Zone race Director Judith Bazeley said: “The Bognor 10k is a great event for the town and we are thrilled to have been part of the organisation. We learned so much and our commitment will continue into next year when we take an even more active role.”
Oclee-Brown said the junior fun runs before the main race were also well-populated. “Well done to all the young fun fun entrants, who having achieved their goal, and while wearing their medals with pride, were then cheering on the old lot!
“And we must also thank all the supporters who lined the route, encouraging all the runners on the way out and along the prom on the way back.
“Many of the runners who enter year after year do so because they enjoy the route along the seafront and enjoy the massive, friendly support they get from the local crowds. So well done Bognor in welcoming and applauding all these runners.”
Junior fun run results
8-11 Years Group 800m (77 entered)
1 Ben Yates from Chandelles Ford
2 Alex Handcock from Waterlooville
3 Cerys Dickinson from Pagham
12-14 Years Group 1500m (22 entered)
1 Will Parvin from Rolands Castle
2 Caitlin Brown from Bognor
3 Alfie Spurle from Bognor
A total of 85 members of Tone Zone Runners took part in the 10k.
For some it was their first 10k or even their first race since joining the club in January, and these included Gemma Newman, Sarah Vockins, Lucy Brand, Carol Parncutt, David Paige, Gemma Hanna and Jean Morris.
They all completed the race, held in tricky conditions with a strong headwind for the latter part.
First to see the finish for the club was 18-year-old Harry Annals who ran an amazing race to finish in his best time of 37min 17sec, tenth overall. Other runners to achieve a personal best were Jess Thomson, Caroline Edwards, Natalie Tribe, Andrew Day, Karen Vilday, Alice Slater, Paul Wells and Michelle Miles.
The club also came first in the ladies’ team race where the fastest three from each club represented in the race have their times combined. Nina Baldwinson, Louisa Proctor and Jess Thomson managed to beat the next team by more than six minutes.
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