Report and video - Reflections on a successful running of the Chichester Priory 10k

They said this year’s Chichester Priory 10k would be special. And it lived up to expectations.

Thursday, 6th February 2020, 10:00 am
Updated Thursday, 6th February 2020, 10:30 am

Just as predicted in last week’s Observer, the high-quality field attracted to the race ensure a fast and thrilling contest. It ended with Belgrave Harriers runner Nick Goolab breaking the course and race record, crossing the line in 29min 01sec.

The runners generated a fantastic atmosphere before the race while the heavy rain of the night before and overcast and wet-underfoot conditions did not dent their enthusiasm.

By the time the race started the rain had passed over and it was mild if a little windy.

The start of the 10k / Picture: Derek Martin

The high standard of this race in previous years resulted in another very good turnout of elite, club and recreational runners, who enjoyed an event which is one of the most popular and prestigious in the south of England and an integral part of the English road running calendar.

Many achieved personal bests while some running for the first time commented on how much they had enjoyed the course, the scenery and the iconic finish around the Goodwood motor circuit.

At 9.30am the starting party, including the president of Chichester Priory Rotary Club, Keith Argent, and Christopher Doman, founder president of the Rotary Club, set the runners on their way.

It was as ever an extremely impressive sight as more than 1,500 streamed away from the motor circuit and along Claypit Lane. They passed the entrance to the Rolls Royce plant, along Madgwick Lane to historic Stane Street, through Strettington and back along New Road, finishing with a complete lap of the Goodwood Motor Circuit.

Nick Goolab wins / Picture: Derek Martin

On paper this was one of the strongest male fields ever assembled in Chichester. The race set off at a cracking pace and the expectation of something special was soon realised.

From an early stage the top runners meant business and there were some 40 to 50 runners heading the field. As the runners entered Stane Street a group of at least ten runners started to pull away and this included Goolab, Charlie Hulson (Liverpool), Ross Skelton (Hastings AC), Owen Hind (Kent AC), Ben Bradley and Andy Vernon (both Aldershot, Farnham and District), Jonathan Roberts (Southampton), Alex Milne (Hercules Wimbledon), James Bellward (RAF) and Jake Shelley (Shaftesbury Barnet).

Chichester’s Harry Leleu was running at near 30-minute pace but was forced to drop out not long after with illness.

Goolab was always near the front but the lead kept changing until around the 5k mark when he created a gap between him and the other frontrunners.

The first three men / Picture: Derek Martin

He moved further ahead and as they re-entered the motor circuit with 4k to go the chasing group was down to five – Shelley, Hind, Hulson, Bradley and Skelton. Goolab continued to forge ahead but being out on his own and against the wind he found the last bit tough. Nevertheless he was very pleased with his winning time of 29.01 – a new course record and the fastest time in 29 Chichester 10ks, beating Peter Riley’s time in 2007 of 29.02. Bradley took the silver medal and Owen Hind bronze.

The first six runners all beat the previous course record of 29.32, and 24 runners were home in under 31 minutes, a fantastic achievement. It is these kind of statistics which gets Chichester recognised nationally in athletics circles.

Go Goolab! Nick creates new race recordNimble Nimmock takes women's titleBig race picture specialVideo of all the startersWhen the UK 10k rankings come out this week, athletes who ran at Godwood will occupy six of the top ten places.

The women’s race was also very competitive with a number of the pre-race favourites acquitting themselves well.

The first three women / Picture: Derek Martin

As with the men’s race there were a group of women together in the early stages of the race. As the race unfolded it became clear the winner would come from a group of four which included Dani Nimmock and Sarah Astin (both City of Norwich AC), Laura Brenton (Southampton AC) and Naomi Mitchell (Reading AC).

This group kept challenging each other until Nimmock made the break – and the gap kept growing, especially as she wound her way around the motor circuit. Competition for second place continued right to the finish line when second place went to Astin with Brenton third and Mitchell fourth, with only six seconds between them.

The race was again one of three qualifying opportunities for the Age Groups Masters England 10k Championships and the leading athletes from Goodwood will don an England Masters vest at the Great Bristol 10k on Sunday, May 3. As a consequence the standard of the prizewinners in the veteran categories was again very high.

The men’s vet 40 title again went to Neil Boniface (Crawley AC) in 30.38, more than half a minute quicker than last year. Matt Bradford (Lewes) was second and Andrew Inglis of Cambridge Harriers was third. David Freeman was the first V50 home in 30.46, Paul Mingay of Colchester Harries was first man over-60 home and Jim Brown of Woking AC the first Vet 70 in 43.05.

The Chichester Observer-sponsored Ben Steppel memorial prize for the first local under-23 man home went to Matt Orgovanyi in 39.06.

In the men’s team event there were 33 complete ‘A’ teams representing Hampshire, London, Surrey, Kent, Buckinghamshire and Sussex. The men’s team prize was won by Aldershot, Farnham and District with Southampton AC second and Bournemouth AC third. .

First female vet home was April James-Welsh (South London Harriers), second was Alexa King (Hart Road Runners) and third Gina Galbraith (Hercules Wimbledon AC).

The first vet 50 home was Susan McDonald (South London Harriers), Kathryn Morton of Cheltenham and County Harriers showed good form of late winning the V60 prize with Angela Copson of Rugby and Northampton AC the first vet 70.

In the women’s team event there were 24 complete teams and the City of Norwich won thanks to Nimmock, Astin and seventh-placed Iona Lake.

Another new team name on the podium was Reading AC whose team consisted of Mitchell, Catlin Millar and Sarah Unwin-Mann – with Worthing and District third thanks to Leah Harris, Sarah Kingston and Emma Footman.

The Colin Thorne memorial prize for the first local under-23 woman went to Megan McCulloch.

Organisers presented the Henry Adams memorial prize to the person with the most memorable story or reason for running. The winner was Kate Parker, who was so pleased to be able to run the 10k after being diagnosed with hairy cell leukaemia and a number of other setbacks.

The awards presentation party included the Rotary Club president, the event’s organisers and Pat and David Adams. Thanks for ensuring such an enjoyable and successful event are due to the staff of the motor circuit and the sponsorship from The Run Company and Henry Adams.

Organisers are also grateful to Natures Way for their significant donation of fruit to all runners and helpers and Wileys for their support with the prizes.

In its fourth year on the new course, the race is considered to have been a huge success. Many praised the course, the atmosphere generated by the crowd and the quality of the race organisation.

Each year the organisers try to improve the experience for the runners and this year brought the introduction of pacemakers by Chichester Runners, which was very well received.

Organisers are conscious of the need for the race to be as ‘green as possible’ and Harwoods motor dealers provided an electric powered Jaguar as the lead car.

Given the success and support, the Rotary Club of Chichester Priory said they planned to return in 2021 with a bigger and better event.