Hat-trick hero Harry rises to the Corporate Challenge

Winner Harry Carter (centre) with runner-up James Baker (left) and third-placed Colin Dixon

Winner Harry Carter (centre) with runner-up James Baker (left) and third-placed Colin Dixon

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Another large crowd thronged the streets of Chichester for the final race in the 20th Corporate Challenge series, and they witnessed exciting performances by individuals and teams.

Fortunately the rain had eased off as the first runners were sent on their way.

Organisers had to wait for a crane working on Marks & Spencer’s East Street store to remove itself from a section of the senior course, resulting in a 20-minute delay before the seniors could be sent on their way.

When they did finally get going, there was fine running from the top five from the previous race with Portsmouth-based Harry Carter making it a clean sweep for the series from James Baker with Colin Dixon, Mark Burchett and Dan Bailey finishing well clear of their chasers.

The first woman home was again Midhurst’s Emily Alden with a fine 20th place overall in 15.24.

Team-wise there were new winners with Hurren Landscapes finishing well clear of last year’s winner DSTL with Cawley Crawlers in third.

In the women’s event there was a well-deserved win for the Midbourne Springers Medical team with DSTL Naval Systems picking up their second team silver and Chichester Chamber of Commerce Chamber Maids team third.

Among the sports teams, City of Portsmouth Oddbins were again too strong for the rest with Chichester veterans and Worthing Hares giving a good account of themselves, while Chichester casuals posted another fast time in the women’s section in front of Victory Vixens and Fishbourne Flames.

Earkier, the night began with the primary boys’ race, in which Ben Collins of East Wittering turning the tables on previous winner William Broom (Central). Broom took the series win from Collins and Josh Eeles from Midhurst scooped bronze.

Team-wise the outcome could not have been closer – Plaistow & Kirdford won on the day by seven seconds but were a single second short of Central’s combined time for the best two races.

Equally good packing from The March school gave them third on the day and overall.

The same three schools were involved in the girls’ team awards with March getting the better of Plaistow & Kirdford for silver, behind double winners Central.

Hampshire’s Maisie Grice again showed commanding form to win the race in a course record-equalling time of 4min 55sec while Emily Morley from West Dean in second had just enough in hand to gain overall second from Bethany Lewis (St Mary’s).

The secondary schools races have been of an excellent standard in recent years and there was another record-equalling performance this time from Felpham’s James McKenzie, whose 8.34 clocking equalled the time of Sam Gillert in 2004 for the four-lap race.

Toby Hindmarsh in second led his Chichester High School team to Year 9 gold but lost out in the individual rankings to new course record-holder Harry Leleu from Seaford College, who had built up an unassailable lead over the first two races.

Will Jagger in third led Bishop Luffa to team gold to go with wins in the Year 7 and 8 races, where Zac Hurst won the year 7 title ahead of Thomas Ellis and Oliver Poole, and Ed Gerwat led the standings for Year 8 ahead of Harry Lyne and Casey Keates.

In the secondary girls’ race, Georgina Warner couldn’t quite complete a clean sweep, losing out to Worthing’s Leah Harris but with both girls setting personal best times of 7.05 and 7.07 for the three-lap race.

And Warner’s fellow Chichester High School pupils Holly Olding and Charlotte Reading won the Year 7 and 8 titles with Reading’s team-mates Rose Ellis and Jade Freeman-Bailey combining to win the Year 8 team title with the fastest aggregate in any age group. Bishop Luffa’s excellent team packing enabled them to scoop the other three team awards.

Nest year’s series kicks off on February 29.

PHIL BAKER